“You want ghost stories,” he said. “I’ve got a ghost story.”
“It was a while back, the late 1980’s if my memory serves. It was late, almost midnight. I was making my way on foot to the river crossing at Blackfriars, having spent a pleasant evening at the Fox and Firkin in Elephant Castle, an establishment which has since shuttered their doors.
It used to be a good place to tip a glass or two though. My wife, my sweetheart, the love of my life, tells me that the bar closed because I moved and no longer supported it. There may be some truth to that statement, but I doubt it is 100 percent accurate and I am sure, it could never be proven.
“There has been a bridge crossing at Blackfriars since the mid 1700’s but not the bridge I was crossing that night. This was a newer bridge. Designed by Joseph Cubitt this new bridge was opened almost exactly 100 years after the original. Opened by Queen Victoria in 1869, it was. As I set foot on the southern end that evening, I spied someone at mid-span, climbing the rail. It appeared to be a small slender young woman in a long, flowing white frock, her hair done up in an old fashioned way, wrapped on the crown of her head. I sensed that she intended to jump. I shouted for her to wait and began to run that direction. She glanced at me, then looked down at the inky, dark waters below. She silently and deliberately stepped from the railing just before I reached her.
“I hit the side hard, looking down; nothing, no girl, no splash, nothing… not a trace of her. I stood on the bridge looking below as the clocks began striking midnight. My god, I’ve got to get help. I ran on and when I reached Queen Victoria, happened upon a constable. Breathlessly I related my story of the jumper and implored him to call for assistance.
“’Was it a girl?’ he asked. ‘A slim young girl in a white dress?’
“I nodded my head and begged him to help.
“’Did you see her hit the water?’
“’No,’ I shook my head.
“’No one ever does,’ he continued. ‘You see sir, it happens occasionally, always at midnight when there’s a new moon. People, like you, you see her jump but she never hits the water. We’ve had search boats and divers out time and again. There’s nothing to find. She’s not there. Scotland Yard has even gone so far to hire a consultant. That consultant told us that she is an apparition. A ghost if you will. Go home sir. What you saw tonight may have happened long ago but it didn’t happen today. There’s nothing to be done.’
“’Are you certain?’ I asked.
“He nodded his head. I staggered, in shock, slowly towards the embankment and hailed a cab to take me home.”
There were two prompts. A photo and a quote. The photo supplied wasn’t doing it for me but the quote begged for attention.
I stood on the bridge at midnight as the clocks were striking the hour -Longfellow