Wee Willie Winkie runnin’ through the toon,
Upstairs doonstairs in his nichtie-goon,
Chapping at the windaes, peekin’ through the locks,
Are a’ the children in their beds, it’s past eight o’clock.
(slightly customised version of Scottish nursery rhyme –
Wee Willie Winkie is the Scottish equivalent of the Sandman)
THE NIGHT began just like any other. Mum and Dad had bundled my brother and I up the stairs and into our pyjamas in the expectation of a child-free evening in front of the telly. And, as usual, we chattered across the room for as long as it took. In those days, my little brother really was my little brother. I was seven, nearly grown up, he was still a baby at only five.
Back then I was afraid of the dark. But neither of my parents would have known about my recurring nightmare, the one where I had to hide because the Bogey Man had come to get me and the only place I could think of was under the hearthrug in the sitting room. Of course, he would find me and then I would wake up. Nor would they have known of the one where I would wake up and go downstairs to talk to them, only to find two hooded faceless figures sitting by the fire like Reapers. I would flee the house and keep running until they caught up with me. Then I would wake up for real.
Regardless, the hall light was always left on, the bedroom door ajar to let in just enough light to keep the ghosties at bay.
My brother and I had been chattering for some time, when we heard someone creeping about at the top of the stair. When the hideous shadow appeared on the bedroom door, we knew instantly who it was. I clutched the bedclothes and braced myself, unable to bear the thought of what might happen next.
The bulbous nose, the shape of a Rumplestiltskin hat, the jarring whiny voice … everything about this creature reminded me of the baddie in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, who frightened me more than anything that Doctor Who could throw at me.
The Voice asked if we were fast asleep.
Ours trembled, as we replied “No.”
“Do you know who I am?”
“Yes,” we whimpered.
“Who am I then?”
“Wee Willie Winkie.”
“Exactly. And you know what happens to little children who don’t go to sleep after eight o’clock, don’t you?”
“Well then, go to sleep. No talking.”
“Yes, Wee Willie Winkie.”
Then the Shadow was gone, the only indication of what had passed the creak of the dodgy floorboard by the landing bannister.
For an hour or so, we were too terrified to utter a sound. It was a blessing when at long last the dreams came to take us away.
I WAS in my late thirties when I recounted my traumatic encounter to a friend.
“… and then when I went to school next day, I told all my classmates that Wee Willie Winkie had come to my bedroom door, and they laughed at me, because I still believed he actually existed. Shit.”
“The devious jammy …”
“It was him. In all the years since that happened, it never crossed my mind that it was a setup. Duh, wot a plonker. Ah well, at least I don’t have to scratch my head now trying to figure out if it really did happen.”
TODAY, as I was about to pen my tale, I looked up Wee Willie Winkie on Wikipedia. Seems we were double had. The original nursery rhyme clearly states that all children should be in their beds by ten …
Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2015