|Raymond Briggs' Fungus The Bogeyman -picture credited to BBC|
Whilst I realise that this might not sound like a particularly festive topic, it was actually Christmas that got me thinking about this.
When I was little we grew up in an old, cold house. It was full of dark corridors and creaky floorboards. It's exactly the kind of house I now love, but back then it gave me the heebie-geebies! I distinctly remember lying in bed, seeing strange faces in the wallpaper, and shivering whenever I walked past a particular spot on the landing which seemed to always have a mysterious chill about it.
To reach the bathroom you had to walk down a very long, narrow corridor. It had sash windows down the corridor, but still it felt like it was closing in on you. It was much like walking past train compartments on an old fashioned train. Beyond the bathroom was another room, supposedly a bedroom but as it could only be accessed via the bathroom it was only ever used as a storage room.
Because I was a nosey little blighter, and I suspect because my mum and dad knew I was wary of this cold, neglected room, at Christmas time they used to hide our presents in here before 'Father Christmas' delivered them to the tree on Christmas Eve. To make doubly sure I didn't sneak a peek, my mum and dad told me that 'Mr Jones' lived in the box room.
To this day I couldn't tell you why this imaginary bogeyman struck terror into my heart, nor can I describe what I imagined him to look like, or explain why the hell he'd be living in our box room. But it had the desired effect of keeping me away from my presents, and such was my fear of Mr Jones that if I woke in the night and needed the loo, I'd have to wake my brother and plead, beg or bribe him to walk down to the bathroom with me. One year I had to trade my entire haul of easter eggs just for him to chaperone me in the dark - and even then the little sod ran off and left me in the bathroom rather than wait outside the door as was our agreement!
When we moved house (I think me and my brother were around 9 yrs old), Mr Jones of course came too. This time taking up residence in the cellar. My parents thought it was hilarious to send me down to the cellar to retrieve something from the freezer or switch the immersion heater on, shouting after me "watch out for Mr Jones".
It got me wondering, was I alone in this irrational fear of unseen monsters? I had a boyfriend once who had grown up in a house which backed on to a railway line. His parents had told him as a child he must not venture beyond the garden shed or the 'man with long arms' would get him! How utterly terrifying! 'The man with long arms' - what an odd bogeyman to make up! I can see why they did it, but hell, they scarred him for life!
Even as an adult I can't go to sleep if the wardrobe door is open, and I can't sleep with my legs or arms hanging over the edge in case the monster under the bed gets me.
What about you? Who were your childhood bogeymen and have you made up any for your kids to keep them from danger - or maybe just for fun?!!! Your fun that is, not theirs - he will haunt them for years...