MJ STEEL COLLINS reveals her family experiences with the ghost of her great-grandmother in Barrhead, Renfrewshire


I come from one of those families which appear to be more receptive than others to ghosts.
Some of my relatives are particularly sensitive, on the odd occasion perhaps finding the spirit of a dearly departed uncle hiding out in the hall cupboard whilst doing the housework.
And a trip to a haunted location with my Dad definitely isn’t dull.
But it was perhaps my Gran who did the most in introducing me to world of the hereafter.
Now sadly passed on herself, she was one of those who might see a ghost, but not bat an eyelid as she enjoyed yet another cuppa.
The spirit she most often encountered was that of her mother, Lille.
Lille was the invisible resident of my grandparent’s old home in Barrhead, East Renfrewshire.
Just about all of us encountered her – usually she could be glimpsed standing at the bedroom window watching the world go by.
Occasionally, she would appear without warning, such as the time she gave my cousin, innocently eating a jam butty, a turn by materialising in the kitchen.
Lille often inadvertently put the willies into her grandchildren and great grandchildren when she decided to check-in to see how we were doing. I was by no means the exception!
I apparently first encountered her at about five years old, though I don’t remember it; it is something of a family legend.
Lille had died the year previously.
I was with Gran in the kitchen, about to partake in our usual cup of tea and biscuit.
Having everything, Gran was about to sit in her favourite seat, when I piped up, “Don’t sit there, Gran!”
“Why not, hen – I always sit there.”
“’Cause Nana’s sitting there!”
Of course, Gran could only see an empty seat. It was probably one of the few times she was rendered speechless.
I had further experiences as I grew older.
When I was eleven, I spent Burn’s Night at my grandparents.
Whilst we watched all the TV specials on the Bard, my Yorkie, Chico, passed the time at the living room door, riveted by something in the hall way.
Eventually I asked Gran what was wrong with him.
“He’s just watching my mum walking up and down the hallway,” was her casual reply. Cue one freaked out kid who didn’t sleep a wink that night.
A few years later, in my mid-teens, I was again visiting my grandparents, this time watching TV with my Grampsie in the living room (his domain!).
Suddenly one of the lamps began flickering on and off by itself.
I watched rapt, having by this time started reading quite a lot about ghosts.
Grampsie cast an eye from the TV to what was going on.
“Stop it, Lille!” He barked. The lamp immediately switched itself back on and stayed that way.
We continued watching TV, me ever so slightly amazed.
A few months later, the same thing happened again, but with about three of the lamps in the living room.
This time, it was only my brother and I. It all happened very quickly.
The two of us looked at what was going on around us, looked at each other, then without a word, we hotfooted it into the kitchen.
I’m not sure what happened to Lille after my grandparents moved.
Last I went by the house; the garden was a bit scruffy, unlike in Gran’s day, with a motorbike on the front path. Lille was probably grumbling in the shed about the state of it all…

MJ Steel Collins
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