Attic attack

I read a short story today, here, by the talented Eilish Niamh. In it an attic appears as a creepy space. This is hardly unexpected and, indeed, I have never found attics anything other than intimidating.

Possibly this stems from childhood when dad put his foot through the ceiling of the bathroom. At bath time, I had to sit under this dark forbidding hole while the Archaeologist told me about all the monsters that lurked up there. If this wasn’t bad enough, he made me sit at the plug hole end of the bath and told me how easily I might get sucked down the drain, where I would confront yet another ghastly group of ghoulish and gremlins. Bath times, necessarily, were not the comforting times one is led to assume.

My mother had a different take on loft spaces. For her an attic was a place of hidden treasures, somewhere to find an unexpected gem. If she saw a box or a dusty case she’d think of the pictures it might hold, the stories it might reveal. I’d imagine body parts.

A new house, and an unknown attic for her were like a historian’s sweetshop. For me it was a pathologist’s nightmare.

They are never lit properly. Shadows lurk deep in corners. Dust hides everything. Somewhere at the back there is something locked and clearly intended to be hidden. The dust itself has a life of its own; given that you just know comprises more than 50 percent human flesh scales, that really shouldn’t be a surprise.  And when you venture inside, the boards are never fixed properly so a careless moment and you can crash through a ceiling much like dad.

My mother wasn’t given to flights of fancy; a very practical and logical woman, she had little truck with superstitions of any kind (though she never spilt salt without tossing a pinch over her left shoulder). That probably explains her lack of a frisson.

Eilish’s story also contains a basement. In a contrast with the attic, I love a good basement. There’s something cosy about these underground spaces, with their musty earthy smells. Of course they can have strange shadows and creepy sounds but they don’t give me the heebee jeebees like attics do.

What does this say about me? I love Mother Earth but can’t take heights? I was traumatised by my early bathing memories? Or my overactive imagination flourishes at a point above Ordnance Datum? Who knows. But if you need to find my Orwellian Room 101, just point me towards the roof. Perhaps that’s why I write in a space we’ve carved out of the garage loft. A little terror keeps the scribe scribbling, maybe.


About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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32 Responses to Attic attack

  1. Ritu says:

    Oh I am most definitely like your mum on this one! I love a good attic! In fact I was in ours just now, trying to fish a picture out, for a post I am writing!!!! Yes, the cobwebs and dark can be a little scary, but there can be such gems found! In my childhood house attic, it was only partly boarded over, and it covered quite an expanse. The insulation held a heap of books, that had been scattered all across the space, so I had great fun, and practiced my acrobatic skills crossing beams, to see what the books were! I found school exercise books and text books dating back to the 40’s as well as a couple of magazines from the WW2 era!
    It was unfortunate that they were in no great condition, but what amazing finds!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So, this is a strange one. I love attics and am terrified of them. More often than not, though, I find them a dreamy, secretive place where one could find treasures of all sorts. But they can be creepy. Depends on the place, I guess. Why am I not surprised the Archaeologist teased you about monsters that lurked above the gaping hole you sat under? Also, no one (NO ONE) likes the basement. They’re always where you AREN’T supposed to go in horror movies, Geoff! Geez!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ali Isaac says:

    There ARE monsters in attics… dead flies (lots of), spiders (too many of) and often, mice. I’ll keep my feet on the ground, thanks! Loved the last line, btw!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. merrildsmith says:

    Too bad about your creepy scary bath times–yikes.
    I don’t like any places that are dusty and dark and filled with spider webs and bugs. I don’t care if it’s attic or basement. However, a clean fixed-up attic room can be quite cosy and charming. I had an attic bedroom as a teen, and it was wonderful.
    I agree with Sarah above–you’re never supposed to go down to basements in horror movies–or even mysteries. Never, ever! If you there’s not a monster, then you’re certain to be locked down there by the baddie!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. willowdot21 says:

    That Archaeologist has a lot to answer for!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was also a plughole victim. Perhaps we should start a self-help group.
    I slipped and managed to fall through the hatch of the loft in my current house. I caught myself somehow by sticking out my elbows (it’s a small hatch) and then hauling myself back up. I’d kicked the ladder down the stairs during all this so had to slowly lower myself down to safety. But I definitely prefer an attic to a basement!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree there is something quite creepy about attics. Our attic doors are always rattling at night when I am alone in the house, yet how can this be? An attic features in my manuscript, funnily enough, so there you go attics kind of creep me out too….

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Ah must see the book when it emerges but I will only read it in daylight on a crowded train. I suppose I fear being sucked into nothing or something. And the worst thing about noises is how they come when you’re alone.


      • Don’t worry I promise not to scare the living daylights out of you, I don’t write horror only a touch of fairly gentle fantasy!! You’re right about noises they definitely take on a life of their own when you’re alone.


  8. The way to avoid going into attics is not to put anything up there. I often wonder why people put stuff up there. If it’s going up there then surly it is not wanted? (apart from Xmas decorations). Anything that goes up there normally does not come down during the lifetime of a person who puts it up there. I know of at least one couple who won’t move house (and they really want to) because it would mean emptying the attic. I reckon they’re hiding something up there.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. gordon759 says:

    Brother, as the senior lawyer in the family, what do you advise me to do about the various scurrilous statements that the writer of this blog keeps making about me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Autism Mom says:

    I am more worried about inhaling insulation fibers than human skin scales, though I am with you mom, more treasure than terror. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Now there we have a difference. I’ve never enjoyed aspirational carnivorism. Is it a west coast thing? Or a woman thing since most of the attic lovers in these comes are women? And a few artificial fibres – hmm of course you are right. At least they aren’t asbestos these days but still they irritate horribly if you don’t mask up properly.


  11. Charli Mills says:

    I have a large attic over my office with no way to access it, so it all remains a mystery. I lean toward hidden treasure as does your mom. But I empathize with your early trauma.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      The amount of trauma ladelled on me by my monstrous sibling would fill several tomes. Actually part of me wants to know what is in a closed roof space, a bit like those movies where people insist on going into dreer places with no light.


  12. Annecdotist says:

    Attics are fab but I’m shivering even now to think of the plug-hole end of the bath.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Ah ha the first person to sympathise with whirlpool syndrome. I was utterly convinced it would suck me down. Still don’t like them but that maybe has something to do with living with women with long hair.


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