Silent Witness

A short while ago I was crossing Blackheath. It was, I guess, about 8.30pm – maybe it was much later – my memory is hazy now about virtually everything except The Noise. Certainly it was getting quite cold and very dark and there was virtually no one else around on that eerie, twilit heath.

It was then that I heard it. A strange, mournful, moaning sound coming from somewhere in front of me. As I approached, a tall, hooded figure with its back to me seemed hunched over, intent on whatever it was doing. The wailing increased. An inhuman, metallic honk of a moan. Something must be in distress. For a second, The Noise split in short, angry squawks, then went back to wailing again.

I got a little closer to the swaddled, hooded figure. Not too close – that would be daft – but close enough to see what it was. A man, all by himself with just the crows for company, playing long, doleful notes on a saxophone, coat buttoned and hood up against the cold. I think the poor sod was even wearing gloves.

What’s the story behind that one? I can only assume it was the result of one of those “It’s that – that – that instrument – or me” type conversations. That he had gone to practice where whoever he lived with wouldn’t belt him one.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t nearly the strangest thing that’s ever been seen on Blackheath. I’m actually pretty sure it’s not the strangest thing I’ve seen in the area, but it’s one of those little odd moments that seem extremely eloquent in their simplicity – that tell a bigger tale than might just first appear.

I’d like to hear about the oddest things you’ve seen in Greenwich. I bet you’ve got much better stories than my lonesome sax man. Points will be awarded for storytelling prowess.

And, while we’re about it, c’mon – ‘fess up to the Phantom – have you ever done anything that might seem perfectly sensible at the time but afterwards has occurred to you might have looked just the teensiest bit odd to passers-by? Hey – wouldn’t it be weird if the stories coincided…


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