EDDIE BRAZIL reports of an eerie 1999 paranormal case of a smiling phantom highwayman in Camberwell, London
One of the most frustrating facts about paranormal research is that we rarely see a ghost when we are consciously looking for one.
Also we have the puzzle as how and why the paranormal works and why ghosts chose to make their presence known to us.
Even the apparition of a smiling highwayman in the middle of bustling London.
Smiling highway appears in Camberwell
In 1999, Shirley was living with her partner and daughter, together with her daughters baby in Camberwell.
One night Shirley went in to the kitchen to get a glass of water. She did not need to turn on the kitchen light because of the illumination from the estates precincts street lamps.
As she filled her glass she nonchalantly looked from the kitchen window.
To her surprise she saw a young man leaning against a tree and looking back at her.
He was perhaps in his early 20s and had long dark curly hair which hung down over his shoulders, and dressed in the fashion of an 18th century highway man; frock coat, frilly shirt, cravat, breeches and knee length riding boots.
As he looked at the astonished mother a broad smile played across his face.
For a few moments Shirley stared in amazement before calling for her daughter.
In the time it took to look away and gain her daughters attention and return her gaze through the window, the young man had gone.
It seemed as if he had simply vanished in to thin air.
The puzzle of the smiling highway man played on Shirley’s nerves for the rest of the night.
He was no doubt a late night reveller from a fancy dress party who had had to much to drink.
However, events were soon to take on a more disturbing tone for the family.
Some days later Shirley’s daughter’s boyfriend came to spend the night.
During the small hours he needed to visit the toilet.
Returning to the bedroom he looked across at what he thought was his girlfriend asleep in bed, but it wasn’t her.
The whole flat was awakened by the boyfriends screams.
It took a few minutes for the terrified man to calm down and collect himself, yet what he related brought a disbelieving shiver to all present.
He had entered the bedroom and made to get back in to bed, yet as he looked down on his girlfriend he could see it wasn’t her face; it was the face of a long haired young man who smiled back at him.
It wasn’t long after this incident that the vision of the smiling man was once again seen.
One night as Shirley and her partner slept she was awoken by the sound of his laboured breathing as he gasped for air.
He was experiencing a sleep apnoea attack, and she hurriedly grabbed hold of his shoulders and began to shake him, shouting, “wake up, wake up and breath”.
Coughing and spluttering, he quickly gained consciousness, yet on waking looked at Shirley with almost wide eyed disbelief.
“What is it?” she hastily asked him.”
“It wasn’t you shaking me,” he replied. “It was a young man with long hair!”
The smiling man was not again seen in the flat or outside the kitchen window.
Yet, that was not the end of the story.
One night as Shirley and her daughter strolled along Camberwell Grove they passed a young man who they noticed was dressed very unusually.
He was clad in clothing from the 18th century.
As the young man passed, both mother and daughter stopped and looked at one another with open mouths and furrowed brows.
Yet on turning to take a second look at the strangely dressed person, there was no one in sight.
Never again experienced anything strange
Shirley never again experienced anything strange in her home, but she is philosophical about what she saw that night.
She says that it never really troubled her, for she finds the idea of an afterlife absolutely fascinating.
She never found out who the ghostly young man was. She likes to think that it was a benign spirit protecting her family.
Shirley has since moved on from Camberwell, and, as far is known, her former home has been free of any further paranormal activity.
If what she saw was indeed a ghost, is it possible that a future tenant, who gazes form their kitchen window in the small hours, will again see a smiling, benign, highwayman staring back?