Local MYSTERIES
© TOM SLEMEN

this story appeared in the 'Merseymart', March 16 2000
Visit the author online - WWW.TOMSLEMEN.COM

The arrow of time always appears to point in the same direction, from the past into the future, but if the following story is true, it would seem that because of forces unknown to modern science, events of the past are sometimes reenacted, in this case with spine chilling results.

In 1937, a 50-year-old jewellery and clock repair man from Wavertree named George Dickson Phillips moved into a second floor flat at a house in Percy Street in the city centre.

Mr. Dickson Phillips had moved from his Wavertree home after a drunken quarrel with his wife. She owned the house and had sternly given him a harsh ultimatum - if he couldn't kick the demon drink habit, she'd divorce.

For three days the clock-mender struggled not to open the bottle of gin he had purchased, and on the third night he decided to have an early night to resist the temptation.

He switched off the light, sat on the mattress of his bed, and as he was pulling off his boots he saw a light out of the corner of his eye. It was a dim lamp burning in the second floor window of a house across the road in Canning Street.

As the jeweller glanced to the window, he saw a sight which was to haunt him for the remainder of his life.

A woman was sitting at a dresser, gazing into a mirror. Her raven black hair was piled up in a bun. Suddenly, a man came behind her and put a bag or pillowcase over her head and held the woman in a headlock.

The woman seemed to knock over the lamp. The window was suddenly in darkness.

Convinced he had witnessed a murder, Mr. Dickson Phillips put his boots back on and ran downstairs.

He told the landlord, a Mr Creasy, about the scene he had observed, but wasn't believed. The landlord had seen the jeweller carrying the bottle of gin in a brown paper wrapper into his room, and surmised he was drunk.

Mr Dickson Phillips made inquiries at the Canning Street house, but an elderly woman reassured him that nothing was amiss there. In fact, she claimed that the damp upstairs room had lain empty for almost three months.

All the same, the jeweller notified a policeman on the beat, and the constable visited the Canning Street house again. This time the old woman allowed the policeman to have a look around.

The constable emerged some 10 minutes later and apologised to the old lady for pointlessly calling at such a late hour.

The jeweller not only felt embarrassed, he began to question his own sanity, and wondered if the whole thing had been some hallucination. However, the policeman told him an eerie tale. He related that his late father - who had also been a police constable - had told him that over the years, scores of people living in the vicinity of Percy Street and Canning Street had reported seeing a man murdering a woman by suffocating her with a bag at an upstairs window.

Each time the reports were made, the same address in Canning Street was given, and despite a thorough investigation of the premises, no such couple was ever found there.

In the end, the hard-boiled streetwise policemen reluctantly concluded that what people had in fact witnessed was perhaps the ghostly reenactment of a murder of bygone days - but whose murder has never been established.

Incidentally, the jeweller never touched alcohol again after that spooky incident, and was reconciled with his long-suffering wife.

Tom Slemen