A few years ago I had an experience which I find hard to explain. I have made my stance quite clear in previous posts regarding the supernatural but this singular incident stands out from the crowd. It is the moment when I was closest to believing in the existence of ghosts. Woolwich, a town in south east London, is not well known for its paranormal activity but it is where I found myself at 4am one morning. I was a bus driver, and as such, a regular patron of the less populated hours.
Nothing seemed unusual about that particular morning as I collected my bus from Belvedere Bus Depot. The shadows danced no more provocatively than usual and the faint London mist seemed no more sinister than it had on previous mornings. I was allocated DWL30 (DAF-Wright-Long-30), which in itself is nothing newsworthy. The route I was scheduled to serve would start at Lewisham and, once I had performed the standard vehicle checks, I set forth for this location. The most efficient route would take me through Woolwich town centre and it was there that my morning took a turn for the bizarre.
As I drove through the town centre I glanced in my rearview mirror and was greeted with an unexpected sight. Sitting there in what I had earlier confirmed to be an empty bus, was a figure in white. This was no ordinary figure, even when you remove that fact that I was driving an empty bus. This was a figure of a man wearing a 1970’s white disco suit. As clear as day, I can remember his flared trousers and ruffled shirt as he sat, uninvited and unexpected, on the third seat from the back, to the left of the centre aisle. I often run the events through my mind and am amazed at just how much information I managed to glean from what was no more than a quick glance, but it still does not retract from the vividness of my memory. He was there, or at least that is what my mind would lead me to believe. The traffic signal turned red in front of me and I stopped the bus, giving me the opportunity to turn my head and look down the aisle. The man was no longer present and this surprised me. My first assumption had been that the figure was an undiscovered sleeper, a passenger who had fallen unconscious and had remained on the bus, and his sudden absence threw me into a mild panic. I didn’t know what to think or do as I sat stationary at what had switched to a green light; thankfully there was no other traffic on the road at that time in the morning. My mind raced to find a plausible explanation and finally settled on the fact that I had found little sleep the night before and it was exhaustion that was haunting me not some spectral presence. I was tired, that was all. I was seeing things that existed only in my mind. I was a victim of a sleep deprived hallucination, nothing more, and it was nothing a strong cup of coffee couldnt cure. Yes, I considered the possibility that at some point during the 1970’s a man, on his way to a local disco, could have been involved in a fatal traffic incident and that his spirit could conceivably haunt that particular intersection but I found it far easier to blame my lack of sleep. Maybe I am just unwilling to admit that I had indeed experienced a paranormal event, but somehow I doubt it. I want to believe, truly I do, but if I can find a way to rationalise the situation I will. I am a firm believer in one thing, if ever I do encounter beings from beyond the grave there will be no doubt and no room for interpretation. I will keep looking and I will forever be a hopeful sceptic.