John Pye Auctions Weekly Story – ‘Black Hole’

Often I would get a call-out which would take me into the deep and dark recesses of the many cellars that lie at the bottom of houses all over the Midlands. Experience soon taught me to come well equipped to deal with the dangers of stepping down into such great unknowns.

On my truck, I would carry ropes, canvasses, hammers, knives and other tools to help me negotiate the possible dangers.

In 1986, I was asked by a bank to do a valuation for Probate at an empty Victorian semi in Nottingham’s Bulwell area, where I was met by one of the executors and had a good look round before coming to the dreaded cellar.

First I went to my truck and my blinking torch wouldn’t work, which was a problem because it was a dark day and the electricity was off at the house.

Anyway, the chap went into the living room and came out with a piece of green candle no more than an inch high which he lit at the gas ring and handed to me. I started off down the cellar and, as usual, with every cellar I go down there is always a bend at the bottom. I’ve never been down one yet where there isn’t a bend facing me.

I was clinging on to this small piece of candle and I could see dust down below that must have been gathering for years. It seemed to be covering everything, including the floor and walls, from what I could see in the flickering candlelight.

I put my foot down and I let my weight go. Then, suddenly, I was falling down, face first, right into the middle of all that dust and muck that had been sitting on top of filthy water about 18 inches deep.

What a terrible splash I made. I emerged covered from head to toe in all manner of stuff. As I got to my feet slowly, I looked up at him staring down at me and I swore at him, saying: ‘You and your b…dy stump of green b…dy candle!’

I must have looked like one of the Black and White Minstrels. Dust and filth covered my whole body and I was standing up to my knees in the stuff.

I always checked my torch battery after that one. What a day. I was washing the dirt out of my ears for weeks afterwards. But you’ve got to laugh.

And ever since, I’ve always chuckled when I see a green candle.


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