It was a dark, stormy night and as we tried to get home we hit a nasty bump in the road. My girlfriend, who was driving, thought she had run over a dog so stopped the car. We got out, but there was nothing there. However when we got back in the car, it refused to start. It was late, and a wet mist was rolling in. In the end I agreed to go and see if I could find some help. Walking up the road, for about ten minutes the fog was almost impossible to see through, and I barely saw the sign to the Old Manor House. I wandered up the drive with its perfectly kept lawns and rang at the door. Almost instantly a man with a white cane came to the door. I explained my predicament and he told me that at midnight the 77a bus went down the end of his road. He also asked if I had seen his dog, which unfortunately I hadn’t. I went and fetch my girlfriend and we caught the midnight bus, which was, apart from us, empty and very cold: we thought the heating must be broken.

The next morning we went to a local garage where a mechanic took us out to the car and fixed it as we told him of our good fortune the night before. He looked incredulously at us, as he told us that old Blind Tom had lost his dog, run over at this very spot, and then accidentally burnt down the manor. With no stop to serve, the bus no longer ran on this route. In his precise words: “There b’aint be no 77a bus round here for 40 year.”

What is spooky about the story as summarised above? Is it that the person (Blind Tom), place (the Old Manor House) or phenomena (77a Bus) that you encountered the night before no longer exists, though you swear it was real? Or is it that the person who is telling you that “there b’aint be no Blind Tom/Old Manor House/77a Bus here for 40 year” always speaks with a west country bumpkin accent, and in a manner suggesting that they have walked right out of a Thomas Hardy novel?

It is clearly the latter, and I would even venture to suggest that such “B’ainters” (as they will now be dubbed) are integral parts of the stories they conclude. I am not suggesting they make them up, or even mock up the meetings Scooby Doo style. But rather they are sent as temporal custodians of spooky sites, to deter serious investigation. The addition of a B’ainter at the end of the story makes it all quite quaint and twee, and distracts attention from the real, actual spooky happenings in the tale.

It is clear that such guardians jobs are to make sure that the average person never discovers the secrets of such ghost stories, to distract away from the unpalatable hell of haunting which may face us all. All with that one word: B’aint. A word with no logical derivation: uniquely chosen by this ancient order to put off the curious. A magic word some say, and how unexplainable is that?