I'm a simple person, and I like simple things. Like my little house, well, it isn't really a house, but that's what I call it. Impresses all my friends back home in Banbury but thats no doubt due to location than anything my flat has to offer, but all the same I love it.
It's quiet here, just the hills,the town and the sea. Or, at least, it's quiet most of the time. Last May 22nd, however, it was not.
I was having a good time just wandering around,pointing my camera at all and sundry, had a pint on the seafront. Got some good pictures of the sea and the waves rolling in. It was getting both late and dark when I heard a faint shout over in the direction of the beach. It sounded like someone was calling for help.There were people milling around chatting, laughing, socialising but I appeared to be the only person who had heard this cry.
I started running over in that direction; when someone calls for help, especially around here near the water, you don't wait.
I must have reached the beach seconds later, since I had been very close to it when I'd heard the shout. I jumped over the wall and raced across the stones of the beach to the edge of the water, and looked out.
At the far end of the row of large rocks, about 100 yards from where I was standing, there was a hand waving up from the water - desperately, it seemed to me. The first thing I thought, even while I was kicking off my shoes and dashing in, was, Oh, great! Some fool went out along the rocks and got caught by the tide!
The water near the beach had been nicely warmed by the morning sun and the warmth of the air, but as I went farther, it started to get much colder. As soon as the water reached my waist, I dived in, ignoring the sudden shock of what felt like ice water, and started swimming, helped by the leaving tide.
It took me about two minutes to reach the spot where I'd seen the hand, and by the time I got there, there was no one in sight. I looked all over, even diving to look at the bottom, getting colder by the minute. The only problem was, I couldn't see anything except the rocks, the water, and the beach. No picnic baskets, no bodies, no hands.
Finally I gave up and started back to the beach, fighting the tide and the current every inch of the way. The fact that I was shivering, or trying to, didn't exactly help, either. Once I reached shallow water, I walked the rest of the way. I pulled my shoes back on, and, squoshing and dripping, headed back to my flat.
After a quick, hot bath, I slipped into dry clothes and headed to my study, which had a large collection of books and stories about Lyme Regis and the surrounding area, purely for my own amusement and information. One of them was open on my desk; I'd been reading it last night before bed. I picked it up and glanced through it absently, and then put it down slowly and started to shake.
Lyme Regis and area has tons of stories and legends, from the ones about ships lost at sea to the ones about phantom carriages in Uplyme and ghostly nuns in churches.. But before that night, I'd never heard about the teenage boy who had drowned, 50 years ago, on August 2nd, because the tide was going out and he wasn't a strong swimmer. The last thing that people saw of him was his hand, waving desperately.
I don't know if it was real, I don't even know if I read the story the night before, and, frankly, I don't care. I don't believe in ghosts. Looking at the calendar and todays date,May 22nd 2006............... Yes, I don't believe in ghosts.
But I'm staying in today, just in case.