It was almost midnight, and Paul and Martyn and I had started telling ghost stories. I had just finished telling them a sworn-true ghostly account from my school days: the tale of the Green Hand. It had been an article of faith at my prep school that there was a disembodied, luminous hand, that was seen, from time to time, by unfortunate schoolboys. If you saw the Green Hand you would die soon after. Fortunately, none of us were ever unlucky enough to encounter it, but there were sad tales of boys there before our time, boys who saw the Green Hand and whose thirteen-year-old hair had turned white overnight. According to school legend they were taken to the sanatorium, where they would expire after a week or so without ever being able to utter another word.
�Hang on,� said Paul-the-actor. �If they never uttered another word, how did anyone know they�d seen the Green Hand? I mean, they could have seen anything.�
As a boy, being told the stories, I had not thought to ask this, and now it was pointed out to me it did seem somewhat problematic.
�Perhaps they wrote something down,� I suggested, a bit lamely.
We batted it about for a while, and agreed that the Green Hand was a most unsatisfactory sort of ghost.
And of course, it�s true enough. (I make up so much less than you�d imagine.) While I was doing a final copy-edit I thought, for no particular reason, that I�d google �the Green Hand� and see what came up � mostly wondering whether this was specific to my old school, or one of those international Urban Legends. Observing that there was even a childrens book called The Green Hand, I figured that it was probably a multinational legend, until I twigged that Tessa Krailing, the author of the book, was the same Miss V. T. Krailing who taught the first year and Art at the school in question. I�d be tempted to make �small world� noises, but it�s not. It�s just sensible, and logical, and the kind of connection that, before the web, would never have been made. (Oddly enough, my reaction on realising who she was, was something along the lines of �But why didn�t you tell me you wanted to be a writer?� Which would, I suppose, have been an odd thing for a teacher to tell a nine year old boy.)