Ian Whybrow

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March 4th, 2015. Witnesses

March 5, 2015 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

March 4th, 2015. Witnesses


Up betimes and off to Woodford – a testing trek by mini-cab and tube across practically the whole of North London. The children of Woodford Green Prep were entirely cheery and encouragingly attentive even when cramped together on hard floors in small spaces and made it all worthwhile.

Only when I reached the iron gate of the school did I have a faint sense of deja -vu – a feeling that quickly evaporated as I was led through unfamiliar labyrinthine corridors to the library.

At the end of the day, someone produced a couple of photographs of myself – looking just as raggy-haired and haggard as I felt today – doing my stuff in 2009. I had – and have – no memory of that first visit. Unnerving.

As long as I don’t turn into a weird old geezer like the fellow I saw last Sunday in the otherwise deserted market square of Sudbury in Suffolk. It was sunny but there was a cold wind blowing and there he was, sitting quietly on a bench wearing no coat or sweater, just an open jacket and shirt. I felt compelled to ask him whether he wasn’t cold, at which point he stood up and talked as if we were well known to each other and in the middle of a conversation.

I was spooked.This came out.



No other soul in Sudbury that Sunday;

Only a man who I thought old

(so white his silky beard) benched by himself.

He wore no coat though it was bitter cold.

I asked him was he warm enough.

He stood, his eyes behind blue glasses steady,

And spoke as if we were good friends already.

“That’s where she died,” he said.

He looked toward the buildings, tall behind me.

Two thoughts crossed my mind. Who? Had she jumped, then?

“Jehovah’s Witness, see? He wouldn’t have her in the house.

He threw her out. She drowned herself in the river over there.

He shouldn’a bin so harsh on her but then

They’re terrible, them witnesses.”

I nodded, muttered Terrible and hurried on –

A witnesses now myself, though an unwilling one.

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