Cryptid Corner, Opinion

Cryptid Corner: Gef the talking mongoose


Illustration by Damon Beard

Imagine, if you will, sitting in your house on a quiet little farming hamlet in the rural country.

The sun has begun to set after a hard day of work and you finally have time to relax and unwind from the busy workday.

The wind blows across the fields as the smell of supper fills the air, the only noise is that of the farm animals settling in for the night as well.

But suddenly, the ambient noise is broken by a screeching and raspy voice coming from inside the walls of your house demanding to be served bacon and chocolate!

That is precisely the situation that the Irving family found themselves getting into in the fall of 1931 when Gef the talking mongoose first arrived at their homestead.

Gef, pronounced Jeff, was a supposed talking mongoose that moved into the walls of the Irving’s homestead on the Isle of Man not long after the family moved to the island after the father, James Irving, had lost his job because of the first World War.

Along with his wife, Margaret, and 13-year-old daughter, Voirrey, James Irving moved to the Isle of Man for a quieter life of working with the island’s main export, livestock.

As the family settled in and months passed, they began hearing noises coming from within the walls of their farmhouse. At first, these sounds were simple scratches and rustling similar to a mouse or rat infestation.

After the initial discovery, over the course of a few weeks, these noises turned vocal, resembling barks or a baby’s cry.

Yet again, after another brief period of time had passed, these simple vocal interjections turned into full-fledged sentences.

Now seemingly able to communicate with the presence living inside their wall, the Irving family asked all manner of question, most important being, “What are you?”

The voice inside, proclaiming its name was Gef, stated that it was “An extra, extra clever mongoose.” Elaborating, Gef said he was a ghost of a marsh mongoose born near Delhi, India, in 1852 who simply decided to take the same form once again after his death.

Despite being a supernatural presence in the family’s house, Gef did not seem to be malicious at all, but rather, became a beloved member of the family quite quickly.

Gef would consistently hold conversations with Voirrey and keep her company while her parents were out working, and he would even contribute to talks of gossip about other townsfolk and sing songs of the time.

The talking mongoose wasn’t so much treated as a pet as he was a regular member of the family, reportedly accompanying them into town and tidying up around the house.

However, like mongooses — yes that is the proper plural of mongoose — tend to be, Gef was a bit mischievous and a recurring nuisance.

He liked to make it be known to the family whenever he was hungry, demanding his favorite treat of bacon with no fat, the lean was his favorite part after all.

Aside from food, Gef also wanted his entertainment provided, and whenever Gef was bored or tired of singing himself, he would yell at the nearest family member to “Put the bloody gramophone on!”

Along with making demands from the family, Gef had a variety of phrases that he enjoyed shouting at random when he was bored, with his favorites consisting of “I’m a freak!” “Nuts!” and “Put a sock in it!”

As word of this supposed creature spread around town, the Irvings were soon visited by all manner of paranormal researchers and investigators.

While many of the townsfolk either grew passive about the phenomenon or simply did not care, these investigators spent large amounts of time trying to decipher what Gef actually was.

Some paranormal researchers theorize that Gef is an example of a tulpa, a type of entity brought to manifestation in the physical world by a large amount of thought dedication.

Other researchers simply believed Gef to be a spirit or extra-planar entity that had taken residence in the Irving’s house. As the Isle of Man was no stranger to folklore of Faeries and Faefolk, this concept was more widely thought of as plausible by the island residents.

Now of course, whenever visitors came around, Gef was quick to retreat to his hiding place in the wall. Only two or three other islanders had ever heard Gef’s voice, and he very rarely interacted with the investigators aside from reportedly throwing rocks at their heads.

The only physical evidence seemingly left behind by Gef were a few paw prints and fur which was written off as belonging to the family dog by British zoologist Reginald Pocock who stated, “Most certainly none of them (tracks) was made by a mongoose.”

With a lack of physical evidence and a hesitancy by Gef to interact with the paranormal researchers, folks were left wondering if Gef ever truly existed at all.

In 1935, historian Richard Lambert and paranormal detective Harry Price visited the Irving household.

Upon investigation, the two noted that the interior of the farmhouse walls were abnormally hollow, theoretically allowing any noise made within the walls to be carried to any other point in the house through the wall as one large sounding board.

Other detractors stated that Gef was simply an impressive ventriloquist act by Voirrey Irving who had learned to throw her voice and fool other people, a point that was vehemently denied by Voirrey.

After James Irving’s passing in 1945, Voirrey and Margaret sold the house and moved away.

A year later, it was reported that the house’s new owner had shot and killed Gef, displaying the stuffed corpse at the homestead. Voirrey, though, denied that the body belonged to Gef, stating that he had moved on to another place as well after the family left.

Unfortunately, as the last member of the family to be acquainted with Gef, Voirrey, passed away in 2005, the current status and whereabouts of the infamous talking mongoose is left up to conjecture.

While Gef may or may not have existed at all, his tale was certainly cemented in British paranormal groups as being one of the most bizarre cases in the past century.

Perhaps Gef is still out there, taunting scientists and paranormalists alike with knowledge that now only he is privy to.

After all, one of the only reported sentences of him speaking to an investigator was, “If you knew what I knew, you’d know a hell of a lot!”