The Woman in Black

Clearing out. Two words I hate. Clearing out is so hard to do. But it has to be done. One thing at a time. Now I’m not going to write about every object consigned to the recycling bin. Most actually produce no memories. They are easily discarded.

But The Woman in Black is a play I have seen at least a half dozen times. Usually in the company of school children.

I don’t like ghost stories. I don’t like being frightened. Real life is scary enough as it is. But – I like going to the theatre – and so when the chance came up to go on this particular school trip I was absolutely up for it.

I was working in Ealing Green High School for Boys, and it was a good opportunity to get to know some of them and some of the teachers a bit better. This was over thirty years ago by the way.

We had good seats. I was between two young scamps who didn’t really want to be there. The stage was set. The actors acted. The story gripped. We were all lulled into a delightful sense of false security. When suddenly someone screamed. I was terrified. Rather than observing my charges I instinctively grabbed the arm of the boy on my left with both hands. Someone screamed again. I gripped even tighter.”Ow” said the boy. “Oh dear” said I. “I’m so sorry”. We watched the rest of the play. It was excellent. We took the boys back to Ealing on the tube. We held onto the straps and chatted. We’d all enjoyed the play. Then the boy who had been sitting next to me rolled up the sleeve of his blazer. “Look what miss did to me”. And there to my horror I saw the imprints of my nails on his forearm . He was grinning. I was dying of embarrassment and shame. Was this the end of my teaching career?

Luckily he saw the funny side. I made sure I sat on my hands whenever I went to see the play again. It terrified me every time!

Just how I felt!

Scary. Ominous. Thrilling. Well worth seeing.

One comment on “The Woman in Black

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