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The Christmas Vampire.

Byline: Tom Slemen

ONE Saturday afternoon in December 1970, a middle-aged woman named Judith Bird was dutifully walking her poodle Cally in the grounds of St James's Cemetery, a vast sunken churchyard next to the Anglican Cathedral that contains around 54,000 of the Victorian and Edwardian dead.

The sun's rays never shone into the hollow of the graveyard at that time of day in December, and Mrs Bird, who lived in nearby Huskisson Street, coiled her scarf around her neck and decided to head home when she caught a glimpse of something very strange.

At the northern end of the cemetery, a pall of grey smoke hung over one of the grandiose cubic tombs.

As Judith watched, the smoke drifted to the hill slope and seemed to condense. Judith's instincts said run, but her curiosity got the better of her, and she stood rooted to the spot, watching the mysterious vapour form the outline of a man. That was enough!

She picked up Cally and ran off, and as she did, she thought she heard a voice cry out.

Days later, Judith returned to the cemetery in the late afternoon with her friend Sally and Sally's boyfriend, George.

The trio lingered around the tomb were the gaseous apparition had manifested itself. George suddenly said, 'Is that him?' and the girls though he was joking, but then they saw a man in a top hat and a long cape standing next to the tomb of one Thomas Pittard.

The bizarrely dressed figure also wore a monocle, and its skin had a blue cast. A powerful aroma, like that of leaf mould, was also present.

The girls screamed and ran off. George stood his ground, but soon regretted doing so, because the outdated figure in black threw a punch at him with such force, it almost broke his jaw george staggered out of the cemetery and was unable to speak for half-an-hour when he caught up with Judith and his girlfriend. Sally reported the assault at the police station on Hope Street, and a search for the eccentric assailant was made - all to no avail.

About a week later, a gang of children fromWindsor Street were playing in the cemetery when they also encountered the eerie top-hatted man.

All of the children said the weird man had long fangs - just like a vampire. He chased the children from the dormitory of the dead with an incredible swiftness, and one of the children later returned with his Jamaican father.

The father was allegedly seized by the throat and bit on the face by the blue-skinned vampire, who darted out from one of the tombs in a corner of the cemetery.

The father and son ran out of the cemetery, and returned with a huge gang of friends and relatives, but the caped attacker could not be found.

Around this time, Judith began to have the uneasy sensation of being watched, and one night she looked out the window of her second floor Huskisson Street flat one evening to see the graveyard ghoul in the street below. His moonlit Alice-blue face turned upwards, and he gazed directly at her.

Judith retreated from the window, and stayed up all night. On the following morning she found a black rose on her doorstep. I mention this story because it seems the Vampire of St James's Cemetery is active again. Just a week ago I received an email from a student who said that a top-hatted man with a monocle peered into her ground floor Duke Street flat one evening.

The student thought it was a prankster, but as she looked on, 'the figure seemed to melt away into the night'.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 13, 2008
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