On the icy Monday evening of 2 February 1970, 19-year-old Joyce Holland was standing at the bus stop on Daulby Street, next to the Majestic Cinema (long demolished to make way for today’s Royal Teaching Hospital), waiting to catch the bus home to Wavertree. As she stood in the razor-sharp winter wind, she noticed an old man standing in front of her. He was gazing across Daulby Street, towards a small one story squat building. ‘What?’ the old man asked, and Joyce followed the line of his gaze but could see no one on the other side of the road. So Joyce surmised the old man was a nut, talking to people who aren’t there.
‘Why don’t you tell her yourself?’ the elderly white-haired man asked the person Joyce couldn’t see. Four other people at the bus stop began to avert their gaze from Moss Street, where the accursed overdue bus to take them to their warm homes was due to appear any minute now. They glanced at the old crank as well, and also saw he was having a full-scale conversation with an imaginary person on the other side of the road.
The old man walked up to Joyce Holland and said, ‘I’m sorry to bother you young lady, but is your name Joyce?’
Joyce was rather surprised to say the least. How did this old man know her first name. She nodded.
‘Joyce Holland I believe?’ the oldster said in a subdued volume, accompanied by a knowing look in his grey-blue eyes.
Joyce was shocked. ‘Yes, why? How did you –‘
The old man interrupted her questioning. ‘There’s a young man over there named Gavin Meek.’
An iciness colder than the February night rippled through Joyce’s abdomen, for she instantly recognised the name. He’d been a friend of her cousin, and he’d accidentally hanged himself in a derelict house three years ago as he tried to impress a girl he fancied.
‘He wants you to go in that building there and talk to him through someone,’ explained the old man, ‘because he’s a bit vague to me. I can’t catch all of his words.’ The building Gavin Meek wanted Joyce to enter was the Liverpool Spiritualist Church, a society that dates back to 1885, when spiritualists and mediums met regularly at Daulby Hall.
Joyce was terrified, and too afraid to look left to the spot where Gavin’s ghost must have been standing, and it was a great relief when she saw her bus appear at the junction ahead. When it arrived at the bus stop, Joyce rushed onboard and stayed on the left side of the vehicle, deliberately ignoring the view from the right-hand windows, just in case she saw Gavin. When she got home, Joyce told her mother about the incident, and her mum told her that Gavin’s mother had visited the Spiritualist’s Church on Daulby Street on many occasions in an effort to contact her much-missed son. Even today, Joyce still refuses to go anywhere near Daulby Street.
© Tom Slemen 2010.