Somewhere in the building, someone's tapping on a wall. It's far-off, so it could be maintenance fixing something in downstairs.

If I close my eyes I can still see it - a reel-to-reel movie camera in our lounge in Gweru (Zimbabwe), a dark Friday night, a preview of a film the youth were going to see later on the start of spiritualism.

Given today's movie effects it was probably pretty lame. But I was only 8 and we didn't even have TV. All we saw were reel-to-reels at the Saturday night film at church, and those were of the "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines" variety.

Considering my age and then-sensitivity, my parents probably shouldn't have let my friend and I watch it.

"tap tap tap"

Two girls sitting in a wood-clad room, a tapping noise from somewhere along (in?) the walls. Moving from one side of the room to the other. They answering back with taps too...

And then the shadowy figure (double exposure film, most likely) appearing from out of the walls. An old man standing before them, transparent.

At which point I screwed my eyes shut until it was over.


My friend and I slept in the tree-house that night. It hung out over the hedge and wide grass pavement (sidewalk, to you Americans) along our road. High up in a big tree, it was in reality just a huge wooden packing crate topped with a roof, windows and doors cut into it, curtains strung up, and sleeping bags on the floor. Planks hammered into the trunk was our staircase.

Half-way through the night a group of drunk black men wandered noisily under our tree and scared us considerably.

But the worst was yet to come when in the early hours of the morning, my dad dressed up in a white sheet and knocked at our door....

I'm pretty sure the screams could be heard in Harare!