Ghost with a market

January 2, 1998

THE alarm you report from Peterhouse about a ghost is surely misplaced (THES, December 19). The college is rather to be congratulated on the spirit's appearance. When an undergraduate there in the late 1950s I was disappointed never to meet the "blue lady" who was said to haunt F staircase and who, according to the bedmaker, had left behind a pair of shoes (in 1880, 1 believe). All right-thinking persons, both Petreans and others, must protest against any suggestion of exorcism. A ghost is a priceless cultural, academic and environmental asset which ought to be conserved and studied rather than extirpated.

As an asset, the phantom must surely have a market value. The fellows of Peterhouse have been renowned for generations for their intellectual ability and enterprise. My guess is, therefore, that the college bursar is already working out some means whereby the spectre can attract funding. If not, doubtless there are many resourceful students who could help him with a few ideas. Who knows; the whole visitation might have been their/ his idea in the first place.

James Muckle

Department of Slavonic studies, University of Nottingham

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