12 Sep THE GHOST OF PADDY MERRY
The Merry Fellow Inn was a two hundred year old Cotswold stone built coaching house in the Cotswold hills and named after the original landlord in 1780 who was George Merry. George started the Inn as a staging house, changing horses for the coaches that ran to London on a daily basis also providing refreshments for the passengers and accommodation if required.
He had a dog, a huge Irish Wolf Hound named Paddy, they were inseparable and when the dog died, George was broken hearted. He had him buried in the yard with a tombstone that simply said
HERE LIES PADDY MERRY FROM DERRY – MY FRIEND TO THE END. JULY 17th 1788. But in order to best remember him George had his tail mounted in a glass case which hung over the bar with a magnificent painting of Paddy underneath.
In the 1980’s the Merry Fellow was a very popular and original country pub with extensive gardens where children could play in safety and delicious meals were eaten by families enjoying the unusually clement British summer weather.
The old stables had been converted to a modern toilet facility accessible from the garden and also the bars.
Paddy’s tombstone was a feature and many people were touched by George Merry’s obvious love for his dog.
The Landlord was John Hobbs, Hobsy for short, and he took immense pride in the appearance of his pub. One morning he was sweeping the courtyard when he spotted a wet mark high up on the wall and a pool of pee underneath it. He went in for the mop and bucket.
“Have you seen a dog hanging around here Shirley?” He asked his wife.
“No have you” she replied.
“I haven’t but you can see where it’s been right next to the tombstone”
He bustled out noisily to clean it up.
That afternoon, children were playing and people were eating when suddenly a terrified scream was heard from the ladies toilet. Hobsy, and his wife rushed in. An elderly lady was in a state of distress. She was brought out and taken to the bar.
“Ooh it were ‘orrible” she said.
Hobsy helped her to a bench.
“Just sit there luv – get her a drink Shirley”.
“Ta very much I’ll ‘ave a double vodka, you oughta keep that dog locked up mister.”
“What dog?” said Hobsy, “we haven’t got a dog.”
“A great big thing it were, growling and clawing at the lavvy door, I thought he were going to break it down! I were petrified then when it went quiet I ventured out but he were still there so I shut meself back in the lavvy and screamed for ‘elp”
“There was no dog there when we came in” said Hobsy.
The old lady looked offended.
“You calling me a liar mister, on my babby’s life, go and have another look then- where’s that drink?”
Hobsy warily went into the ladies toilet carrying a big stick, no dog was in there – but you could see where it had been – a wet mark high up the wall and a pool of pee on the floor. He fetched the mop and bucket and cleaned up the mess. When he got back to the bar the old lady was looking at the picture of Paddy over the bar.
“That’s him only the one what I saw didn’t have a tail!”
That evening it was busy in the bar and the place was packed out with locals and townies. Towards the end of the night there was suddenly a lot of shouting from the Gents toilet and one of the townies came in his trousers and shirt soaking wet.
“Your dog just attacked me in the toilets.”
Hobsy reacted quickly
“We haven’t got a dog, what happened?”
“I was stood there in full flow and all of a sudden this huge dog appeared from nowhere growling and snarling, I was so shocked that I fell over backwards and – well look at me.”
Picking up the stick again Hobsy headed for the toilets, followed by the man. He gingerly pushed the door open – nothing – except for a wet mark high up the wall and a pool of pee on the floor.
“See I told you so” said wet trousers.
“That doesn’t prove anything, you could have done that!” said Hobsy with an unconvincing attempt at flippancy. “What did this dog look like?”
“He was massive but there was something a bit odd – he didn’t have a tail!”
Back in the bar people were talking in hushed tones about the mystery of the fierce dog on the loose and how they were going to get home safely.
There was a loud tapping of a walking stick on the stone floor, everybody stopped talking.
“I think I know what’s going on.”
All eyes turned to old Ivy, a villager born and bred.
“I can remember my old Granny telling me about Paddy the dog whose spirit haunts the pub every hundred years. He’s looking for his tail, without it his spirit cannot rest. What’s the date today?”
“The seventeenth of July 1988” someone said.
“Aaah” said Ivy to Hobsy “Then you as landlord must take this tail from its glass case before midnight” everybody looked at the clock – ten to twelve “and put it on the tomb, then the poor animal can rest in peace.”
As she spoke a long mournful howl came from outside, all eyes looked through the window to see the ghostly figure of Paddy sitting on his own tombstone pitifully howling for his tail,
“Please mister I beg you, don’t make the poor animal remain in limbo for another hundred years like something from Brigadoon”.
Hobsy looked at the tail then out of the window at the pathetic sight of Paddy, then he looked at a sheet of paper in his hand. Breaking out in a sweat, he licked his lips.
“I can’t do it” he said in a faltering voice heavy with emotion.
“For pity’s sake why not. Put the poor soul out of its misery” said Ivy. As they watched suddenly the silence was broken by the chiming of the clock as it reached twelve, with a final lingering howl, the spirit of Paddy Merry faded from view, condemned to wander the after- life for another hundred years.
“Why didn’t you save the poor creature when you had the chance? said Ivy with the obvious approval of the other customers.
Hobsy gulped swallowed hard and holding back his tears, he took a deep breath then he said
“No – I couldn’t do it because under the terms of this licence I’m not allowed to retail spirits after eleven o’ clock!”
1130 words Michael White 2020