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London Ghost Story

London Ghost Story

By GLEN S PERRY - 2 Reviews

I have often walked across The Thames. That great river that flows majestically, almost serpentine-like through England's capital city of London.

At first it was a strange experience. Not for me the need to use one of the plethora of little, or not so little, footbridges that criss-cross the wide expanse of water that stretches from places such as Waterloo to Embankment for example.

But it soon became the so many other things...since I had passed away!

And tonight was no exception.

I'd always relished visiting the Tower Of London when I was alive. So I'd set off at around 10 PM, the usual time for my increasingly frequent 'Thames Meanders' .

I planned to cross over from a spot near to Tower Bridge on the South Bank with the aim of passing through Traitor's Gate and on into the magnificent Tower itself for a gentle nose around.

One of death's little pleasures...the ability to float about unnoticed!

Well that's what I had thought. Of course there were those alive who possessed the ability to catch a glimpse of you and some of those who were very definitely not alive who could still cause you problems.

I'd glided down Weavers Lane, on past the splendid modernity of City Hall and then travelled across the dark, icy waters of the river towards my intended destination.

Physically I felt absolutely nothing though. The ice-cold fingers of Old Father Thames had long since lost their ability to rise up and snatch me in a death grip.

I could still see everything as before, I could still smell all the smells of the city and I could still sense danger...but the coldness of the night air and the cloying dampness of the river I felt not. I merely just sensed them.

The city had certainly changed since the day's of Wren and Hawksmoor...God knows it had changed dramatically since I had been born... some forty-five years ago!

But, as I made my way over the river, 'It was still London', I thought,...'the greatest place on earth!'.

Gliding over The Thames, I couldn't help but recollect scenes of long-ago Frost Fairs. Fresh-faced children skating gleefully on solid ice where only days before barges laden with all manner of goods had ploughed their course with ease and bloated corpses had flowed away, without cause for concern, to muddy resting places.

One sense that had undoubtedly been heightened since my passing was that I was now in possession of an unerring sense of the past. Every street, every house, every memorial, every churchyard I passed. No matter where I travelled throughout the city, the invisible layers of the years often just peeled away in front of my very eyes.

At times, this new life I was 'living' was like being in one of modern day London's technologically-advanced cinemas...watching all history in a conveniently-packaged film at breakneck speed.

Wondering around Spitalfields the other day, curiosity causing me to take a rare daylight sojourn, I'd arrived to witness people happily shopping in the modern day market, people happily shopping in the many shiny new shops that have popped up alongside the market, only for the whole scene to dissolve in the blink of a human eye.

All that was left remaining were the streets in the immediate vicinity, shadowy pencil-drawn houses, shops and ale-houses...shadowy pencil-drawn people running about here and there. Familiar cries of traders from the area of the old market...and standing, imposingly above it all, in all its majestic glory, the timeless Christ Church.

I stood motionless for a while, gazing up skyward, open-mouthed at the wonderful whiteness of the Portland Stone-built edifice in front of me...against a cloudless, blue sky...purity seemingly exuding from its every pore.

I am certain that I was seeing the great old church exactly as it was when it was first built...some 400 years ago. It had stood so proudly for so long, I thought to no-one but myself...and I secretly hoped it would do so for another 400 years or more!

I was suddenly brought crashing back into present day London though.

Despite being in the middle of one of my 'visions', for want of a better word perhaps, I was immediately aware of a danger to the life of someone within my sphere of being.

Sure enough, a young girl, in her early 20's at most I would say, was bending down nonchalantly rummaging around in her brown leather tote bag for her mobile phone or some such totally unaware that high above her a towering crane (working on a demolition site nearby) had lost its hold on its very heavy load.

Mustering every ounce of psychic effort I could, I was able to propel the unknowing girl along the pavement with my ghostly force and out of harms way before a pile of masonry crashed down onto where she had previously been crouching.

Her dusty face was a mixture of relief and disbelief in equal measure.

I looked on still concerned for the girl's well being but I could not intervene further. One day she would find an answer.

'Guardian Angels' do exist you see...they're just far more random than you ever could have imagined, I guess?

I had been looking forward to tonight's trip to the Tower.

Although I have moved on from the world you inhabit, I still have regular days, or that's how it seems to me at least.

Sure, I need a moment or two of regeneration every 24 hour period but this can occur at different times of the day.

One night, just before midnight I seem to recall, I was in the middle of Trafalgar Square, taking in the sight and smell of the magnificent Norway Spruce Christmas tree, when I 'faded out' completely only to 'reawaken' on the other side of the river near to Waterloo Station early the very next morning.

The whole process is akin to the recharging of a battery, I suppose...but where I go in between times I cannot say.

As I mentioned earlier, I still possess an innate sense of danger. These days I truly fear for the old town I love so much.

I feel that invisible spark of fear especially on the busy streets of the city, almost palatable in the aftermath of some terrorist-afflicted atrocity.

Just the other evening I was watching an everyday scene I had witnessed countless times before at the entrance to Oxford Circus tube station.

Thousands upon thousands of human beings descending from the daylight down the many steps to the Underground on their way home from work, or perhaps shopping in Oxford Street.

Descending into an artificially lit world, casually snatching their free copies of The Standard from overhead vendors as they went, seemingly unaware that they could be descending into some terror-strewn abyss of some madman's making...from which there were no steps out!

But, as I made my way through the outer walls of The Tower Of London and on into the confines of this great bastion of England's sovereignty, I recalled that there had always been terrorists...those whose whole raison d'etre was to cause chaos and uncertainty without care for human life.

In fact, I now knew that the bitter soul of one such person still remained ensconced within the very place in which I now roamed freely.

He was, of course, Guy Fawkes.

Born in York, Fawkes was tortured, until he confessed to high treason, within the very bowels of The Tower.

He was hanged in 1606 at the age of just 35 but his neck had broken before he had time to suffer enough for his terrible deed.

As such, he was now doomed to a fate far worse than death itself. Not for him the freedom to jaunt around London's fair city...his ghostly remains were banished to forever walk forlornly within the walls of the mighty Tower Of London...a prison befitting someone who plotted so despicably against the country of his birth.

Fawkes despised phantoms like me...I knew that from my previous visits. So I made sure to keep out of his way!

Walking back across The Thames later that night I counted my death was really not so bad actually!

In life, I had profited well from my multifarious business interests, some might say 'very well indeed!'

And, for many years, I lived in a fine old house in the fairest of all London boroughs, The Royal Borough Of Kensington & Chelsea, where I'd pretty much pleased myself.

I'd never married. Had no children.

But despite the freedom money had afforded me, I'd never written a great novel...or painted a masterpiece!

True, Death had claimed me relatively early but I could still do some of the things I'd cherished in life and 'walking' around London virtually unseen was the greatest gift of all to someone like me.

Alive, I had been a fairly unremarkable person...and I was rather enjoying being a fairly unremarkable ghost!

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7 Apr, 2017
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7 mins
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