One of my favourite Fortean stories of all time is that of Gef the talking mongoose – an unusual poltergeist from the Isle of Man.
The strange tale of Gef begins in 1931 in an isolated farmhouse on the Isle of Man. The Irving family began to notice unusual noises in their ancestral home. Spitting, hissing and even barking could be heard coming out of thin air. Eventually, the sounds morphed into something similar to a baby cooing and gurgling.
More bemused than scared, Mr Irving began experimenting with the disembodied noise and this is when he found out that the entity making the noises was intelligent because whenever he would make a noise, the thing would try to parrot it back at him. It seemed that the thing had the ability to learn and after just a few weeks of copying and learning from Mr Irving, the thing was able to speak perfectly good English.
Bafflingly, the invisible entity told the family that its name was Gef. Bizarrely, it also told the family that it was an extra-clever little mongoose and, although Gef had revealed his name and species, he still remained hidden from view, but would often talk to the family seemingly from inside the walls, or hidden in the long grass when the family were outdoors.
As the days and weeks went by, Gef slowly revealed more about himself to the enthralled family. Gef was, he claimed, born in 1852 in Delhi. This is interesting because there are India legends which speak of the ability of the mongoose to talk.
Another interesting fact which would seem to back up the strange story somewhat is the fact that mongooses did in fact live on the Isle of Man in 1912 when they were used to kill rabbits which were disturbing farmers’ crops.
Eventually Gef chose to reveal himself, but only to Mr Irving’s teenage daughter. She described Gef as a weasel. Although Gef was only seen by the Irving girl, Mr Irving was permitted to touch Gef and noted that the ghostly mongoose had very soft fur and pin sharp teeth which cut into MR Irving’s finger. Concerned for his friend, Gef advised Mr Irving to put ointment on the wound, lest it become infected, so it seems that the unusual poltergeist had some sort of physical presences.
Like the Bell Witch poltergeist, Gef was very fond of gossip and he would often regale the Irving family with local gossip he would collect after listening to their neighbours’ private conversations. Some of the neighbours even reported hearing strange animal noises or voices when Gef was apparently around.
So far, I have made Gef seem like a perfectly charming little talking mongoose, but all was not roses for the family while Gef was around. In typical poltergeist fashion, Gef would throw objects around, make a huge amount of noise and generally make his presence known in the most disruptive ways possible.
Gef the talking mongoose was also a bit of a joker and, on one occasion, he pretended that he had been poisoned. He made a huge amount of fuss about his agony, which really upset the Irving family and sent them into a state of panic. After this farce, the family got so annoyed that they told Gef they were going to move out. This made Gef change his ways after he asked the family. “ Would you go away and leave me?”
He was evidently very fond of the Irving family and did not want to be abandoned by his human friends.
The Irving family mysteriously and abruptly sold their old farmhouse in 1937. Most of the locals believe Gef left with the family himself and this was almost the end for the tale of Gef the talking mongoose, except for a few sightings of an odd mongoose like creature on the property, which was spotted by the new owner of the farmhouse in 1947. Perhaps he went back for a visit, for old time’s sake.
This story sounds too strange and fantastical to be true, but there were a number of witnesses to strange goings on at the Isle of Man farmhouse back in the 1930s, so who knows? Perhaps the truth really is stranger than fiction.