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It was late on a day in October or maybe November, the exact day or month I cannot recall I had just finished an evening of study at The Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education in Maida Vale where I was studying Transpersonal Counselling. It had been an intense evening. I was tired and a little stressed mulling over what seemed like mountainous events going on in my life. It was a dark cold and wet evening, the well but strangely lit platform had an air of sadness and despondency as people were waiting for the train that would pass through Teddington where I would change to get the train to Sunbury on Thames where I had a small flat.
As I was half taking in the metallic noises of trains arriving and departing the still busy station and watching people go past with their faces drawn and tired, a guy, possibly in his forties, quite thin, dishevelled with untidy greying hair, carrying a can of what looked like lager came wobbling along the platform. I was drawn to this person because although he was not steady on his feet, he walked with some purpose.
As he approached where I was standing, I stepped back to avoid him possibly knocking into me, I remember clutching a little tighter my ring binder type briefcase as though I might drop it if I didn’t, then to my utter surprise he stopped right in front of me turned to me and said in a very clear and lucid voice ‘Everything will be alright Les’. With that he turned away and wobbled off. I stood there watching him totter down the platform my mouth open looking for some immediate answer to what had just happened. I wanted to go after him, but my feet would not move, I remember looking at my feet on the dampened ground my mind so confused I could not take it in. The next thing I knew was my train coming into the station it seemed to make more noise than usual, so loud, I looked at the train with a somewhat startled expression that must have looked like a rabbit in headlights, when I looked back for the dishevelled man he was nowhere to be seen. He was not on the train as it had not stopped yet. Although there were a few people on the platform edging towards the slowing carriages there were not enough to make him blend into the background. I boarded the train and contemplated walking through the doors adjoining the carriages to try to find him, but I convinced myself that he was not on this train as I was feverishly looking for him right up until everybody but three or four people were left to board. I found a seat in the crowded carriage and sat there with my brief case on my lap, staring blankly at the people around me. I looked out of the window but saw little apart from the lights from buildings and cars piercing the darkness and the rain as we trundled along. The reflection of the woman sitting opposite me momentarily broke my vacant concentration and I continued to look around and people watch as one does on a train or bus.
The rest of my journey to Teddington was a mixed blur of confusion and wonder. As we were approaching the station, I suddenly thought he may live near me and know me from someone in my street, I tried to rush off the train as it pulled into the platform, but the doors would not open until the train had come to full stop. If I could catch a glimpse of the dishevelled thin man with his can of lager changing trains that would make sense, maybe I could ask him what he meant or where he knew me from, but nothing, he was nowhere to be seen. After a few minutes with me standing again on a platform staring again into space my train to Sunbury pulled in with ridiculous normality. I sat in a seat and pondered why this man had such an affect on me, why did it matter so much, I could avail no answer. To this day I do not know who the thin man was, how on earth he knew my name and how he knew I was going through a stressful time in my life. He will always remain a mystery to me. He had a profound affect on my evening and I’m guessing on my life as its eighteen years since.
As I write this memory, I wonder how many people have experienced something simple that has stayed with them for so many years and made a difference to their lives in even the smallest way. This all sounds like a stolen tale of mystery; however, this is a true event and yes, still a real mystery.
I know this experience is something I will never forget.