31
Oct 05

THE FT TOP 23 STRANGE PHENOMENA No 1. The Ghost In The Lord John Russell

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Last week, in the usual way of journals which are vaguely connected with Freaky Trigger, Time Out did a whole section on Haunted London. In itself this is as spooky as the Guardian Guide doing an article on a very similar topic to a Freaky Trigger one just after the FT one has been published. But I digress. Many a haunted pub was on this list, including the John Snow, a regular FT haunt (whoooo!!!). But why make room for Ben Elton’s rubbish Trocodero Druid, when there is a real actual genuine haunted pub on their doorstep? I give you the ghost of the Lord John Russell.

This phantom prankster was first spotted way back in 2002, as this post shows. Perhaps it seemed like a bit of fun or a way of masking Tim’s shame for spilling his pint. But anyone who was there would recognise the deathly chill that came over us at the time, and I defy anyone to drink in the Lord John Russell without getting the feeling that they are being watched at some time. Cats always cross the road outside of the pub, mystery doors bang, fuses short and toilets get backed up. The only thing this ghostie has not done is physically materialise.

So who is this a ghost of? Is it the titular Lord John Russell himself. Well, looking over him and his families profile he does not strike me as the beer spilling type. Leader of the Whig’s and ex-Prime Minister it seems out of character for him. Perhaps as a head of a self styled moral and religious government he objects to there being a pub in his name. But that seems exceedingly churlish for a man who achieved greatness sin other ways.

Perhaps it is the ghost of Lady Russell, who seems much more the type to spill your pint because you don’t agree with her. Or their adopted child/grandson Bertrand Russell, who definitely liked a pint himself. It does seem strange to name a pub after a moral crusader, but he was a libertatian in many other ways. No, this family don’t seem like beer spilling types though.

It is much more likely to be an old punter, or old landlord playing a bit of mischief. My theory, especially when you consider that the urinals are nearly always backed up with ectoplasm, is an old barmaid – possible killed in a bizarre toilet cleaning accident. Certainly it is the area closest to the loos when sightings (or more properly sensings) of the ghost have happened. And yet the ghost is not well known. I was in the LJR on Friday, supping ale (many of which were off due to unforseen spectral activity) and decided to ask the barmaid about the ghost. She expressed surprise, and said that there was no ghost that she knew of, but the was a strange man who had come in to do the plumbing that morning. He had turned up out of the blue with his long handled plunger, smiling despite having an eyepatch: and it was handy as he was needed, even though he had not been called.

And then at the end of the bar, a squinty old man snapped to attention.
“One eyed plumber y’say? And you didn’t call him?”
“Yes,” she said.
“There b’aint be no one eyed plumber round here for forty year.”

Of course there is a ghost in the Lord John Russell.

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