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Stairs & Our Attitudes Toward Them

I wouldn't say I was scared of stairs, but at night the stairs and the hall are very creepy. Now that I think of it some of my scariest nightmares have been based in the hallway/stairwell of my house.
 
Maybe there are Trolls under stairs, like bridges?

After all, stairs are bridges of a sort.

Come to think of it, there are also closets under many flights of stairs (*), and God only knows the things that live in closets. <g>

(*) For what it's worth, I originally keyboarded "frights of stairs."
 
The more I think about it, according to my own personal schema stairs distance horrors.

So do city blocks and cross-streets.
 
Anyway. I now have a fear of stairs (at night). And switches (I sometimes have nightmares were I’m in the dark, constantly trying to switch a light on. One of these involves a VERY dim neon strip light that just keeps blinking and buzzing and never quite illuminates the surroundings).

There is a thread on here somewhere explaining that. Apparently it is not possible to switch lights on or off in dreams. I cant remember the whole explanation but I will search for it later.

I too am frightened of stairs. As a child we moved house a lot and in every house that we have lived, I have had a nightmare associated with the stairs. In the first house I used to dream that I was being pushed down them but when I reached the bottom, the floor had gone. In the next house I used to dream that there was a disembodied hand on the quarter landing as the stairs turned and it used to try to strangle me. In the next house the stairs also had a quarter landing and I had a recurring nightmare that someone on those stairs used to stab me in the stomach and I would bleed to death. A similar dream in the next house, although strangely the one that I live in now I only have nightmares about my bedroom.

I've just read that back and I think I need a therapist :shock:
 
EvilPumpkin said:
Apparently it is not possible to switch lights on or off in dreams.

I remember a dream I had in late 1995 in which I turned off an electric light. I remember the date because my Dad had died a few months previously, I'd inherited his Windows 3.1 computer, and I was then keeping a dream diary on it.

I dreamed that I was carrying a trouble light on a long electric cord through the flooded basement of my childhood Catholic church. The cord was plugged in upstairs on the sanctuary level.

"What an idiot I am," I thought, "carrying an electric light through knee-deep water!"

So I pulled on the cord until the plug came out!
 
EvilPumpkin said:
There is a thread on here somewhere explaining that.

Great. I'm cured! I can sleep now.

<CLICK>

Buuuuuuzzzzzzzzzz

<CLICK>

Arrrggghhhhh!
 
I used to have a real fear of the stairs in my parents house. At the top of the landing the banister was closed in, so that there was a big enough gap between the banister and the door to a bedroom. I always had a feeling that someone was hiding at the top ready to jump out at me..... then again I have two older brothers, one of whom took great delight in doing just that, so it's no wonder I was scared of them.

I suppose the fear of stairs may come from the fact that they are often considered to be a passageway from one world to the next. Downstairs is the realm of the living and upstairs is where you travel to the land of dreams. So on the stairs you are not quite awake and not quite asleep either.
 
hallybods said:
I suppose the fear of stairs may come from the fact that they are often considered to be a passageway from one world to the next. Downstairs is the realm of the living and upstairs is where you travel to the land of dreams. So on the stairs you are not quite awake and not quite asleep either.

But I've spent many of my happiest DAYLIGHT hours in second and third floor bedrooms (first and second, British).
 
OldTimeRadio said:
But I've spent many of my happiest DAYLIGHT hours in second and third floor bedrooms (first and second, British).

:shock: Please don't tell me what you were doing in there. ;)

Ah, but I never mentioned the time of day, just that traditionally the bedroom is where you tend to sleep. Well most of the time anyway.
 
TheInspector said:
gncxx said:
Xanatico said:
At least it is one place where you can be safe from Daleks.

Not any more! Just like Piranha II: now they can fly!

They've been able to fly since The Chase from the 60s

They were flying a couple of weeks ago too, I saw them. Unless you're talking about piranha.
 
My other half does not like stairs but won't get a bungelow.

I like sitting on the stairs, especially the ones up to the top floor of our current house as I can see my garden and trees and the river and Wales beyond, and its warm.

I don't like plate glass windows in the dark and find it difficult to walk past them. In my mind I can see shapes floating around as if they are in water and I'm scared that they will come up to the glass and bump it and then see me :shock: :shock: :shock:
 
Isn't the title of The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, a play by William Inge, supposed to be a metaphor for approaching death? Not immediately, but eventually?
 
More on stairs and death, WE Henley:

Madam Life's a piece in bloom
Death goes dogging everywhere:
She's the tenant of the room,
He's the ruffian on the stair.


You shall see her as a friend,
You shall bilk him once or twice;
But he'll trap you in the end,
And he'll stick you for her price.


With his kneebones at your chest,
And his knuckles in your throat,
You would reason -- plead -- protest!
Clutching at her petticoat;

But she's heard it all before,
Well she knows you've had your fun,
Gingerly she gains the door,
And your little job is done.
 
My Grandparents lived(and still do) in a typical, 3-bedroom, late-fifties council terrace. It has a narrow staircase and when I was small, I used to stay there at weekends. I used to think that I could see someone in the shadows, lurking in the dark on the landing. I used to get laughed at but I could swear that I felt watched from the upstairs landing. I used to have some really frightening nightmares in that house.

I've always had a thing about those wrought-iron, outdoor, spiral staircases. I remember sitting on the bottom step of one, waiting for my parents to come out of a video shop. The bottom of the spiral stairs was next to the door of the video shop. It was a summer evening and I remember feeling eyes boring into my head. I glanced up and saw a man looking down at me from between the metal railings of the stairs. I could only make out eyes and a mouth but it was enough to make me jump and run like hell to tell my parents. As usual, I got accused of having an imagination :-(
 
Isn't the title of The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, a play by William Inge, supposed to be a metaphor for approaching death? Not immediately, but eventually?

It always finds us eventually.

That said I was literally scared of the dark at the top of the stairs in a house we had in the 70s, I was a kid then and the house had a staircase that turned through 180degrees on a tiny landing halfway up, so the dark upper landing was at your back as soon as you were on the bottom step. :eek:

Then when you got halfway up, you had to face it, apart from the space behind the upper railing bit where something could still be waiting to jump out. :eek:
 
This thread just reminded me of the brilliant short story by Thomas M. Disch, Descending, which I first discovered years ago in the great IHTM thread, The Strange Room.
Here's the short story,
http://web.archive.org/web/20070213...n/classics/classics_archive/disch/disch1.html

And here's the IHTM thread, http://forum.forteantimes.com/index.php?threads/the-strange-room.4464/#post-81583

Edit*
Just attached the story as a pdf file which I made from the text, for anyone who wants to read it later.
 

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I sat on the stairs and read Amityville Horror once, i felt safe there, but the book scared me, it was Jody the pig that did it.
I did stay at a friends once and the one thing i hated was the long landing, i used to run the hell down it, it was like someone was watching me, over my shoulder, the stairs never bothered me
 
(Transplanted from the Top Hat Man thread ... )

I've spoken to my Mum to try and get some more info on this.

She stated it began when she was around 11 and ended at around 18 (when she fell pregnant with my older sister).

She stated he actually changed his appearance slightly over time. He always had the black cloak and black hat, but his face was skeletal to begin with and gradually morphed into a tanned skinned face with high cheekbones.

The dreams themselves started out with him going to grab her at the top of her stairs with her jumping to the bottom to avoid his grasp. This then morphed into the kitchen scenario.

Finally she stated in the last few dreams she had of him, he began calling her name, which he never done previous.

I wouldn't have given this a second thought unless it bore a striking resemblance to this seemingly common visitor! (He can bloody well keep away from me!).

There is most probably a thread on here about this but this sounds like a thing that happened to me as a kid and as a mum to my all my kids aged between 25 and 7. Basically being afraid to go upstairs alone or be upstairs alone, and being afraid of the man at the top of the stairs who follows you down. For years I would walk sideways down the stairs to avoid him. I never saw him but definitely felt his ominous presence. Anyone else?
 
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There is most probably a thread on here about this but this sounds like a thing that happened to me as a kid and as a mum to my all my kids aged between 25 and 7. Basically being afraid to go upstairs alone or be upstairs alone, and being afraid of the man at the top of the stairs who follows you down. For years I would walk sideways down the stairs to avoid him. I never saw him but definitely felt his ominous presence. Anyone else?

I used to be scared to go down the stairs in the evening as I was sure somebody was standing at the top. For a while, I was convinced that they would shoot me in the back with a bow and arrow?!
 
... Come to think of it, there are also closets under many flights of stairs (*), and God only knows the things that live in closets.

Something just occurred to me, so I'd like to ask ...

In my experience closet or storage spaces beneath staircases were

- found only in the oldest houses occupied by my family, and hence rare / strange;
- used for storing items nobody would seek for years or even decades (i.e., held the oddest items); and
- the closets most likely to be declared off-limits to us kids.

Has anyone had experience with a more "regularly used" closet or storage space beneath a staircase?
 
Something just occurred to me, so I'd like to ask ...

In my experience closet or storage spaces beneath staircases were

- found only in the oldest houses occupied by my family, and hence rare / strange;
- used for storing items nobody would seek for years or even decades (i.e., held the oddest items); and
- the closets most likely to be declared off-limits to us kids.

Has anyone had experience with a more "regularly used" closet or storage space beneath a staircase?
In the UK, understairs closets are not uncommon. They are certainly a feature in the c.1930s semi-detached and terraced houses that my extended family and family friends tended to live in, in the North of England. From the same sample, they were reasonably often turned into extra water closets. The first house we bought in Leeds was of a similar vintage, and had even had a shower installed as well as a WC in the understairs space.
 
I've known others who lived in houses with closets under the staircase, and those closets were most often used as coat closets, because they were near the front door.
In San Francisco, I've also seen those closets rented out as bedrooms, but that more often happened with walk-in closets or kitchen pantries.
Better than a tent on the sidewalk I guess.
 
Has anyone had experience with a more "regularly used" closet or storage space beneath a staircase?

On the ground floor we have two doors next to each other under the stairs, the larger 'head height' one used for hanging coats and an electricity meter and the smaller one has shelves full of dvds, an ironing board and tool boxes. So yes, these are regularly used on a daily basis. Each has their own light switch.
The under-stair space on the next floor up has a Christmas tree and boxes of decorations, luggage and camera tripods. This one gets used about once a week as it also holds our collection of reusable grocery shopping bags. A torch is required for this one.

The house I grew up in had a washing machine under the stairs and in a ground floor flat I lived in for a while in the early 90's (the stairs were for the upper flat, separate front door), the previous tenant was using as a bedroom, despite there being an actual bedroom only feet away. There was a mattress, lamp, radio-alarm and a Led Zep 4 poster pinned to the slanted ceiling.
 
We currently have a cupboard under the stairs ( 1930s semi) and I store loads in there. The kids are frightened of it because it leads straight down to the cellar underneath with only gappy floorboards between us and it. It was used as a loo for the previous couples mum when they cared for her when she was dying. She frequents our bedroom still but that’s a story for another thread.
 
...Has anyone had experience with a more "regularly used" closet or storage space beneath a staircase?

Generally, these days, they tend to be well employed - we have much more in the way of 'stuff', and space is maybe at a premium in a way it wasn't for our less profligate forebears.

After years in a very tiny two up two down (without even the 'one out the back') my gran and grandad moved to a new and larger house where the understair cupboard was basically used in the way you suggest: long term storage of rarely used and/or forgotten items. It also occasionally housed my Irish grandmother; she often retired to it during thunderstorms - of which she was terrified - and 'gran in the cupboard' became our go to phrase for thundery weather.

Of course, even in very cheaply built terraced housing the space where and understair cupboard would be might be taken up by the stairs down to a cellar or half cellar - which probably creates a whole set of other issues for the nervous of disposition.
 
We must have another related thread somewhere, because I'm pretty sure that I've pointed this out before.

In spatial terms a staircase represents a steep, narrow incline tightly enclosed between sheer drops, or sheer walls, or a combination of the two. (In terms of scale, there is clearly a huge range of circumstances - but I believe the underlying effect is universal.)

In terms of the vast majority of human existence this kind of space would contain all kinds of hazardous potential, and even though we now use such spaces every day, and without thought, it's no real surprise to me that, when the conditions are right (or wrong), they might retain an underlying atmosphere of environmental dread.
 
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