The ghost solidified, swirling in a brown mist; like a mixture of a pure white soul and gravy granules. Betty told me he got like this sometimes, when his temper was up. Perhaps he’d heard something on the radio about youth crime or a neighbour started mowing the lawn on a sunny day. I mean, it’s not on, is it? On the few days you can catch a bit of sun in the garden, you can’t hear yourself think for bloody lawnmowers. Those were the kinds of things that set him off. Mind you, that’s not to say he was an angry ghost, just like he’d never been that angry when alive.
“So, Betty, what is it this time?”
“Dunno, Joe. He did hear them MPs talking about standards. That can rub him up the wrong way… Should have seen him yesterday when they was talking about immigration. Went bright purple he did!”
“Purple like UKIP?”
“Ooh, yes! Hadn’t thought of that. Do they have politics on the other side, Joe?”
“Don’t think so. Politics don’t usually bother people after they’ve passed on.”
“No. But you never know, do you? In that Ghost Whisper program the ghosts are all trying to say sorry. My Bert wouldn’t say sorry for nowt, more’s the pity. A right bighead he was.”
Betty took out a handkerchief and blew her nose. Her chin was beginning to quiver. Joe put a protective arm around his client.
“There, there, love.”
“Ooh, I do miss him, Joe!”
“I know, love. I know.”
Joe patted down his overalls as he tried to locate the Customer Order Sheet. “I’m sorry. I know it’s hard, love. He’s company for you, like. But you do want me to send him on? So he finds proper rest?”
Betty sighed, looking up with a resigned smile on her (remarkably well preserved) face. “Yes… I do think it’s best. But it’s best to wait until the raspberry canes are down. If you exorcised him before then, I’d never hear the end of it.”
Joe made an appointment for the following month. He hoped to see Bert off before the football season started. That was his busiest time, as widows wanted rid of their dead husbands so they could watch the telly in peace.