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If you are an “exceptional live-in nanny” looking to join a “friendly family of four” — two kids, ages five and seven — who live in a “lovely, spacious, historic property in a remote spot with spectacular views” in the Scottish Borders, have I got a job for you. Recently posted to childcare connection site Childcare.co.uk, a listing that has since gone viral is in search of just that… except there’s a catch: You’ll be a nanny in a haunted house.
The job itself doesn’t look to be extraordinary; according to the listing, duties include typical live-in nanny things like “preparing breakfast, getting the children ready for school, dropping off and picking up from school and assisting after school, including helping with homework and getting them ready for bed.” The parents are both “very busy professionals” who regularly travel for work; occasionally, both parents might be away for up to four nights during the week, meaning the nanny will be in charge of the kids and home while they’re gone. The offered salary is £50,000 per year (equivalent to almost $64,000) and includes 28 vacation days; you’ll also have “your own comfortable room with en-suite bathroom and private kitchen.”
Also, the house you’ll be working and living in is allegedly haunted.
The family has lived in the house for about a decade. As the listing states, they were warned that it was “haunted” when they bought it, but decided to approach the whole thing with an open mind. Since then, a whopping five nannies have come and gone within the space of a year; according to each one, “supernatural incidents” were their primary reason for leaving, “including strange noises, broken glass, and furniture moving.” The parents note that they haven’t “personally experienced any supernatural happenings” — it seems the occurrences have all happened when they’ve been out of the house — but because of what their previous nannies have told them, they’re “happy to pay above the asking rate, and feel it’s as important to be as up-front as possible to find the right person.”
And before you ask, yes, it’s a genuine listing. The Telegraph reached out to Childcare.co.uk CEO Richard Conway, who told the outlet, “When we saw the advert we were stunned. Some of the guys at HQ were skeptical but after talking to the family and their previous employees we realized it was a genuine position.” Conway did acknowledge that this particular listing is “probably the most interesting story we’ve heard”; additionally, after speaking with the family who posted the job, he noted, “The family has assured us that no harm has come to anyone living in the house, however the nanny will have to have a strong disposition.”
If you’re considering applying for the job, I have a few… uh… resources I recommend checking out in preparation for your application. Some of them are reading material; others are viewing material; and still others are listening material. But either way, I think you’ll find them quite illuminating.
Turn of the Screw by Henry James
The be-all, end-all “nanny in a haunted house” tale, Turn of the Screw was originally published as a serial in the magazine Collier’s Weekly in 1898. Later that year, it appeared in The Two Magics, a book featuring two short works by Henry James (the other being Covering End, an adaptation James wrote of his own one-act play, Summersoft). You’re probably familiar with the setup, which has since become a trope in its own right: A governess is hired to look after two orphaned children; however, she becomes convinced that the children are being menaced by an evil force and attempts to protect them. Horror and tragedy ensue.
Turn of the Screw is ambiguity done right; there are almost limitless interpretations of it, and they nearly all stand up to scrutiny. The big question is always this: Are there actually ghosts in the house? Or is the governess suffering from mental illness? The arguments for both scenarios are equally convincing; you’ll have to decide which one you think it is for yourself.
The framing device is also worth noting. It’s not an accident that we’re hearing someone else read the governess’ account to us long after the fact.
Read Turn of the Screw for free on Project Gutenberg, or buy it over at Amazon. Your local library almost certainly has it in the stacks, too.
The Innocents, by William Archibald, dir. Jack Clayton