portrait

Gavin Jones is a writer, artist and composer, living on the borderlands between Yorkshire and Lancashire in the North of England.

At an early age he gravitated towards stories of creeping terror – not the schlock horror of Hollywood, but the deeper anxieties of M.R. James, Willa Cather, Sheridan Le Fanu, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Guy de Maupassant. He heard the voices they were channeling, and they seemed so real to him. It didn’t take long for him to realise that he too was haunted. He heard their voices every time he opened a book. They were all around him. He was told of the people who had been here before: his relatives, his friends… both recent and in the long distant past. Why no-one else heard their voices confused him. To the people around him, it seemed, they were lost. Everyone needed some kind of connection, to feel there was a meaning to their existence, and yet…

As he grew older he too began to acquiesce to the quiet life. The voices began to hush themselves. He would read the books, but they began to take on the form of mere words on a page. It was only when he wrote his poetry, or played his music, or painted, or watched the flocks of wading birds forming shapes in the sky over a moor, that he felt the ridiculous facade of adulthood fall. There, behind that irrational rationalism deemed normal life, there was his meaning. He could relax and enjoy a fuller life there. That ghost world was not an escape: it was reality. If he listened closely he could pick out their voices. They weren’t from another world – their’s was not the “afterlife”, nor was it “elsewhere”. They were here. They had never left.

Their’s was not a better world, nor was it a punishment. They lived as they had always lived: confused, joyful, afraid and blissful. Some there were trying to listen to us, but so many of them were unable, or didn’t care. As he wrote, these other places revealed themselves. The less he tried to find them, the clearer they became. Out of the corner of his eye, as he drifted off to sleep, when he cleared his mind of thoughts, as he walked through a winter landscape, as his mind switched off and his pen began to move: these were the times that they showed him the world as it really was.

The myths were real. The stories were real. Ghosts were real. They rarely shouted. They rarely screamed. He realised that life was all about learning how to listen properly.