The scene is a dark basement in an 18th-century town house, built on the site of an ancient monastery, within the walls of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
A couple is busy doing routine DIY tasks, when suddenly they put down their tools. A cacophony of banging is coming from upstairs. And that’s strange, because there’s no one else living in the house.
“At first, we thought the noise must be coming from next door,” says Cate McKeon. “Then we realised it was coming from our kitchen.
“So we ran upstairs, and when we got to the kitchen, we found the cupboard doors, about a dozen of them, all standing open at right angles. Yet they had been closed when we went down to the basement. It was inexplicable.”
And, over the coming months, more strange things happened. When Cate’s husband, James, invited his sister to stay, she woke up the next morning to find that a cross that she had been wearing around her neck, attached to a chain she hadn’t been able to undo for years, was lying neatly on the pillow beside her.
“Then one day, a friend came over and we found her in the sitting room, head in hands,” Cate recalls. “She said: ‘It’s all the people. There’s loads of people walking around your house.’”
It is by no means unusual, it seems, to move into a house and find you’re sharing it with previous occupants, none of whom are alive.
When actress Joanna Lumley moved into her 18th-century parsonage at Goodnestone in Kent, she was confronted by a ghostly removals man, in old-fashioned leather jerkin, who demanded that she leave.
“We experienced many strangenesses,” she says, in her autobiography, No Room For Secrets. “Lights that turned themselves on in the attic, no matter how often we turned them off. Footsteps across the big, spare room when we had friends to lunch in the kitchen below.”
Having looked out of the window one night to see a freshly dug grave that was gone by morning, she decided that was the final straw. She and husband, Stephen Barlow, sold up and moved out.
By contrast, comedian Jack Dee decided he was not going to be driven out by spirits. He hired a faith healer to exorcise his home in Wandsworth, London, after he and his wife, Jane, started having exactly the same nightmares.
Following two visits from the exorciser, the Dee household is now reported to be 100 per cent spectre-free.
So how do you find someone to evict unwanted house guests? Well, if you’re a fan of Ghostbusters, you’ll know that help is at hand.
Experienced medium Suzanne Hadwin, for example, will do it for £60 a day, plus petrol money.
“Often, a spirit has been drawn to a house because someone has been using a Ouija board,” says Gateshead-based Suzanne, who has carried out ghost-removal work for the local council.
“I burn incense and sage leaves to help cleanse the house, call upon my own spirit guides and use the power of prayer.
“The aim is to draw in all that energy and send the spirit to where it needs to go. Sometimes, I will just say to the spirit: ‘Go to the light’, and it goes.”
Former West Country marketing executive Rita Jelinski had no idea what was causing her insomnia. Then her boss introduced her to an ex-fireman who was a medium and faith healer.
“He discovered there was a woman in my house who’d been there for 100 years, just waiting for someone like me to pick up on her presence,” she says. “The sound of creaking floorboards was waking me up at night, as if someone was walking across my bedroom.”
For Rita, finding she was a beacon for stray spirits came as an exciting new chapter in her life.
Rita has now discovered that she is sharing her new house with a 200-year-old family, wearing authentic, buckled shoes of the time.
“I got the impression of quite a strict, reasonably well-off family living there,” says local medium Marcus Burnett.
“But if spirits are negative, or latch onto some fear or unhappiness in the lives of the people living there, you can have a real fight on your hands.
“It can also turn out that flashing lights are down to faulty electrics, and ghostly knocking due to radiator pipes. So the spirits get the flak – but quite often, it can just be the fault of the utilities.”