Government House, St. John's, built by Sir Thomas Cochrane between 1827 and 1832
It was no surprise that at such an early hour I should encounter this wispy figure flickering from the fog in front of me on the Virginia River Trail. As I mentioned earlier, the trail follows the old track laid down by our first civil governor, Sir Thomas Cochrane, in 1832, linking his newly built extravagant palace in St. John's with his grandiose cottage on Virginia Waters.
Virginia Waters. Sir Thomas' private lake outside the city.
Money, especially other people's money, was no object to Sir Thomas. Shades of the future in our fair land.
I whipped out my copy of Mack's Field Guide to Demons which assured me that the apparition was harmless. Usually, of a snooty and conceited nature, read the entry. Enjoys praise, like all politicians. Very unpopular in his time, much like Duh-wite Ball now. From the 19th century upper class. Known to frequent the Newfoundland dimension.
First some background:
For those of you who doubt the existence of spirits, I can only refer you to Einstein's law, e=mc^2, where e is energy, m is mass, and c is the speed of light. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed but can only change from one form to another, so said Einstein.
Since humans and other living creatures are masses of energy, it all makes sense that they change their outward form when they give up the ghost, so to speak. This simple fact puts me at ease in the company of specters and phantoms.
In a previous blog, I expounded on my theory of parallel universes, one an earthly dimension which we are all familiar with--as we rapidly defile it. The other, commonly referred to as the far side banks of Jordan, is a supernatural kingdom, inhabited by all manner of spirits, fairies, witches, wizards, and imps. Spirits and other beings can cross back and forth at will and at the speed of light.
Humans, on the other hand, are restricted to their earthly domain and thank God for that, say the spirits. Otherwise, they would lose the peace and solitude of their own dominion and constantly have to put up with petty politicians of whom we seem to have an excess at the moment.
In order to witness first-hand the supernatural creatures traveling across these parallel universes, one must be walking outside municipal boundaries, preferably in the forest, between sunset and sunrise.
"What ho! My good man," shouted the apparition, in a posh St. John's accent, as he wrapped his wispy arm around my shoulder. "By jove, what a bloody maavelous morning, but you, sir, seem raather down at the mouth. Now, I say, old chap, I want to talk about me not about you.
I could tell we had gotten off to a good start. "I am a good listener," I said.
"I have been cursed to roam these hills since I gave up the ghost nearly 250 years ago," he began. "The blasted curse would only be lifted when I encountered a human soul to listen to my tale of woe. I sense that you are rather a good egg. But what is that stink that surrounds your person?"
"Psychic Vampire Repellent, sold to me by Gwyneth Paltrow," I said blushingly.
"Don't recall the lady," said Sir Thomas. "She must be a real dodgy scrubber."
"Over these long years," he continued, I have tried to tell my story to Joey Smallwood--in the flesh. I bump into his spirit frequently--still talks on and on about Churchill Falls and chocolate factories. Poppycock! Then I visited He-Who-Is-Without-Sin Williams--Muskrat Falls, jolly good show! And don't mention that beastly man, Squires, always on about the railway and Lady Helena, his ruddy little woman from 'round the bay."
"Each one fainted like a frightened fishwife when I appeared in front of them," said Sir Thomas.
"You think you've got problems, what about me. I had it all, a palace in town, a luxury cottage on the lake, wild parties every weekend. I tried to uplift the people of this land with their very first mega-project. Five years, it took me to build Government House so I could live in the manner suited to my station in life. And what thanks did I get?" he asked petulantly.
"There must have been a lot of jobs for Newfoundlanders," I said fawningly, trying to calm the spirit down.
"Bollocks, old chap," said Sir Thomas. "There wasn't a Newfoundlander who could do the work. I brought in all the labour from bonnie Scotland. Sure, everyone in Newfoundland whined and whimpered and complained to the king but I had high standards. Every time I spoke to anyone in the city after that, they told me to sod off."
"Finally, after five years of construction when we were somewhat over-budget--well, ok, I admit it, a lot over-budget--the king called an inquiry. What a cock-up that was! And they ended up reducing my salary from $750,000 a year to $500,000. Then, a year or so later they fired me and gave me a pension. I was gutted, my good man, absolutelybloodygutted and when I tried to negotiate, the king told me to piss off to Pickering.
"And I understand people in the city filled the streets and cheered when you left," I said, by way of burnishing his badly bruised ego.
"Jeered is more like it, old chap," he said."I must warn you never to drive in St. John's in a convertible with the top down. As my open carriage with its mounted escort drove slowly down Prescott Street towards the docks and my ship, I waved to my loyal subjects who seemed to be watching adoringly from every window. Suddenly, upstairs shutters flew open and every trollop and nutter on the avenue emptied their filthy chamber pots over my conveyance. My whole royal person was severely soiled."
"That was a shitty send-off," I said.
"I see you are a joker," said Sir Thomas. "But by listening to my story, you have relieved me of my burden and I can now return to the old country. And not a minute too soon. I don't want to be around when your present-day politicians cross over."
I snapped a selfie of us and left him sitting on a trail bench as I continued my search for the witch-hazel tree.
Selfie of Sir Thomas and I. Unfortunately, my aura and his energy field prevented a focused frame.
The last I saw of the lonely spirit of Sir Thomas
(Sir Thomas Cochrane governed Newfoundland from 1825 to 1834. The Government House scandal, the inquiry, and his humiliating departure are actual events. Other incidents are fiction...or not.)