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psychedelIc mouse utopia mutant rodents and the end of humanity

revolutIon! project five per cent unsolved ufo cases re-examined


the 50th anniversary
of the summer of love closely observed poltergeists the best ever evidence?
THE
W O
cloud jesus urban legends greaseball guru devIl sheep tree people W RLDS
EIRDE
ST
THE WORLD OF STRANGE PHENOMENA www.ForTeAnTimeS.com NEWS

FT356 AUGUST 2017 4.50

THE COTTINGLEY FAIRIES


yorkshire, july 1917:
how two young girls
faked the photos that
fooled the world

tIny terrors
the menacing miniature
world of tessa farmer
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contents forteantImes 356
Why fortean ?
Everything you always wanted to see page
know about Fortean Times but
were too paranoid to ask! 78

strange days
A digest of the worldwide weird, including: poltergeists, hairy
babies, wilderness survivors, synsthetic savant and more...

05 tHe ConsPirasPHere 23 mytHConCePtions


14 sCienCe 25 alien zoo
16 ClassiCal Corner 27 folklore and fairies
18 gHostWatCH 28 tHe ufo files

features
30 CoVer story
tHe Cottingley Centenary
In July 1917, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths claimed to have
captured real fairies on film. One hundred years on, Fiona
36 In Fairyland: The Dark Art of Tessa Farmer MaheR asks who was fooling whom in this classic case.

36 tessa farmers fairyland


catRiona McaRa explores the menacing, miniature world
of sculptor and animator Tessa Farmer, where skeletal fairies
interact with a world made of road-kill and antique taxidermy.

40 tHe summer of loVe


brotherton library, leeds university

Did San Francisco witness a psychedelic shift in conscious-


ness that reverberates today, or was it a social experiment that
ended in drug abuse and disillusion? GaRy LachMan turns
str / aFP / Getty imaGes

on, tunes in and goes back to 1967 in search of enlightenment.

reports
30 Photographing fairies 06 Curing the tree people
48 strange statesmen
He dont need no education sd tuckeR

52 building a fortean library


Too Good to be True the hieRoPhants aPPRentice

forum
bryan costales / creative commons

55 Classics and the counterculture RichaRd GeoRGe


56 Of mouse utopias and men dR edwaRd dutton

regulars
02 editorial 73 letters 79 PHenomenomiX
59 reVieWs 78 reader info 80 strange deatHs
40 Whatever happened to the Summer of Love?

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FORTEAN TIMES is produced for Dennis Publishing FROM 1917 TO 1967 characterised the Summer of Love had
by Wild Talents Ltd. Postal address: Fortean Times, 2017 is a year replete with anniversaries been incubating for some time in the
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to stir the fortean interest: last month Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood of San
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started as nothing more than a family FT352:25: Mags Glennon emailed with a
prank before getting well and truly out correction to this issues Fairies Folklore
PRINTED BY WILLIAM GIBBONS & SONS LTD
of hand. This is the standard version of and Forteana column. The reported
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2 FT356
www.forteantimes.com
A DIGEST OF THE WORLDWIDE WEIRD

strange days
vanCoUvers ghostly lady in red
Did a local man capture the citys famous spook on camera... or is the truth rather more mundane?

The Lady in Red is one of LEFT: Mr Grahams photo and a blow-up


Vancouvers most famous ghosts. showing the mysterious red object.
According to legend, she haunts
the historic Fairmont Hotel from a break and said, I saw the
Vancouver at 900 West Georgia strangest thing. I saw this woman
Street, built in 1939, walking in a long gown. Hall told the
the top oors in her elegant red man about the Lady in Red, the
gown, occasionally stopping at hotels resident ghost. He went
the window to stare wistfully out absolutely white and he would
at the city. Several people claim not come back on the job,
to have seen the apparition. she laughed. The story goes
According to the website Ghosts that [the Lady in Red] used to
ofVancouver, once, a Japanese come here for the afternoon tea
family that checked into a room dances and was in a car accident
on the 14th oor called the on the corner of Burrard and
front desk to ask whether their West Georgia, so shes been a
room had been double-booked. resident of our hotel for many
They described seeing the Lady decades.
in Red in the room, which had Could Scott Grahams
caused their confusion. photograph have been
Now a local elevator mechanic Photoshopped? On the zoomed-
claims to have taken her picture. in image, it does appear that the
Scott Graham was working gures gown is bleeding into
on a top oor at the Private the window frame, suggesting a
Residences at Hotel Georgia, sloppy editing job. But Graham
just around the corner from insisted the picture hadnt been
the Fairmont, when he took a altered in any way. Theres
cellphone photo of the historic a little red bleeding into the
hotel, where he also does work. brick on the window but its
Thats when he noticed a red dot just a cellphone shot from 50
in one of the topmost windows storeys up, he said. Its not
and zoomed in for a closer look. Photoshopped at all. He added
Sceptics would say it is simply that he doesnt believe in ghosts.
a hotel guest dressed in red. Honestly, its probably just
However, the window in question some person wearing a red
is on a oor that was off-limits to shirt But theres not supposed
guests during renovations. to be anybody there, and the fact
Theres always ongoing that the ghost in that building is
maintenance at the hotel and supposed to be a lady in red is a
thats just one of the areas were pretty cool coincidence.
working on right now, said While local media made the
Nancie Hall, the Fairmonts most of the story,Twitter user
regional director of public Alexis Bologne claimed to have
relations. Hall relayed one of the solved the mystery within days,
previous sightings of the Lady posting a similar image and
in Red, which, coincidentally, adding: Nice try, however this
came during the lming of an piece of red plastic has been
episode of The X-Files at the covering that window for a few
SCOTT GRAHAM

hotel during the shows initial weeks now... I am looking at


run inVancouver. According to it right now from my ofce.
Hall, a cameraman came back Vancouver Sun, 27 May 2017.

4 FT356
www.forteantimes.com
wilderness roman projeCt five
wanderers sCandals per Cent
Lost and found Sodomy and Can cold case
in the great pederasty in the UFO files yield
outdoors ancient world new insights?
page 08 page 18 page 29

the C nspirasphere Extra! Extra!


The Grenfell Tower tragedy spawned, inevitably, numerous conspiracy theories, which
nOel rOOneY suggests reveal emerging and competing schools of thought

grenfells grand narrative perhaps extending to eugenic attrition by FTs FavouriTe headlines
The conspiracy theories that blossomed in neglect; above all, that something must be From around The world
the wake of the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower done (and retelling the story in the language
elucidate some epistemological trends of conspiracy theory is the something that
in the Conspirasphere. The automatic
nature of the responses is symptomatic
must be done).
The school that presents all major events
at HOME WItH
of the event anxiety that permeates the as false flags is, in many respects, an tHE DEVOUt
community (an anxiety that often resembles
malicious glee more than fear); the
example of hermeneutic, or grand narrative,
conspiracy theorising (see ft330:4 for a SQUIrrELS OF
range of responses speaks to a growing
formalisation of theorising the emergence
discussion of this term). For this group,
the fire was deliberately started (the
WarSaW
of schools of thought. immediate culprits range from the London Irish Times, 17 Feb 2016.
Event anxiety (or event compulsion) is Fire Brigade, through the local authority
not unique to the Conspirasphere; how to the German secret service) to serve
can it be in an age when the news media
are desperately subordinate to the next
an agenda completely unrelated to the
benighted residents and their lost homes. Knife-wielding
new thing, and pass that appetite on
to their consumers? But the carnival of
To render this kind of interpretation legible,
one needs to acknowledge the Illuminati as
drunk monkey
tragedy has different effects on different an axiomatic element, and understand the terrorizes
audiences. Whereas in the mainstream Big Picture as way bigger than anything an
it typically induces short-term hypnosis automatic dissident might recognise. Brazilian bar
followed by an addicts yearning for the Then there is the school of thought that
next fix, in the Conspirasphere it is often a understands Grenfell as a hoax: Hollywood Toronto Star, 20 Feb 2016.
strangely affirming experience. It adds to incendiaries rigged on a building devoid
the store of proofs, embeds validity into of real residents but replete with crisis
the most eldritch of world views. Those
world views lead to very different retellings
actors (crisis actors recognisable from
earlier episodes of the post-real tableau)
MOtHEr
of events; the narratives are beginning in a species of postmodern performance DENIES Bat
to have a canonical feel to them, the tell-
tale signs of a burgeoning of sects. They
that has no immediately discernible
purpose. This sect is gathering adherents aLLEGatIONS
range from a very specific, and consistent, at an increasing rate; its world view is North Devon Journal, 17 Mar 2016.
attribution of blame to a position that might essentially nihilist, or cryptic existentialist,
be characterised as satirising reality; the and defies rational explanation. Pattern
former reflects the fact that the sphere
has its own mainstream, while the latter is
is more important than meaning for this
group; for instance, it includes a sub-sect Stammering mice
evidence of the radical off-shoots that the
alt-truth testament has spawned.
that interprets events purely in terms of
numerological clustering. Above all, it denies
to aid research
The continuing uncertainty over casualty the veracity of all major events, a position <i> 15 April 2016.
figures, and the very real litany of negligence oddly close to that of Fort himself in some
and cost-cutting are the main fuels for respects.
the canonical response. For this school
of thought, Grenfell is more proof that the
None of this farrago of interpretative
ingenuity is much comfort to the real MaN OrDErED
rich are out to get us; that anything that
can be covered up, will be covered up (Im
victims of the real fire, of course. Reality is
not performing ontological cartwheels for
NOt tO PICK UP
tempted to term this Ickes Law); that the them; it is merely killing people, and ruining MOrE BISON
mainstream media narrative is slave to (or in lives, in the callously neutral, and viciously
cahoots with) an elite agenda of oppression, random, way that it always has. Toronto Star, 3 June 2016.

FT356 5
www.forteantimes.com
the tRee people
Sahana Khatun (below), a 10-year-
old girl from Bangladesh, may be the
first female ever to be afflicted by
so-called tree man syndrome. If
the diagnosis is right, she becomes
one of a tiny group worldwide with
epidermodysplasia verruciformis, a
rare genetic disease that produces
scaly, bark-like growths particularly
affecting the hands and feet. Only a
few people all men are thought to
have the disease.
In January 2016 Abul Bajandar
(right) was suffering badly from
the disease, but a year later he
had made a full recovery and could
hold his child for the first time in
a decade (facing page). His hands
were each consumed by growths
weighing 11lb (5kg), with warts also
growing on his legs, giving him the
appearance of a tree. The 27-year-
old, the first Bangladeshi diagnosed
with the disease, has now undergone
16 separate operations at Dhakas
Medical College Hospital to allow
him to use his hands once more.
His doctors conducted tests to
establish whether Sahana had the
same disorder. They were hopeful she
might have a less aggressive version
and thus be able to recover more
quickly. In February, she underwent
surgery to remove the growths from
her face. [AFP] Hindustan Times, BBC
News, 31 Jan 2017. For a previous
tree man, see Ft228:6-7 and 235:11.
photoGRAphS: MUNIR UZ ZAMAN,
SAM JAhAN / AFp /GettY IMAGeS
STRANGE DAYS

SIDELINES...
FISH FALL IN OROVILLE
WILDERNESS ADVENTURES
Just before noon on 16 May,
Stanford Avenue Elementary
School in Oroville, California,
was suddenly covered in dead
sh all over the playground, in
drinking fountains, even on the
roof. The California Department
of Fish and Wildlife believed
the sh was a kind of carp not
found in the nearby Feather
River. Nobody actually saw
the sh falling out of the sky.
Back in 2005, a Folsom couple
found several sh on the roof
and balcony of their two-storey
home. CBS13 (Sacramento,
CA), 19 May 2017.

BLOODY TEARS

FACEBOOK / MARCOS UZQUIANO


Hundreds of people ocked to
Argentinas Salta province to
witness a statue of the Virgin
Mary that its owner claimed
had wept tears of blood. Priest
Julio Rail Mendez cautioned
against accepting it as a
miracle, saying that the statue
TOP: Chilean tourist Maykool Coroseo Acua is rescued by Bolivian rangers, guides and shamans after nine days in the jungle.
should be properly investigated.
dailyrecord.co.uk, 17 April
2017. LOST IN THE AMAZON Pachamama, Feizar said. He his feet and ankles painfully
In the Bolivian Amazon, where didnt want to participate swollen. He said he was able
JOKES A CRACKER vast rivers wind endlessly in the ceremony. An angry to survive by following a group
One morning in 2012, Monique through mountainous terrain Pachamama could let you of monkeys, who dropped him
Jeffrey, 28, of Rose Bay, and a thick blanket of fog creeps be driven mad by Duende, a fruit and led him to shelter
Australia, was in bed checking through the trees, the locals say mischievous sprite who hides his and water every day. However,
her emails. She sneezed the jungle can swallow you in a victims in another dimension. the mosquitos were eating
and her head suddenly jolted second. Chilean tourist Maykool Two well-known shamans him alive, he was beginning to
forward, causing two vertebr Coroseo Acua, 25, survived were called in, and announced starve, and was becoming more
in her neck to collapse. She had
for nine days while lost in the that Duende had been and more desperate. Yesterday
broken her neck in what experts
depths of Madidi National Park, harnessing the energy of was when I really made a
called a freak accident, and
the chances of it happening a protected rainforest in the Mapajo, a powerful tree spirit, promise to God, he said. I got
twice to the same person were northwest of Bolivia. to hide Maykool. Over the next on my knees and asked Him
apparently slim to none. But Acua went missing from week the rangers and guides with my heart to get me out
ve years later it happened his Max Adventures tour searched for eight to 10 hours of there. Its unclear which
again, this time while she was group, which was staying at a a day, each day in a different species of primates came to his
laughing with some colleagues campground near the Tuichi section of rainforest. Then rescue, but Rosillo, Lucachi and
at work. odditycentral.com, 19 River. He was last seen sitting one of the rangers found a Titi monkeys are indigenous to
May; Metro, 2 June 2017. on the steps of his cabin around muddy sock which Maykools the area.
8:30pm. Feizar Nava, who ran stepmother conrmed was his. He said that the night he
Max Adventures, had invited After two more sleepless nights disappeared, strange, terrible
the tourists to participate in a praying to the Pachamama, the thoughts had crept into his
Pachamama ceremony a rite shamans claimed that they were mind, and he had an irresistible
involving coca leaves, candles, nally able to make contact urge to get out of the rainforest.
and cigarettes to thank with Acuas soul. The sock I started running, he said.
Pachamama, or Mother Earth, made it much, much easier for I was wearing sandals and I
for giving them permission us to reach him, they said, said no, they would slow me
to enter the forest. However, swearing that more signs of him down. I threw away the sandals,
Maykool refused, and when a would appear in the coming then the cell phone and my
guide visited his cabin to check days. ashlight. And after running so
on him a mere ve minutes The next morning he was much, I stopped under a tree
later, he was nowhere to be found, less than a mile from and I started thinking. What
found. The group searched for the campground. Nine days had I done, what was I doing?
him with torches until ve in in the rainforest had left him And when I wanted to get back
MARTIN ROSS

the morning, without success. dehydrated, his skin ravaged it wasnt possible. His rescuers
Its because he offended the by bites, boties, and spines, believed that Duende drove him

8 F T356
www.forteantimes.com
STRANGE DAYS
temporarily insane and
lured him into another
LEFT: Anton Pilipa disappeared
from Vancouver in 2012 and SIDELINES...
dimension. National was found wandering in Brazil.
Geographic, 24 Mar; New BELOW: Three-year-old Tserin
York Post, 25 Mar 2017. Dopchut survived for three days SAVED BY PREMONITION
in a remote Siberian forest.
BAREFOOT WANDERER On 21 March 1958, lm star
Anton Pilipa, 39, addition, it is warm during Kirk Douglas was due to y to
disappeared from the day, but at night New York on a private plane
there are even frosts. If owned by Mike Todd, to meet
Vancouver in 2012.
the former president, Harry
Almost ve years later, we consider that the kid
Truman. The night before,
in November 2016, disappeared during the
Kirks pregnant wife Anne
he was discovered day, he was not properly told him she had a strange
wandering barefoot with dressed only a shirt and feeling about the trip and
no identication near shoes, no coat. pleaded with him not to go,
Manaus, capital of Brazils A huge land and air leading to a erce argument.
jungle state of Amazonas. search was launched, The following morning they
His travels appeared to involving more than 100 learned that Todds plane had
have taken him more than people villagers, kinsfolk crashed in New Mexico, with
10,000 miles (16,000km). and local policemen and no survivors. I would never
After crossing the US he a helicopter scouring a doubt her intuition again, said
would have traversed 10 vast area of about 120 km2 the centenarian star. Sunday
other borders including (46 sq miles). The child was Express, 2 April 2017.
those of Mexico, Guatemala, of Khut, located amid dense saved when he recognised his
Honduras, Panama and forest in the Tuva Republic, uncles voice calling his name, FAKED ATTRACTION
Colombia. He was on a mission possibly following a puppy. and called back. His rescue was Bullet holes marking the spot
to get to the national library His father serves in the army, announced by the head of the where Ruth Ellis, the last
in Buenos Aires in Argentina, and most of his family were Tuva Republic, Sholban Kara- woman to be hanged in Britain,
but was turned away when gathering in the last hay in Ool, who blogged: Hurray! shot dead her lover in 1955,
he got there as he had no the elds when he vanished. Little Tserin has been found turn out to be a hoax. The
identication. He then headed For 72 hours he braved alive! After being hugged, his two holes in the wall of the
back north to the Brazilian plummeting temperatures, rst question was whether his Magdala pub in Hampstead,
rainforest. He was picked up the threat of wild animals toy car was OK. Rescuers were north London, were made with a
drill, in a ruse cooked up by the
by Brazilian-Canadian police and the danger of falling into quick to praise the toddlers
pubs landlady, Mary Watson,
ofcer Helenice Vidigal who a fast-owing river before initiative he found a dry
during a drunken lock-in with
was determined to return him his uncle eventually rescued place under a larch tree and regulars in the 1990s. Her
to his family and eventually him. The situation was very slept between its roots. The brother wielded the drill. This
made contact with his brother dangerous, said Ayas Saryglar, whole village (population 400) has been revealed by Neil Titley,
Stefan through Twitter. Anton, head of Tuvas Civil Defence threw a party to celebrate his 71, an actor who was in the pub
who had battled mental health and Emergencies agency. The survival. It is now predicted he that night. D.Telegraph, 19 May
problems, had walked most of River Mynas is fast and cold. will become a rescuer himself, 2017.
the way, as well as hitchhiking If a small child fell in, it would said Sholban Kara-Ool,
and hiding in the back of be certain death. There are because he showed incredible
trucks. He had survived on wolves and bears in the forest. stamina for his age by surviving
BLAME IT ON THE BADGER
fruit, nuts and berries and The bears are now fattening for so long alone in these cold Staff at a McDonalds
restaurant in Falkoping,
had found food and clothing for the winter. They can woods. Siberian Times, 21 Sept;
Sweden, asked a man to leave
on rubbish dumps. Stefan attack anything that moves. In BBC News, 22 Sept 2016.
after he walked in with a dead
launched a crowd-funding badger under his arm. He then
mission to raise enough money started attacking parked cars
to bring his brother home; but with the badger, and the police
he ed from hospital. A month were called. They conscated
later he was rediscovered in the badger and told the man to
the rainforest and placed in shove off. <i> 2 Aug 2016.
hospital again, and his brother
arrived to pick him up in late BALKAN CUSTOM
January. I know that I am Montenegros last known
very lucky to be alive, he said. virgina or sworn virgin died
Sun, D.Mirror (online), 9 Feb; last August in her mid-80s.
D.Telegraph, 10 Feb 2017 Stana Carovic had promised
her father she would spend
RUSSIAN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS MINISTRY

A TODDLER IN THE TAIGA her life unmarried and dressed


A three-year-old boy survived as a man in order to serve as
alone for three days in a remote head of the family after her two
Siberian forest with only a brothers died young without
small bar of chocolate. Tserin issue. She did mens work,
Dopchut had been under the including woodcutting, while
care of his great grandmother, living on her own. The tradition
but when her back was turned dated back centuries.
<i> 3 Aug 2016.
he ventured off near the village

FT356 9
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STRANGE DAYS

SIDELINES...
DEAD DONKEY PUZZLE
HEAVENS ABOVE An aurora called Steve, and other
strange things seen in the skies

A week or so before Christmas, and the data revealed a 25km


a coastguard team found a [15-mile] wide ribbon of gas
wrecked shing boat on a owing westwards at about
beach at Dulas, Anglesey. 6km/s [13,400mph] compared to
On board was a dead donkey a speed of about 10m/s [22mph]
with its legs tied together with either side of the ribbon. Our
yarn and severely overgrown idea is this is heating the upper
hooves. Had it been washed in
atmosphere, causing it to glow.
by the tide, or dumped there?
No one fully understands
Police were investigating. Daily
Post, 20 Dec 2016. the underlying physics of the
ribbon, but it appears it is not an
aurora as it does not stem from
READY FOR THE POT the interaction of solar particles
A walker investigated a ball of
with the Earths magnetic eld.
mud his dog had been playing
The group reportedly called
with and found a curled-up
hedgehog inside. It was taken it Steve in homage to a 2006
to Brent Lodge wildlife hospital childrens lm, Over the Hedge,
near Chichester, West Sussex, where a group of animals are
for a bath. Travellers used to faced with a vast hedge and do
roll hedgehogs in clay prior to not know what it is, so they name
cooking them, but in that case it Steve. A member of Alberta
they were already dead. Times, Aurora Chasers suggested
8 Feb 2017. this could stand for Strong
Thermal Emission Velocity
BREAKFAST SURPRISE Enhancement.
Sally Thomson, 39, from Roger Haagmans of the
Carlisle was eating a hard-boiled ESA said: It is amazing how a
beautiful natural phenomenon,
ALBERTA AURORA CHASERS

egg when she felt something in


her mouth. It was a tiny cubic seen by observant citizens, can
zirconia, a synthetic diamond trigger scientists curiosity. It
often found in jewellery. It had turns out that Steve is actually
probably been eaten by the remarkably common, but
chicken and then incorporated we hadnt noticed it before.
into the egg. D.Mail, 22 Mar Its thanks to ground-based
2017. ABOVE: The new type of light spotted by aurora chasers and named Steve. observations, satellites, todays
BELOW: The Jesus cloud photographed in Manizales, Colombia. explosion of access to data and
FELINE SHAVER an army of citizen scientists
Someone in Waynesboro, HEAVENS PURPLE RIBBON joining forces to document it.
Virginia, has been seizing A group of aurora enthusiasts Weather Eye by Paul Simons
cats and precisely shaving have found a new type of light (Times, 3 May); spaceweather.com,
their underbellies or legs. in the night sky and named 22 May; BBC News, 23 April 2017.
This happened to seven cats it Steve. Eric Donovan from
between December 2016
and the following April. All the
the University of Calgary in CLOUD JESUS
Canada spotted the feature in Heavy April rainfall caused a
cats returned to their owners
otherwise unharmed, but some photos shared on the Facebook series of massive landslides in
seem bothered. [AP] 28 April group Alberta Aurora Chasers. the Colombian city of Manizales
2017. He didnt recognise it as a when an entire average months
catalogued phenomenon and worth of rain fell in one night,
although the group were calling taking the lives of 17 people.
it a proton arc, he knew proton Nearly a week later, residents
auroras were not visible. He were stunned when the clouds
knew Steve was not anything parted and a beam of white light
like an aurora and then found it photographs taken from the formed into a quasi-humanoid
had been recorded by his own ground at exactly the same time. shape that the more devout saw
network of cameras, but he had Prof Donovan could also follow as Jesus. Crowds gathered to
not noticed it. It was also picked the streak as it swept westwards lm the apparition and cheer,
up by one of the three satellites from the Hudson Bay to Alaska. with some crying Dios mio!
of the European Space Agencys The satellite ew straight Others suggested it was
Swarm mission, which orbit through Steve and data from the related to atmospheric weapons
Earth, measuring magnetic and instrument showed very clear like NASAs alleged Project
electrical activity in the upper changes, said Prof Donovan. Blue Beam, part of a conspiracy
atmosphere. By chance, one The temperature 300km [190 theory that claims NASA
MARTIN ROSS

of them ew through a purple miles] above the Earths surface has been testing holographic
streak on 26 July 2016, matching jumped by 3,000C [5,432F] projection technology to beam

10 F T356
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STRANGE DAYS

SIDELINES...
MARSUPIAL MEAL
Stunned golfer looked on while
a 13ft (4m) python slithered
onto the 17th hole of Paradise
Palms Golf Course north of
Cairns, North Queensland,
on 10 December, where it
consumed a wallaby, which took
half an hour. The serpent then
snuck back into the bush.
(Sydney) D.Telegraph, 13 Dec
2016.

VEGETABLE FUSILLADE
In the rst three months of
THOMAS BERESFORD / TWTTER

2017, joggers in Cheltenham,


Gloucestershire, were being
attacked by a mystery yob
throwing potatoes, eggs,
turnips, a mango and an
avocado at them from a car.
I was the victim of a drive-by
spudding, said Toby Lewis.
ABOVE: The Concorde-shaped cloud over the Ribblehead viaduct in North Yorkshire. BELOW: The El Paso Black Cube.
Western Daily Press, 31 Jan;
Western Daily Press,10 Mar
hallucinatory visions in the sky noticed a square-shaped gure, the black cube is anyones guess. 2017.
to terrify the worlds citizens she said. It was a giant solid It turns out that this story
into surrendering to New World thing with designs around it was already doing the rounds WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE
Order religion/government. and a faint magnetic oscillation- two years ago before being Iman Ahmad Abdulati, 36, of
In the conspirasphere, Blue type humming. Mr Lands inexplicably revived by the Alexandria in Egypt, is thought
Beam is often cited as a cause passed his video to phenomenon Daily Express. Sceptics smelled to be the heaviest woman alive.
of strange aerial apparitions investigators Secureteam10, a hoax back then, pointing out She had a stroke at the age of
or bizarre meteorological a spokesman for which said: anomalies with the supposed 11, suffers from uid retention
phenomena. BBC News, 20 April; It can only be described as video evidence and concluding and has been bedridden for 25
mysteriousuniverse.org, 28 April a massive three-dimensional that: SecureTeam10 is a serial years. She weighs 79 stone
2017. cube-shaped UFO which in hoaxer and is making up the (502kg). Metro, 24 Oct 2016.
the rst image can be seen witnesses and stories to go with
BLACK CUBE RETURNS shooting out at a pretty fair rate them. Houston Chronicle, 8 July; VIKING FISH BURIAL
A bizarre black cube supposedly of speed from what looks like a doubtfulnews.com, 9 July 2015; Two goldsh were given
emerged from clouds over El massive black hole-type portal. express.co.uk, 11 Mar 2017. a aming Viking burial
Paso, Texas, in early March. The fact that this craft arrived longship send-off by primary
Walter C Lands, who captured by suddenly appearing from a CONCORDE CLOUD schoolchildren at Papdale
the cube on his mobile phone, black hole in the sky leads us to Thomas Beresford photographed School in Kirkwall, Orkney.
said: It began to get very windy believe this is not man-made. the above cloud resembling Bubbles and Freddy were class
pets but both died recently.
and I noticed a small portion It was only a few miles from the Concorde aircraft over
The children read aloud their
of clouds begin to swirl and White Sands, the military the Ribblehead viaduct in
memories of the sh before the
circle in on each other, forming testing site where the rst North Yorkshire on 5 May. boat set sail. BBC News, 1 Mar
a portal shape at which point atomic bomb was detonated. Meteorologist Paul Hudson said 2017.
the portal became jet black. Almost all the experimental it was called a roll cloud and was
A second eyewitness, a woman weapons research carried quite rare. In this instance its CRAB BITES YONI
accountant who did not wish to out here is highly classied. caused by air owing over the
A 28-year old Pasir Ris woman
be named, also took a picture. I Whether this has any bearing on top of Whernside from the east,
sunbathing nude with two
creating effectively a stationary girlfriends at Changi Beach
type of lenticular cloud the in Singapore (breaking the
shape and size of which is law) had her vagina torn by a
dependent on the wavelength crab. Her friends, worried that
of the stationary wave, he said. the crabs pincers could have
The lens-shaped clouds form contained poison, took turns to
when the air is stable and winds suck out the venom. A marine
blow from the same direction. biologist commented that the
Concorde was retired in 2003 crab likely to have been a
by British Airways and Air horn-eyed ghost crab probably
France who decommissioned it confused the womans genitals
SECURETEAM10

for commercial reasons amid with an oyster, part of their


declining passenger numbers. natural diet. Sunday Register
BBC News, 8 May 2017. (Singapore), 24 May 2017.

FT356 11
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STRANGE DAYS

SIDELINES... MUTANT NEWS A rare case of conjoined cetaceans and a


half-human sheep sent by the Devil

LIFE WITHOUT SUN


A rod-shaped called bacterium
Desulforudis audaxviator
thrives 2.8km (1.7 miles)
down a South African gold
mine without light, oxygen or
carbon, obtaining its energy
from radioactive uranium.
Scientists now speculate that
life elsewhere in the Universe
might also feed off radiation,
especially radiation raining
down from space, without
the need for photosynthesis.
sciencemag.org, 7 Oct 2016.

OBSCURE AND
OUTRAGEOUS
Polish police detained seven
men and four women, aged
20 to 27, after they killed

HENK TANIS
a sheep, undressed and
chained themselves together
beneath the main gate of
ABOVE: The conjoined harbour porpoises caught by a Dutch trawler. BELOW: The deformed stillborn sheep that terried locals.
Auschwitz-Birkenau death
camp, which bears the slogan
Arbeit Macht Frei (Work AT CROSS PORPOISES only partially split during the
sets you free). They used a The rst known example early development process.
drone to lm the disturbance, of conjoined twin harbour Normal twins are extremely
and draped a white banner
porpoises (Phocna phocna) rare in cetaceans, said Erwin
with the red text love over
was picked up recently by a Kompanje from the Erasmus
the gate. The motive was
unknown. [AFP] BBC News, 24 Dutch trawler near Hoek van MC University Medical Centre
Mar 2017. Holland. With a single body in Rotterdam, one of the
and two fully-grown heads, this authors of the paper describing
FROGS SAVED is a case of partial twinning, the nd. There is simply not
or parapagus dicephalus. These enough room in the body of
On 4 March, someone
male porpoises are only the the female for more than one
left a soil-lled plastic bag
containing at least 50 frogs in 10th known case of conjoined ftus. Conjoined twins will be
a car park outside a branch of twins in cetaceans, a group more common than the 10 cases
Aldi in Finchley, north London. of animals that also includes we know at this moment, but we
They escaped through a hole whales and dolphins. The are unaware of them because
in the bag and were hopping shermen who made the they are born at sea and are
around when an RSPCA discovery returned the twins never found. New Scientist
inspector arrived at 9.30pm which were probably already online, 14 June 2017
and saved 48 frogs, which dead when caught to the
were released back into the sea. They believed it would be SHEEP SHOCKER
wild. Two others had been run illegal to keep such a specimen, Villagers in South Africa were
over. BBC News, 9 Mar 2017. but took a series of photographs living in fear after a sheep
useful for research. We know gave birth to this strange
that the twins died shortly after creature that elders said was a
birth, because their tail had not half-human half-beast sent by but a deformed stillborn
stiffened which is necessary the devil. Many of the 4,000 lamb sired by a sheep that was
for newborn dolphins to be able residents and farmers of Lady subsequently infected by Rift
to swim. Other signs of their Frere in Eastern Province were Valley Fever at an early stage
age were a at dorsal n that convinced that bestiality and of its pregnancy. He said that
should have become vertical witchcraft were involved. The the freak animal was conceived
soon after entering the water, panic got so great that the in late December 2016 or
and hairs on the upper lip, authorities sent out experts to early January 2017, a time of
which should fall out shortly carry out tests. Dr Lubabalo plentiful rainfall that brings
after birth. Mrwebi, Chief Director of with it many mosquitoes and
Partial twinning can happen Veterinary Services, admitted midges, carriers of viruses that
in one of two ways: two initially that at rst glance the lamb cause the Rift Valley Fever in
MARTIN ROSS

separate embryonic discs can did resemble a human being. sheep. D.Mail online, 22 June
fuse together or the zygote can It is not human, he said, 2017.

12 FT356
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Is there anybody out there?


DAVID HAMBLING wonders if geeky mathematical messages are going to get the aliens attention

Scientists have been scanning the a few hundred or thousand years before
heavens for alien radio signals for we develop suitable technology and then
decades [FT346:16], but the Search we will be able to tune in.
for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI; However, the problem may not be one
see FT157:42-46) has only yielded one of technology. In a recent exercise Ren
tantalising hit, and that was 40 years Heller of the Max Planck Institute created
ago. More recently there has been an imitation alien message of some two
growing excitement around whether million digits. It included within it the
the dimming of a stellar object known rst several hundred prime numbers,
as Tabbys Star indicates alien activity which were important to decoding the
[FT348:14]. In the last few months rest of the message: a sele of an
scientists have gained some surprising imaginary alien and some FAQ on their
new insights relating to both of these, size, lifespan and the location of their
and to the quest for alien life in general. homeworld.
In August 1977, the Ohio State Heller received over 300 responses
Universitys SETI program picked to this SETI Decrypt challenge, with 66
up a powerful signal at 1,420 MHz, giving completely correct answers to
the hydrogen band where alien which was observed. After that, the the six questions he posed about the
communication seemed most likely. 2013 dimming may have been caused message contents. Hellers message
Astronomer Jerry Ehman wrote Wow! by a vast swarm of asteroids trailing in contains information that SETI geeks
on the printout, and the radio telescope the giant planets wake, just as Jupiter might nd interesting, but is not
was swiftly pointed at the area of the pulls the Trojan asteroids after it in our representative of messages sent by any
sky where the signal had originated, but Solar System. other community on Earth.
nothing else was ever received. Finally, the latest, comparatively minor SETI appears to be looking for
Researchers from the Centre of dimming event might have been caused messages from people exactly like
Planetary Science now claim that a by the ringed planet passing behind those who set up SETI on Earth, a
comet may have been the source. Tabbys Star. When this happens, light small essentially white, male middle-
Comets carry a hydrogen cloud that reected from the planet is invisible to class scientic subculture. To many
might emit radiation on the hydrogen us, and the overall brightness of the star people music or art may seem more
frequency, and two comets, both system is reduced. universal forms of communication than
undiscovered at the time, were passing Ballesteross model does not mathematics. There is an assumption
through the area being scanned. require any bending of laws of physics. that aliens would have developed their
Astronomical observations early this Furthermore, it predicts there will be technology through a similar route to us,
year conrmed comets can emit on another dimming event in 2021 as and would necessarily have come across
exactly the right frequency, and they the alien Saturn swings around again. the same sort of mathematics along the
are a moving point source, so if a radio Testable predictions are one of the way. This may not be the case.
telescope is even one degree out it will hallmarks of good science. If these Also, a signal may not be sent out
see nothing. The moving comet will show latest theories are correct, then SETI for the benet of the recipients. To
up as a brief, elusive, intense signal. seems to be getting nowhere and there the people who paid for the Apollo
This now looks like the best explanation are no traces of aliens out there. As program, the scientic achievement was
for the Wow! signal. physicist Enrico Fermi famously asked in irrelevant: what mattered was putting
Meanwhile there has also been further the 1940s: Where is everybody? One an American ag on the Moon. Beaming
study of Tabbys Star. This had showed possibility is that there are no aliens, at out the national anthem to claim alien
a pattern of dimming that doesnt t least not technologically advanced ones civilisations may be more important than
with normal astronomical objects (such who wish to communicate. The chances making the message intelligible, and it
as comets and asteroids) passing in of life developing, or intelligence evolving is hard to see Donald Trump or Vladimir
front of the star. Some suggested that from life, may be much less than Putin funding an alien contact effort
the shadows were cast by colossal scientists assume. unless there was an advantage to be
alien building work a megastructure Another suggestion is that we are gained.
encompassing Tabbys solar system. simply listening to the wrong thing. We may not have heard from aliens
Fernando Ballesteros and colleagues Radio broadcasts on the hydrogen because they are too different from us
at the University of Valencia in Spain frequency might seem obvious to us, and communicate in different ways.
have recently suggested an alternative but as the recent comet discovery But it may also be because they are
solution, although it may seem just revealed, such signals may have more just like us. Aliens may not be sending
as far-fetched. Their theory is that the than one cause. Aliens might prefer to out signals because there is simply
initial dimming in 2011 was the result of communicate via neutrinos, a technology not enough prot to be had out of long-
a huge ringed planet, like a giant alien which we have yet to master, or via what distance messaging which, after many
version of Saturn, partially eclipsing scientists term Zeta rays forms of decades, is only likely to get a reply
Tabbys Star. The tilt of the rings might radiation that we do not even suspect. If from a collection of alien geeks with an
produce the sort of asymmetric dimming this is the case, then it is just a matter of obsessive interest in prime numbers.

14 FT356
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214: (H)OMO ADDS BRIGHTNESS

Old soap-powder slogan, though


more deterrent than detergent for
homophobes.
Buggery is useful for that
awkward time between tea and
cocktails Maurice Bowra, classicist
and wit, the model for Mr Samgrass
in Brideshead Revisited.
Buggers cant be choosers also
Bowra.
(Full story in: KJ Dover, Greek
Homosexuality (1978); Craig
Williams, Roman Homosexuality
(1999); R McMullen, Roman
Attitudes to Greek Love, Historia
31, 1982, 484-502. Cornucopia of
translated sources in Forbergs
unintentionally hilarious Classical
Erotology, 1884, sub-titled Privately not mattress-munching, he was
printed for Viscount Julian Smithers The ideal Greek a diplomat, thus foreshadowing
M.A. and Friends) Julius Csar who (Suetonius, ch49
Though not short in descriptive relationship was paras1-2) procured a favourable
terms for specific practices and treaty for Rome in the bed of
practitioners the most impressive between older man King Nicomedes of Bithynia. One
being Luciliuss (fr. 1373) rival dubbed Csar Every wifes
Scultimidonus, anciently glossed and hairless boy husband, every husbands wife. Bi-
One who bestows for free his anal sexuality was classically rampant. As
orifice, so described as from the Woody Allen said, It doubles your
inner parts of whore there is no chances of a date.
actual word for homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah we know a There was gossip about Socrates
Greek or Latin, our English one Lot: and man-about-town Alcibiades
being a modern hybrid coined by (Oh, youve all read in the New might have been welcome relief
19th-century German psychologist Testament from nagging wife Xanthippe. One
Karoly Maria Benkert. How the wife of Lot became of his disciples, Phdo, was a former
And, whilst waxing terminological, condiment. rent-boy. His Roman followers were
gay is not a modernism, being It was her curiosity started the rot enthusiastic pedicators, Juvenal (2.
used in the 18th-century to describe She only peeped a little but she had v10) dubbing ones arsehole the
patrons of the male brothels known lost her Lot Oxford Theatre calypso) most notorious Socratic ditch.
as Molly-Houses. Albeit not explicit in Homer, When legally persecuted, modern
Helps to know the terminology (cf. Achilles and Patroclus were/ gays often romanticised classical
JN Adams, Latin Sexual Vocabulary, are often thought to be lovers, Greece as a haven of sexual freedom.
1982) if you want to enjoy the weird- likewise Alexander the Great In fact, you had to play by rigorous,
looking captions to pictures of Daisy and Hephstion. No doubt about not always attractive rules. The ideal
Chains and Circle Jerks, e.g. An tragedian Agathon and Pausanias, relationship was between older man
Irrumator irrumated, Five Pedicons both of whom decamped to (Erastes) and hairless young boy
Pedicated all in Forberg.) Macedonian King Archelauss court (Eromenos) no age minima for
OK, heres the crib. Irrumator along with misogynist Euripides a consent. Only the active partner
denotes one who forces his cock hospitable place for their tastes, as was supposed to enjoy the sex.
into another mans mouth. A was Sparta whose men, according Adult pathics were (as Cleisthenes)
Pedicon is one who either buggers to their best modern historian Paul remorselessly pilloried.
or is buggered; Catullus (Poem 16) Cartledge (Reflections on Sparta, Oral sex was also deemed
threatens to do both to a pair of 2003, p190) were addicted to shameful. Martial and the Greek
rivals. buggery. Anthology abound in epigrams
Leviticus 18.22 & 20.13 prescribe No doubt either about denouncing fellators bad breath, so
the death penalty for homosexuals. Cleisthenes, favourite butt of at foul that it contaminated any thing
No need to describe the Genesis least four Aristophanes comedies their lips touched.
story of Gods fiery destruction of as an effeminate pathic. When Still, a Pompeian graffito (CIL 4

16 F T356
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no9027) lauds one Secundus as a John Boswell, Christianity: Social Augustus, Tiberius (whose minions
cock-sucker of rare talent three Tolerance and Homosexuality (1980) ran from fellating infants to daisy-
choruses of For Hes A Jolly Good claimed same-sex weddings involving chains of Sphincters), Caligula,
Fell-ator... Byzantine emperors, though his Nero, and Elagabalus all swung both
Perhaps as a reaction, modern sources are ambiguous and Boswell ways. Only Claudius is (significantly)
writers insist that anal penetration had an agenda, being himself gay. commended by Suetonius for
was rare, the usual method being Speaking of which, there is little eschewing unnatural vice. Not
intercrural cock-friction thighs sign of venereal diseases in Greece the only sign of disapproval; Dio
of relief everywhere. Happily, this and Rome, apart from a vague Cassius felt obliged to apologise for
dull-sounding ersatz copulation reference to morbus Venereus that the otherwise admirable Trajans
is countered by frequent literary could be figurative, although some devotion to boys.
jokes about a male Euryproktos forensic studies currently suggest Such attitudes hardened with
(Arse-hole split open by constant the possibility of syphilis. Christianity. Witness this vicious
buggery), and arch-pderast Stratos As now, impossible to estimate the Latin epigram (no43) by Ausonius
(Greek Anthology, bk12 no6 cf. Daryl percentages. Accusations of passive identical with Greek Anthology, bk12
Hiness Puerilities, 2003) computation sodomy were the stock-in-trade no210:
that the numerical Greek letter of legal and political orators no Three men in bed together,
values of Arse and Gold are libel laws restraining them from Two are sinning, one is sinned
identical. Aeschines in Athens to Cicero in against.
Dont Ask, Dont Tell was never Rome, the latter having great fun Doesnt that make four?
an issue in the Roman army. Good in his Second Philippic reviling Wrong! The man at either end
and bad here: Polybius (bk6 ch37 Mark Antony (in pre-Cleopatra is implicated once; the one in the
para9) reports a pathic private being days) for being so mad for buggery middle does double duty.
clubbed to death; Marius (Plutarch, that he smashed through the roof Apart from the obscure Scantinian
ch14 paras 4-8) acquitted a squaddie of his lovers house to get instant Law Concerning Infamous Love
who had killed an officer sexually gratification. (possibly third-century BC, but not
harassing him a theme of Simon Another one who couldnt wait mentioned until Cicero in 50 BC),
Ravens Feathers of Death. was the septuagenarian Galba there were few if any intrusions by
No nonsense about unmanly (Suetonius, ch22), unusual in the state into ancient bedrooms until
gay soldiers. Thebes had its famous preferring mature men, who greeted Philip the Arab (AD 244-9) banned
Sacred Band consisting of 150 pairs a former partner bringing news male prostitution this helped later
of lovers, outstanding in courage. of Neros death with kisses and a Church historians claims that he
Surveying their corpses after the quickie. was a crypto-Christian. Over the
decisive battle of Chonea (338 Impossible to top Hostius Quadra. next two centuries, various emperors
BC), Philip (Plutarch, Pelopidas, Shame Ive not the space fully to enacted increasingly barbarous
ch16) pronounced: Let him perish quote Seneca, Natural Questions, punishments, from decapitation
who says these men did or suffered bk1 ch16 go read it online. He to burning alive, climaxing in
anything unseemly. disported himself with multiple Justinians reign (AD 527-65) where
Same-sex marriages are attested at partners, revelling in simultaneous (e.g.) Malalas, Chronicle, bk18 pp448-
all social levels, from those ridiculed oral and anal penetration whilst 9 mentions two accused bishops
by Martial (bk1 no24, bk12. no42) fellating a third, in a special orgy tortured, castrated, and dragged
and Juvenal (2. vv117-42) to Neros room whose walls and ceiling were through the streets.
two (possibly three) boy brides, lined with reflecting glass to make Justinian (Novels, nos 77, 141)
one of whom (Sporus) he first had their cocks seem enormous eat achieved a legislative apogee by
castrated balls were in the other your heart out, Hugh Hefner... banning sodomy because it caused
court and Elagabalus who married In addition to Julius Csar, earthquakes earth certainly moved
at least two, besotted by their giant in gay bedrooms, no such eruptions
organs size really mattered to him, reported for Hampstead Heath.
as to Commodus whose 300-strong Justinian was probably helped to
bisexual harem included a fellow this conclusion by the Byzantine
so prodigiously hung (think John word for natural disasters being
Dillinger) that he was nicknamed theomenia = Wrath of God. A literary
Donkey. consequence was the disappearance
When not kissing this titanic of pderastic Greek poetry until its
doodle (Victorianism from My Secret Alexandrian revival by Constantine
Life), Commodus would occupy Cavafy.
himself with a favourite eight-year- This (shall we say) fundamental
old bedmate no wonder neglected canard bottomed out in 2008, when
concubine Marcia eventually the sodomy-earthquake equation
organised his murder. was revived by Israeli MP Shlomo
Even Nero plays second fiddle Benizri, apropos recent local seismic
to Hadrian who, when his catamite shakings as Vonnegut Kurtly
Antinous did a Maxwell in the Nile, opined, What Goes Around Comes
promptly deified him from sod to Around.
god; cf. Royston Lambert, Beloved One person whod have chuckled
and God (1984). Can imagine Elton at this is the dedicatee of this
John doing this for his eromenos column: the courageous Quentin
to adapt the old slogan, Fucks Do Crisp, self-styled Stately Homo of
Furnish a Groom England.

FT356 17
www.forteantimes.com
GHOSTWATCH kEEPINg AN EyE ON ThE hAUNTED WORLD

Closely observed poltergeists


ALAN MURDIE revisits two extremely well documented polt cases on their 50th anniversary

A
variety of 50th anniversaries are
being marked in 2017, from the
first human heart transplant to the
release of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts
Club Band. But this year is also a hitherto
neglected anniversary in the study of
poltergeists. It is 50 years since two of the
most closely observed outbreaks on record,
in which the investigators on the spot
gathered some of the strongest evidence
for paranormal effects yet obtained. The
first was a poltergeist that struck at the
CHRONICLE / ALAMy STOCK PHOTO

beginning of the year at a warehouse in


Miami, Florida. The second plagued a
lawyers office at Rosenheim, in what was LEFT: Julio Vasquez, the 19-year-old at the centre
then West Germany, at the years end. of the Miami poltergeist case. ABOVE: Broken
The Miami case first attracted attention objects at the warehouse where Julio worked.
early in January 1967, manifesting in what BELOW: Parapsychologist and investigator of
might be deemed a dream location for the Miami outbreak, William Roll. OPPOSITE:
a poltergeist, a commercial warehouse Annemarie Schneider at Dr Adams office.
packed with bottles, glassware and
breakable ornaments. Events centred
on an office-room lined by shelves of Some 40 incidents occurred with
merchandise. There were repeated Roll on the premises, with him directly
incidents of items falling from the shelves. observing the spontaneous movement
These were picked up and replaced only of several bottles, a box of combs, and
to fall again. Breakages accumulated and a beer mug. Pratt saw the breaking of
the management called the police, who a glass and a pickle jar and an ashtray
pronounced themselves baffled. No normal moving by themselves. Another significant
explanation could be found as to why beer witness was Howard Brooks, a professional
mugs, ashtrays and heavy crates should conjuror who confirmed seeing objects
suddenly fly off storage shelves to the floor. moving by themselves. Altogether over
Suzy Smith, a prolific author of popular 180 unexplained events were logged
ghost books such as Haunted Houses for during periods of intensive observation.
the Millions (1967), heard rumours of a Since the starting position of many
ghost and visited. Satisfied the case was objects was known, and Julios position
genuine, she called parapsychologists in the building could be identified, it was
William Roll (1925-2012) and Gaither Pratt possible to plot the object movements
(1910-1979) from the Psychical Research in relation to his whereabouts. Objects
Centre at Durham, North Carolina, who (2013) by Stacy Horne and Christopher closest to Julio tended to move clockwise
immediately went to Florida to see for Laursens Re-imagining the Poltergeist and shorter distances compared with
themselves. in 20th century America and Britain, PhD those furthest from him. The latter moved
Until the mid-20th century most Thesis, Univ. British Columbia, 2016). greater distances, tending to anti-clockwise
investigators approached a poltergeist At Miami, Roll and Pratt luckily arrived trajectories.
eruption from a pre-existing standpoint, before the disturbances ceased, suspicion Psychological testing of Julio revealed a
opinions being divided as to whether they having centred on a young man employed troubled young man. He was an unhappy
were the work of mischievous spirits or as a shipping clerk at the warehouse homosexual who suffered from bouts of
mischievous adolescents. But 10 years named Julio Vasquez (19), a refugee from dissociation and had suicidal tendencies.
earlier Roll and Pratt investigated another Cuba; but there was no evidence that Following the ending of the disturbances
significant American poltergeist, at Seaford, Julio was causing the displacements and and leaving employment, Julio was later
Long Island. The Seaford case, which resulting damage by any normal means. imprisoned for inept thefts and robberies.
focused on a 12-year-old boy, was among The layout of the warehouse enabled Roll believed Julio was unconsciously
the first to make scientific researchers a degree of control to be imposed and to generating PK force, leading Roll to term
(including many in psychical research itself) identify where everyone was at any moment. it Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis
pay proper attention to the hypothesis that Roll and Pratt ran some experiments. (RSPK). Roll later detailed the case and
disturbances arose from psychokinesis (PK) Certain shelves were particularly prone RSPK theory in research papers (e.g.
generated by a living person rather than a to disturbance, so target objects were Proceedings of the Parapsychology
ghost. (For a good review of the Seaford deliberately placed on these, and the Association vol.4 (1967); The Miami
case and its influence see Unbelievable position of employees was monitored. Disturbances with Gaither Pratt (1971)

18 F T356
www.forteantimes.com
Journal of the American SPR vol.65 pp409- also believed it had negatively impacted
54 and in a book The Poltergeist (1972). on her personal life, causing problems
The second significant case of this with her fianc who had been passionately
remarkable poltergeist year began in fond of bowling. In the summer of 1969
November, at Rosenheim, Upper Bavaria. Annemarie had accompanied him to the
This was the location of the respectable bowling ground, and on eight out of 14
legal practice of a Dr Adam who was occasions the electronic systems went
suddenly beset by a peculiar interference out of order. Perhaps Annemarie got so
with his office telephones. They repeatedly fed up with her fiancs bowling passion
dialled the speaking clock at a rate that that her psychokinetic powers caused the
couldnt be accounted for by human breakdowns to get her lover away from the
intervention. Phone bills soared. Telephone bowling alley and give her more attention. If
and electrical engineers were called in, so, this psi-disruption failed, for he told her
discovering unaccountable surges of he could not contemplate marriage in the
current within the system. But where circumstances and the relationship ended.
these came from and just how random From what medical details were released,
surges of electrical energy were capable it appears Annemarie suffered hypermia
of connecting with the telephonic circuits (an excess of blood gathering in one place)
to dial the speaking clock baffled not and attacks of cramp. When stricken, her
only the technicians but everyone else to eyes would glaze over, her fingers and toes
whom Dr Adam appealed for help over the would be stretched rigid and muscles in
next few weeks. Neither the efforts of the her knees would flex agonisingly. (One is
telephone department, the Siemens works,
the Criminal Investigation Department, nor
The swinging movement reminded of accounts of observations of
physical mediums and accounts of fits
physicists from the Max Planck Institute, of lights and the strange and collapses in earlier historic poltergeist
who recorded effects, could explain it. cases, often involving listless girls acting as
Parapsychologist Professor Hans movement of a clock if they were devitalised by the channelling
Bender (1907-1991) was alerted to the of energy into physical effects).
case and mounted an investigation as were caught on film But the precise nature and origins of
the manifestations extended into directly the energy were issues the physicists
observable physical happenings. Lights involved were unable to determine; indeed,
were twisted out of their sockets or seen The Seeing I, 1976) opinion was divided as to whether a human
swinging on their own accord, light bulbs In fact, we know a little more about organism would even be biologically capable
burnt out although not connected, and Annemarie. Some details of psychological of generating such an amount of energy.
pictures rotated on their hooks or fell off tests undertaken with her hinted at both F Karger of the Max Planck Institute for
walls. Most impressive was a heavy filing sexual frustration and suppressed anger. Plasma Physics and G Zicha, a teacher of
cabinet, which normally took four people to She didnt display any psychokinetic physics in a technical high school in Munich
shift, being propelled 11in (28cm) from its abilities at Benders laboratory, but scored who investigated, declared: Physics...
normal position. Both the swinging of lights well in ESP tests. Subsequently, when is now confronted with a completely new
and the strange movement of a clock were she left the firm after three months, the situation in view of... the inexplicable
captured on film and, as at Miami, these phenomena ceased entirely. nature of the phenomena. This is because
incidents were meticulously logged, with She was considered to have a it has mostly been assumed in the
some 30 witnesses providing statements. transference relationship with her employer natural sciences that the known physical
The common factor for all incidents was Dr Adam, who was a married man with a laws are also valid for describing man
that one female employee was always grown-up son also working at the office so that no new interaction mechanisms
on the premises. This was an apprentice (as Arthur Koestler put it in The Challenge need be postulated. It seems as if the
secretary, Miss Annemarie Schneider, aged of Chance (1973): In common parlance psychokinetic phenomena observed here
19 years. she had a crush on the boss). Annemarie and elsewhere will make it necessary
Detailed reports issued by the Max was tracked down by the BBC in 1975 to introduce a fifth kind of interaction.
Planck Institute and Hans Bender were for a television programme, Leap in the Since the phenomena only occur in
among the highlights of the Parapsychology Dark. She now had a son aged two and connection with a certain person, physics
Association Conference held at Freiburg seemed normal. The programme makers is presented with the unforeseen possibility
the following year. The English psychical found her a rather stout, plain girl, with a of making basic physical discoveries
researcher Rene Haynes (1906-1994) prematurely aged face (they refer to her by investigating man. (Karger and
criticised these reports for focusing as a girl even though by this stage she Zicha, 1968, Physical investigation of
on physics rather than Annemarie, was in her late 20s). She told researchers psychokinetic phenomena in Rosenheim,
complaining: Unfortunately, almost nothing that she had been through a series of jobs Germany, 1967. Papers Presented for
about her has been made known, except afterwards, but her reputation meant that the Eleventh Annual Convention of the
that one of her parents consented to her she was dismissed whenever something Parapsychological Association. Institut
being treated by a psychiatrist on condition went wrong at any workplace. She had fr Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und
that his report should be kept strictly moved to Munich to escape the taint of Psychohygiene)
confidential... Her photograph, reproduced the Rosenheim poltergeist, having been Such was the weight of data gathered
in Dr Benders article, shows no more branded a witch and viewed in terms that at Miami and Rosenheim that the
than a short, pleasant, rather shy girl with might have been a prototype for Stephen paranormality of the disturbances must
stout legs and the hesitant beginnings of a Kings Carrie. No advantage had attached to be considered proven beyond reasonable
smile. (Rene Haynes in The Seeing Eye, being the centre of poltergeist activity. She doubt. Additionally, they even affected

FT356 19
www.forteantimes.com
GHOSTWATCH
business profits often the ultimate
measure of materialist values! One
reason researchers were so successful
in gathering evidence was that both
poltergeists manifested in workplace
environments. This allowed a far greater
degree of control and monitoring than in
cases arising in domestic dwellings, often
occupied by troubled families, beset with
multiple problems that preclude effective
experimental conditions.
However, it is a curious thing that in the
aftermath of Miami and Ronseheim there
was a marked disinclination by scientists,
whether sceptics or believers, to revisit
the findings and think further about the
implications. Certainly, the attention which
the Rosenheim case received occasioned
a temporary shift in public attitudes in
West Germany towards the acceptance
of psi phenomena, and one newspaper
that rashly accused Hans Bender of
accepting fraudulent effects had to pay
out a substantial sum for defamation ABOVE: 19-year-old Annemarie Schneider seemed to be the catalyst for phenomena in the
(see The Rosenheim Legal Dispute by Rosenheim case; she is seen here, some years later, in a 1975 BBC television programme.
Manfred Cassirer in Journal of Paraphysics
4:3, 1970, translated from Die Welt, 13
April 1970) For a period, poltergeists were That two well-witnessed poltergeist hypothesis of a single cosmic entity or
treated seriously in the German press. cases should occur at widely separated unified force creating separate outbreaks
However, this was not a lasting change, locations just months apart is not has recently been advanced in Contagion
and today the German press rarely reports unusual. For example, the poltergeist at (2014), by Michael Hallowell and Darren
any cases of poltergeists and hauntings Rerrick in Scotland in 1695 was followed Ritson, the investigators of the South
(Pers. comm., Ulrich Magin). by a dramatic outbreak at a monastery in Shields case. This had an introduction by
Such antipathy may hint at underlying Naples in 1696. Alan Gauld in Poltergeists the late Colin Wilson, who after salvaging
social and psychological issues (1979) in emphasising the somewhat the Black Monk of Poltergeist case for
concerning positive evidence of physical striking similarities between the two posterity, concluded discarnate spirits
effects. From a research perspective, commented: It is almost as though rather than human psychic powers were
one problem is that poltergeists, along the same demon having completed his at work after all. It is certainly an arresting
with many topics in parapsychology, commission in Rerrick, and improved idea that the victims at Miami and
may currently be categorised in terms his skills in the process, then undertook Rosenheim might have been afflicted by
philosopher Thomas S Kuhn called pre- a fresh assignment in Italy. Whilst phenomena orchestrated by some cosmic
paradigmatic science. Resources Gauld was simply using the idea of a Arch-Poltergeist.
available are small, with spontaneous common demonic entity as a metaphor Personally, I doubt this idea, but a
cases very much the preserve of a large in describing recurring patterns, some phenomenon that repeatedly defies our
number of individual researchers, each researchers into physical phenomena current understanding of physical reality
with his/her own methods and sets of have had the rather fortean impression is doubtless going to contain many
findings. The careers of both Hans Bender that perhaps the same unified force is at surprises. Just exactly where does the
and William Roll provide examples of how, work, instigating and manipulating such energy exerted by poltergeists originate
in the natural course of things, leading outbreaks at different locations. Following from? Poltergeist effects could very well
researchers die without successors to her experiences in PK testing with psychic turn out to have many aspects that will
carry on their work. Many decades can Matthew Manning whose powers began fundamentally challenge our notions
pass before anyone returns to positive with a poltergeist outbreak, Anita Gregory of time, space and causation. Rather
findings, if at all. Without a paradigm or wrote: The occasions upon which than a single entity, could there be
reference to earlier results, all kinds of electrical apparatus designed to test me some unrecognised collective reservoir
competing alternative theories flourish has malfunctioned are too numerous to of energy being tapped by troubled
simultaneously. This has been the fate recall. It is almost as if there is a cosmic human minds? With current biological
of Rolls attempts to test his RSPK joker whose sole job it is to incapacitate and physical knowledge at its limits,
hypothesis, figuratively left on the researchers machinery At some level we scientific consideration here veers off into
shelf after Miami faded from memory are all part of one another, linked through philosophical speculation. One again, I am
by researchers with other ideas about our unconscious minds. We are all part reminded of Alexander Popes lines:
what poltergeists are. But it leaves of every living organism, no matter how So man who here seems principal alone,
successors proceeding on a case-by- small. We are cogs in a cosmic system. Perhaps acts second to some sphere
case basis, not really knowing where (Anita Gregory (1982) London Experiments unknown,
they are heading next, both theoretically With Matthew Manning, Proc. of the SPR Touches some wheel, or verges to some
and geographically. This is one reason vol.56, 1973-82, pp283-366). goal;
why both the Miami and Rosenheim This is an idea that would have Tis but a part we see, and not a whole.
poltergeists should be remembered. appealed to Charles Fort. Notably, the (Essay on Man)

20 FT356
www.forteantimes.com
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stRAnGe DAys

MeDicAL BAG This months unusual outpatients include a boy who cant feel pain, a
synsthetic savant with a new personality, and more hirsute babies...

LEFT: Leigh erceg had a change


SUPerboy of personality after a brain injury.
An eight-year-old boy has broken BELOW: Akhilesh raghuvanshi
eight bones and regularly attends bleeds from his eyes. OPPOSITE:
A&E because he cant feel pain. Alexis Bartletts impressive hair.
Tyler Resuggan of Northfield,
Birmingham, was diagnosed as a emotions. Its difficult to predict
baby with a genetic mutation whether someone who has
congenital analgesia that blocks suffered a traumatic brain injury
pain sensors. His mother Claire, will experience a at effect. A
33, helps him understand his CT scan shows that you have an
condition by comparing him to injury but doesnt predict what
superheroes, as they also appear that means in terms of long-term
indestructible.Tyler has fractured outcomes, said Guillamondegui.
his skull, ankles and feet, suffered We see patients that have just a
second-degree burns, and almost little bit of blood on their brain
bitten through his tongue. He and three months later, they cant
just bounces back from his taste or they have some emotional
injuries and doesnt even inch, change. Issues can occur even
said Claire, a nurse with two other long after the initial injury, so a
children. He has been to A&E loss of emotion could occur even
27 times now, and I can count at 30 years later. [AP] 15 May 2015.
least 13 scars on his head and
face.Theres no cure.Tyler wont SPeaKiNG baCKWarDS
feel pain for the rest of his life. Constance Bailey, 10, from
Recently, he went to a trampoline Monkseaton, North Tyneside, first
cOUrTeSY LeSLIe MUrPHY / LeIGH erceG

party and three weeks later we discovered she had an unusual


discovered he had eight fractures talent by pronouncing words
in his foot and he had to be put in backwards in her head while
a cast. D.Mirror, 6 May 2017. reading books. When she told her
parents, Michael and Rachel, last
SyNSTheTiC SaVaNT April they began to test her with
In 2009, ranch manager Leigh simple words and to their surprise
Erceg, 41, experienced a she said them back in seconds.
traumatic brain injury after They were staggered when she
a serious fall into a ravine, pronounced words like hospital
transforming her personality. and helicopter backwards with
Six years later, she had become minimal effort.The pupil from
a gifted artist and poet who Wellfield Middle School in
enjoyed spending time working Whitley Bay can pronounce most
on mathematical equations. words backwards, providing she
She had also gained the ability can spell them, including tricky
to experience synsthesia words such as amazing, dinosaur
seeing sounds and hearing and beautiful. I didnt at first
colours while listening to music. realise how unique it was, said
The downside was losing the her mother. Its the speed that
ability to feel emotions: she had shocks me. D.Express, 17 April;
taught herself to smile or laugh as D.Mail, 18 April 2017.
a response to social cues, but was
neWSLIOnS / SWnS.cOM

unable to feel or understand the bLeeDiNG heLL


reaction. Doctors initially thought Without being actually cut or
she had developed bipolar scratched, Akhilesh Raghuvanshi,
disorder, but eventually brain 13, bleeds from many parts of
scans led to her being diagnosed his body even his hairline. It is
with savant syndrome. She thought he might be suffering
has no memory of her life or
childhood, and didnt even After the fall,she Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic,
said: Its not common, but it
from a very rare condition similar
to hmolacria which gives
recognise her own mother.
She isnt the first person to lose gained the ability happens.The loss of emotion
is often caused by injury to the
sufferers half-blood tears. The
symptoms first appeared when
the ability to experience emotion
after a head injury, a phenomenon tosee sounds brains frontal lobe, which is
where a lot of our emotion and
he was 10, but his family only
contacted a local doctor about
known as a at effect. Oscar
Guillamondegui, MD, director of andhear colours expression is processed.This
can lock that area of the brain,
his bizarre condition in July 2016.
He was referred to the All India
theVanderbilt Multidisciplinary making it difficult to experience Institute of Medical Sciences

22 F T356
www.forteantimes.com
Mythconceptions by Mat Coward

and spent a month under


observation, but there is yet to
More hairy babieS
Last year, Junior Cox-Noon
214: OLD WINE
be an official diagnosis. was born with a full head The myth
I bleed from my eyes, of hair [FT348:18]. Her Good wine improves
my hands, my head from mother Chelsea Noon, 32, is with age.
everywhere, he said. I bleed a hairdresser from Brighton.
from my ears, nose and eyes as Similarly endowed is Alexis
well. When I bleed from ears Bartlett from Sydney, Australia, The truth
it feels warm. It may happen whose mother Nicola is also Wine experts seem
once or maybe 10 times in a a hairdresser, while her to be pretty clear
day. Sometimes, the bleeding father Adrian is bald. At six on this matter:
will stop and wont happen months the little girl had almost all wines
for months. But in the past 15 luscious shoulder-length should be drunk
days I have bled almost every locks. Sophia-Mae Myers was fresh normally
day. It doesnt hurt when the born with a head of thick within a year or
bleeding starts but it makes black hair. Disappointingly, two of bottling. Like
me tired and sometimes I her mother Laura, 36, from most foods and
have headaches. Akhilesh, Barkingside, northeast drinks, wines have
from Ashoknagar in Madhya London, is not a hairdresser; an optimum period
Pradesh, India, is usually neither is Kate Mason, 32, of consumption,
affected in the mornings. Now from Crowle in Lincolnshire, a natural Best
things are going from bad to whose daughter, Primrose Before date, after
worse as he has started passing Holloway, was born with lush which they will start
blood while urinating, said dark curls last September. to decline in quality.
his father Arun, a farmer. I Amelia Lunn was born with a Wines kept too long
fear for my childs life now full head of auburn hair just will become stale,
I appeal to the doctors of the before Christmas. Her mother, in the sense of
world, please intervene and Kayleigh Marsh, 22, from lifeless and even musty, and will lose their colour. In the past, before
help save my son. D.Star, 9 Feb Nuneaton in Warwickshire, scientific precision replaced guesswork, many young wines were far
2017. was also born with a full head more acidic and heavier in tannin than they are today, and therefore
Fortean Times has noted of hair. Natasha and Ashley it was wise to cellar them for a while in order to render them
several similar cases: Gent, from Medway in Kent, palatable. Today, some sweeter wines, champagnes and a few reds
Twinkle Dwivedi, 12, from were told their baby would are intended to be aged in the bottle for five years or so (provided
Uttar Pradesh, India (2007 have a bit of hair after wisps they are kept in ideal conditions) before consumption, but the vast
FT243:11); Calvino Inman, 15, showed at her 20-week scan; majority of all wines between 90% and 99%, say the nophiles
from Rockwood, Tennessee then, last January, Holly Gent should be drunk now, not saved for a distant special occasion.
(2009 FT255:5); Yritza Oliva, was born with brunette locks One cause of confusion may be that very old bottles are sometimes
20, from Purranque, Chile, that by May had reached worth a lot of money; but they are usually sold to collectors, as
and Michael Spann, 27, from her shoulders. (Queensland) rarities, not for drinking.
Antioch, Tennessee (2013 Courier Mail, 10 Feb; Sun, 12
FT311:8-9); and Marnie-Rae Feb; D.Express, 17 Feb, 9 May;
Harvey, 17, from Stoke-on-Trent D.Mail, 28 Feb; D.Telegraph, 9 Sources
www.nytimes.com/1987/01/18/magazine/wine-a-musty-myth.
(2016 FT340:10). May 2017.
html; http://winereviewonline.com/Paul_Lukacs_Myth_of_Aging.
cfm; www.yahoo.com/style/12-myths-about-wine-busted-by-a-
sommelier-127011119136.html; www.historytoday.com/charles-
ludington/politics-wine-18th-century-england

Disclaimer
This column is no wine expert but then, nor is anyone else,
since the whole pile of nonsense was entirely invented by the
newly-dominant middle class of the industrial revolution, who were
trying to establish their superior taste and refinement in order to
legitimise their rise to power. Still, if any wine snob does wish to
correct our errors, please feel free to swirl your thoughts around
your mouth before spitting them out in the letters pages.

Mythchaser
A few years ago, an FT reader
came across a curious fact,
and wants to know if its true: do
more people die in deserts from
drowning, than from thirst and
cATerS neWS

hunger?
STRANGE DAYS

FORTEAN FOLLOW-UPS All the latest updates on news items that have
appeared in previous issues of Fortean Times

2015. The sukhumvit road, or


Thailand route 3, is a major
highway between Bangkok and
cambodia and Loungs owners
apparently didnt notice she had
fallen out until they reached
home and had no idea where
to look for her. Local people in
the village of Ban nong Khon in
chanthaburi province fed her for
months as she waited patiently
by the roadside for her owner to
return. she became something
of a minor local celebrity and
DpA pIcTUrE ALLIAncE / ALAMy sTOcK pHOTO

many people took photographs


of her, subsequently posted on
Facebook. Then in september
2016, after waiting almost a year
for her owners, the faithful mutt
was run over and killed as she
strolled along the highway. D.Mail
(online), 26 Sept 2016.

GIANT sLOTHs
HERMIT WANTED would stand him in good stead. August 2015. The day after she [FT355:10-11]
[FT351:10] His divorce and the poverty he sold the freezer, Ms Lee had left Following our
Belgian stan experienced as a result was also town claiming she was heading report of south
Vanuytrecht good preparation, he added. to West Virginia to be with American tunnels
(above), 58, a The trained surveying her mother, who she allegedly dug
former artillery technician, who is also said was now living at by ancient giant
officer who a catholic deacon, a nursing home. she sloths, crews
drives an East will not be completely was eventually tracked digging a tunnel
german Trabant, alone. He has been down and arrested on for a new Los
beat 49 other told to expect a 15 september, charged Angeles train line have found the
candidates to secure a job as number of visitors who with concealing and remains of one of these creatures.
one of Europes last hermits. come by to pray, chat failure to report a death. The Metropolitan Transportation
He is due to move into the and enjoy the view. He said telegraph.co.uk, 17 Sept Authority said a fossilised hip joint
350-year-old hermitage, built into he liked the idea of combining 2016. was discovered in sandy clay 16ft
a cliff above the Alpine village the peace in the mornings and (5m) below a major thoroughfare
of saalfelden near salzburg in evenings with the intensive DOGGED DEVOTION where the new line is being built.
Austria, which has been occupied dialogue and pastoral care of [FT353:8-9] The bone (below) is from a harlans
every year since its foundation. his visitors during the day. Irish A three-year-old ground sloth, a mammal that
According to the job description, Times, D.Telegraph, Guardian, 20 bitch called Loung roamed the Los Angeles basin
the successful candidate should April 2017. fell out of a car 11,000 years ago. They grew up to
have a connection to christian or pick-up truck 10ft (3m) in length and weighed up
belief and be at peace with DEpARTURE DENIED on a main road to 1,500lb (680kg). A bone from
themselves at 1,400m (4,600ft) [FT349:20] through eastern an extinct bison was also found.
above sea level. The hermitage Marcella Jean Lee Thailand in (Sydney) D.Telegraph, 3 June 2017.
has no heating, running water (above), 56, sold
or electricity. There are no a chest freezer
neighbours and the views are to a neighbour
stunning. I thought I had no at a yard sale in
chance, said white-bearded Mr goldsboro, north
Vanuytrecht, who comes from carolina, in May
near Brussels. When I read 2016 for $30, with instructions
about the saalfelden hermitage, not to open the appliance,
I thought to myself: thats the saying it was being used as a
place for me. He had long time capsule and that church
dreamed of becoming a hermit members would come by at some
but the opportunity had not point to collect the contents.
arisen. He thought his previous However, the neighbour later
experience working with homeless opened it up to find the body of
people, alcoholics, drug addicts, Ms Lees mother Arma roush,
prisoners and psychiatric patients 75, who was last seen alive in

24 F T356
www.forteantimes.com
ALIEN ZOO nEwS FROm THE wORLd OF cRypTOzOOLOGy

KARL SHUKER mourns the passing of a great naturalist and ponders a horny mystery...

have been? Bearing in mind that it was


entirely unknown to me, whatever it was
had evidently failed to excite the media
once it did arrive in Britain, and yet its
description matches nothing familiar from
Africa. The facts that it was horselike and
bore its single horn upon its brow would
seem, if reported correctly, to eliminate a
young rhinoceros. For both African species
(black rhino and white rhino) have two
horns each, but with neither one borne
upon the brow, and even as calves they are
burly in form, not remotely equine. Might it
therefore have been a freak specimen of
some antelope species, in which a single
central horn had developed instead of the
normal pair of lateral horns? Occasional
unicorn specimens of goats, sheep, and
GOODBYE TREVOR, GOD spEED even deer have been confirmed, so this
I am very sad indeed to announce that one of my dearest friends in cryptozoology would not be impossible.
award-winning Exmoor naturalist and veteran British mystery cat researcher Trevor Moreover, certain African antelopes
Beer MBE passed away this June, aged 80, following a short illness. Within the realm are superficially horselike. Indeed, one in
of cryptozoology, Trevor was well known and well respected in equal measure for his particular, the roan antelope, is sufficiently
longstanding and outstanding Exmoor Beast investigations, his classic book on the so for it to have been given the formal
subject, and his own significant, first-hand sightings of a very large black pantheresque binomial name Hippotragus equinus (horse
cat on the moors, but in the wider world of Westcountry natural history he was an horse-goat). Equally ambiguous is the
absolute colossus. rIp Trevor, thank you for all of the exceptional work that you have state in which this mystery beast was sent
done for wildlife and nature conservation down through many decades, for all of your to Britain from Africa, because the report
delightful books and articles, and above all for your friendship, dating back more than does not make it clear whether the animal
30 years. If anyone wishes to seek Trevors monument, visit Exmoor and look around, was dead or alive. If it were still alive,
and there you will see it, on every side, everywhere. Robin Beer and Endymion Beer, however, where is it likely to have been
pers. comms; http://www.trevorbeer-countrysidematters.co.uk/ sent? In later years, the premier recipient
of exotic live beasts was London Zoo, but
this establishment did not open until 27
WHITHER THE UNICORN? which Id never read about anywhere else April 1828. In 1832, the animals contained
I have often stumbled upon a hitherto before. Here it is: in the Tower of Londons menagerie were
unsuspected report of great interest while THE UNICORN. transferred to London Zoos collection,
looking for something entirely different, and Another animal resembling the so perhaps, back in 1821, the unicorn,
here is the latest example. While browsing description of the unicorn, as given by or whatever it was, had been sent to the
through Vol. 9 (April-October 1821) of a Pliny, is now on its way to this country Tower? Also, whatever happened to its
British periodical entitled The Atheneum; or, from Africa; it nearly resembles the horse remains? Are they languishing unstudied or
Spirit of the English Magazines in search in figure, but is much smaller, and the even unlabelled in a museum somewhere?
of an account concerning a giant spider single horn projecting from the fore head If anyone has any knowledge concerning
(which I did eventually locate), I chanced is considerably shorter than is given in this tantalising lost beast, wed love to hear
upon a short but fascinating report of a the real or supposed delineations of that from you.
reputed unicorn that had lately been sent doubtful creature. The Atheneum; or, Spirit of the English
to Britain, possibly while still alive, but What could this very intriguing creature Magazines, vol. 9 (April-Oct 1821), p486.
sHArp pHOTOgrApHy / crEATIVE cOMMOns

ABOVE LEFT: A unicorn, with its single horn. ABOVE RIGHT: could the mysterious Atheneum creature have been a freak roan antelope with one horn?

F T356 25
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STRANGE DAYS

NECROLOG This month, the greaseball guru who fooled Mrs Thatcher checks out and the
psychedelic alchemist behind Timothy Learys favourite acid takes a final trip

Thatcher in 1975, shortly hours to Hindu communities


after she had become leader worldwide [FT84:16-17]. In
of the Conservative Party. 1996 Rao and Chandraswami
The swami, Singh recalled, were arrested on charges of
prophesied that she would be defrauding Lakhubhai Pathak,
prime minister for nine, 11 or the British-based pickle king,
13 years and Mrs Thatcher of $100,000 back in 1983. Rao
began to look at Chandraswami won bail, but the godman spent
not as a fraud, but as a holy 10 months in jail. Both men
man. When he took off his were later acquitted. In 1998,
chappals and sat on the sofa asked if he would keep silent
in her Commons ofce in the over his past, Chandraswami
lotus position, Mrs Thatcher replied: I have to. If I open
seemed to approve. Mrs T my mouth, an earthquake will
TEKEE TANWAR / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

was so impressed, said Singh, result. He was cremated on


that she asked for a second the banks of the Yamuna River
appointment, and even agreed in a ceremony attended by a
to the godmans request that handful of mourners, none of
she wear a red dress. whom were VIPs.
Chandraswami played a Nemi Chand Jain, aka
shadowy role in the battle Chandraswami, tantric
between Mohammed al Fayed charlatan, born Behror,
and Lonrhos chief, Tiny Rajasthan Nov 1948; died 23
CHANDRASWAMI Brunei, the presidents of Kenya Roland, over the control of May 2017, aged 69.
Chandraswami was born and Zambia, and Ferdinand the House of Fraser, owners
in Rajasthan, the son of a Marcos (who credited him with of Harrods, during which he NICHOLAS SAND
moneylender. The family once saving his life). In her played both sides for nancial Sand was the son of Clarence
moved to Hyderabad, though book Gurus: Stories of Indias gain. He was also implicated as Hiskey, a chemist and (since
Chandraswami would claim Leading Babas, Bhavdeep a middleman in the Iran-Contra his college days) a committed
that he had spent his youth Kang wrote that Mobutu arms-running scandal. Communist. Clarence was
meditating in the jungles Sese Seko, the kleptocratic Back in India, he rose to recruited by Soviet intelligence
of Bihar, where he acquired dictator of Zaire, would invite prominence on the coat-tails of during World War II while
tantric powers. By the 1970s Chandraswami to Kinshasa Narasimha Rao, who was sworn working on the Manhattan
he was a globetrotting mystic and ask him to hide behind a in as Indias prime minster in Project, from which he was
and self-styled godman, curtain during an important 1991 on an auspicious date expelled after he was seen
regarded by his devotees as an meeting, then ask his advice picked by the canny swami, meeting a Russian agent. His
avatar of the Hindu monkey on whether the visitor could be who soon afterwards built a wife Marcia divorced him and
god Hanuman. To many others, trusted. multi-storey ashram in New reverted to her maiden name,
however, he was the greaseball Chandraswami (who spoke Delhi where he held court Sand, passing it on to her son.
guru, a modern-day Rasputin only Hindi) was adept at such sitting on a large tiger skin. Nick Sand embarked on his
who exploited his role as apparently supernatural feats For the next ve years, he chemical career after taking
spiritual adviser to a host of as mind reading. Often he breezed in and out of the prime mescaline as a student in
international lm stars, senior would ask a new acquaintance minsters residence, becoming Brooklyn College in 1962, but
politicians and businessmen for to write questions on scraps of his chief astrologer, fund it was his rst experience with
nancial gain and had a walk- paper, crumple the scraps into manager and power broker. LSD in 1964 (when it was still
on part in a string of scandals, balls, and then repeat each Chandraswamis luck began legal) that turned him into an
including nancing the question as they unfolded the to turn in the run-up to the acid prophet. I was oating in
assassination of Rajiv Ghandi. paper. He closed his eyes and 1996 elections, when Rao was this immense black space, he
The bearded and portly holy went into a trance, said K defeated by the right-wing recalled in The Sunshine Makers
man, addressed by his followers Natwar Singh, a former Indian BJP. In 1995 his followers (2015), a documentary by
as Your Holiness, claimed deputy high commissioner in were accused or orchestrating Cosmo Feilding-Mellen. I said,
miraculous tantric powers and London. Suddenly he asked a wave of miracles as a What am I doing here? And
was said to have dispensed my wife to pick up any of the distraction from investigations suddenly a voice came through
spiritual advice to, among paper balls. She did so. Opened into the swamis affairs, my body and it said, Your
others, Elizabeth Taylor (who it. Chandraswami then told her including several days in which job on this planet is to make
claimed he had brought her what the question was. He was statues of the elephant god psychedelics and turn on the
breast cancer under control), spot on. Ganesh were believed to be world. Like Moses receiving
the Saudi arms dealer Adnan According to Singh, drinking milk fed to them, the tablets, Sand took this
Khashoggi, the Sultan of Chandraswami met Margaret a craze that spread within commandment to heart.

26 F T356
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STRANGE DAYS

Encouraged by Owsley
Stanley, Americas premier
acid chemist, and nanced
,
by Billy Hitchcock, heir to a
banking and oil fortune, Sand
and computer expert Tim
Scully (Owsleys lab partner)
set up a lab in Windsor,
California, in 1968. Within a
year they had made 10 million
tabs of Orange Sunshine,
touted by Tim Leary as the
nest acid available, which
was distributed by the
Brotherhood of Eternal Love
from their base at Laguna
Beach, California. (One source
states this was the rst step

Fairies, Folkloreand Forteana


in a planned production of
750 million trips.) Sand made
sure that Orange Sunshine was
available to American soldiers
in Vietnam, whose minds he
hoped to bend in the direction
SIMON YOUNG FILES A NEW REPORT FROM THE INTERFACE OF STRANGE PHENOMENA AND FOLK BELIEF
of non-violence and brotherly
love. The goal was simple: If brought the photos to a theosophist meeting
we could turn on everyone in COTTINGLEYS FAIRYFAKERS in 1919, and things span out of control from
the world, then maybe wed The Cottingley Fairies, whose 100th there, the photographs ultimately making
have a new world of peace and anniversary is upon us (see pp30-35), were their way into the Strand magazine. So far
love. not, as we now know, real. All were designed, so good. What is often forgotten, though, is
When the supply began drawn and then cut out by two young that the third, fourth and fth photographs
to run out, a certain Ronald Yorkshire girls, Frances Grifths and Elsie were taken in 1920, three years after the
Stark turned up with a large Wright, who hoodwinked rst many of their rst two. Edward Gardner, their theosophist
quantity of pure LSD and relatives, then local theosophists and nally minder, gave the girls two cameras and 20
took over the nancing. Stark, Arthur Conan Doyle. plates and asked them to snap
however, turned out to be an Posterity has chosen to go fairies in Cottingley Beck. Elsie
informer; Sand and Scully
was given 15-year sentences
easy on Frances and Elsie:
after all, it is argued, this THEOSPOPHISTS was no longer a child. There is
a remarkable photograph of
in 1971; Sand was let out
on bail pending appeal, and
was a kids game that got out
of hand. The children were WERE CONVINCED her on the beck bank in that
year, a stunning young woman.
slipped into Canada, where he
lived for two decades under
caught in a lie, and what is
worse they were caught in a
THATTHE ONSET It would, of course, have been
difcult at this point to tell the
the assumed name Theodore
Edward Parody III and
lie by social betters in nasty
and unforgiving Edwardian
OFPUBERTY whole truth. But the girls could
easily have failed to have taken
continued with his psychedelic
alchemy. He was unmasked
England. The present writer
has become impatient with this
UNDERMINED the last photographs: Sorry, Mr
Gardner, we photographed the
in 1996 and sent back to the version of events. I have the THEABILITYTO fairies but they dont appear on
US where he served six years greatest sympathy for Frances the negative. The theosophists
in jail, after which he moved and Elsie, both now departed. MATERIALISE were convinced that the onset
to Ecuador. He remained The girls played their part in of puberty undermined the
totally committed to the the Cottingley drama with that FAIRIES ability to materialise fairies, so
beatic vision granted to him special panache given to those their absence would have been
on his rst trip. Gina Raetze, who have grown up breathing understood. Instead, Frances
his long-time companion Pennine air. But this idea that the two were and Elsie reached again for the hat pins and
(and sometime partner of passive agents, being exploited and prodded the scissors...
the situationist Chris Gray, along by a cruel class system really needs to Should we blame them? Not in the least.
FT252:26), said he died of a be put through the paper shredder. They brought a little magic to glum post-war
heart attack. In 1917 when the rst two photographs England. But nor should we start scratching
Nicholas Francis Hiskey, were taken Elsie was 16 or 17 and Frances around for alibis on their behalf. In 1917,
afterwards Sand, acid chemist, was 9 or 10. They took the photographs after Frances and Elsie were out to trick their
born Brooklyn, New York City their family had ridiculed Francess fairy family; in 1920, they were out to trick the
10 May 1941; died Lagunitas, sightings: Frances it will be remembered world.
California, 24 April 2017, aged claimed to her death that she really had seen Simon Young writes on folklore and history and
75. fairies. It wasnt they, but Elsies mother, who runs www.fairyist.com

FT356 27
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UFO FILES / flying sorcery ufological news and views

He not busy being born is busy dying


PETER BROOKESMITH surveys the latest fads and flaps from the world of ufological research

In a recent letter, Nicholas Southwell


wonders (FT354:71), among other
things, Why do people who believe so
wholeheartedly that there is nothing to UFO
phenomena care so much about [them]?
I will do my best to answer his questions. I
cant answer for Robert Sheaffer (although
I suspect he finds UFO conferences and
those attending perversely entertaining) or
any other sceptic. Contrary to rumour, UFO
sceptics disagree about a lot of things.
Its perhaps worth explaining that when
I first became entangled with this subject
I was a naf, and had to be educated in it
by Charles Bowen then editor of Flying
Saucer Review and J Allen Hynek and, while
struck with the sheer variety (inconsistency)

D J / My TOy MUSEUM
of the phenomena, couldnt help but
feel there was something objective to
them. I then drifted to the notion that UFO
experiences were in some senses psychic,
some on the hallucinatory spectrum,
others more exotically tulpoid, as Jung anomalies exist out there and in some
rather obliquely proposed a phase that The raw data of ufology cases have happened to them. There is no
didnt last long. I then researched or more
often commissioned research into a few have always been doubt people have weird and inexplicable
experiences, and they ought not to be
UFO claims and found them spectacularly
wanting: witnesses and extrapolations from
filtered by investigators mocked. Theres also no doubt that some
other people, deluded or unscrupulous as
their accounts turned out to be impressively
inaccurate even fictional as well as
and reporters the case may be, exploit those people and
their experiences and the audience for them
lacking in fundamental logic, which is the for their own peculiar ends. The raw data
great underpinning of science. Scientific of ufology have always been screened and
is what ufologists have traditionally claimed All of which revolves around the experiencer. filtered and re-presented by investigators
their studies to be. They are nothing of the Then there are ufologists, the gatherers and reporters. And so the accretion of a
sort. And there has never been an unbroken and purveyors of UFO data, who range series of legends supporting the underlying
chain of evidence that led from UFO from sceptical enquirers who test witness myth (that we are being watched, visited and
experience to actual ET aliens. So I didnt accounts in the hope of explaining them interfered with by beings from elsewhere)
arrive where I am by jumping, fully armed like (and/or finding a genuine anomaly), to the in other words the development of a folklore
Athena from the head of Zeus, into the deep probably harmless or so I hope lunatics was almost inevitable, given the scientific,
end of disbelief. who think President Trump is keen to frighten psychosocial, and political context, from the
Nonetheless, I dont think there is sleeping giants or that Nazis lurk on the far end of the Second World War onward.
nothing to UFO phenomena. I do think side of the Moon tending a fleet of flying That said, I therefore plead innocent to
there is pretty much nothing to the ETH, for saucers, and like oddities. Somewhere in the any charge of sneering at people who
reasons I gave at monumental length in the middle are the honest hod-carriers of ufology, believe any of the curious things they
series Elephants on Mars (FT134:40-44, who gather reams of sighting reports and try do, ufological or otherwise. The title of
135:30-33, 136:30-33). In the 17 years to make some sense of them a frustrating, my column, There is no sense in trying
since that was published, nothing has if not impossible, task if you take this stuff at (FT352:26), was not intended to be snooty
happened to change my mind. Neither am face value. about UFO believers, but pointing to Isaac
I convinced by speculative origin-myths All these facets of the field have their Kois heroic efforts and the hypocrisy of
about other dimensions, time-travellers, audiences or markets or, if you prefer, Ted Roe, who has in effect driven Isaac to
denizens of a hollow Earth, &c &c. Nor, to adherents. I make no comment about the abandon his good and useful work. Isaac
be pedantic, do I care very much about consumers of ufology, because people will tried; and was shafted for his trouble. This
UFOs per se, despite three very fine believe or disbelieve what they will, and was an injustice and a loss worth reporting.
sightings of my own. But I am interested spend their time as they wish. However, And Im certainly not trying to save anyone
in how particular sightings, pictures and it interests me, first of all, how ufological from sin life would be very dull without sin.
claims are interpreted at the time and stories arise that is, why certain I merely hope that, in general, this column
later and, in the case of claims of (say) experiences are interpreted the way they entertains readers with tales from the odder
alien abductions and crashed saucers, how are and, second, what induces people to edges of ufology, and that the occasional
these are constructed, disseminated, and adhere, sometimes quite ferociously, to the foray into seriousness is at least illuminating.
incorporated into various systems of belief. presumption that often quite implausible So I persist in trying, in my way, after all.

28 FT356
www.forteantimes.com
UFO FILES / ufo casebook the real-life x-files

Hidden gems: crossing the boundaries


JENNY RANDLES revisits some weird and multi-faceted cases worthy of further investigation

I recently suggested (FT352:27) a way to LEFT: Sketch of the object seen in 1976.
revive research into the UFO mystery with
the help of interested readers. Project several people that something awful was
Five Per Cent will focus on the one in 20 going to happen and sensed it would be a
sightings that defy explanation and might plane crash. 24 hours after her sighting, a
reveal something beyond misperception or Turkish Airways DC 10 en route from Istanbul
chicanery. Several readers agreed to discuss to London crashed in a forest on approach to
this venture with a view to approaching UFOs Paris. Everyone on board was killed in what
from a fortean perspective. The plan is to was then the worst air crash in history.
adopt diverse viewpoints that might point us Another example is one of the most
in new directions. We have set up a forum to frustrating cases in British UFO history. It
plan things, but it is not too late for anyone was investigated at the time by investigator
who might want to contribute: whether you John Rouse, but his report crossed so many
are a car mechanic or psychologist, or have It was an oval shape boundaries between phenomena that it
an interest in channelling, apparitions or was hard to know where it belonged as an
cryptozoology, diversity will benefit the team. with a glass-like investigation. The case happened in the
If you are curious contact Project Five Per coal-mining village of Fencehouses, County
Cent at nufon@btinternet.com compartment and an Durham, at 9pm on 3 September 1976. One
Interestingly, the 70th anniversary of the witness, a 63-year-old woman, did talk, but
birth of modern UFOs on 24 June (see orange dome on top her teenage relative never did. The women
FT355) focused the minds of others on were returning from a family visit when they
our problems. Long-term ufologists offered saw an object on a small spoil heap. They
scathing reviews of current research, over the factory roof and hovered above an were able to get close enough to measure
suggesting that UFO buffs just reinvent adjacent woodyard. As the object made its it as just 5ft (150cm) long and 3-4ft (90-
the wheel over and over again as part of a closest approach, all three women were able 120cm) high. It was an oval shape with a
game they play amongst themselves. That to see through a row of windows or portholes glass-like compartment in the centre and an
discussion even raged on this journals on the side that revealed a corridor inside orange dome on top. Beneath were ski sled
Facebook page and I hope that some of the UFO. There was no indication of life. runners of shiny metal. Strangely unafraid,
those who took part in the debate might The women were terrified by the the two women walked in a trance towards it,
be inspired to put their words into action experience; one refused to get involved, and experiencing curious sensations as they did
and join this project. I am less pessimistic the others asked for anonymity. This case is so. The stiff wind blowing outside the zone
that the stagnation of our field is inevitable. a simple yet profound close encounter that is surrounding this object disappeared and
However, I do agree that we need to use at the heart of the UFO riddle. The witnesses an eerie silence engulfed them. The trees
tools such as the Internet to chart a new also reported physiological effects a cold stopped swaying, the rumble of traffic on a
path for ufology before it disappears up its sensation sweeping over them and a prickly nearby road ceased, and the watches worn
own hyperbole. I will report from time to time irritation in their eyes. One of them was by both witnesses froze (but worked normally
on progress and hope we disprove the view wearing a watch and this stopped during the afterwards).
that UFO research has become the fortean encounter, as did some machinery in the The older woman walked up to the object
equivalent of Monty Pythons ex-parrot. As factory. Like so many unresolved cases, this and touched it it felt smooth, glass-like and
a first step, I decided to search my files for one opens up several areas to investigate; warm. But at this point they both became
hidden gems cases from that elusive five discovering new cases like this with multiple terrified as two beings appeared nearby.
per cent that are not famous but show the aspects to explore is key, though, as experts They looked as if they had stepped out of
complexity of our multi-faceted subject. from various fields can conduct research. folklore rather than outer space: tiny, doll-like
Initially I was looking for events that seem A different example of boundary-crossing and with claw hands, large eyes and long
to cross boundaries and might appear in is a woman who came to our attention after white hair. The creatures seemed scared and
several different sections of this magazine, reporting a precognitive UFO sighting on put their hands up to their faces. From here,
as these may hold the key to refreshing how 2 March 1974 near her home in Derby. It the womens account became very confused,
we do things. Indeed, in the past they might was not very spectacular as a UFO just a suggesting a jump in time of up to half an
easily have fallen between the cracks. There white disc of light but it was the latest in hour before they recalled the object climbing
are likely to be hundreds of such cases out a long line of sightings dating back to 1958. skyward making a humming noise.
there; five per cent of thousands of sightings On every occasion strange things happened This case did not make headlines and
reported each year across seven decades in her life soon after and she often got a came to UFO research by chance, making
means hidden gems are calling out to us feeling that something bad was coming. one wonder how many others never reach an
from dusty filing cabinets all over the world! Scary things started to happen afterward investigator. It spans so many different areas
Here are just three examples. such as an electric clock in the house of research cryptozoology, alien abduction,
On 27 January 1977, a report came to running backwards and objects materialising time-slips, fairies that you can see why
BUFORA from three female factory workers in in thin air. As her husband, a no-nonsense building a broader fortean approach makes
Bridlington, yorkshire. At 4.45pm they were aero-engineer, saw these, she now revealed sense. So if Project Five Per Cent can find
driving to work when they observed an oval the premonitions that followed her sightings. new, boundary-crossing cases like these,
object that descended backwards from After seeing the UFO in March 1974 she told then who knows where it might lead?

F T356 29
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Deceiving Doyle: The
Cottingley Centenary
In July 1917, Elsie Wright and Frances Grifths claimed to have captured real fairies
on lm using their fathers camera. One hundred years on, FIONA MAHER revisits the
Cottingley photographs and asks who was fooling whom in this classic case.

D
espite their sometimes LEFT: The Midg camera used for the rst two fairy
erce reputation in photographs taken in 1917. FACING PAGE: A fairy
traditional stories, the offers owers to Elsie in one of the 1920 photos.
fairies have always been
good to me: whether through
my writing or the Legendary a member and declared: Theosophy
Fairy Festival I organise in North Wales, they has saved me from atheism. It was at a
have always looked after me. So, if youre Theosophist meeting in 1919, at which the
a believer then dont be dismayed by what subject of fairies came up, that Polly rst
follows: Im not seeking to prove or disprove showed the fairy photographs to anyone
the existence of the fairy folk but the story outside the immediate family. From there,
of the Cottingley fairy photographs certainly the images went on to be displayed at the
shines a light on their trickster nature. Theosophists annual meeting in Harrogate
in late 1919, and sometime in early 1920 they
SSPL / GETTY IMAGES

THE COMING OF THE FAIRIES came to the attention of Edward L Gardner, a


This year marks the centenary of one of the senior member of the Theosophical Society.
most celebrated events in fairyology. One Gardner was entranced. He sought out
hundred years ago, in July 1917, two young the family and asked for the plates to be
cousins, Elsie Wright and Frances Grifths, sent to him so the photographs could be
were delighted to discover fairies itting reprinted more sharply. As a precaution, he
about Cottingley Beck, a woodland stream
that ran behind their houses in the small Snelling reported showed them to photographic expert Harold
Snelling, who reported they had been taken
Yorkshire town of Cottingley.
Elsies father, Arthur Wright, was a keen that the images as single exposures, but, more importantly,
that he had detected movement in the wings.
Gardner secured permission to take the
amateur photographer and proud owner of
a Midg camera.The girls begged to borrow it
and set off back down the steep sides of the
had been taken as photographs on a lecture tour. He gave a
talk in London, which Miss EM Blomeld
beck to capture images of what theyd seen.
Though of the same era as Kodaks single exposures attended. She was so taken by the story of
the girls and their photographs that she
Box Brownie, which used lm, the Midg contacted her cousin, the creator of Sherlock
employed glass plates to create negatives. Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; by an
Arthur carefully developed the exposed been shattered. Gender roles had been extraordinary coincidence, he had been
plate in his own dark room.The picture questioned, as had the strictures of class; commissioned to write a piece on fairies
clearly showed fairies dancing before but, even more crucially, belief in a paternal for the Christmas edition of The Strand
Frances; a later image revealed Elsie with a deity was undergoing a crisis.The horror magazine.
winged gnome. of the trenches had left many asking how
The photographs were circulated amongst a merciful God could overlook such an ENTER CONAN DOYLE
the family as objects of curiosity for a couple abomination. People who had once called Conan Doyle, despite being a noted
of years, but it wasnt until 1919 that they themselves Christians became Spiritualists, Spiritualist, was initially cautious regarding
were revealed to the wider world a world agnostics or even atheists. the photographs, as witnessed in his
reeling from the aftermath of the bloodiest Into this widening religious void stepped comment to psychical researcher Sir Oliver
conict it had ever witnessed. the Theosophical Society, a widespread Lodge: We must both be on our guard. But
World War I at that time simply called group that in many ways pregured the Gardner never doubted. In no small way it
The Great War had shaken the foundations forms of contemporary spirituality with its was his condence in the photographs that
SSPL / GETTY IMAGES

of British society. For thousands of people, avoidance of strict dogma and focus on the prevented Conan Doyle from dismissing the
the triple pillars of Edwardian life the central message of love contained within matter entirely. Even when the photographic
sanctity of the home, knowing ones each of the major religions. experts at Kodak were less enthusiastic
place, and doing ones duty to God had Elsies mother, Polly Wright, became about the prints than Snelling, both Doyle

30 F T356
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PHOTOS: SSPL / GETTY IMAGES

ABOVE: The two 1917 photographs, showing fairies dancing before Frances and Elsie with a winged gnome. BELOW: A fairy drawn by Elsie in later life.

and Gardner chose to embrace only the is rightly proud of his ratiocinative abilities
positive comments. and his powers of observation and deduction.
Conan Doyles article, accompanied by the Surely his creator also had some talent in
two original pictures, appeared in The Strand that direction? Indeed he had.
magazine in 1920 to mixed reviews, but by no
means to the universal scorn thats sometimes WAYS OF SEEING
reported. As the epoch-making news spread Called upon to become a real-life consulting
to other publications, the press saw how well detective in the matter of The Great Wyrley
the photographs sold newspapers and were Outrages, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle rose
careful not to kill the story. Doyle set sail for magnicently to the occasion, channelling
a lecture tour of Australia and didnt hear pure Sherlock in a case that changed legal
about the last three photographs until the history.
end of 1920.Three months later, he wrote a In the early 1900s, in the Staffordshire
second article in The Strand, later reproduced village of Great Wyrley, a series of poison
in his book, The Coming of the Fairies. But by pen letters began to circulate, much to the
the time this was published in 1922, with distress of their recipients. At around the
the third, fourth and fth images of the same time, a number of horses were attacked
Cottingley fairies, Doyle had become an and mutilated in their elds (see FT21:8-9).
object of derision in some quarters. The police didnt look far for a suspect:
The girls stuck to their story: they had seen local solicitor George Edalji was known
fairies at the Beck.They kept their secret for to wander the district at night. He was
decades, until Frances confessed to the Times half-Indian and non-Christian and that
in 1983 that the pictures had been faked. Hat was deemed sufcient evidence to convict
pins had anchored fairy cut-outs, and a gentle him. George was sentenced to six years
SSPL / GETTY IMAGES

breeze had set their paper wings a-uttering. hard labour and released after three. He
Yet she still maintained she had taken the immediately sought Conan Doyles assistance
last two photographs, and that they were of in clearing his name.
genuine fairies. She said they had only faked Conan Doyle had trained as an
the other photographs to stop the grown-ups ophthalmologist. He employed his expertise
laughing at them. to reveal how Georges extreme short-
The template for the fairy images was a
line of dancing girls from The Princess Mary
Charles Doyle was sightedness would not have allowed him to
easily cross a few miles of open countryside,
Gift Book, a popular publication produced to
raise money for the war effort. Frances had committed to the nor nd his way through hedges, let alone
locate an un-tethered pony in a large eld on
brought her copy with her when she came to
Cottingley from South Africa in 1917. It was
Elsie, the family artist, who had traced the
asylum,where he a moonless night and all within the mere 35
unaccounted-for minutes available to him to
execute the dreadful deed.
picture and added wings to the gures.
It seems strange that Conan Doyle, a man
continued to draw The police, annoyed at Doyles
interference, sought to discredit him with
whose sharp mind had conceived that most
celebrated and cerebral of detectives, should
thelittle people counterfeit letters, but Doyle saw through
their fakery and persevered. Edalji was
have been fooled by two little girls. Holmes eventually pardoned and it was partially

32 F T356
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due to this case that the Court of Appeal was fairies in his spare time. Beset fairies, having been brought up in a
established in 1907. by self-doubt and depression, highly artistic household, with both his
And yet, it is arguable that it was Doyles he drifted into alcoholism. uncle and his father deeply interested
very ophthalmic expertise that led him When Arthur was still in in fairies and fairy lore. Not sharing
astray in the case of the Cottingley Fairy his 20s, Charles was sent the familys facility for art, he turned
photographs. to a nursing home. Once to science to prove the existence of the
He was of the opinion that children could there he succumbed to an even little people.
see more than adults. He was not thinking deeper depression and began Arthur obviously adored his father,
of some half-dreamed, psychic ability borne suffering from epilepsy. After a and arranged an exhibition of his
of innocence and conjured up by the poets, violent escape attempt, he was paintings in 1924. In His Last Bow, he
but actual, physical sight. A scant 16 years committed to Sunnyside, the has Sherlock Holmes use Altamont,
before the Cottingley photographs appeared, ironically named lunatic asylum at Montrose his fathers middle name, as an alias.
Wilhelm Roentgen had received a Nobel where he continued to draw all manner of To have had a parent locked up in a lunatic
Prize for his work on Roentgen Rays, now little people; his own parents had been asylum would have left most lateVictorians
better known as X-rays. It must have been Irish, and he saw the fairies as diminutive or early Edwardians lled with shame and
exciting to suddenly be able to see through gures without wings. reluctant to address any aspect of that
esh and peer inside solid bodies, and this In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, we have a parents mania.That Conan Doyle should be
still relatively new discovery may well have man almost genetically predisposed to see actively celebrating his father by promoting
suggested to Doyle that there were other ways belief in fairies, contrary to the prevailing
of seeing, yet to be discovered. social niceties, is perhaps a measure of his
Interestingly, in believing children can affection for Charles. Perhaps Conan Doyle
see more, Doyle wasnt a million miles from saw his fathers dipsomania as just another
the truth: children can certainly hear more way of piercing the veil between the worlds.
than adults. In 2005, in Barry, South Wales, If he could now prove fairies existed, it would
Howard Stapletons 17-year-old daughter mean his father might not be as crazy as
was harassed by a gang of children loitering everyone said: Charles would be redeemed.
around the local Spar shop. Stapleton In 1926, Punch published a cartoon (see
decided to do something about it, and his over) of Sir Arthur smiling benecently,
solution was remarkable. Recalling how his head wreathed in clouds of pipe smoke,
the noise from a local factory used to upset shackled to a pensive Holmes. Beneath it
him as a child but left the adults around ran a poem lamenting Doyles fanciful ideas,
him unaffected, he set about replicating the compared to Holmess cool logic, but ending
effect and The Mosquito was born.This with real warmth and affection:
device emits high frequency sounds that We sympathise with Holmes and yet, in
children can hear, but adults cant.The Spar Punchs heart your name is set.
became the testing ground, and sure enough, Of every DOYLE he is a lover, for DICKYS
unable to bear the noise, the young loiterers sake who did his cover.
dispersed.

HULTON ARCHIVE / GETTY IMAGES


So Doyles hypothesis was not A COTTINGLEY CONSPIRACY?
unreasonable, but it was fatally untested. One of Conan Doyles problems was that
He further compounded his error by falling he couldnt believe that Elsie and Frances
back on that awed expert analysis in which whom he described as children of the
Harold Snelling had reported movement in artisan class would have the brazen cheek
the creatures wings. to attempt to hoodwink a man of his superior
Yet there was also something more social standing.
compelling that urged Conan Doyle to
believe but it wasnt, as some have argued,
the loss of his son, Kingsley, in the Great War.

FAIRIES IN THE FAMILY


As in my own case, fairies were a family
business for the Doyles. Richard Dicky
Doyle, Arthurs uncle, was a famous
illustrator of many fairy books, such as the
series by Andrew Lang named after the
colours of their covers: TheYellow Fairy Book,
The Violet Fairy Book, The Green Fairy Book
and so on. Dicky also created the banner
artwork for Punch magazine. It might have
seemed strange to the casual observer
that the masthead for a satirical magazine
should feature so many fairy and goblin-like
creatures playing around the lettering, but
it served the magazine well, becoming its
longest lasting banner and surviving up until
1958.
Doyles father, Charles Altamont Doyle,
also had artistic leanings, but he was not
quite as talented as his brother. Charles
trained in architecture and designed a TOP: Conan Doyles uncle, the artist Richard Dickie Doyle. ABOVE CENTRE: The young Conan Doyle and
fountain at Holyrood Palace, but still drew his father Charles Altamont Doyle. ABOVE: One of Richard Doyles exquisitely detailed fairy illustrations.

FT356 33
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In looking at these girls with 21st LEFT: The fth and nal Cottingley
century eyes, perhaps we deceive photo, The Fairy Sun-bath. BELOW:
ourselves too. Conan Doyle and his famous creation
In 1917, when the girls said they in a Punch cartoon of 1926.
rst encountered the fairies, Elsie
was 17 and Frances was 10.Ten be that Arthur Wright, the keen
seems very young to us now, but this amateur photographer, did more
was a time when children routinely than merely develop the glass
went to work at the age of 12. plates? In their assessment of the
At 17, despite Conan Doyles photographs, Kodak stated that an
description of them as children, experienced photographer might
Elsie certainly wasnt a little girl. have been involved.
Furthermore, both cousins were Could Arthur have taken the
only children within their respective pictures? Its an intriguing thought.
families, a highly unusual situation What of Pollys part in bringing
for that era. Without siblings, they the pictures to the attention of the
would have spent far more of their Theosophists? It is possible that
time in adult company and perhaps fairies were mentioned at that
gained more sophistication than meeting but what if she herself
their years might suggest. Finally, had instigated the discussion?
both were comparatively well And, fairies aside, why was she
travelled. Elsie had spent time in carrying around a pair of two-year
Canada, and Frances had been old photographs in her handbag
almost entirely raised in South when the subject came up in 1919?
Africa. By the time their pictures Most mothers update pictures of
became famous, the girls had already their children regularly and with
seen far more of the world than any a photographer for a husband, Polly
other youngster in Cottingley. While would have had more opportunity

SSPL / GETTY IMAGES


they werent scheming minxes, they than most to have new photographs
played their part in the drama, as did taken of her daughter and niece.
the susceptible Conan Doyle. There is no argument that
The Cottingley locals treated the fourth and intriguing fth
the whole affair as a joke that had photograph, known as The Fairy
got out of hand, and Elsies 1983 confession
suggested that the girls had not told the truth The Cottingley Sun-bath, 3 were taken as late as 1920, long
after the Sphere and Inman images, but this
for fear of embarrassing public gures like
locals treated the
raises a further question: if fairies were so
Gardner and Doyle. But was there more to it prevalent around the Beck, why wait three
than that? years to get more pictures of them? Did
Consider the images on the opposite page.
The rst looks like a direct copy of the most
affair as a joke that Arthur Wright lose his nerve? Or were the
1917 pictures actually taken some time later
famous of the Cottingley photographs the
initial one, showing the fairies dancing before had got out of hand possibly as late as 1919, not long before they
were revealed to the world?
Frances. Its execution, though, is poor in After initially speaking highly of Conan
comparison to the Cottingley pictures, and Doyle, it seems Wrights attitude toward
the pale fairies seem out of place against the him changed and cooled but what was the
dark background. reason for this newfound reserve? Arthur
I have been able to nd very little about seems to have been distancing himself
its creator, who appears to have died without from the entire affair. It is impossible to
revealing how she made it. It was created in know exactly why, but if he had created the
early 1918 and is held in the same collection photographs and asked his daughter and
as the Cottingley fairy material, where it is niece to claim ownership, then, by the time
labelled Mrs Inmans Fake Photograph. 1 Doyle became involved, the matter had
The second image was taken in the summer moved beyond any opportunity for him to
of 1917 and published in February 1918 admit it was a prank. If he was so embroiled,
in a popular magazine called The Sphere, a it is likely he was either embarrassed or
PICTORIAL PRESS LTD / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

sister publication to the Illustrated London ashamed of using the girls to front the photos,
News. Both images pre-date the Cottingley and possibly fearful of being accused of fraud
photographs, which werent seen by anyone and even of obtaining money by deception.
outside of the immediate families until 1919. 2 At this point one has to ask: Cui bono? Who
We have only the word of the Wright and would benet from such a scheme?
Grifths families that the girls took the It is likely that Gardner paid the Wright
rst Cottingley photographs in the summer family for use of the images in his lectures
of 1917. What if they didnt? The families and the photographs were much reproduced
insistence that the rst two pictures were and sold as postcards.Then, just as things
taken in 1917 could point to a different and that his wife Polly set out to bring the seemed to be as good as they could get, they
conclusion: that the adults were part of the resulting images to as wide an audience as landed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the big sh
conspiracy too. possible. they probably didnt expect to hook.
Given his keen interest in photography, Although Box Brownie cameras were In a letter to Arthur Wright, Conan Doyle
it is a real possibility that Arthur Wright manufactured cheaply and actively marketed mentions that The Strand will pay ve pounds
had come across one or both of these earlier at that time as being for the use of children, for the temporary use of the photographs and
pictures and decided he could do better, Midg cameras were trickier to use. Could it a further ve pounds for temporary use in

34 F T356
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the American edition.Thats somewhere in
the region of 225 today and would have paid
many months rent on a cottage back then.
In a letter to Gardner dated 3 August 1921,
Doyle writes: I hope to get a small dowry for
Elsie from the fairies. Also for the little girl.
That small dowry became 100 worth 4,500
now. With sums like this at stake, the pressure
on the girls must have been enormous.
However, they were not children. By 1921,
Elsie was 21 and little Frances 14, two
years older than many children in full-time
employment and considered a young adult by
the standards of the day.
Incidentally, there has often been some
confusion over the girls ages, even from
Gardner. In a handwritten note dated 25 July
1920, he asks a series of questions on one
side of the paper with the answers on the
other, presumably as he received them. He
gives their ages as 17 and 10. In a typewritten
note outlining the story, (and possibly as
preparation for his own book, published in
1945, he mistakenly gives their ages as 13 and
10). Photographs suggest more than three
years difference in age between Elsie and
Frances.
Conan Doyle insisted on using aliases
for the girls Elsie became Iris and
Frances Alice concerned that a hundred
charabancs would descend upon the Beck.
But his subterfuge was in vain. Somehow the
story leaked, and within a week reporters
from national newspapers had found their
BROTHERTON COLLECTION, LEEDS UNIVERISTY LIBRARY

way to Cottingley. If more interest ultimately


resulted in more revenue, it is not difcult to
imagine the source of that leak.
All of this is conjecture. Although I believe
my argument is compelling, I cant prove who
took the photographs or when: no one can.
The only thing thats certain is that, a century
on, the Cottingley photographs havent given
up all their secrets...

NOTES
1 Brotherton Collection, Leeds University Library.
2 This information was kindly provided by Janet Bord.
She explained that in her book Real Encounters with
Fairies, the Sphere photograph was referred to but
inadvertently not reproduced.
3 In 2008, Francess daughter appeared on the
BBCs Antiques Roadshow, where she said her
mother had always claimed that she had taken the
fth photograph and that it showed real fairies. If
you examine it closely, faces appear in the grass
to the right of the fairy gures. So many people pin
their hopes on this nal picture, but it too would
appear to be a hoax. Both Elsie and Frances claimed
they took the photograph and perhaps they both
did: according to the photographic expert Geoffrey
Crawley, it appears to be a simple double exposure.

FURTHER READING
Janet Bord, Cottingley Umasked, FT53:48-
53, Spring 1985; Fairies: Real Encounters
MARY EVANS PICTURE LIBRARY

with the Little People, Michael OMara Books,


1997. Joe Cooper, The Case of the Cottingley
Fairies, Robert Hale, 1990.

FIONA MAHER is the author of The Last


Changeling and the Horror in a Hurry series of
TOP: The mysterious Dorothy Inman photo of early 1918. ABOVE: The fairy photo published in The Sphere novellas. She is the organiser of The Legendary
magazine in February 1918. Both images predate the publication of the Cottingley photos. Llangollen Faery Festival.

FT356 35
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Malevolent Nostalgia:
Tessa Farmers Fairyland
CATRIONA MCARA explores the menacing, miniature world of sculptor and animator
Tessa Farmer, where tiny skeletal fairies bent on world domination interact with a
natural world made of road-kill and antique taxidermy

D
e-installing an exhibition LEFT: Tessa Farmer. FACING PAGE: Little
of work by London-based Savages (detail), 2007.
sculptor and animator
Tessa Farmer (b.1978) is
a curious process for even 1980s capitalist-inspired collecting
the most intrepid curator. It requires phenomena which included Sylvanian
weaponry (scissors, tweezers, specimen Families, Polly Pocket, Lego, and My
jars, assortment containers), deance Little Pony, though such obsessions
in the face of gravity (a step-ladder), and indoctrinations are perhaps
and a very steady hand.Vast swarms ongoing.
of wasps and bees are confronted, Farmers work reaches back further,
teased apart and nestled into separate and is intertextual in its spiders web
compartments; antique taxidermy is of source texts. She has plundered a
cut down, wrapped and boxed, all as if range ofVictorian and Edwardian fairy
this were the natural order of things. tales especially the picture-book
But suddenly, an anomaly rears its illustrations of Richard Doyle, Arthur
head! What is to be done historically, Rackham and Beatrix Potter as well
thematically, taxonomically with the as drawing on the contemporary fairy
winged humanoid with a crab-claw scholarship of Marina Warner, Carole
appendage? This is the moment of G Silver and others. The Flower Fairies
realisation we are dealing with an by Cecily Mary Barker (1923) provided
entirely different register of reality, for Farmer with another important
the world of Tessa Farmer has lured us reference point illustrations of
into fairyland. child-fairies costumed and frolicking
Many recall their rst encounter within a oral wonderland. However,
with Farmers skeletal fairies and Farmers fairies are a deliberate
taxidermy specimens as an earth- subversion of the stereotypical pink,
shattering moment. Once her perky Tinkerbells of the popular
OSKAR PROCTOR

notorious beings are discovered, imagination. Dainty but deadly, her


an engrossing fascination quickly practice offers a femininity that is
takes over, and the viewer becomes not afraid of getting its hands dirty.
a willing victim of her/his own Another well-known example of the
curiosity. Farmers gurative dioramas intersection (or, indeed, confusion)
are bewitching and send us rushing back
to childhood.The rst time I saw Farmers
Farmers fairies are between children and fairies is that of the
Cottingley fairy photographs (see pp27,
work I became enchanted. In researching
her work over a period of many years, all a subversion of the 30-35), and the notion of the real-fake
is everywhere apparent in Farmers work.
the horror stories and fantasy lms that Often the boundaries between who is
seduced and terried me as a child have
been re-animated before my eyes: the scar-
stereotypical pink, doing the making, Farmer or her fairies, is
deliberately distorted. In order to do what
faced rabbits of Watership Down (1978);
the mice-children of The Nutcracker (1979); perkyTinkerbells she does, Farmer has to actively believe in
her fairies.
the lab-rats in The Secret of NIMH (1982). I The world of Tessa Farmer bristles with
designate this feeling, this jolt of surprise, as mythmaking, and it would seem that the
a malevolent nostalgia. 1 That irrepressible Farmer has always been rmly rooted in art of Faerie is very much in her blood.
longing I experience in the remembrance her childhood of the 1980s, which I also One of the most noteworthy facts about
of watching such strange animations is recognise as my own.The miniature domains the artist is that she embarked on her
SEAN DANIELS

rendered more comprehensible when of childhood toys provided the essential fairy sculptures before learning that she
looking at Farmers fantastic evolutions. foundations for her interest in play on a tiny was a descendent of the fairy-ction and
Indeed, the magical practice of Tessa scale.These are historically specic to the horror writer Arthur Machen. Its a peculiar

36 F T356
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is reinfused, allowing the dried-out insects
to become more malleable. The majority of
animals in Farmers works to date have been
the woodland creatures and inhabitants
of the English hedgerow (fox, mice, moles,
squirrels, small birds) which are frozen,
then professionally stuffed.The insects that
feature in her work are not always native
but are often sourced from South America
and Africa by expedition and mail-order.
They may also be collected along the banks
of her local canal in Tottenham, London;
occasionally, she also acquires treasures from
the ocean, such as crustaceans, urchins or
barnacles.
A pivotal moment in Farmers artistic
incubation was, no doubt, her Parabola
residency (2007) at the Natural History
Museum, London, where she became
TESSA FARMER

interested in a particular species of


microscopic wasp known as fairy ies
likely competitors for her own uttering
brood. For a long time after her residency,
ABOVE: Little Savages (Natural History Museum, London, 2007). BELOW: Unusual artists materials. a commitment to decreasing the size of her
fairies became the priority. However, in early
2015, she explained to me that this particular
coincidence that positions Machen as the articulation of skeletal bodies. In a recent self-challenge had ceased to motivate her;
lifeblood and heritage of Farmers practice interview with Petra Lange-Berndt, Farmer the fairies could only become so minute
(although its worth nothing that within such explained that she constructs the fairies before they disappeared from naked sight
a supernatural gene pool the legacy has out of a plant root specically a fern called altogether! Instead it appears that she
skipped two generations). birds nest fern, the Latin name is Asplenium has begun to devote her creative energies
Ever since the rst appearance of Farmers nidus. 2 These roots are then secured with to exploring their increasingly complex
fairies a Thumbelina-like emergence from superglue, and the tiny fairy gure is hung cornucopia of habitats. Farmers fairies infest
within a red ower in her mothers garden with magicians thread. As Farmer elaborates abandoned skulls, mount their own trophies,
(c.1999) they have been evolving. At the in a recent television interview, insects will and, like the Borrowers, utilise dollhouse
Ruskin School of Art, Farmer was made dry out naturally but can become quite crockery for the purpose of gustation. In this
to life-draw from bones and anatomical brittle so entomologists use a process way, Farmers artmaking explicitly mimics
specimens, which led to her interest in the called relaxing in which a little moisture the fairy architecture described in Michael
OSKAR PROCTOR

38 F T356
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THIERRY BAL

ABOVE: The fairies conquer outer space: Cosmic Cloud (detail), 2012. BELOW: Marauding Horde (detail) 2010.

Draytons 17th century poem Nymphidia insects collected after dying from natural
(1627). With all this building of houses, causes. She is a vegetarian, acutely aware of
and even vehicles, one would be forgiven animal rights, and her work could be said to
for thinking Farmer was conjuring a new participate in raising awareness of ecological
civilisation, yet the barbaric acts of her issues. She also rescues moth-eaten, broken
fairies resemble humanity more than we museum specimens which would otherwise
might care to acknowledge. be facing decommission.
In addition to a series of Flying Skull Ships, Returning to the crab-claw anomaly with
the fairies have also travelled into outer which I began,Tessa Farmers fairies could
space a perfectly logical development when be said to undo formal categories, partaking
one contemplates their insatiable desire for of both the rigour of entomology and the
world domination.The appropriation of a creativity of folk tales and moving us beyond
dog skull, with a collar reading Laika the the misleading distinction of science versus
rst dog in space makes this all the more art.The way I see it, the two are conjoined in
factually accurate. Here, space archology the very corporeality of Farmers fairies: one
becomes a likely pursuit as the fairies cannot exist without the other.Tessa Farmers
colonise the oating debris that orbits planet world is the magical, perhaps malevolent one
Earth. of the enchanted entomologist
Turning to a different dimension of
Farmers epistemological endeavour, NOTES
Victorian pseudo-art formats (such as 1 This idea is inspired by Kate Bernheimer in This
taxidermy specimens, buttery pressings, Rapturous Form, Marvels and Tales: A Journal of Fairy-
Tale Studies, 20:1 (2006): 67-83.
and dried owers preserved and displayed
within glass bells) are very much the kernel European traditions of anatomical drawing, 2 Petra Lange-Berndt, Small Things, Dead Things,
Stingy Things: An Interview with Tessa Farmer,
of her practice. Developing the concerns vanitas imagery, and curiosity cabinets.
Preserved! (Nov 2013): www.preservedproject.co.uk/
of such late 20th century artists as Mark Farmers malevolent nostalgia is thus small-things-dead-things-stingy-things-an-interview-with-
Dion, Damien Hirst, and Mat Collishaw, anachronistic as well as postmodern. tessa-farmer/
Farmer is one facet of a lively generation Some viewers nd the use of dead 3 Philipp Blom, To Have and to Hold: An Intimate
of early 21st century creative practitioners carcasses and insects as exhibits repulsive History of Collectors and Collecting (New York and
who appropriate animal materials for the and/or ethically challenging. Philipp Blom, Woodstock: The Overlook Press, 2002), p152.
purposes of their work: Polly Morgan, Claire in his history of collecting, reminds us that to
Morgan, Kate MccGwire, Kelly McCallum, collect we have to kill, be it literally in the Edited extract from In
Charles Avery and Samantha Sweeting. act of pinning or metaphorically in terms of Fairyland: The World of Tessa
Farmers work is perhaps unique for its decontextualisation. 3 Farmer, meanwhile, Farmer, edited by Catriona
inclusion of the fairy gure, which renders justies the use of such materials in the McAra, published by Strange
her work of interest to fantasy conventions tradition of the found object, which, for Attractor Press, 2016.
as well as art historical and museological her, tends to include antique taxidermy,
discourses. She also researches older excavated mummications, road kill, and

FT356 39
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Whatever happened to
the Summer of Love?
Did the haight-Ashbury district of san francisco witness a psychedelic shift in
consciousness that continues to reverberate today, or was it just a social experiment
that ended in commercial exploitation, drug abuse and disillusion? GARY LACHMAN turns
on, tunes in and goes back to 1967 in search of enlightenment...

F
ifty years ago this summer, with Hofmann, and Aldous Huxley,
something happened on the who popularised the judicious use of
west coast of America that in psychedelics in mainstream publications
retrospect seems rather like a like Saturday Evening Post, sang the praises
modern day Childrens Crusade. of chemically altered consciousness 2 (see
It was called the Summer of Love. FT180:28-32). Huxley had already written
Filled with LSD, marijuana, patchouli oil his account of his own experience with a
and the strains of the Beatles Sgt Peppers less powerful agent, mescaline, in his widely
Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Summer of read The Doors of Perception (1953). It was,
Love of 1967 was envisioned as a kind of in fact, the Canadian psychiatrist Humphry
transformative season-long sociological Osmond, who had administered Huxleys
experiment by the leaders of the burgeoning mescaline dose, who coined the term
A JoNes / Getty IMAGes

San Francisco psychedelic counter-culture. psychedelic.


For them it was the start of a consciousness Through the late 1950s to his death in
revolution. For others, it was a party that 1963 on the same day as President John
went on for too long. F Kennedy and CS Lewis Huxley was the
As I point out in my book Turn OffYour acceptable face of the growing psychedelic
Mind: The Mystic Sixties and the Dark Side movement. Others followed, but not always
of the Age of Aquarius, the roots of the with Huxleys caution. LSD became popular
1960s counter-culture go back to the Beat
Generation of the previous decade. 1 But Among Learys among the Hollywood bohemian set, and the
psychologist Oscar Janiger headshrinker
we can trace its ancestry even further back, to the stars administered it to his clients
to the Wandervogel movement of early 20th
century Germany, the free love communes
guinea pigs with great success. Cary Grant, one of the
most popular actors of the time, told an
established at MonteVerit, in Ascona,
Switzerland, around the same time, and
were theThree interviewer that LSD had changed his
life. Other therapists ran LSD sessions for
further still, to the occult revival of the
late 19th century that produced Madame Musketeers of the $100 a shot. But it was R Gordon Wassons
article about his experience with psilocybe
Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical mexicana, Seeking the Magic Mushroom,
Society, and the dark magician Aleister
Crowley, whom the counter-culture would
Beat Generation in the 13 May 1957 issue of Life that set the
stage for the summer shindig a decade later.
celebrate as a proto-hippie; even the One of the people to try a taste of the esh
Beatles were fans. But the immediate spark of the gods as the mind-altering fungus
couurtesy of the fINe Arts MuseuM of sAN frANcIsco

for the Summer of Love was struck on the was searching for a better aspirin and he was called was a Harvard psychology
previous autumn. had a hunch that the batch of ergot fungus professor named Timothy Leary.The
he had been working with had something experience, we can say, went to his head.
TURNING ON more to offer. When a minute amount of At Harvard, Leary initiated a series of
On 6 October 1966 the State of California the 25th synthesis of the stuff mysteriously experiments with psilocybin, the powerful
criminalised the possession of lysergic got into his system, he knew he was right. drug synthesised from the mushroom.
acid diethylamide-25 or as it was better His account of his celebrated bicycle ride Among his guinea pigs were the Three
known, LSD. Acid had been making the a few days later, on 19 April 1943, when Musketeers of the Beat Generation Allen
scene for some time by then. It had been he purposefully ingested some more just Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S
discovered 23 years earlier by Albert to make sure, is a recognised classic in Burroughs Jr. Ginsberg became as vocal an
Hofmann, a rigorous research scientist with psychedelic literature. advocate of the unrestricted, democratic
the prestigious Sandoz Pharmaceutical Not long after this, literati such as the distribution of LSD as Leary would be. He
Company in Basel, Switzerland. Hofmann German writer Ernst Jnger, who tripped would later bemoan the fact that LSD had

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roy JoNes / eVeNING stANDArD / Getty IMAGes

ABOVE LEFT: Ken Kesey, proponent of unregulated LsD use and organiser of the Acid tests. ABOVE RIGHT: eastern mysticism meets the san francisco sound.

been the drug of choice in the infamous Leary had tasted Gods DNA, all pretence to
CIA MK-ULTRA experiments in mind academic objectivity was abandoned. He was
control, and that he had unwittingly been sacked by Harvard in 1963, but by then he
one of their subjects. 3 The author Ken had already taken on the role of psychedelic
Kesey was another recipient of the CIAs prophet, one he would maintain, in different
enlightenment. Kesey believed use of the versions, for the rest of his life.
drug should be unregulated, as the Acid Learys tub-thumping for the drug took
Tests and Trips Festivals he organised the form of a semi-initiatory organisation,
with his band of Merry Pranksters made the International Federation of Internal
clear: even Learys famous dictum of set Freedom, but its more public face was the
and setting was jettisoned in these free- Psychedelic Review, which appeared in
form, multi-sensory happenings. One less 1963. Its pages explored the hidden history
enthused participant in Learys psilocybin of psychedelia and advocated its use for
experiments was the writer Arthur Koestler, religious, psychological, philosophical, social
who had recently switched from politics to and sexual liberation. Many heard the call,
psychology and who would later turn to the and LSD still legally available became
paranormal. He found the experience fake, the new sacrament of the underground. By
ersatz, instant mysticism. His assessment, 1964 John Lennon and George Harrison
however, was in the minority. But the most had both tripped, and in 1965, during a
important player in Learys Harvard days, stint in Los Angeles, Lennon dropped acid
from the point of view of the Summer of again with the rock group the Byrds.The
Love, was the English conman and hipster post-Beat scene and the rising youth culture
sociopath Michael Hollingshead, who made a
name for himself as the man who turned on
The psychedelic were coalescing and moving on from yeah,
yeah, yeah to edgier business. In March
Timothy Leary.
Hollingshead had acquired some 5,000 culture took hold 1966, at Londons Indica Bookshop, Lennon
picked up a copy of Learys The Psychedelic
doses worth of LSD and, the story goes,
mixed the stuff in an empty mayonnaise in the Haight- Experience (1964), written in collaboration
with his Harvard colleagues Richard Alpert
and Ralph Metzner, and was enthralled. Pop
jar with some powdered sugar and distilled
water, producing a high-potency goop. When
he licked the spoon he went through the
Ashbury district of music would never be the same again.
Taking their cue from the Tibetan Book
roof. He was convinced that henceforth he
would live in the realm of the primordial San Francisco of the Dead a sign that Eastern mysticism
of different sorts was getting into the act
I shall transform myself into a god who could Leary and co. advised Lennon to turn off his
walk across the tops of mountains Similar mind, relax, and oat downstream. Lennon
extravagant pronouncements would soon be more of an after-dinner mint compared to took this to heart and began a steady diet
echoed by Leary. stuff Hollingshead had given him. Harvard of LSD, which he continued for the next two
Claiming that he was sent by Huxley, was already concerned that too many of years. One immediate result was what many
Hollingshead turned up at Harvard; soon Learys students were acting strangely and consider the rst psychedelic pop song,
after, Leary enjoyed a lick of Hollingsheads that his psilocybin experiments were really the Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows the
special spread.The esh of the gods seemed a cover for illicit drug-taking. Now that hypnotic closing track on their Revolver LP.

42 ft356
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TUNING IN for comfortable, colourful, and expressive as The Family Dog. Janis Joplin, Jefferson
One place where the new psychedelic dress, an interest in Eastern mysticism, and Airplane, and the Grateful Dead (see
culture took hold was the Haight-Ashbury a liberal use of LSD, produced a relaxed, FT164:20-25, 180:52-56), were familiar faces.
district of San Francisco, near Golden Gate tolerant, and communal atmosphere in the Strobe lights, Day-Glo body paint, gyrating
Park.The area had been in decline since the alternative neighbourhoods that were dancing, throbbing rock ensembles, and
1950s. Property values had gone down and popping up in places like New York and Los uninhibited embraces all conspired with the
rents among the elaborate but now seedy Angeles. powerful illumination of the psychedelic
19th century wooden houses were cheap. But the Haight would become the Mecca experience to turn rock concerts into
The earlier North Beach scene, home to for the advocates of the new way of life. Rock something much more like religious events.
the Beats, had by then become overpriced. music was a central ingredient, especially So when word got out that the government
Artists, poets and others out of step with at the dances promoted by a group known had decided to ban their sacrament, the local
the American dream found a haven in the participants in the consciousness revolution
Haight, and it was among this community knew they had to act.The date of the
that the use of LSD and other mind-altering criminalisation, 6/66, seemed ominous given
substances, such as marijuana, became it was the number of the Beast in Revelation.
popular. Tension had already developed between the
The mid-1960s saw a growing trend among Haight and the authorities. What had begun
some Americans a desire to escape the rat as a small, alternative enclave was now very
race, to reject mainstream conformity, to visible.The non-conformist lifestyle was
seek out new, experimental ways to live. In spilling out into the streets and attracting
this they were following in the footsteps of attention. Arrests for smoking pot and
the European bohemians who journeyed to vagrancy increased as the police tried to
Ascona in Switzerland to join the growing contain what to many seemed a threatening
body of Sun worshippers and back to nature trend. But it was Learys outspoken,
enthusiasts occupying the communes on aggressive, and attention-grabbing advocacy
MonteVerit half a century earlier. One of LSD that more than anything else made
pilgrim to the Mountain of Truth was the Albert Hofmanns discovery verboten,
German novelist Hermann Hesse, who something for which the more judicious
was now having a bestselling posthumous psychedelic initiates took him to task. For
comeback among the love generation. some in authority there were actual health
An opposition to the intensifying war in hazards that needed to be addressed. For
Vietnam, a concern with civil rights and others, the idea that LSD could be used
freedom of expression, a permissive attitude to transform society, as Leary untiringly
toward sex and hedonism, a predilection proclaimed, was reason enough to ban it.

herB GreeNe / couurtesy of the fINe Arts MuseuM of sAN frANcIsco


BrIAN crAWforD / crAetIVe coMMoNs

ABOVE LEFT: the Grateful Dead house at 710 Ashbury; cheap Victorians in the haight meant that rock bands and artists could move into the neighbourhood.
ABOVE RIGHT: the Dead hanging out in early 1967. TOP: the local music scene centred on family Dog dances at the Avalon, the carousel and other ballrooms.

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couurtesy of the fINe Arts MuseuM of sAN frANcIsco
teD streshINsKy / tIMe & LIfe PIctures / Getty IMAGes

ABOVE: strobe lights, Day-Glo body paint, gyrating dancing, throbbing rock ensembles... conspired with the powerful illumination of the psychedelic experience
to turn rock concerts into something much more like religious events. BELOW: Poster art for haight-Ashbury dances and concerts was equally distinctive.

On the same day as possession of LSD was


criminalised, the anarchist group the Diggers The Be-In was boards, Kahuna magic,Tarot, Gurdjieff,
Subud and a number of other pursuits,
and the editors of the psychedelic newspaper as well as LSD. It was during a telephone
the San Francisco Oracle organised a Love-
Pageant Rally to mark their opposition
to bring the two conversation with Cooke that the idea of the
Human Be-In came up.
to the ban.The Oracles astrologer, Gavin
Arthur, had already announced the advent tribes together,to It would be a kind of gathering of the
tribes. Gavin Arthur consulted the stars to
of the Age of Aquarius. Now the Oracles
brightly coloured, mind-blowing pages were
commandeered to sound a rallying cry.
unite against a nd the right time: 14 January 1967 would,
it seemed, be ideal. Posters went up all over
the Bay area.The Berkley Barb, a radical
Peaceful coexistence with the straight world
was over this was war.
common enemy underground newspaper not always partial
to psychedelic pursuits, threw in its front
The call was heeded.Thousands of people page.This was in keeping with the aim of
turned up on the Panhandle, the stretch of the Be-In. Although many see the 1960s
Golden Gate Park nearby, many more than counter-culture as all of a piece, in truth it
Ron Thelin of the Psychedelic Shop or Allen contained serious disjunctions. Most of these
Cohen of the Oracle expected. Music blared, boiled down to the split between the political
pot was smoked, and as the Prophecy of a activists and the psychonauts, who were
Declaration of Independence was read aloud more concerned with inner rather than
to the grooving crowd, many among them outer revolution.The activists thought LSD
consciously broke the new law, and, placing a and pot turned the revolutionary proletariat
tab of the banned sacrament on their tongue, into lotus-eaters, while the consciousness
swallowed it. kids thought the lefties were uptight and
But the Love-Pageant Rally was only the authoritarian.The idea of the Be-In was to
beginning. Afterward, the elders of the tribes bring the two tribes together, to unite against
gathered for a powwow, to decide on what the common enemy, the Establishment.
would be the next step. Leary had predicted The Be-In would mark a union between the
a psychedelic revolution and now, it seemed, Heads and the Fists.
it had begun. But it needed to spread. It began with Gary Snyder, a Beat poet
Michael Bowen, an artist associated with the turned Zen enthusiast, blowing on a conch
Oracle, consulted his own psychedelic guru, shell.Then the 30,000-strong crowd, sprawled
the mysterious John Star Cooke, who had his out in Golden Gate Park, joined with him
own ideas about a consciousness revolution. in chanting the mantra of Maitreya. Allen
Cooke had been involved in Susm, Ouija Ginsberg followed with a chant to Shiva,

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ALAMy stocK Photo

ABOVE LEFT: Allan Ginsberg dancing to the Dead at the Be-In. ABOVE RIGHT: A poster for the Gathering of the tribes for a human Be-In at Golden Gate Park on 14
January 1967. BELOW: In october, the poster for the trip or freak fantasmagoraball at Winterland seemed to sound a darker and less idealistic note.

the hashish smoking Hindu god of yoga. race and all it entailed, to come to the Haight
Leary donated a mantra of his own, telling that summer and to experience on a grand
the crowd to tune in, turn on, and drop out, scale the peace and harmony of the Be-In.
his psychedelic slogan. Leary had hoped The pilgrims would then return to their own
to head the new consciousness revolution, towns, bringing the glad tidings with them.
but his psychedelic demagoguery was Soon the whole country would be feeling
already old hat to people who had graduated the good vibes, guaranteed by a judicious
from Keseys free form acid tests. Local ingestion of the sacred drug. It would, the
bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service, Council for the Summer of Love believed,
Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead change the world.
provided the music. 4 The sacrament was
imbibed, helped by a marijuana garnish. DROPPING OUT
Even the Hells Angels were brought in to act By this time the Love-Pageant Rally and the
as kyshatriyas, spiritual warriors, guarding Be-In had attracted much media attention.
the sound equipment and keeping an eye San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb
on children.The one sour note was when Caen had coined the term hippie to refer to
Jerry Rubin, the resident activist, grabbed the strange denizens of the Haight; he had
the mic to wag his leftist nger at the crowd, coined the term beatnik a decade earlier.
reprimanding them for lettingVietnam go on. Articles about the hippies appeared in
Be-Ins soon popped up in other places newspapers, television news aired reports,
around the country and the feeling was and there was even a guided bus tour of
strong that something big was on its way. the Haight, the Hippie Hop, showing the
The idealism of the early psychonauts straights how the other half lived.
envisioned some kind of national Be-In, While the Council for the Summer of
a gentle revolution that would show the Love wanted word to get out, so that the
world that hate, violence, poverty and all psychedelic message could spread, they were
the other problems of modern civilisation also concerned that with all the attention,
could be overcome, just through a change the magical vibes of the Haight were
in consciousness, available on a sugar cube. The elders gathered again and a plan changing.Things were quickly getting out
Hadnt thousands of people in Golden Gate was agreed.They would make the coming of hand, and swiftly moving beyond their
Park just managed to be together without summer a Summer of Love; they would even control. Almost as soon as the idea of the
a hitch? Many believed that if the people in form a Council to organise it.The idea was Summer of Love was formed, clouds gathered
power would only share the sacrament, they to spread the word and to invite everyone around it.Tourists were clogging the streets
too would see how easily it could be done. dissatised with the America dream, the rat with their cars. Day-trippers, uninterested

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teD streshINKsy PhotoGrAPhIc ArchIVe / Gett y IMAGes

courtesy of the fINe Arts MuseuM of sAN frANcIsco


ABOVE LEFT: the haight under siege; the Diggers hand out free food in the Panhandle. ABOVE RIGHT: the haight Ashbury free clinic opened in June 1967 to treat
hippies dealing with bum trips, stDs and other conditions. BELOW: one major driver for the inux was scott McKenzies faux-hippie smash hit san francisco.

in the mystical insights afforded by the


sacrament, headed to the Haight for some The locals werent by John Philips of the Mamas and the Papas.
It was released that May and headed straight
cheap highs and free love. What had started to the charts. With its catch line, If youre
as a spontaneous creative expression was
quickly becoming a fashion, with hippie chic
prepared for the going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some
owers in your hair, it was aimed at drawing
requiring appropriate wear. Love beads and
headbands were de rigueur.The locals felt deluge that came its listeners to what was being called the
Capital of Forever.
that the neighbourhood was losing its soul.
The Diggers fought back. When the Hippie washing down the It worked. Many heard the tune, and
like the audience for the Pied Piper, many
Hop rolled down Haight Street, they held followed.Too many: with 15,000 hippies
mirrors up to the window, so the curious
could get a good look at themselves. On
Haight already inhabiting the Haight, another
100,000 made the place unsupportable.The
Easter Sunday 1967, hippies danced in the city council refused to let Golden Gate Park
streets and had a walk-in, stopping trafc in act as a giant camp ground, so many slept
the district. But the police were concerned in the streets and washed when and where
too. Hippies seemed to be sprouting quicker they could.The Diggers, Family Dog, and
than mushrooms, magical or otherwise. other locals tried to nd safe housing for the
And when one newspaper announced that pilgrims, and even set up a Free Clinic and
Hippies Warn City 100,000 Will Invade Free Store to help with the inux, but they
Haight-Ashbury This Summer the mayor werent prepared for the deluge that came
quickly declared war on them.The San washing down the Haight.The free food, free
Francisco Board of Supervisors said they drugs, free love and good vibes that the new
were unwelcome, and the police said they arrivals had read about in the national press
would keep the pilgrims out. were soon used up. In a short space of time
Brave words.The ood started with it became clear to those involved that what
spring break, with college kids from they had on their hands was something like a
Middle America and back east wanting bummer of love.
to see if what they had read in the papers Soon even the sacrament could not
was true.The Monterey Pop Festival, held turn the thing around, and its vociferous
over 16-18 June, just down the coast from advocates werent making the scene. Kesey
San Francisco, drew an estimated 25,000 was in jail on a marijuana rap and Leary was
to 90,000 people, crowding in and around ensconced in Millbrook, his upstate New
the fairgrounds where Jimi Hendrix, the York headquarters, trying to devise a new
Who, Janis Joplin, the Dead, Ravi Shankar attack on the establishment and new ways to
and others performed. Afterwards many coded psychedelic messages. It vied with make money. Acid itself was in short supply
headed north for the summer. A few weeks other music as the seasons soundtrack, but and the newcomers took to swallowing
later, school was out, and the ood started the tune most associated with the Summer of methamphetamine and other substitutes
in earnest.The Beatles Sgt Pepper had just Love was Scott McKenzies San Francisco (Be in order to get high. Less spiritual drug
been released, and everyone listened for the Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair), written dealers moved in, including the Maa, who

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BAroN WoLMAN / IcoNIc IMAGes / Getty IMAGes
ABOVE: A group of people carry a fake cofn during the ceremony of the Death of hippie, a mock funeral organised by Mary Kasper to signal the conclusion of
the scene in the haight Ashbury. BELOW: A funeral notice invited people to attend the service in Buena Vista Park on 6 october 1967.

may or may not have been responsible for NOTES


some gruesome drug killings, and free love 1 the expanded uK edition is called The Dedalus Book
quickly deteriorated into sexual assault and of the 1960s: Turn Off Your Mind (sawtry, uK: Dedalus
Books 2009).
proliferating STDs. One Communications
2 Aldous huxley Drugs that shape Mens Minds in
Company yer a kind of hippie bulletin
Saturday Evening Post 18 october 1958.
board set up by the Beat writer Chester
3 Martin Lee and Bruce shlain Acid Dreams: The
Anderson announced that a 17-year-old
Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, The Sixties,
street dealer had pumped a pretty little and Beyond (New york: Grove Press, 1992) p. xix.
16-year-old chick with speed and then 4 you can listen to the Deads set at: https://archive.
rafed her off for a Haight Street gang org/details/gd67-01-14.sbd.vernon.9108.sbeok.shnf.
bang. When the Grateful Deads Jerry contemporary lm of the event can be viewed at www.
Garcia read this he knew the party was over. youtube.com/watch?v=htGyfgyB5Q8.
By the end of the summer, the Capital of 5 2,5-dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine.
Forever had become a kind of psychedelic
ghetto, with bad trips on the rise. A new FURTHER READING
drug, STP, more powerful than LSD, had Gary Lachman, The Dedalus Book of the 1960s: Turn
arrived. 5 On 21 June, the Summer Solstice, Off Your Mind (Dedalus Books, 2009)
a celebration took place to mark the Martin Lee and Bruce shlain, Acid Dreams: The
ofcial start of the Summer of Love. 5,000 Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, The Sixties,
tabs of the new high-octane hallucinogen and Beyond (Grove Press, 1992)
were distributed free to the participants. charles Perry, The Haight-Ashbury: A History (random
Many later found themselves in hospital house usA, 1988)
emergency wards, rattling through a three- Jay stevens Storming Heaven: LSD and the American
day trip.The doctors, unaware of what they been, pulled up stakes and moved to the Dream (Grove Press, 1987)
were dealing with, administered Thorazine, countryside.The pilgrims returned to their
the standard procedure with acid casualties. homes, some enlightened by the experience A 50th anniversary
They didnt know that Thorazine actually but many cynical about what had actually exhibition The Summer
increases STPs effects, and so the wigged- taken place. On 6 October 1967, a year after of Love Experience: Art,
Fashion, and Rock and
out pilgrims only got worse. the Love-Pageant Rally, the Diggers, who
Roll runs at the de Young,
When autumn came everything was had been the most active and effective group Fine Arts Museums of San
ofcially over.The neighbourhood had gone on the scene, performed a mock ceremony, Francisco, unti 20 August.
downhill, the good vibes had evaporated, announcing the Death of the Hippie. Dont Visit https://deyoung.
the police were cracking down, and many come to San Francisco was the message now. famsf.org/summer-love-
who had made the Haight what it had Theres nothing here. art-fashion-and-rock-roll for
further details.

ft356 47
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STRANGE STATESMEN #20

HE DONT NEED
NO EDUCATION
SD TUCKER examines the murderous legacy of Francisco Macas Nguema, the demented
Iboga-tripping African despot who got high on banning books, education and clever people
from his country, all whilst developing a unique denition of the term brain-food.

T
here is a long-running medical charming ballad Those Were the Days
controversy as to whether or not was relayed on a continuous loop through
the prolonged abuse of recreational loudspeakers to enhance the mood. Another
drugs and hallucinogens can time, he had 36 prisoners buried up to their
cause serious mental disorders amongst necks in soil, then left them out to be eaten
their users. A brief examination of the alive by ants, face-rst. How could such an
extraordinarily bizarre and bloodthirsty obvious lunatic possibly have ever been
career of Francisco Macas Nguema (1924- elected to a position of ultimate power?
1979), President and self-proclaimed Unique
Miracle of Equatorial Guinea between 1968 SPANISH MALPRACTICES
and 1979, would suggest that this debate The rise of Francisco Macas Nguema is the
should immediately be closed. Both a dope most cautionary parable of the post-colonial
G NIETO / HULTON ARCHIVE / GETTY IMAGES

and a end, the notoriously dense and era. When he was born in 1924 his land was
uneducable Macas was so devoted to all- owned by Spain and operated under the
night benders smoking weed and drinking name of Spanish Guinea, a small but well-
brews made from the leaves of the local run colony. The country itself was a wholly
hallucinogenic Iboga plant that it was said articial invention, consisting mainly of a
the best time for diplomats to get him on rectangle of land located in the armpit of
the phone was at around 3am, when he West Africa, known as Ro Muni, and the
and his cronies were sitting around after worlds most embarrassingly named island,
dark passing joints between one another, Fernando Poo (famed among forteans for its
and devising ever-more delirious plans for key role in the Illuminatus! Trilogy), neither
running or, more accurately, ruining the of whose native populations had much in
country. common with one another beyond rule
Such sessions would result in ludicrous LEFT: Francisco Macas Nguema, the rst President of from Madrid. Spain during most of Macas
escapades in which, for example, Macas Equatorial Guinea, photographed circa 1970. lifetime had its own dictator, in the shape
would suddenly call up the electricity- of the fascist General Francisco Franco. No
generating plant in the capital Malabo friend of democracy, when global pressure
and order it to stop using all industrial be killed for the most absurd of reasons, was placed upon European powers to free
lubricants, because he felt up to the task such as wearing illegal spectacles against their African colonies during the 1950s
of greasing the engines himself with his his prior command. Estimates vary, but and 60s, Franco sought to implement some
magical powers. The end result, naturally, one commonly cited gure is that Macas kind of fudge in which Spanish colonists
was that the generators blew up. Not that slaughtered some 50-70,000 persons out of a would still retain many of the key posts in
Macas cared. When he left the capital minuscule total population of about 300,000. indispensible professions like law, industry,
he often ordered the plant be shut down Completely accurate estimates are hard to agriculture and the civil service: a native
anyway, seeing as power was no longer come by, however, because the profoundly president and cabinet would be in overall
necessary when he wasnt in town. So anti-intellectual Macas disapproved of the charge, but the nation would be basically
chaotic and corpse-ridden did Equatorial very concept of statistics and so refused to ungovernable without the continued consent
Guinea become under Macass 11-year allow his government to keep any; when a of the white settlers, who were the only ones
period of quasi-genocidal misrule that it is civil-servant produced some gures which properly trained to keep civil society going.
estimated somewhere between 50-70 per displeased him one day, Macas allegedly What Franco did not anticipate, however,
cent of the tiny African nations population ordered the man be chopped up into little was that the nations rst post-independence
ed beyond its borders while they still pieces in order to help him learn how President would be an outright psychopath
could. Once Macas realised what was to count. Macass habitual violence was who simply wouldnt care if the entire
happening, he had roads leading out of the often as inventive as it was barbaric. On country began to collapse around him.
country mined to prevent escape. When Christmas Eve 1975, he ordered his soldiers Macas was born in 1924, the son of a
people then tried to ee by sea, he had his to dress as Santa Claus and then festively prominent witchdoctor in the local Bwiti
security-services destroy every boat they execute 150 of his opponents in the middle cult, which was widespread amongst the
could nd. Those who were left behind could of a football stadium whilst Mary Hopkinss Fang people of Ro Muni. Disturbingly, his

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HE DONT NEED NO EDUCATION

dad is thought to have sacriced Macass


little brother in the cults name and then set
his bones up as a centre of ritual-worship.
Later, the nine-year-old Macas had to watch
as a Spanish colonial administrator beat his
father to death to teach the natives a lesson.
A week later, Macass mother committed
suicide. Thats enough to drive any child
insane, and Macas duly obliged; not that
his early patrons in life, a group of Spanish

SIGFRID CASALS / COVER / GETTY IMAGES


Catholic missionary priests, noticed. As the
son of a witchdoctor, the lad seemed a prize
convert, and when the priests took him
under their wing he seized the opportunity
for social advancement, even adopting the
Spanish name of Macas from one of them.
Given his attitude towards the Catholic
Church after gaining power decreeing
all services had to begin with outlandish
hymns of praise in his name, forcing all
priests to walk barefoot across hot coals, LEFT: Macas photographed at Malabo airport, with his uniformed nephew Teodoro Obiang visible at the far right.
then nally banning religion altogether and BELOW: Macass presidential palace at Malabo; he later relocated to a new one, lled with skulls, further inland.
using churches to store weaponry it seems
surprising that Macas was once such a keen
Christian, but this simply ts in with a life- wanted. Thinking they were dealing with giving hypnotic speeches in Fang to an awed
long pattern of him temporarily pretending an ultra-loyal buffoon, the Spanish viewed populace and winning the election of 1968
to be whatever other people wanted him him as an easily manipulated gure who by some margin. Even though he had openly
to be, just so long as it was to his current might prove useful following independence. praised Adolf Hitler as being the saviour
advantage. What the priests wanted Macas However, the Spanish had mistaken Macass of Africa, the people of the newly renamed
to be most of all was a scholar, but he proved caveman-like utterances in Spanish for lack Equatorial Guinea had little inkling that
to be barely literate. It took him three goes of eloquence in his native Fang. In 1967, their new-fangled democratically elected
to pass the exam giving him the status of they set up a TV transmitter and handed out leader was to take after the Fhrer in
emancpado, or civilised citizen, which free sets to natives so that they could see more ways than a shared talent for soaring
should have opened the door to a better the candidates to be their future president oratory. Only the residents of Mongomo,
life as a civil servant; but Macas s hatred speak. One of them was Macas. A shameless who knew all too well what Macas was like,
of book-learning was as ingrained as his psychopath with no sense of self-restraint, failed to lend him their vote.
inaptitude for it, so he went off to become Macas proved a natural on-screen talent,
a humble farmer in the remote province of GRACAS, MACAS
Mongomo. The symbol used by Macas on voting-slips
However, during his time with the
missionaries Macas had managed to master
A SHAMELESSS was that of a tiger, an animal not known
in West Africa. However, El Tigre was
a very basic form of spoken Spanish, to
the extent, perhaps, that Manuel from
PSYCHOPATH, the Spanish term for the black panthers
or leopards, which lived locally, and it
Fawlty Towers ever managed to master
English. Mongomos Spanish ofcials,
HE PROVED A was well known amongst the Fang that
powerful witchdoctors like Macas could
whose command of the Fang language
was similarly appalling, quickly sought to NATURAL ON- transform themselves into such beasts at
night. Apart from a few uncooperative
exploit Macas s dubious linguistic skills
and appointed him as a court-interpreter. SCREEN TALENT cabinet ministers whom he had shot or
thrown out of windows, the rst victims of
Unfortunately, he shamelessly abused his The Panthers claws were the unsuspecting
position to gain bribes from accused Fang Spanish and Portuguese colonists who had
in the dock by threatening to translate thought their position in society secure.
their testimonies in such a way that they Unleashing his street-thugs to attack their
ROA / THREE LIONS / HULTON ARCHIVE / GETTY IMAGES

would end up with far heavier punishments homes and businesses, Macas forced Spain
than they deserved. Naturally, the local to send out eight destroyers to evacuate
Fang began to fear Macas, something the some 7,000 terried colonialists. Once
colonists mistook for respect. As such, they the ships sailed away, Equatorial Guinea
made him Mayor of Mongomo, and when was truly free of the white mans scrutiny.
the movement for independence took off he Not wanting to publicise the fact that
was introduced into the world of national democratic elections were now allowed in
politics. The only part of his education Spains former colony but not in Spain itself,
that Macas had really understood was the Franco had placed a ban on all reporting
end-of-day propaganda hour, when pupils from the place domestically. This, combined
were made to constantly repeat slogans with few Western journalists based in Africa
in praise of General Franco, and he was being able to speak Spanish, meant there
still keen on parroting these phrases years was a near-total global media blackout on
later, presuming this was what the colonists Equatorial Guinea, giving Macas the ideal

F T356 49
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STRANGE STATESMEN #20

demanding large sums in ransom from their


governments. When, in 1976, a Soviet plane
crashed into a rocky peak near Malabo,
he refused to release the corpses back to
Russia until the Kremlin agreed to pay him
$5 million in compensation for the damage
caused to my mountain. Things came to a
head when, in 1979, Macas killed several
family members who had gone to him asking
to be paid, which prompted his feared
nephew, Lt-Col Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the
ROA / THREE LIONS / HULTON ARCHIVE / GETTY IMAGES

national-security chief, to institute a coup


before his own skull ended up in Macass
ever-growing collection. Put on trial, Macas
was handed 101 separate death sentences
but there was a problem. Macas threatened
to haunt his executioners in the form of a
panther, so a special unit of Moroccans was
brought in to do the deed; as good Muslims,
they had no belief in such nonsense, so were
unafraid to shoot him. Obiang then took
over, keeping the reins of supreme power
very much within the family. He is still the
President of Equatorial Guinea today. 1

ABOVE: A political meeting in Equatorial Guinea prior to the countrys rst election since gaining independence
EAT MY BALLS!
from Spain in 1968, in which Macas was rst propelled to power. Obiang has proved to be a more enlightened
ruler than his uncle, and under his benign
gaze living standards in Equatorial Guinea
opportunity to do anything he liked. One victims to return from The Village of the have happily risen from the unbearable
priority was taking revenge upon the hated Dead so he could berate them for their to the merely appalling. Following the
education system. In the most extreme failings a weird, politicised development discovery of large oil-deposits in 1991, the
reaction to exam failure on record, Macas of the traditional Bwiti practice of country has grown ever richer year by year,
had all books in the country burned, closed communal consumption of hallucinogenic with some 360,000 barrels of the black stuff
down all libraries, archives, newspapers Iboga-leaves, in order to commune with the now being produced per day, generating
and printing-presses, executed anyone village ancestors. Coming to believe he had billions. Equatoguineans should, therefore,
wearing glasses, and banned the very use supernatural powers, Macas eventually be rich. However, Obiang is alleged to have
of the word intellectual. Shutting every banned all religious practices in the country, kept much of the Treasurys newly generated
private school, he modied the curriculum including Bwiti, on the grounds that he oil wealth for himself, although probably
in state-run ones so that children were made himself was now God. not under his bed as his uncle did. Under
to waste their days repeatedly chanting Skulls were not the only thing Macas Obiang, the random killings and senseless
teacher-led slogans thanking Papa Macas had stored away in his palace. When he mass-murders have ended for good, to be
for being the father of the country, as he left Malabo, he murdered the Governor of replaced with the altogether more rational
had once been made to thank General the Central Bank and took the contents of human rights abuse only of those persons
Franco. Studying had never done him any the Treasury away with him to keep safely thought to deserve it. With almost 40 years
good, so Macas allegedly developed a new under his bed, or in suitcases stashed of uninterrupted rule behind him, Obiang
and more efcient means of developing his around his room. As God, Macas saw no stands as the longest-serving non-royal head
mind instead eating the brains of his most reason to draw distinction between the of state in the world, winning election after
intellectually gifted victims, hoping thereby national Treasury and his own piggybank, election by highly impressive, 90 per cent-
to absorb their knowledge and live up to his and refused to set any national budgets plus margins in some voting-areas, he has
title of Grand Master of Science, Education or keep any proper accounts, with the even achieved as much as 103 per cent of
and Culture. end result that the entire economy simply the vote. This is only right, seeing that in
The mainland Ro Muni area of the collapsed, and people had to forage for fruit 2003 the national state radio (there are still
country was once known as the Cannibal to survive. Electricity, education, healthcare, no newspapers) broadcast the reassuring
Coast, and it was a central belief of transport, sanitation, telecoms all ceased news that not only was President Obiang
traditional Fang society that eating part of to function. Only the deadly national in permanent contact with the Almighty,
your defeated enemies would enable you to security apparatus still worked, and even he was in some sense the countrys God,
take on their powers. It was also a central secret policemen might have to visit Macas having all power over men and things.
tenet of the local Bwiti witchdoctor cult personally to get their back pay, retrieved For example, explained the broadcast, He
to sit around all night taking drugs and from under Gods mattress. can decide to kill without anyone calling
talking to the dead, which helps account To raise funds, in 1976 Macas hit upon him to account and without going to Hell,
for Macass preferred nocturnal mode of the scheme of forcing the entire adult because it is God Himself who gives him
governance. Moving back to the mainland, population to work as unpaid slaves in this strength.
far away from the island sector capital of mines and put some of his fortune in Nonetheless, the association with his
Malabo, Macas built a palace and stuffed banks, decreeing that he alone should be deposed elder relative has stuck, and there
it full of human skulls so he could be close given a special high interest-rate of 8 per are plenty who have sought to tar Obiang
to the dead. Here, high on marijuana and cent. With money still running short, Mad with the same brush of sorcery and insanity.
hallucinogens, he would have late-night Uncle Macas, as he became known, began Most notable was the opposition leader
dinner-places set at his table, and order his kidnapping random foreign visitors and Severo Moto, who in 2004 memorably

50 FT356
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HE DONT NEED NO EDUCATION

MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / GETTY IMAGES


AFP / GETTY IMAGES

ABOVE LEFT: The deposed President Macas is anked by Guinean troops on 10 April 1979 during his trial in Malabo. He was sentenced to death and executed hours later.
ABOVE RIGHT: Equatorial Guineas current President, Teodoro Obiang Nguemathe, who has been accused like his late uncle of eating his political rivals.

claimed that he was unable to return from Equatorial Guineas latest rigged election. petro-dollars rmly in view, even insisting
political exile abroad to his homeland, It was publicly announced that Bennett was that Obiang is a genuine force for good in his
as President Obiang wanted to eat my hoping to make use of traditional medicine nation, whether he swallows peoples balls or
testicles. Calling the autocrat both a [i.e. magic] given to him by election- not the realpolitik equivalent of Never Mind
demon and an authentic cannibal, Mr boycotting opposition parties in order that the Bollocks. 2
Moto claims that his ball-biting arch-enemy the vote would turn out badly for The President Obiang is currently providing
systematically eats his political rivals, Chief. The following year Bennett departed, kind shelter to one of our former Strange
concentrating upon taste-testing their testes giving a valedictory speech in which he Statesmen, the now-deposed AIDS-curing
to increase his sexual prowess. He has just openly named Obiangs chief torturers of President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia (see
devoured a police-commissioner, Moto went the day, leading to a near-total breakdown FT353:48-51). Surely an imagined account of
on to claim during a radio interview. in relations between the two countries. their time spent together has all the makings
I say devoured, because this commissioner Nowadays, however, oils well that ends well, of a great TV sitcom? Especially if Obiang
was buried without his testicles and brain. with certain interested transatlantic parties, tries to eat him
Obiang himself has denied the charges,
and seeing that they emanate from a
political rival, they may well be simply NOTES wiki/Equatorial_Guinea; https://en.wikipedia.org/
an attempt to paint him as a carbon copy 1 Info about Macas compiled from: David Casavis, wiki/Francisco_Mac%C3%ADas_Nguema
of his hated, brain-munching uncle to Teasing Out Psychopathic Behaviours from Non- 2 Info about Obiang compiled from: http://
sow dissent. Such claims have certainly Western Behaviours in the Third World, academic news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3098007.
caused embarrassment for Obiangs biggest paper online at www.hofstra.edu/pdf/community/ stm; www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/meet-
culctr/culctr_guinea040209_ivbcasavis.pdf; Dr teodoro-obiang-nguema-equatorial-8808273;
modern-day allies, the USA. Americas Alejandro Artucio, The Trial of Macas, report www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/
rulers have proven themselves consistently from the International Commission of Jurists, teodoro-obiang-nguema-mbasogo-equatorial-
able to overlook a little light cannibalism online at https://docs.google.com/le/d/0B6Bw- guinea-french-corruption-trial-a7238501.
KX3F6HXYURtendmbjV3ckU/edit; http://dangardner. html; www.newstatesman.com/node/165158;
between friends, with The Chief, as he ca/the-worlds-most-respectable-criminal/; www. http://gulfnews.com/life-style/general/the-
likes to be known, being granted a lengthy globalsecurity.org/military/world/africa/gq-presdent- boss-of-equatorial-guinea-1.1343315; www.
and fawning US State Visit in 2006 as part of macias-htm; http://theburningsplint.blogspot. washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2001/05/14/
a post-9/11 drive to reduce US dependence co.uk/2010/01/francisco-macias-nguema- a-matter-of-honor-in-a-jungle-graveyard/9472c893-
mad-man-from.html; www.telegraph.co.uk/ 963b-44eb-ba45-3a18275a0f29/?utm_term=.
on Arab oil. This was quite a contrast to the comment/personal-view/3610187/If-you-think- f785128b997e; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
damaging events of 1993, when the then-US this-ones-bad-you-should-have-seen-his-uncle. Teodoro_Obiang_Nguema_Mbasogo
Ambassador, John E Bennett, was caught html; www.guineaecuatorialpress.com/noticia.
engaging in witchcraft (re: tending British php?id=132&lang=en; https://en.wikipedia.org/
war-graves) in a cemetery upon the day of

FT356 51
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cbUilDinG ac THE HIEROPHANTS APPRENTICE PRESENTS

fortean library
24. I HEARD IT THRougH THE gRAPEVINE
ungrateful. Furthermore they are smug
Aged about nine, staying with a friend in St Leonards, Sussex: Did you eat that and ingeniously manipulative (Dogs have
cherry stone!? squawked his mother.The wee lad nods his head, a bit sheepish. owners, cats have staff). Others adore
Dont you never do that again! Your cousins friend ate cherry stones and one these qualities but are intensely amused
sprouted inside her and she had to go to hospital for a special operation with this when a cat gets itself into trouble then
great big cherry tree growing out of her belly button. She was lucky she never died! stalks off into a corner to wash itself, back
This was ones first experience of an urban legend not that they were called that at to the room, disowning any such indignity,
the time, even among those who recognised them. Anyway it did seem implausible, as and most especially any responsibility.
Mother confirmed by cackling loudly on being told. And how much soil and sunlight So both sides of the Cat Question find it
dyou thinks in your stomach? she finally snorted, proving simultaneously that she satisfying in different ways when a moggin
doubted after all that the Sun shone out of ones arse. While not all such stories fall meets its comeuppance, although our
apart so easily, there are usually clues to their true nature and, besides providing a own feeling is that drying a wet cat in a
brilliant compendium of urban legends, Jan Harold Brunvands Too Good to be True microwave is perhaps a legend too far. We
shows how to spot them and why theyre told. Weve yet to hear an urban legend have yet to meet an urban legend in which
that in some form or another isnt in this book, and it has a fair few we havent come the cat comes out entirely on top, survive
across before. as it may.
If the flying kitten story expresses
a certain human ambivalence toward
Take for instance this one, previously un- felines, others have more obvious morals.
encountered. A friend of a friend (well it An American example: a less than worldly
was a cousin and his wife actually) had a elderly lady up from the sticks decides
kitten that climbed up a birch tree and for whatever reason to indulge herself
found it couldnt get down again: cats lack in a five-star hotel stay in the city, and
the ability to climb downward head-first, takes a ride in the lift, which stops at an
and make a bit of a hash of going down in intermediate floor to let on some very
reverse, and this one wasnt ready to start large black men and an enormous dog.
learning that trick. So it sat on a branch Down, lady, advises the dog-handler.
and whinged, as they do. Eventually the Terrified, the visitor sinks to her knees,
human keepers had a brainwave.They whereupon the dog-handler apologises
threw a rope around the branch, made a while his companions silently crack up
loop, and secured the ends to something with mirth: No, no, maam, everythings
solid.Then they hauled on the rope to bend okay. Ladys just the name of the dawg.
the branch down and get the kitten within (In some versions the hound is called
reach. Its inches away from being grabbed Whitey.) When the (actual) lady checks
when the rope breaks, the bough twangs out she finds her entire bill has been
back into place, and the little moggin sails paid by Lionel Richie, or some such
into the sky and out of sight. O dear. A distinguished black man. Moral: dont
week or two later the lady of the couple assume all black folks are thugs and
meets a friend in the supermarket, and muggers (but note the laughter in the
shes taking cat food off the shelf. background: theres some glee at the
Didnt know you had a cat, says the misunderstanding). But theres another
former guardian of the flying kitten one: we last heard this story retailed at our
amiably. the folk wisdom that cats have nine lives. London club, and once the chuckles had
Well, we didnt, says her friend. But A third is the not-quite-ending: we dont subsided gently gave its history (it goes
we were sitting outside the other Sunday learn who got to keep the cat. Brunvand back to at least the 1940s) as a legend.
and suddenly this little kitten came falling notes that there are scads of urban Well, if its not true, it bloody well ought
out of the sky from nowhere and landed on legends about cats, and in most of them to be, said a member with some force. One
Joes lap. Been with us ever since. the cat comes to some ignominious end, should never distrust the wisdom of the
The first clue to the storys legendary or is otherwise humiliated and made to demos. It is the demos that produces these
nature is that the event happens to look foolish. He doesnt dwell on why unsourceable stories, which like all folk art
a Friend Of A Friend (or a cousin): this is so, but we suspect that there are tells truths obliquely and symbolically, and
hence another name for urban legends, people out there who are challenged by are understood subliminally.
foaftales. A second is that its just about cats getting away with being generally About seven years after the cherry-stone
possible, albeit unlikely, while also fitting arrogant, supercilious, opinionated and incident we heard a highly detailed version

52 F T356
www.forteantimes.com
of The Severed Fingers legend. LEFT: Tommy Steele now just imagine
Told in a rich accent by a member him starkers in a room full of guests.
of the Conyer family, distinguished
gunmakers of Dorset, it featured all
manner of local places and names, fine.There was a wartime-themed
even down to policemen. Motorist Goon Show episode in which the
stops in Shaftesbury to fill his enemy shot over photographs of a
tank and heads out for the road to lavish military banquet to lower
Salisbury. On the main road he spies the morale of the PBI.The artillery
a hitchhiker and slows down to pick shot back a picture of an empty
him up. When hes almost at a stop plate. Different settings and rather
he takes a close look at the hiker, different technology employed, but
decides he looks altogether suspect, essentially the same notion.
even sinister, steps on the gas and Some urban legends revolve
races away. In the mirror he sees the around excruciating embarrassment,
receding figure of the would-be rider and the underlying lesson that one
screaming and waving at him. When shouldnt believe everything ones
he gets home he finds four fingers told.The version we heard was from

ChriS Ware / KeySTone FeaTureS / GeTTy imaGeS


stuck in the handle of the front Peter Charlesworth, who at the
passenger door of his car. Brunvand time was Shirley Basseys agent and
has slightly different versions of the thereby presumed to know everyone
tale and notes its variation in the of note in show business, plus the
first Mad Max movie. One egregious inner workings of Swinging London,
clue that this is a legend is (once and it went thus.Tommy Steele turns
more) the lack of follow-up no up at a Hampstead mansion where
one reports which hospital the de- hes been invited to a party. Some
digitised hiker landed up in, for showbiz luminary answers the door.
instance, or indeed what happened Quick, quick,Tommy, ycant go in
to the poor sods fingers (maybe like that. Get yer kit off, sharpish.
the cat got them?).That a version Theres a bloody great orgy going on
crops up in an Australian movie in here.The shock-headed singer
made nearly 20 years after we first heard bows to authority, rapidly disrobes, and
it shows how ubiquitous some legends can be CarefUl leaps eagerly and starkers into a room full
become. Brunvand offers no underlying of respectably attired, suitably amazed and
moral to the story, but it seems to us to aboUt reaDinG amused guests, some of whose Camparis
hover somewhere between the Law of doubtless exited through the nostrils.
Unintended Consequences and advice to HealtH booKS. Mr Charlesworths version was also a
give only leggy blondes a free ride (even if takedown of the rich and famous or, to put
that exposes you to risks of another kind). SoMe fine Day it another way, demonstrates that even
Other urban legends are less moral
fables than a form of joke. One sometimes yoUll Die of a the rich and famous may be as gullible as
the rest of us. Which is quite ironic, since
wonders which came first, the legend or
the joke.There is the one that goes: How
MiSPrint. we believed the story at the time, given its
source. Brunvand tells a related legend,
do you make an Irishman burn his ear? The Nude Bachelor, although we have a
Answer: Phone him up while hes doing Markus Hertz dim memory that he has a variation on the
the ironing. (And for the avoidance Steele story (same plot, different stars) in
of doubt, let it be known that this joke one of his books.
has been told of virtually every initially partner to an ambulance, says: Sod Too Good to be True collects together
despised immigrant community in America him. Its what my husbands going to say. well over 200 urban legends and generally
and Europe. We first heard it at the height Its his bloody car. Brunvand omits, or retails relatively recent versions of them.
of the late Irish troubles: people will tend never heard, this version but gives other Weve but scraped the surface here. If
to relieve tension through pointed humour punchlines, and reassures anyone prone theres a quibble, its that you have to go
which leads us to wonder if anyones to bonking in back seats that there is no to his other books for deeper analysis and
ever collected jokes and legends told known actual case of inextricable sexual the longer history of most of these tales.
about Germans during the Second World entanglement. Which didnt stop the (The famous Phantom Hitchhiker, for
War.) The urban legend follows the same story from being current among medical example, goes back centuries.) No harm
narrative without the ethnic dimension students in the mid-Sixties, which is when done, though. Apart from its endless
and lays out the daftness as a true story. and how we first heard of the stuck couple. entertainments, the book gives you all the
And then there are the legends fashioned As either joke or straight story, the finger- clues you need to tell a true story from an
into a joke, but still told as true. We were wagging moral is fairly clear. urban legend, and a fund of material with
shown, around 1980, a front-page Sunday We also wondered about the relation which to test your acquaintances credulity,
red-top version of the stuck couple story. between jokes and urban legends on should you need to enliven a flagging
Essentially, a couple finish fornicating reading Dealing with Mr Wise Guy. dinner party. In these trying times, come
in a car and then somehow cant get Man gets a speeding ticket along with to think about it, we could do with a deal
themselves apart. Fire brigade has to cut photographic evidence taken from a more of political urban legends. Fake news,
the embarrassed pair out, with off-stage combined camera and radar gun. Do as anyone?
giggling from attendant paramedics. (How you would be done by: he mails back a
they contacted the emergency services photograph of a cheque for the fine.The
in the era before mobile phones is not police, not lacking wit themselves, mail Jan Harold Brunvand, Too Good to be True:
explained: clue?) Punchline: the lady, back a photo of a pair of handcuffs. Duly The Colossal Cook of Urban Legends, WW
carted off with still-stuck congressional chastened, the speeder coughs up the Norton & Co 2001; revised edition 2014.

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Classics and the counterculture


Neoplatonists of late Underfoot began to mutter, the
RichaRd GeoRGe antiquity. Necromancy woody ridges to quake,
is mentioned in And a baying of hounds was
ponders a magic-fuelled Homer and Herodotus, heard through the half-light: the
classical revival that Cicero and Ovid, and, goddess was coming... 10
coloured both ufology most notoriously, in
and music in the 1960s the witch Erichthos One day, in thousands of
abominable practices years, Jim Morrison will mingle
in Lucans Pharsalia.4 with the Bacchantes, and the
There was even a ghouls of Clophill merge with
Long before I studied Virgil divinatory practice the celebrated necromancers of
at university I knew about involving Virgil Etruria. All will be mythic.
the Trojan Horse from John himself, sortes And deep in the mix will be
Keels classic 1970 book with its Virgilian, where one Virgil. Its getting dark, too dark
dedication to Laocoon. But Virgil picked a line of his at to see, sang Bob Dylan. Here
doesnt just do sea monsters... random.5 The Grateful is the dying warrior maiden,
Dead (see pp40-47 and Camilla:
Bird-bodied, girl-faced things p67) arrived at their
they are; abominable
Their droppings, their hands are Crowley lurked name via a similar process.
The crucial intermediary here
Shadows are falling, its growing
dark around me... 11
talons, their faces haggard with
hunger... 1 on the cover of is Aleister Crowley. Educated
in the Classics, and delighting And where did Arthur

Mothman could just as well Sergeant Pepper in ridiculous Latin handles


like Frater Perdurabo (a good
Shuttlewoods ultraterrestrial
cold-callers hail from?
have been female, like these
Harpies, or the buxom entity and was the Laird album title for somebody!), he
drew inspiration from Egyptian
Aenstria. Planet Aeneid. 12

that buzzed Da Nang around the


time of Woodstock.
of Led Zeppelin magical papyri as he raised Pan
and set up the original commune
NOTEs
1 Virgil, Aeneid, 3.216ff (trans. Cecil
Whats going on here? at Cefalu (see FT231:76-78). 6 Day-Lewis).
One of the oddest aspects Pink Floyd referenced Pan in the 2 John A Keel, The Mothman
of Keels uvre is this to his own daimon or guiding title of their first LP; Crowley Prophecies (1975), p46.
recrudescence of the classical, spirit, declared himself as lurked on the cover of Sergeant 3 Quoted in Richard Rudgley, The
albeit in greatly diminished, Bacchanalian: in The End his Pepper (above) and became the Encyclopaedia of Psychoactive
almost cartoon form. A number band, the Doors, rebooted laird of Led Zeppelin (see also Substances (1998), p50.
of his names derive from Greek: Oedipus. Heavy metal pioneers FT333:51, 343:56-57) 4 Dennis Wheatley, The Devil and All His
Kronin, Orthon, Aphloes, and, Blue Cheer called their first In spring 1963, Erichtho had Works (1971), p75.
strangest of all, Mr Apol, an LP Vincebus Eruptum, perhaps to made a sensational comeback 5 See Colin Hardie in The Oxford
amputated stump of the deity echo the word eruption. Latin, at Clophill in Bedfordshire. Classical Dictionary (1970), p1127.
Laocoon served as priest: Apollo. even if garbled, had mystique: Theres not much to do in these 6 Tobias Churton, Aleister Crowley: The
Lucretius visits an eccentric it was freaky, and paradoxically villages (I grew up in one). As Biography (2011), p252.
old lady, and Brazilian contactee perplexing to the older old wives say, The Devil makes 7 Damian ODell, Paranormal
Bedfordshire (2004), p12; Kevin
Aladino Felix adopts the nom generation. work for idle hands in this
Gates, The Paranormal Diaries:
de plume Dino Kraspedon, the Even more telling case literally. Goat-headed Clophill (2014), p163f.
surname Greek for fringe or contributions came from Pan is now Satan, and still 8 Artemidorus Daldianus, Oneirocritica
border. How very liminal. a folkier dimension. The inspires eponymous terror: in 2, 37; 139, 18 Hercher.
He preaches in a pantoglot, a Incredible String Band wrote a 1979 the band UK Decay, on a 9 Toyne Newton, The Demonic
universal language combining Gilbert and Sullivan pastiche photo-shoot at Clophill church, Connection (1987).
Greek, Latin and Hebrew. Keel called The Minotaurs Song, and became spooked and fled 10 Virgil Aeneid, 6.255f.
writes: The gods of ancient Tom Rapp referenced Herodotus back to their car. 7 According 11 ibid., 11.824.
Greece are among us again, in a in his sublime Translucent to Artemidorus, Pan inspired
12 John A Keel, Operation Trojan
new guise but still handing out Carriages. The father of historys nightmares. 8 According to Toyne
Horse (1970), p229.
the old line. Believe... 2 description of stoned Scythians Newton, Hecate was reduced in
So why were they back ? howling with pleasure may also the 1980s to chairing a Satanist
What the Sixties counter- have impressed him. 3 cult in Sussex with a fetish for 2 RICHARD GEORGE is a
culture craved, ultimately, But there was another factor sacrificing dogs. 9 Here she is in poet and classicist living in St
was a pre-Christian world, in all this: the resurgence, in the her pomp, in Virgil: Albans. He has published a new
where sexuality and sensual 1960s, of the occult. Magic was translation of the Roman satirist
excess were celebrated, not integral to classical paganism, But listen! at the very first Juvenal, and regularly writes
condemned. Jim Morrison, true from Homers Circe down to the crack of dawn, the ground letters to FT.

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Of mouse utopias and men


LeFt and oPPosIte: John Calhoun
in his mouse utopia.
dr edward dutton
asks whether a new This marked the start of Phase
interpretaion of a classic B. At this point, population
experiment warns of the growth slowed until doubling
death of humanity... occurred only every 145 days,
just as we have seen in the
Western population, where there
Mice, like all animals in the wild, is below-replacement fertility.
battle the savagery of selection. Periodically, in Phase B, young
They are subject to predators, born at this point would have
cold, starvation and disease. Male their own young, contributing to
mice must fight it out to control the growth of population in which
the largest harem of females; mice, unlike in the wild, were able
mothers will reject runts among to become elderly in significant
their offspring.This means that numbers, just like in the West.
only the mice that are physically By the end of Phase B, all the
and mentally best adapted to most desirable space was filled
their environment pass on their ecology could support.This, with polygynous social groups
genes. In every generation, mice in England, was less than six Normally, more controlled by dominant males.
that have mutant genes causing million.The Industrial Revolution The more dominant the male, the
poor immune systems, physical changed all this, because it mice survive larger and more fertile his social
weakness or stupidity are coldly pretty much put an end to group tended to be.There were
cleansed from the population. natural selection, meaning that than can find 14 social groups composed of 150
Red in tail and squeak, this is economic and scientific growth adults. Each group was made-up
natural selection and until the outpaced population growth. With social niches of about 10 adults, including a
Industrial Revolution we humans inoculations, rapidly expanding dominant male, associated males
were subject to it as well. medical technology and and females, and their offspring.
Until about 1800, 40 per cent skyrocketing living standards, to be happening to us today. There were 470 such offspring
of us would die before reaching child mortality fell from 40 per In 1968, at the University of and they had all received
adulthood. And this wasnt a cent to less than two per cent: Maryland, eccentric Tennessee- good maternal care and early
random 40 per cent: in a society now, all the people with poor born ethologist John Calhoun socialisation. So, there were three
with no proper medicine, it was immune systems and genetic (1917-1995) began a ground- times as many younger than older
anybody who didnt have a superb health problems all the people breaking experiment: he created animals, a far greater ratio than
immune system. Competing (about 90 per cent of us!) with a Mouse Utopia.This was a would exist in the wild.
for survival in this unforgiving high mutational load were able veritable heaven for mice in At day 315, Phase C began
world, intelligence (which is to pass on their genes, as were which there would be: (1) No and population growth slowed
about 80 per cent genetic) their children, grandchildren emigration by lower status mice markedly. Normally, more mice
gave people a huge advantage, and great-grandchildren, leading to suboptimal habitats, as there survive to maturity than can find
because it allowed them to to an ever-growing build-up of would be abundant replica social niches and so these lower
become wealthy and better mutation. habitats and the utopia would be status mice will tend to emigrate
able to protect themselves from This is a unique situation impossible to escape from. (2) No in search of such a niche. As this
disease with healthier food and in human history. Previous resource shortage or inclement was prevented, a large number
living conditions. So, according civilisations Greece, Rome, weather. (3) No epidemics. (4) No of males unable to successfully
to cutting-edge psychologists, China always collapsed just at predators. 3 compete for a social niche
intelligence was selected for too, the beginning of an Industrial In July 1968, four pairs of house simply withdrew physically and
and there is clear evidence that Revolution. But for reasons that mice were introduced into the 16 psychologically from territorial
those who lacked it had fewer are unclear the Christian West cell mouse universe. After 104 males and ganged up together.
surviving children. 1 In 16th and didnt. It continued selecting days (Phase A), the first litter was They would occasionally fight
17th century Essex and Suffolk, for intelligence for longer born, resulting in social turmoil as each other over trivial issues but
the richer 50 per cent of testators long enough for intelligence to the mice learned to live together. they would do little else. Low
had 40 per cent more surviving get high enough for the major Thereafter, the population rose status females would withdraw
children than the poorer 50 per breakthroughs to occur. So, exponentially, doubling around to (less desirable) high nesting
cent, something that held roughly what happens to a species when every 55 days until it reached 620. boxes but were not aggressive
true throughout Europe.2 you completely remove natural This is, of course, exactly what towards each other. However,
What all this meant was selection? Well, we know what happened after the Industrial territorial males were constantly
that the population numbers happens to mice: its frightening, Revolution: enormous population confronted with subordinate
remained at the level the agrarian all the more so because it seems expansion. males trying to take over their

56 FT356
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sdsdsvdsvs

territory and, as there were so began.They argued that we instincts that allow mice to be extended kinship networks
many of them, the ability of would expect all health problems, survive. Every generation, mutant with clear genetic borders. 5 As
territorial males to control their both physical and mental, to mice would have been born who a consequence, argues Woodley,
territory declined. be inter-related because they did not have these instincts: mice modern liberal ideology far
This left nursing females broadly reflect the same thing: with no desire to breed, males from being an indirect means
exposed to nest invasion.The high mutational load.This is why with no wish to fight, females with of genetic preservation would
females would then take on the left-handedness (a reflection of no maternal instinct, females in fact reflect a sick societys
role of the absent male, becoming mutation) is correlated with poor with a male-like desire to fight. growing desire to destroy itself.
extremely aggressive and even physical and mental health and However, these mutant mice Does this mean that we are
generalising this aggression to why autism (a strong marker of would have had other mutations going to die out? Humans are
their own young: babies would be mutation) is correlated with poor poor immune systems or physical not mice.Theres no scientist
ejected from the nest too young health. fitness meaning they wouldnt controlling us. We are the
and abandoned by their mothers Secondly, Woodleys team have survived to have children. scientists who have built our own
during transit to new nest sites. argue that due to the complexity In the Mouse Utopia, of course, utopia. And Woodley has shown
Conception declined, while re- of the brain, behaviour would be they all survived, many of them that due to the weak selection
absorption of ftuses increased. extremely sensitive to mutation had children, and, eventually, in this utopia, we have not just
This behaviour hugely increased accumulation. By extension, in they were the overwhelming stopped selecting for intelligence,
mortality and evidenced a social animals, where behaviour majority of the population.The we are becoming less intelligent.6
societal breakdown. is anyway complex, even small remnant normal mice found that IQ is negatively associated with
Phase D the death phase accruals in mutation can lead to even they were impacted by this fertility, seemingly because
began. Population increase pathological forms of behaviour change and it got to a point where the more intelligent are more
ceased on day 560. After day and the rapid breakdown of breeding stopped. efficient users of contraception,
600, no mice survived past society.This is, in part, because Woodleys team argue that and more intelligent women
weaning.The last conception behaviour is significantly learned this Mutational Meltdown is heavily delay or completely reject
was documented on day 920. By in social animals.This means happening in the West.Theres motherhood.
1 March 1972, the average age of that if mutation interferes with no question that mutational Accordingly, IQ is going down
the colony was 776 days, which the teaching of some useful load is very high: hence and some researchers are arguing
was 200 days beyond the average behaviour, even those who dont increasing levels of autism, that, eventually, civilisation will
age of mouse menopause. On 22 have what Woodley calls spiteful mental illness, allergies, entirely collapse back to a new Dark Age
June 1972, the population was mutations will be impacted. genetic disorders and even left- in which natural selection will
just 122 22 male, 100 female Imagine if, due to some mutation, handedness.They also document reassert itself, religion will make
and by May 1973 (1,720 days after you get more and more people a rise in spiteful mutations, a comeback, and humanity will
colonisation) all the mice were who believe you shouldnt kill which cause people to act against survive. 7 Whatever happened
dead. for meat. As they get larger their own genetic interests. to the utopian mice, humanitys
Autopsy revealed some bizarre in number, social pressure to Examples include mutations that obituary shouldnt be written
things. Of the females aged 334 conform will be placed even on make people want to not have just yet.
days at autopsy, only 18 per cent those who lack the mutation and children or heavily delay doing
had ever conceived, whereas in they will no longer be taught the so. And if these people influence 2 Dr EDwarD Dutton is the
the wild they would each have despised skill. society, they can persuade even co-author of The Genius Famine
had five or more litters by that Basically, Woodley avers, non-carriers of these genes to act (University of Buckingham Press,
age.The male equivalents of the mice were evolved to have in a self-destructive way. 2015).
these barren females were known Mutants can
as the beautiful ones.They never also undermine notes
sexually approached females structures, such 1 See Edward Dutton & Bruce Charlton,
and nor did they ever fight as religion, which The Genius Famine, University of
other males.They simply ate, help to promote Buckingham Press, 2015.
drank, and groomed each other, group interests. 2 Gregory Clark, A Farewell to Alms,
displaying autistic, obsessive Many evolutionary Princeton University Press, 2007.
tendencies. Almost all of the psychologists 3 John Calhoun, Death squared: The
adult mice in Phase D were these agree that explosive growth and demise of a mouse
population in Proceedings of the Royal
two types, and so the colony died religiosity (which Society of Medicine, 66: 80-88, 1973.
out. is about 40 per
4 MA Woodley of Menie, M Saraff, R
The experiment is fascinating cent genetic) is Pestow & H Fernandes, Social epistasis:
in terms of understanding the basically a God- Deleterious mutations, extended social
post-industrial evolution of mandated means phenotypes and rapid fitness decline.
humans. Calhoun put the collapse of promoting Evolutionary Psychological Science, DOI
10.1007/s40806-017-0084-x, 2017.
down to overcrowding interfering evolutionary
with the ability of these highly imperatives such 5 See, E Dutton, G Madison, & R Lynn,
Demographic, economic, and genetic
social animals to function. as big families, factors related to national differences
But in 2017, Michael Woodley group loyalty, and in ethnocentric attitudes, in Personality
radically reinterpreted what ethnocentrism; and Individual Differences, 101: 137-
had happened.4 Woodley and his ethnic groups, 143, 2016.
team showed that the colony was even European 6 See Dutton and Charlton, ibid., for
nowhere near overcrowded when nations, have summary.
the population growth decline been shown to 7 See Dutton and Charlton, ibid.

FT356 57
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No one would invent a story like this


The tale of Gef, the Talking Mongoose of the Isle of Man, is as John Irving said bloody silly. Was
he a ghost, a house-fairy, a poltergeist, or a teenagers ventriloquism-based hoax? Who knows

Gef! repeat everything the Irvings


We could not book, The Haunting of Cashens
and visitors said in the house. Gap, published by Price and R S
The Strange Tale of an
Extra-Special Talking Mongoose Gef also claimed to visit other
locations on the island, bringing
determine whether Lambert, a BBC executive and
editor of The Listener. Perhaps
Christopher Josiffe
Strange Attractor Press 2017
back news and gossip, to protect we had taken part the most significant point to
their livestock, and to bring them draw from it was their tangible
Pb, 15.99, 404pp, illus, notes, bib, ind, ISBN 9781907222481
rabbits for supper. in a farce or a disappointment that Gef refused
to appear or perform for them
I remember my grandmother
reading me Rudyard Kiplings
Gefs high-pitched voice often
needed interpretation and John tragedy throughout their stay at the farm.
short story Rikki-Tikki-Tavi Irving was happy to oblige. They concluded: We could not
(The Jungle Book, 1894). In it, the Investigators were quick to themselves. Given his interest determine whether, in our role of
eponymous mongoose (so named wonder if the girl was using some in Freudian psychology and a investigators, we had taken part
for his constant chattering) is kind of ventriloquism, possibly knowledge of the characteristics in a farce or a tragedy.
adopted by a British family in using the gaps between the walls of other poltergeist girls, Fodor Not long after Price and
India and becomes protective of and the wooden cladding used observed the family dynamics Lambert published their book,
their home. This sprang to mind for insulation. Despite close (father was domineering, the Irvings left the island.
when I came across Gef, the observations over many years, Margaret submissive and Voirrey Gef never followed them or
Talking Mongoose of the Isle of this was never conclusively intelligent yet solitary), but manifested for the farms new
Man. Here, too, a British family exposed. Father, mother and there was no evidence Voirrey owner (who once announced
adopts a chatterbox mongoose daughter all said Gef had spoken or her mother were abused he had killed a strange little
who is very protective of the to them when the others were psychologically or sexually. animal). In 1970, a FATE
house; there the similarity ends. known to be miles away. John, Price was told that due to the magazine reporter manage to
The story of Gef ranks pretty Margaret and Voirrey seemed remoteness of the farm, the girl locate Voirrey, then living in
high in the list of those curious to believe, genuinely, in the rarely associated with other England. As enigmatically as the
fortean narratives that cannot be reality of Gef, but more as a children outside school. There Cottingley girls recalling their
easily pigeonholed. The Irving clever, evolved creature than the can be little doubt, he wrote fairies, all she would say was
family father John, mother reincarnated Indian he declared later, she talks to the animals Yes there was a little animal
Margaret and 13-year-old Voirrey himself to be. a good [..] deal and attributes who talked [..] but I do wish he
(a Manx version of Mary) lived Although the Irvings denied personalities to them. had let us alone.
in a plain two-storey farmhouse, any knowledge of spiritualism John certainly hogged Could Gef have been
on the bleak hillside of Cashens John Irving even protested the limelight when the fantasy friend of
Gap, on the south-western coast that No one would invent such visitors came to see a lonely, imaginative,
of the Isle of Man. John Irving, a bloody silly story! some Gef, explaining Gefs adolescent girl? (As
who imported pianos, had turned investigators have speculated messages, gossip and Gefs notoriety attracted
to farming when WW2 cut-off that they could have known history, while Voirrey and more and more public
theit transatlantic supply. Voirrey enough. Spiritualism was rife mother busied themselves and media attention,
had grown up here, her school throughout Britain at this time on the periphery. Voirrey was taunted at
a couple of rooms in the church and Voirrey especially seemed However, Price and Fodor school.) Could Kiplings story
buildings. susceptible to local gossip. noticed how possessive John have inspired the creation of
Beginning in September 1931, There is certainly an analogy became, reacting angrily when Gef? Could this have been a
persistent scratching noises and to be drawn between the way Price suggested taking Voirrey prank that got out of hand like
sounds like rudimentary speech Old Scratch manifested to the for a ride in his car, perhaps to the Cottingley fairies case
could be heard coming from Fox sisters in the mid-1800s interrogate her away from her and difficult to stop once the
behind the wood panelling of leading them to believe that father. Price undoubtedly hoped celebrity investigators were
the walls in the Irving home. In communication with spirits the girl might have some kind of involved?
time, John, Margaret and Voirrey was possible through coded agency or power, like the 13-year- While hardline sceptics seem
all claimed they had seen Gef knockings and the gestation of old Romanian poltergeist girl ready to dismiss the case as a
(the name came later) and could Gef, from his simple scratchings Eleonora Zugun, whom he had worthless hoax, FT contributor
converse with him. Originally to speech. The Irving family studied in London in 1926. Christopher Josiffe, who
described as weasel-like, with and home also endured typical Though fragments of the story researched the case for 10 years,
hands capable of holding and poltergeist peltings. had appeared previously in makes no rush to judgement. His
manipulating objects, the curious The leading psychical local and regional newspapers, marshalling of (probably all the
creature seemed to be intelligent, investigators, Harry Price and the first the world at large
literate, and could hear and Nandor Fodor, came to see for learned of it was in the 1936 Continued on page 62

F T356 59
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reviews / bookS

The Brimstone over others, even when done as Animal Behaviour how awe-inspiring biology really
cautiously as Cutchin does them. is. Take the North American
Deceit Then again, if he didnt take
A Very Short Introduction
Clarks Nutcracker, a member
An In-Depth Examination of his choices, he wouldnt have a Tristram D Wyatt of the Corvid family that
Supernatural Scents, book. Arguably, many or most Oxford University Press 2017 also includes crows, ravens
Otherworldly Odors, and anomalies lie beyond current Pb, 146pp, illus, ind, bib, 7.99, ISBN 9780198712152
and jackdaws. During the late
Monstrous Miasmas knowledge and reference. summer and autumn, a Clarks
Joshua Cutchin Thats why the longer you study Our ancestors studied animal Nutcracker hides some 30,000
Anomalist Books 2016 them, the more impenetrably behaviour long before it became pine seeds in groups of three
Pb, 445pp, notes, bib, ind, $18.95, ISBN 9781938398643 baffling they become. Not that a science: their survival often to four in 2,5003,000 different
we ought in consequence to depended on watching and locations over 100 square miles.
The Brimstone Deceit could be the abandon all reflection; after predicting the behaviour of The nutcracker hides the seeds
title of a disposable paperback all, what else can we do? But their prey and the creatures that up to 20 miles from the pine tree.
thriller, the sort of thing you read aside from acknowledging that preyed on us. Today, television Its a remarkable feat of memory:
on an airplane trip to a distant high-strangeness phenomena are documentaries often, Wyatt I sometimes forget where Ive
land and then forget about. As vividly experienceable yet not points out, based on a deep parked the car.
the subtitle clarifies, however, provable to those who need to understanding of animal Discussing animal behaviour
its a fortean book, only on an sneer them out of discussion, I behaviour are perennially is, however, notoriously difficult.
unusual topic. am unable to venture with much popular. Anthropomorphising is tempting,
Following up his previous A confidence. As Konrad Lorenz, who won but often misleading. Wyatt
Trojan Feast (FT329), which dealt In my view Cutchin is overly a Nobel Prize for his pioneering points out that if the Disney
with food and drink consumed enamoured of the late John work in animal behaviour, film accurately reflected biology
in otherworldly contexts, this Keel. From my long experience noted in King Solomons Ring: Nemos father would have
time Joshua Cutchin takes on of him from the late 1960s to Our fellow creatures can tell stayed home and changed sex.
extraordinary smells. You have his death in 2009 Keel looks us the most beautiful stories. Coral reef anemonefish are
to admire the guy. Hes found today something like the Donald (Everyone should read King among several species of reptiles
a novel approach. What next? Trump of forteana, notable more Solomons Ring at least once. and fish in which social and
Peculiar noises? for bluster and vitriol than for Its one of the most accessible, environmental cues determine
Anyway, not only is Cutchin a sense and substance. passionate and entertaining whether they are male or female.
creative thinker, he reads widely. Like Keel (though far natural history books.) Tristram Coral reef anemonefish live in
And he has a becoming better-natured, and for Wyatts concise, informative communities. The largest fish
modesty, insisting too hard that matter better read, and insightful introduction to is female, the second largest
on nothing he proposes, than him), Cutchin is the fascinating world of animal becomes male and her mate. The
always sensitive to the occasionally willing to behaviour allows you to begin smaller fish do not breed. If the
reasonable objections embrace a likely or certain to delve a bit deeper into the female dies, the male changes
of others. So Cutchins tall tale to advance a science behind those beautiful sex and the next largest fish
temperament is truly broader point. stories and amazing images. becomes male.
fortean, both tentative Unfortunately, I must For instance, changes Yet, Wyatt points out, studying
and self-critical. As he candidly accept responsibility for one in animal behaviour allow animals can offer insights into
acknowledges, most peoples of them (p131), which I picked researchers to watch natural human behaviour. After all, we
anomalous experiences are up from a 1950s issue of Len selection in real time. In 2001, use several simple unconscious,
odourless. I know mine was; Stringfields UFO newsletter and a single male field cricket was and sometimes irrational,
soundless, too. I cant speak for revived, in a spasm of youthful heard on Kauai, a Hawaiian processes that we share with
yours, but I suspect you didnt folly, for a 1967 article published island. Over just a decade, the other animals Valuing
smell anything either. in Flying Saucer Review. once widespread crickets had and studying these simpler
As his title implies, the The story is fictitious, likely fallen silent and numbers had mechanisms in animals might
author focuses on sulphuric the concoction of obscure yarn- declined dramatically. The help us to better understand
odours, traditionally (though spinner Robert Coe Gardner population had recovered in ourselves. Despite our supposed
not entirely) associated with (Stringfields named source) 2003; but the crickets no longer higher brains we share similar
demonic entities. Essentially, who occasionally surfaced on made their characteristic call. processes for some types of
after chapters that meander the fringes of the early UFO The struggle for survival between learning and responses to
through a wide range of scene, always with whopper at the cricket and a fly was to blame behaviour cues. Indeed, some
anomalous reports, Cutchin the ready. for the silence. animals use tools, communicate,
argues extrapolating from I respect Cutchins clear The fly uses the song to even take medicinal plants for a
the relevant scientific and intelligence and clever approach, target, and lay eggs on, the male specific pharmacological effect.
medical literature that the and I happily anticipate the cricket. Her maggots paralyse the Meanwhile, revolutions
nose remembers better than the books he will write in the future. cricket, which the young flies eat in genetics, endocrinology
brain; the forces that generate There may be the stuff of fortean alive. A previously rare mutant (the study of hormones) and
encounters want to make a greatness in him. Even so, I of the cricket lacks the teeth neurology offered important
lasting impression that serves found The Brimstone Deceit only and scraper on the wings that insights into the biological basis
their purposes, whatever they sporadically engaging, not quite crickets use to make the noise. of behaviour. The hormone
are. Cutchin is vague about so much fun as his previous Female crickets find the noise oxytocin, for instance, seems
the nature of otherworldly volume. I do hope, though, that attractive, so silent males found to influence nursing behaviour,
intelligences in the fashion of the next one is about fortean mating difficult. But when the maternal motivation and bonding
most cautious anomalists these audial phenomena. That seems, fly arrived, silence was golden in a range of species including
days. at least to me, a more promising they survived to mate. Within 20 sheep, mice and humans. Wyatt
Well, who knows? This grizzled subject. generations the silent cricket was offers accessible (even if youre
weirdness-chaser has a hard Jerome Clark common. not a biologist) summaries of
time generally with theories HHHHH Wyatts book is packed with many themes in the vanguard of
that privilege certain claims vignettes that remind us just animal behavioural research.

60 FT356
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Importantly, Wyatt also last few centuries, with particular IPNs many detailed (non- of Spring-heeled Jacks who
highlights the current emphasis on the United States. photographic) illustrations used to dress up in white
limitations. He notes, for This is clearly targeted at people minister to the morbid sheets and Scooby Doo-style
example, that the brains of buying the book in conjunction cravings of the uneducated for costumes to frighten late-night
flies contain about 100,000 with the Great American the horrible and the repulsive, travellers along lonely country
nerve cells compared to Eclipse of 2017, but as a British and its advertisements [often lanes. Perhaps the modern-day
some 100 billion in humans. reader I have to admit I found it of a dubious sexual nature] equivalents are the fools who
Yet, despite this seeming all rather boring. call for the intervention of the dress up as Killer Clowns for
simplicity, even with flies we Far more interesting for me police. If so, then I must share similar kicks. Bondeson actually
are just at the very beginning and I suspect for most FT readers such morbid cravings myself, unearths an 1875 instance of a
of an understanding that is was the books middle section because I found this collection clown-impersonator accidentally
likely to remain incomplete (about 80 pages in length), which of stories from the IPN, compiled startling his wife to the point
for decades to come. So think describes the early history of and retold by Jan that her life was despaired
how far we are from having any eclipse-watching from the point Bondeson, to be highly of the first in a long
real understanding of higher of view of archaeoastronomy. entertaining. Within, you line of phony Pennywises?
animals, such as humans, whales This is Anthony Avenis academic will find all manner of There are also some
or dolphins. specialism, and it was quite an Victorian tabloid freaks stories which resemble the
Wyatt also highlights the eye-opener for me. Id always and oddities, from dog- Victorian equivalent of
often lack of reproducibility assumed that ancient and faced men to conjoined fake news, given that they
(which is attracting increasing non-Western cultures had a twins, to some of the apparently didnt actually
attention across many purely superstitious view fattest Scotsmen on record. An occur; did a lonely old eccentric
sciences). With the of eclipses, but it turns out alleged human monkey (re: really believe that her entire
exception of honeybees, that a surprising number of small hairy foreigner) vies for family had been reincarnated
which have attracted them from ancient Greece space with baby-eating pigs in cat-form, for instance, or the
considerable attention from and Babylon to China and and the French midget who sinister Dr Beauregard really
several groups, Wyatt notes Pre-Columbian America was allegedly devoured by freeze cholera bacilli then serve
that there is rarely the understood the basic performing cats, all accompanied them up to dinner-guests as
opportunity for replication physical principles involved, by images whose violence may iced-treats in a series of bizarre
[of a studys findings] by and could use them to once have seemed shocking but experiments? (If some of these
independent researchers. predict the occurrence of which now often comes across stories sound familiar, by the
Usually, researchers look eclipses with reasonable as being simply comic. Maybe way, it is because around half
at a new species rather accuracy. The few chapters Im just sick, but I thought the the book consists of pieces which
than seeing if the findings that Aveni devotes to this reproduced 1889 depiction of have appeared in these pages
apply to the same species in topic are fascinating and an elephant being run over by over the past five or so years in
different circumstances. authoritative but unless a train, or the 1880 drawing of the recently concluded Strange
So, read Wyatts compelling youre a real enthusiast, they may a monkey smashing rats skulls and Sensational Stories from the
introduction before you watch not be enough to justify buying in with a hammer, were highly Illustrated Police News column
the next nature documentary. the whole book. amusing. The only good word although that also means around
Itll deepen and widen your Andrew May anyone had to say about such half havent, so will be new to FT
understanding and appreciation HHHHH pictures at the time, however, readers).
of these beautiful stories. If came from the reported-upon As time went on, changes in
youre sitting comfortably, murderers themselves, several ownership and fashion made
Wyatts book is a great place to Strange Victoriana of whom wrote in to the editor, the IPN seem a shadow of its
begin. Tales of the Curious, the Weird complimenting him upon the former self. Gradually, more
Mark Greener and the Uncanny from Our accuracy with which his artists and more sporting news made
HHHHH Victorian Ancestors had captured the likenesses of its way into the once-mighty
Jan Bondeson themselves slaying their victims! organs pages, leading to
In his accounts of the IPNs its renaming in 1938 as The
In the Shadow of Amberley Publishing 2016
Hb, 352pp, illus, refs, ind, 20, ISBN: 9781445658858 stories, Bondeson draws out Sporting Record. In modified
the Moon When The Illustrated Police News
the similarities and differences
between the paper and the
form, as The Greyhound and
Sporting Record, the publication
The Science, Magic, and (IPN) first appeared in 1864 as tabloids of today. As befits limped on until as late as 1980,
Mystery of Solar Eclipses a weekly chronicle of crime, the age of Dickens, Bondeson having, as Bondeson explains,
Anthony Aveni ghosts and the good old-fashioned finds that the Victorian rag degenerated into a worthless
Yale University Press 2017 blood-and-gore which the public had a well-mined seam of newspaper for pointless old men
Hb, 316 pp, illus, notes, ind, 20.00, ISBN 9780300223194 wanted, the self-appointed soppy sentimentalism about hanging around in bookmakers
Lord Levesons of the day were it, depicting murderers poor shops. A sad fate indeed for
This book can be divided united in their condemnation old mothers weeping before a one-time bestseller. As this
into three parts of unequal of what was dubbed The Worst their wayward sons went to book admirably shows, the IPN
length and varying interest. Newspaper in England. Indeed, the gallows, whereas the Suns in no way deserved its unwanted
The first and shortest deals the IPN was libelled in some and Mails of today are more reputation as The Worst
with the science behind solar quarters as being a kind of likely to offer bracingly harsh Newspaper in England, due to
eclipses and the practicalities cheap Murderers Handbook, commentaries of the hang the the simple fact that its contents
of observing them. If thats all with evil-doers having only to bastard! type in an era when, (or those contents reproduced
youre interested in, there are pay their penny to gain a copy ironically, such an option is no within, in any case) were often
probably other books youd be of a handy How-To guide for longer available. Some once highly readable; as is Bondesons
better off buying. By far the chopping a childs head off, common story-types have now book.
largest part of the book is the stabbing an old lady or slicing up largely disappeared from the SD Tucker
third and final section, covering the nearest prostitute. According pages of our press, meanwhile, HHHHH
the history of eclipses over the to one 1881 assessment, the such as the former abundance

F T356 61
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BOOKS
Continued from page 59 importance, an embarrassing tough-minded scientists review to do justice to Knapps
eccentricity, Knapp shows (who reasoned by facts), sympathetic dissection of
findable) evidence reconstructs convincingly that it was central transcending such dualisms to Jamess thought.
the events and principal players to his intellectual life; more, it is facilitate a reconciliation, but While at times the book is not
in detail, and is the better for it. not possible fully to understand not a synthesis instead seeking an easy read, Knapp has done
Josiffe discusses the various his work as a whole without an a third way, or tertium quid. an impressive job in pulling
suggestions of a hoax, but also appreciation of his psychical Applying this principle, James together and making sense of
suggests why they are unlikely. research writings. aimed to steer a course between Jamess writings on psychical
Harry Price, a connoisseur of Knapp has divided his those whom he considered to research, including his extensive
stage trickery, considered the book into three main sections. possess a tendency to credulity correspondence, pointing out his
possibility of a girl of Voirreys Becoming a psychical concerning the phenomena, and strengths but not being afraid to
age developing a talent for researcher outlines the growth those who refused to examine indicate where he was wrong, on
ventriloquism to such a skilful of Jamess involvement them at all. shaky ground, or contradicting
level, on her own, unfeasible; yet which may have had The result was an himself. The result is essential
stranger things have happened. its origin in the dinner intellectual disposition reading for anyone who wishes to
Josiffe also points out that the table conversations of his that was not afraid have a thorough understanding
phenomenon of Gef (real or Swedenborgian father and to override scientific of Jamess work in psychology
imagined) played out against the his fathers friends about boundaries. Thus sances and philosophy, or to assess his
backdrop of the Celtic fairylore Spiritualism. Practising and other personal substantial contributions to
of the Isle of Man; this includes psychical research, experiences were as valid psychical research.
tales that Voirrey might well examines the scope of a source of data as was Tom Ruffles
have heard from her school his activities in the field; the laboratory, and to HHHHH
friends or neighbours of so- and Theorising psychical reject them a priori was
called house fairies, who demand research, which opens a question of faith, not
hospitality and tidiness from out the discussion to science. The Legacy of the
their hosts. In this context, what
Gef told the family If you are
explore the impact of his
experiences, particularly
It was not just the
subject to which he
Sky People
kind to me, I will bring you good on his theories of consciousness devoted his energies, but The Extraterrestrial Origin of
luck. If you are not kind, I shall and survival after death. The organisations as well, and he Adam and Eve; The Garden of
Eden; Noahs Ark and the Serpent
kill all your poultry. I can get last he conceptualised in remained a firm supporter of
Race
them wherever you put them! terms of a general melding of both the Society for Psychical
The 8th Earl of Clancarty & Nick Redfern,
sounds quite chilling. consciousnesses to form a cosmic Research in Britain and its with Sean Casteel & Tim Swartz
Whether Gef was a ghost, a reservoir of memories, which American counterpart. Inner Light 2012
fairy, a spirit, a poltergeist, some raises the issue to what extent This was partly through Pb, 228pp, ISBN 9781606111277
kind of cryptid (there is evidence one can talk of the continuation a desire to support their
that mongooses were introduced of the individual post-mortem efforts, but also from loyalty to Edited by well-known conspiracy
to the island to cull rabbits), or personality. individuals (notably Edmund theorist Timothy Green Beckley,
even a folie trois, cannot be James studied the entire Gurney, Henry and Eleanor this edition of The Sky People,
settled at this distance. But I range of topics subsumed under Sidgwick, Frederic Myers and originally published in 1960,
cannot imagine a more thorough psychical research, but his Richard Hodgson) with whom the first book by the 8th Earl
treatment that so engagingly primary focus was mediumship, he fostered deep bonds, ties of Clancarty, Brinsley Le Poer
presents the facts and their notably sittings with the that were broken only by death. Trench, will be of little more
context. mental medium Leonora Piper He maintained some of his than historical interest to most
Bob Rickard (his white crow). He also most enduring professional modern UFO students. From
HHHHH witnessed physical mediumship relationships with SPR 1956 to 1959 the eccentric
but dismissed it as producing members, and Myerss ideas Clancarty edited the Flying
phenomena of the dark-sitting were particularly influential Saucer Review. His theories that
William James and rat-hole type, and was in the development of Jamess Adam and Eve, Noah, and other
Psychical Research and the critical of physical medium thought, not least the notion of Biblical characters were the
Challenge of Modernity Eusapia Palladino while the subliminal self. result of Martian experiments on
Krister Dylan Knapp
characteristically acknowledging As well as being a researcher, the red planet definitely have a
that some of her phenomena theoretician, administrator and certain Quatermass 1950s charm
The University of North Carolina Press 2017
Hb, 385pp, 31.36, ISBN 9781469631240
might be genuine. In all these funder, James was a populariser, to them. However, not even the
endeavours James fought to defending psychical research most die-hard ancient astronaut
William James (18421910) was a bring the subject matter of even when it threatened to believer will be persuaded by
significant figure in the history of psychical research under the undermine his reputation. Nor an argument based on now
psychology and philosophy, and scope of the scientific method, did he abandon it when it failed debunked canals allegedly
Krister Dylan Knapps detailed defending it against those critics to fulfil its early promise; rather crisscrossing the Martian
analysis demonstrates the extent who denied it came within he retained an active interest to surface.
to which Jamess longstanding sciences purview. the end of his life. He remained The book benefits from a
interest in psychical research Key to his approach was cautious but optimistic collection of essays written
interpenetrated his other an attempt to undermine regarding its prospects, and his by contemporary UFO writers
academic interests. entrenched positions, for conclusion towards the end of including Texas-based British
Throughout his career James example between psychical his career was that we must author and monster hunter Nick
wrote about psychical research, researchers and tender-minded expect to mark progress not by Redfern.
yet while his biographers have Spiritualists (who reasoned quarter-centuries, but by half- Richard Thomas
generally marginalised this part by principles), and between centuries or whole centuries. HHHHH
of his corpus as being of little psychical researchers and It is impossible in a short

62 F T356
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reviews / bookS

also received
WE lEAF THROUGH A SMAll SElECTION OF THE DOzENS OF BOOKS THAT HAvE ARRIvED AT
FORTEAN TOWERS IN RECENT MONTHS...

Unseen Forces Following Peter Kingsleys is what has motivated him to narratives; that some Afterlives
A Guide For The Truly Attentive radical re-examination of Parmen- re-examine the archives the do not depend upon belief, ethical
ides, Silva shows how the early leading ufological outfits and the conduct or even a god; a Buddhist
J Douglas Kenyon, ed.
Greek tradition of a healing sleep subjects extensive literature. sect that holds death is really
Atlantis Rising Magazine Library 2016
(incubation) at many of the great Resting upon his technical final; the complex consequences
Pb, 246pp, illus, $16.95, ISBN 9780990690443
hero shrines was far more than a expertise gained over 40 years of reincarnation and the para-
simple therapeutic technique. He in the US aerospace industry doxes of karma; one Universe or
deconstructs its many evolved he presents here an analysis of many; the best way to prepare for
Secret Knowledge forms from Gnostic symbol- reports and photographs that death. He even includes guidance
Expanding the Boundaries of the ism and the Eastern influences, seem to include useful descrip- on out-of-body experiences and
Possible Ancient Mysteries * some involving altered states of tions of physical craft and occu- how to conduct your own sance.
Unexplained Anomalies * Future consciousness through drugs, pants. Party-poopers like nihilists and
Science asceticism, dancing back to At this point, 70 years after materialists will find little to enjoy
J Douglas Kenyon, ed. the shamanic journey into the the advent of modern UFOs, a here, especially as they bring so
Atlantis Rising Magazine Library 2016 Otherworld. He also traces the fresh overview of the subject little of value to this otherwise rich
Pb, 246pp, illus, $16.95, ISBN 9780990690450 different types of incubation is novel, but will probably be of feast of mankinds belief systems.
chamber: caves, underground interest only to those who still Mirabello is a pleasure to read;
These two volumes, Unseen chambers, an animal lair, or hold out for what we used to call his edifying prose is tight and
Forces and Secret Knowledge, mountain-top temples (the climb nuts-and-bolts ufos. clear, making his material seem
are two of the latest anthologies was but a preface to the rite fresh. On top of which the books
of provocative articles (over 30 itself). A Travelers Guide to episodic style makes it eminently
in each) drawn from the pages Where Silva breaks from (or the Afterlife suitable for casual sampling.
of the venerable Atlantis Rising adds to) the Pythagorean trad- Traditions and Beliefs on Death,
Magazine (ancient mysteries, ition (that besides healing, the Dying, and What Lies Beyond The Mammoth Book
future science and unexplained sleeper could, in dreams, talk
Mark Mirabello
of Superstition
anomalies), edited by J Douglas directly with his muse or the From Rabbits Feet to Friday the
Inner Traditions 2016
Kenyon. gods and receive prophecies), is 13th
Pb, 214pp, bib, ind, $16.95, ISBN 9781620555972
They feature leading writers in his relatively modern argument
Roy Bainton
and researchers in a wide range that this profound rite not only The big difference, comparing
Robinson 2017
of topics, many of them known effected an empowering spiritual this book with many others with
Pb, 376pp, bib, refs, ind,13.99, ISBN 9781472137487
to FT readers and many of great awakening, but possibly added the word afterlife in their titles,
fortean interest. an out-of-body experience. is that Dr Mirabello has surveyed This doorstop of a book by FT con-
Nevertheless, this thoughtful 965 sources drawn from many tributor Roy Bainton opens, appro-
The Lost Art of study which forms a useful cultures that have declared, priately, with a quote from Charles
Resurrection supplement to Peter Kingsleys discussed or promoted their Forts Book of the Damned: Sci-
Initiation, Secret Chambers and subtle and sagacious In the particular teachings or traditions ence of today the superstition
the Quest for the Otherworld Dark Places of Wisdom should about death and an Afterlife. of tomorrow. Science of tomorrow
appeal to anyone genuinely This wideranging anthology the superstition of today.
Freddy Silva
treading the path to self-realisa- comprises concise citations from In the first section, Bainton
Inner Traditions 2017
tion. a huge range of religions and discusses the need for, efficacy
Pb, 274pp, notes, bib, ind, $18.95,
ISBN 9781620556368 philosophies (often supported by of and categories of superstition;
UFOs secular data (including atheistic and the supersitions of Europe
This is a welcome reissue of Unidentified Flying Objects -- An and scientific opinions). and the USA, including Native
a 2014 title. Given the recent Overview of Close Encounters and Mirabello manages to avoid American and African-American
rash of recovering the ancient Low Flybys boring the reader by judiciously superstitions. Oh, and Thailands
wisdom books, you could be Anthoni J Tambini selecting the only important lucky penis. He then covers the
forgiven for thinking it was yet Branden Books 2016 bits and threading them on a origins of superstition, and its
another reimagining of the Pb, 271pp, illus, refs, ind, $19.00, witty and erudite running com- tricky intersection with religions,
ISBN 97810828326186
scientific legacy of alien gods in mentary. along with curses, bad omens
ancient myths. It may be, but not As a general rule, most serious He sets out what each canon and Creationism. The animal, veg-
quite in the von Dniken way! forteans (including crypto- tells us about what it is to die etable or mineral of superstitions
Silvas world-spanning survey zoologists and ufologists) collect and what we (including atheists) includes terrific bird myths and
of ancient cultures brings data and reports on the topics might expect post mortem. Of crystal therapy. In his introduction,
together very specific accounts that interest them; and most course, this leads to many differ- Bainton admits to a fondness for
of what used to be the most forteana-related groups or organi- ent theories about the finality (or straying from the point, which is
secret ritual of the wisdom sations act, mainly, as archivists not) of death, infinity and eternity part of the books charm. I hadnt
cults, often called Mysteries. and promoters of their subjects. (upon which are predicated known, for instance, that on the
The highest level of initiation, it Only rarely is there an individual things like hells, heavens, night before his wedding, the
is maintained, took the form of or a network of individuals avail- deities, ghosts and souls). friends of a South Korean groom
a metaphorical burial and resur- able to sift and sort the data, In this variety there are sur- will beat the soles of his feet with
rection. Throughout the Christian steering it towards a proper prising discoveries: Greek and fish. Tuija brides from Sichuan
world, its practice was systemat- analysis and study. This lack, Chinese agreement that we may have to cry for an hour every day
ically stamped out because the as perceived by Anthoni Tambini already be dead or dreaming; the in the month leading up to their
ritual was deemed blasphemous. to apply particularly to ufology, sheer diversity of Afterlife journey marriage.

FT356 63
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SEND REVIEW DISCS TO: BOOK REVIEWS, FORTEAN TIMES, PO BOX 71602, LONDON E17 0QD, UK.

Friendly neighbourhood Spidey


At last, a film about everyones favourite wall-crawler that will get your spider-senses tingling as a
young Peter Parker finds his own place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

enough to help Spider-Man into


the MCU in a manner that seems
fitting for the MCUs overarching
narrative, while also being
relevant to the story at hand and
meaningful for both characters.
As a result, the film feels more
modest and self-contained
than most superhero films, and
maintains its own tone and
identity from start to finish.
While Spider-Man: Homecoming
is not completely free from the
repetitive structural elements
that can bedevil even the best
of comic-book movies, these are
kept to a minimum.This is largely
thanks to the film embracing the
self-referential opportunities
offered by taking a meta
approach, not only to the MCU,
but also to superhero films
as a whole. Deadpool was a
mischievously welcome spin on
the superhero movie formula,
and this knowing approach
also seems particularly fitting
for a teen-centric film such as
Homecoming, albeit it is not
Spider-Man: Peter Parker must neither the radioactive spider taken to such wildly exaggerated
Homecoming bite nor the death of Uncle lengths as Deadpools constant
Dir Jon Watts, US 2017 balance teen life Ben, Homecoming wisely focuses violation of The Fourth Wall.
on being a film about Peter The usual Marvel problem of
On UK release
with superpowered Parker trying to balance teen life underwhelming villains is solved
After the disappointment of Sam
Raimis Spider-Man 3 and the heroics with superpowered heroics. It
also weaves its new take on the
by Michael Keaton, an excellent
casting choice whose portrayal
subsequently underwhelming teen hero very cleverly into the of theVulture is intense and
reboot of the franchise in the MCU, with a plot that hinges, in unsettling, as well as opening
form of the two Andrew Garfield- met as Holland breathes new, part, on the Chitauri invasion up an interesting subtext about
led Amazing Spider-Man movies, youthful life into both Spidey and of the first Avengers movie and class and power in contemporary
most fans spider-senses were Peter Parker and shows that he the events of Civil War, revisited America. Its a theme that the
tingling when Tom Holland is more than capable of carrying here through a video diary, which film picks up on visually, too,
made his debut as the web- a whole film on his own. Holland offers an hilarious alternative with the gleaming skyscrapers of
slinging superhero in last years strikes a balance with his Marty version of the films central battle Manhattan (including Avengers
Marvel epic, Captain America: McFly-inspired performance, one from Peters own point of view. Tower) being seen almost
Civil War. With a solo movie that makes both his Spider-Man Likewise, any concerns exclusively in the distance:
for this new incarnation of and Peter Parker equally great: people may have had as to Peters NYC is firmly grounded on
Spider-Man being confirmed its by far the best cinematic whether Robert Downey Jrs the other side of the East River, in
immediately after Holland interpretation of both aspects of Iron Man would either be an Flushing and Forest Hills (where
stole the show (along with Caps the character that a single actor underwhelming cameo or be the low-rise suburban buildings
shield) in 2016, the expectations has commited to the big screen given excessive screen-time, pose problems of their own for
for Spider-Man: Homecoming were so far. will be pleased to know that the would-be web-slingers).
understandably high. Fortunately, Avoiding a retread of Spider- writers have struck the perfect The true strength of the film,
those expectations are largely Mans origin story by revisiting balance: Tony Stark is on screen however, is its vibe as a well-

F T356 65
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reviewS / FILMS

crafted teen movie, which is not


THe revereNDS review might add the film, not the
baldies). Witch trial shocker
only unique in terms of the MCU,
but also presents the audience
Mark of the Devil, Bigfoot with a young, diverse cast this
FTs resident man of the cloth REVEREND PETER LAWS creeper The Legend of Boggy is very much the Queens of 2017
dons his dog collar and faces the flicks that Church Creek and under-rated slasher rather than 1962 that works well
forgot! (www.theflicksthatchurchforgot.com) Madman all feature. Heck, together and feels both nuanced
even Faces of Death is on here and relatable; so much so that
I doubt youll ever see that on it makes one wonder if the late
Shudder Netflix. If you like your horror John Hughes would have scored a
Despite the wild claims, the disgusting and extreme, youll credit on this film, had he not met
Internet has not changed find We Are The Flesh and the such an untimely demise.
everything. I mean, I still Human Centipede movies too, There is seemingly no stopping
eat my Coco Pops with a among others. All are curated Marvel as they work their way
rudimentary spoon and I under handy collection through their properties and tie
cant see Google or Amazon headings too, from Giallo to them all into the ever-expanding
stuffing it into my mouth Hammer Movies to Slashics web of the MCU, and the result
through some new-fangled As with most streaming of the partial re-acquisition of
screen tube. What it has services, you can get a free the Spider-Man property puts
changed, however, is the way months trial; but I reckon the last three films from Sony to
we consume entertainment youll be tempted to pay the shame. Not only do Kevin Feige
and that includes the humble 4.99 a month to keep it going, & Co. have a better grasp of what
horror film. Gone are the since they add to the selection makes superhero films successful
days when wed trawl market every week. I just noticed in general, they also have a much
stalls for obscure secondhand
Italian horror flicks or
Its like a friend theyd put up a documentary
on the making of Fright Night,
greater understanding of what
makes Spider-Man one of the
spend all our pocket money rocking up and that clocks in at over two hours most beloved superheroes of all
importing a rare slasher long! Plus, the channel even time namely his relatability.
movie onVHS from a sweaty saying Hey! Look makes its own original content By focusing on Peter Parkers
fella in Texas. Now pretty and short films. problems coming to terms with his
much any scary film is a finger
at my horror film Youll find Shudder on superhero alter-ego after a brief
tap away so whats the best collection! most (but not all) platforms, stint with the Avengers, Spider-
place for getting your digital so you can watch these films Man: Homecoming becomes an
(and legal) horror fix? anywhere (although, if engaging coming-of-age story
Well, this month weve someone spots you on the bus about a teenager who is trying
got Shudder the streaming really tickles too: like the watching Human Centipede 2, to find his place in the world,
service claiming to offer the psychedelic 70s Omen rip-off dont expect them to sit next not only as a human being, but
very best in horror, thriller The Visitor (below) as to you!) Which is another also as a superhero; and it shows
and supernatural flicks. I was star-studded as it is utterly bonus of this service, I guess. that Marvel are very much aware
worried a pure horror service bizarre.Theres also the Shudder is a bit like a friend that with great power comes great
would be bulging with cheap brilliant and little seen rocking up saying Hey! Look responsibility.
modern horror knock-offs, the Blue Sunshine from 1978, at my horror film collection. Leyla Mikkelsen & David Sutton
likes of which I keep seeing about people who go bald In this case, they actually have HHHHH
on supermarket shelves.You and homicidal 10 years decent taste, and a few little
know endless found-footage after taking some bad LSD gems youve always wanted
movies or Conjuring clones. (looking lovely in HD I to see. Wish Upon
But whats actually on offer Dir John r leonetti, UK 2017
here is a lovely mix of recent On UK release from 28 July
and retro.
Of the newish films, there In this teen horror, outsider Clare
are solid choices like the (Joey King) has not had an easy
thoughtful and creepy Lake life since her mother committed
Mungo or the slick and nifty suicide when Clare was a little
The Inkeepers. I also enjoyed girl. With her grief-stricken
the monster movie Digging father (Ryan Phillippe) resorting
Up The Marrow, in which Ray to scavenging all manner of
Wise thinks hes found a race discarded items to sustain them,
of underground mutants. Clare is particularly embarrassed
Especially welcome is the when her fathers line of work
brilliant adaption of The brings him near her high school;
Whisperer in the Darkness by but then he finds something
the HP Lovecraft Historical interesting: a strange, ornate box
Society (which features with Chinese writing. It turns out
Charles Fort as a character, that the box grants wishes. Clare
no less!). asks for things that seemingly
The retro selection improve her life, but she soon
begins to realise that her wishes
are fulfilled at a terrifying cost.

67 F T356
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The trailer for Wish Upon left or the man whose identity he is
you feeling as if you are watching
the sales pitch for generic teen
trying to forget? Its a variation
on a classic theme identity DOcUMenTAry
horror #425, and the actual film crisis which is present in works
is just as underwhelming and as diverse as Hamlet and Philip lOnG STrAnGe Trip
formulaic as the trailer suggested. K Dicks A Scanner Darkly. In the
Dir Amir Bar-Lev, US 2017. Available to stream on Amazon Prime
It progresses exactly how you former, Shakespeare asks us to
would expect, and when the consider whether Hamlet is mad
For a band that split up over 20 years ago, following the premature
obligatory exposition overload with grief, or merely pretending,
death of Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead have had a pretty good
scene begins, you begin to nurse a or whether he goes mad as a
couple of years live celebrations and audio retrospectives, sell-out
wish of your own: that you would result of pretending to be so. In
tours of giant American stadia by surviving members, and now a
much rather be watching a film Dicks book, undercover narcotics
four-hour-plus documentary with Martin Scorseses name attached
about the origins of the demonic detective Bob Arctor finds himself to it. Rock n roll films are best approached with caution for
box than this bland high school developing a split personality as a every Last Waltz theres a Song Remains the Same but if anyone
horror.The blandness is not only result of the mind-bending nature deserves this kind of exhaustive treatment, its surely the Dead.
present in the story and structure, of his work. The film divided into six 45-minute acts begins in a world
but also extends to the acting; the When his psychotherapist just prior to the one evoked by Gary Lachman in his feature on
lead is not particularly convincing, is taken ill, Chris is advised the Summer of Love (pp40-47), a folkie California where the
and it feels as if she has not to see Professor Morland (the countercultural torch was being passed from the Beats to the
received much direction in how to wonderfully creepy Geoffrey bands, via Kesey and his Acid Tests. Dope smoking and banjo
properly evoke the significantly McGivern). Morland is a quite picking gave way to hallucinogens and electric guitars, and the
emotional reactions some scenes different type of shrink: matey, Warlocks metamorphosed via a divinatory encounter with a
are obviously supposed to convey; chatty and with a disconcertingly dictionary into the Grateful Dead, avatars of the new psychedelia.
the results are rather cringe- encyclopedic knowledge of the Director Amir Bar-Lev follows the band through its 30-year history
worthy at times. occult.They take walks together not always in strict chronology and sometimes through Dead-like
Not even the gore manages in the woods where Morland thematic excursions into such topics as the taping phenomenon
to be a redeeming factor, as the delights in pointing out the cosmic (giving away your music turns out to be the best marketing device
special effects are either poorly significance of the locations ever dreamt up) and the Deadhead subculture charting the highs,
executed, poorly filmed, poorly they visit. But, as you might have lows and surprises along the way. The bands flight from the Haight
edited or a combination of all guessed, Morland is not all that he to the country after the Summer of Love, the travelling circus of the
three. Ultimately, Wish Upon is a seems. Europe 72 tour, acid alchemist and mad scientist Owsley Stanleys
deeply unimpressive and generic This part of the film is where it terrifying Wall of Sound PA system, playing the Pyramids, and the
horror film that will leave fans shifts from being a psychological bizarre development of scoring a Top 40 hit and becoming a star turn
happy to pay the ghastly price the thriller into something else in Reagans America are all documented through archival footage
films demonic MacGuffin craves altogether.The occult and (some never before seen) and fascinating latter-day interviews.
if it meant that they could watch mythological references take it Essentially, though, this is the story of a family a dysfunctional
something better instead. from the interesting but familiar tribe of drugged-up misfits and anarchists united by a desire to
Leyla Mikkelsen into the realms of the deeply connect through music. According to their-long suffering English tour
mysterious.The foreboding sense manager Sam Cutler (the films most hilariously roguish raconteur),
HHHHH the pathologically anti-hierarchical, anti--celebrity Dead couldnt even
of being under threat from ancient
and unknowable forces reminded agree on whether or not they should pose for a publicity photo, so
The Ghoul me of the excellent first season of their attempts to deal with (or not) the mainstream world and the
Dir Gareth Tunley, UK 2017 the US crime drama True Detective music business were always going to be tricky. Its a story that starts
On UK release from 4 August and praise doesnt come much off full of innocence, creativity and laughter (lots of that, as when the
higher than that from me. British film crew supposed to be making a film about the band end
Having travelled down to London There are flaws, of course, but up dosed and filming their own legs).
from the north of England, they are minor.The final 20-odd But inevitably, it becomes a tale about Garcia, the charismatic
homicide detective Chris (Tom minutes are something of an anti- musical genius who rejected the entire notion of permanency and
Meeten) is briefed by a colleague climax, but having said that the legacy in favour of an exploding moment of what he described as
at a house where a double murder film does manage to sustain its fun (one irony being that the Dead ended up the most exhaustively
has occurred. Nothing unusual unsettling tone to the end. Overall, documented band of all time). And Garcias other refusal of any
about that except both victims this is an intriguing drama with sort of leadership of the Dead operation had begun to have
continued to move towards their a terrific central idea and which serious consequences by the 1990s: with all the employees,
assailant even after they had isnt content to take up residence crew and family members waiting on their monthly paychecks, the
been shot in the head. The only in any particular genre. Rather Dead couldnt stop, even if they wanted to. In the films last act,
suspect is an estate agent who is like executive producer Ben everything darkens as the consequences of Garcias unwillingness
to control the Frankensteins monster (a figure that had haunted his
receiving psychiatric care. Chris Wheatleys Kill List, it starts off in
imagination since childhood) hed created become chillingly clear.
goes undercover at the same one direction only to wrong-foot
And its in the last act that you realise Bar-Lev has, like the Dead,
psychotherapists to try to steal the viewer and subtly move off
been playing a long game, bringing his thematic chickens home to
a glance at the mans notes in in another. Not only that but it
roost in this American tragedy about the nature and cost of freedom.
the hope of tracking him down. does so in a way which, despite
Like the insatiable fans in the film, though, I was left wanting
However, as Chris attends session the fantastic and bizarre subject
more: four hours is nowhere near enough to tell all the stories, and a
after session, he starts to question matter, does in a way which keeps
documentary even one as good as this is never going to capture
his own life what he is doing, why the whole enterprise grounded in
that specific jouissance that make the Dead unique. But (sorry
is he doing it and even who he is. a recognisable and yet disturbed Jerry!) the music remains, and its never too late to get on the bus.
Theres a great conceit at the reality. Recommended.
David Sutton HHHHH
core of The Ghoul: is our hero the Daniel King
man he imagines himself to be HHHHH

F T356 67
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reviews / PODCASTS

sOUNDs PeCULiAr BRIAn J RoBB PRESENTS THE FORTEAN TIMES PODCAST COLUMN

have proved to be conclusive

A
s a medium, podcasts have been enjoying something of a boom over the past few years. enough to show that Bigfoot is
The democratisation of quality media production through high-specification computer real. The question of evidence
equipment has allowed a plethora of previously marginalised voices their own access to often comes up in Monster
what were once quaintly called the airwaves. Talk discussions why is the
In the past, broadcasting (reaching a wide audience from a single source) was heavily material always so ropey, the
regulated and controlled, mainly through frequency scarcity: only those authorised or licensed photos always out of focus
to have access to the airwaves were allowed to broadcast. In UK terms that, initially, meant the (despite the proliferation of
BBC, with commercial stations coming along in the 1960s. modern camera phones),
In terms of radio, there have been amateurs since the invention of the medium, reaching a and the eyewitness reports
crescendo with the offshore pirate pop stations of the 1960s that ultimately led to the BBC so inconsistent? All of this
launching Radio 1. For the longest time, Radio 4 (or NPR in the US) has been the default home and more is tackled from an
of quality spoken word content, whether that was drama, current affairs, or documentary radio. essentially scientific viewpoint,
Now, anyone with a microphone and an iPad, laptop, or computer and the right software making Monster Talk a nice
can produce a decent podcast and launch their work onto a waiting world. Not all of them are antidote to all those wild-and-
good, while many are far better than you might expect, sometimes surpassing the productions woolly-creature and weird world
of legitimate broadcasters like the BBC or NPR. When it comes to fortean topics, there are a podcasts out there.
host of podcasts out there, ranging from the polished and compelling to the amateurish and Other subjects covered
downright weird. SOUNDS PECULIAR is your insider guide to the best of the current podcasts over the years include the
dealing with fortean topics: all you have to do is sit back and listen... beast of Boggy Creek, sea
serpents, sleep paralysis, the
legends of Atlantis, Satanic
website, the podcast is now topic. Recent contributors panics, vampires, demonically-
under the auspices of Skeptic have included psychologist Ray possessed cats (!), and the
Magazine and is hosted by the Hyman on the US government modern folkloric figure of
entertaining duo of Blake Smith psychic soldiers programme, Slenderman a positive feast
and Dr Karen Stollznow. Guy Lion Playfair on the Enfield for those of a fortean bent.
The podcast aims to interview Poltergeist, folklorist Mark And if you are interested in
scientists and investigators Norman on the phenomenon monster movies, try episode
who have focused on of black hounds, Joe Gisondi 124 (from March 2017) titled
cryptozoological and legendary on Bigfoot hunter culture (a Crush, Crumble, and Chomp!
creatures, taking in favourites recurring topic for Monster in which the team interview Ed
like the Loch Ness Monster, Talk), and researcher Sharon Godziszewski, author of a book
lake creatures, werewolves Hill on the stone tape theory. on Kaiju, those giant Japanese
(in the context of Darwin and As this suggests, Monster movie monsters who love to
Podcast: Monster Talk evolution), el Chupacabra, Talk has extended its remit spend their time trampling on
www.skeptic.com/podcasts/ aliens, and Pterosaurs. beyond cryptozoology to take urban centres.
monstertalk/ A full text transcript on the on all kinds of forteana. The
Host: Blake Smith, Karen website accompanies each first years of the podcast (140 Strengths: In-depth,
Stollznow, Ben Radford (early episode (a treasure trove for episodes are freely available scientifically driven discussion
episodes only) researchers) and a set of notes to download) did honour the and interviews of true value.
Episodes Count: 140 offer follow-up opportunities, focus suggested by the title, Weaknesses: Monster Talk,
Format: Interview, Discussion linking to websites, news but, as the hosts discovered, while having a sense of
Established: July 2009 stories, and other resources there is only so much that can humour, can be a bit po-faced
Frequency: Fortnightly concerning the specific topic be said about the key topics of and occasionally dry.
Topics: Cryptozoology of each episode. Monster cryptozoology. There are always Recommended Episodes:
Talk was a winner of the 2012 new discoveries to cover and Ep19: Cthulhu Rises (focusing

I
t may sound like a podcast Parsec Award for Best Fact new experts to interview, but on the monsters of HP
aimed at monster movie Behind the Fiction Podcast, the when youve debunked the core Lovecrafts fiction); Ep25:
fans (for that you need shows third nomination in the subjects, it makes sense to The Rise of Bat Boy (a Weekly
to turn to Monster Attack category. The show has also cast your net wider. World News favourite); Ep49:
or Monster Kid Radio), been nominated for the 2013 As youd expect, given its Internet Video Hoaxes (inside
but Monster Talk is in fact Ockham Award for outstanding skeptical stance, Monster Talk the world of hoaxers); Ep60:
Sasquatch: Ketchum If You
a podcast focusing on skeptical achievement. takes a solidly scientific view
Can (Dr Disotell returns
cryptozoology, the weird world The sound quality on the of the world of cryptozoology.
to debunk more Bigfoot
of obscure creatures and early 2009 episodes is variable The very first episode on Bigfoot nonsense); Ep110: Tell Me
monsters from folklore. The first at first, but the team behind (and relatives, like the Orang Strange Things (on the
episode, almost a decade ago, the podcast have learned Pendek and the Yowie) presents mysterious life of Montague
launched with a discussion of through experience, and it is a lengthy interview with Summers).
Bigfoot, covering the history, now a polished presentation, Professor Todd Disotell, who
Verdict: A thoroughly
evidence, and exploits of often led by some introductory recounts his extensive study of enjoyable, serious-minded
Bigfoot hunters all from a chat followed by an in-depth supposed Bigfoot samples be take on the wide, weird world
sceptical perspective. Initially a interview with someone who it biological residue, fur, blood, of cryptozoology and far
spin-off of the Monster Science is an expert on the shows or whatever none of which beyond. Recommended.

68 F T356
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Faithful Hachiko Little people down


I was interested in the stories of under
Dogged Devotion [Ft353:8-9],
particularly the reference to the I just came across the following
Japanese dog Hachiko, whose snippet of folk belief from the
story every Japanese knows, Ngadjuri, an Aboriginal nation in
as do many others around the South Australia:
world, thanks to the Richard Gere there were a number of
movie, which you referenced. spirit beings Small human-
I live in Tokyo and often pass like creatures called muripapa
through Shibuya station, the site danced around in circles on misty
of Hachikos devotion.Theres a mornings; and after a couple of
statue of Hachiko just outside the days, round grassy patches could
station, at the famous scramble be seen, made by their dancing
intersection. When you want to feet.They were believed to lead
meet someone in Shibuya, you just people astray, even to make them
say, Lets meet at Hachiko.To mad, or to abduct their children.
recap the story, Hachiko walked to [RM Berndt, Panaramittee
the station every day to meet his Magic, Records of the South
master returning from work, and Australian Museum, 20 (1987),
they walked home together. After 15-28: 18.]
the master died and thus didnt Berndt based this article on
get off the train one day, Hachiko fieldwork he conducted in the
continued to go to the station early 1940s. His main Ngadjuri
every day at the same time, would informant was Barney Gunaia
wait for a while, and then go home Ngadjibuna Waria (1873-1948).
alone. So hes loved not just for his Marinus van der Sluijs
devotion, but because people feel By email
sorry for him due to his 10 years of
unrequited waiting.
However, I have another take
Sirius A, B, C
on the story. I think that Hachiko The Hierophants Apprentice
was not so dumb. He went to the is largely right about the Sirius
station every day for a reason Strange tree dolls system [Ft352:52-53], except for
which was that his master did get the fact Sirius B is not cool but
off the train every day.That is, the I took this photograph on 7 June 2017 in the Romford area of east very hot and dense. Sirius C, if
mans ghost got off the train every London. The two dolls, one apparently male and the other female, it exists, would be cool, being a
day. And then the two of them were hanging roughly 9ft (2.7m) up a tree in a small residential side brown dwarf. Sirius B is the reason
would walk home together. street. There were remnants of other dolls in neighbouring trees. that life is unlikely around Sirius
Bob Poulson Does anyone have any idea what might be going on, given how high as to be a white dwarf it must have
Tokyo, Japan up they were? It doesnt seem likely children placed them there and novaed at some point, throwing
the remnant dolls seem to suggest that whoever is responsible is off shells of hot gas.This gas
revisiting regularly to place new dolls, as previous ones become would have sterilised the whole
Cursed car and weather-worn. system. Sirius is the brightest star
Roman coins Daniel Holmes, by email in our skies, Canopus the second
brightest. Canopus was the home
The book Matt Salusbury was star of Arakis/Dune in Frank
trying to remember, entitled India, which had trading links red and green underground Herberts Dune novels.
Strange something [Ft354:70- with Arabs and Romans. Coins passages within some sort of Kevan Hubbard
71], was Stranger than Science might have spread, perhaps city. In his book, Keep Out: Top Oxford
by Frank Edwards (Pan, London not as currency, but as amulets, Secret Places Governments Dont
1959), now available as a pdf jewellery, or sources of precious WantYou To Know About, Nick
download. I remember as a child metal. Redfern includes a letter from an
Corrie haunting
reading it, including the tale of Raymond Vickers unnamed Norwegian politician Regarding poltergeist activity
Franz Josephs cursed car being Birkby, West Yorkshire describing an underground at the old Coronation Street set
destroyed in an air raid. Good to facility in Norway, divided into [Ghostwatch, Ft354:18]: Flecky
read that it is still in one piece in a sectors of red, blue and green, Bennetts haunted Manchester
Viennese museum.
Colour clue designed to accommodate two Canal Walk goes past the wall of
Perhaps the most publicised of million people in the event of a the now abandoned set, which is
As for Roman coins being found alien abductions aside from cataclysmic event. Could Betty directly over the road from the
on Okinawa [Ft350:13], perhaps Betty and Barney Hills was Andreasson been taken to this St Johns Gardens, site of tens
not surprising.The Japanese, and that of Betty Andreasson in underground facility in Norway of thousands of burials. Flecky
Ryuku kingdoms of Okinawa, 1967. While under hypnosis, during her 1967 abduction? himself believes the hauntings at
traded with China and Southeast Betty described being taken Greg May the old set stemmed directly from
Asia, which areas traded with to an unknown location with Orlando, Florida that burial ground, possibly due to

fT356 73
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letters

some necromantic nefariousness relationship between God is shown a later battle


by the poet John Byrom and his and humanity. Fearful for scene in which the wood
Hell Fire associates. Also not far the elimination of the Jewish of the Cross, having been
from that location is the most covenant, Solomon promptly stolen by the Persian king
haunted modern office block had it buried, but after 14 Chosroes, is won back for
on YouTube the call centre generations it was dug up and Christendom by Heraclius,
where all sorts of poltergeist used to build the Cross of Christ, Emperor of the Eastern
activity were recorded on then buried again following Roman Empire in 615.
security cameras. If anyone finds the Crucifixion only to be Needless to say, in such
themselves with a loose couple rediscovered by Helena. a web of motifs there are
of hours in Manchester they Pieros frescos, however, plenty of variations. In
could do worse than seek out remind us that even before his the Orthodox tradition,
Flecky Bennett and his macabre mothers archological coup, the Cross was made from
ghost walks. the imagery of the Cross was the wood of three trees
Christopher Willcox already bound into the story (cedar, cypress and pine),
By email of Constantines identity as thus fulfilling a passage
triumphant Christian emperor. from the book of Isaiah,
Before the battle of the Milvian and had first been used in
Deadwood revisited Bridge in 312, the pagan the building of the Temple
As a suitably fortean example Constantine received a dream in Jerusalem before
of Christian folklore, I offer vision in which he saw a sign being discarded during
this footnote to Searching for of Christ with the message in Herods rebuilding. A jolly
the Place of the Skull,Ted this sign [you shall] conquer motif often appearing in
Harrisons excellent article (see Ft275:49). In Pieros early depictions of the
[Ft352:46-51].You reproduce depiction (an innovative night/ Crucifixion shows the
one of the frescos from Piero dawn scene) an alarmingly skull of Adam at the base
della Francesca History of the foreshortened angel swoops of the mound of Golgotha,
True Cross series in Arezzo, towards the sleeping Emperor, making a rather neat
illustrating the excavation and holding out a tiny cross of light connection to the idea that
proving of Christs Cross under (virtually invisible before the wood of the Cross grew
the auspices of the Empress recent restoration) as the bronze statue of Sol (altered out of seeds planted in his
Helena, mother of the first sign, and in the subsequent from its earlier identity as a dead mouth.
Christian emperor of Rome, but scene Constantine brandishes portrait of Nero why waste Oh, and of course theres the
Pieros work presents a fuller a similarly small cross in his a good bit of public art just tradition that Jesus, being a
history, drawing on a sequence victory over his rival Maxentius. because the dynasty has carpenter, himself fashioned
of legends about the wood of (Traditionally, he had it shown changed?) Sol also appears on the sacred wood into the Cross
the Cross best known in the on the shields of his troops.) some of Constantines coins and of his own crucifixion.This is
Western Church from The Golden Early accounts are rather vaguer can be identified on the shields not to mention the legends and
Legend, Jacobus daVaragines about the nature of the dream of soldiers carved on the Arch miracle tales that attach to the
immensely popular and sign, which may have been the of Constantine rather than the fragments of the Cross dispersed
influential compilation of the Chi Ro, Christs initials, which is symbolic cross that Christian across Christendom as holy relics.
lives of the saints and the rich shown on the Emperors helmet legend might lead us to expect. We do know that the portion
non-biblical traditions of popular on a contemporary medallion Of course, these complications respectfully encased in silver and
Christianity. and coin. Another version do not appear in the legend left in Jerusalem by Helena was
Here the story begins with places Constantines vision of the True Cross, which picks a famous object of veneration
the death of Adam, whose son during the day, when he looks up the story with Helena, by the 380s, when Egeria, a lady
Seth is instructed to bury three up to see a cross rising from the Constantines mother, travelling (possibly a nun from France or
seeds from the Tree of the light of the Sun (arguably, this to the Holy Land to locate Portugal) describes seeing it
Knowledge of Good and Evil (or might describe a real sun dog the real object which has during her pilgrimage. According
alternatively from three trees sighting). become the symbol of her sons to her account, it was removed
that had grown from seeds of The solar imagery fits the triumphant Christian identity. from its casket and placed on a
the Tree of Mercy) from Eden period rather better than the Piero shows the decidedly table, where the faithful could
beside his fathers grave (or in cross does Sol Invictus (the unpleasant incident where process to kiss it and touch it with
his mouth). From these grew Unconquerable Sun) was, the only local individual who their foreheads and eyes. During
the tree whose wood would along with Mithras, a popular knows where the crosses are this ceremony it was firmly held
eventually become the Cross, deity among the Roman buried, a Jew named Judas, is by the Bishop of Jerusalem and
but first it was cut down and military and the triumphal imprisoned in a well until he closely guarded by deacons, as on
used to build a bridge.Visiting Arch of Constantine built (well, reveals the secret (and converts an earlier occasion someone had
King Solomon, the Queen remodelled from an older to Christianity). Following the taken the opportunity to bite off
of Sheba (obviously coming monument) to commemorate Finding and Proving of the a piece.
into the story as a pre-echo of the victory over Maxentius Cross (where Piero depicts its Oh, and Mark Twains
Helena) recognised its sanctity, shows no Christian imagery but presence restoring a semi-naked trenchant observation that
knelt down and prayed and seems to have been positioned young man to life, rather than European churches contained
told Solomon that eventually in alignment to the (now lost) the variant version where it sufficient relics of the holy wood
this wood would change the Colossus, a 30-metre (100ft) heals a well-born lady) there to make 50 new crosses was by no

74 fT356
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means original. In his Trait des The point is, perhaps, that was a part. carried far enough. Consider the
Reliques of 1543 the Protestant even Bible-believing Christians We are similarly stuck with evil scientist whose computer
reformer Jean Calvin had already tend to read the Bible as stating the problem Hambling poses, were inhabiting (Evil 1). His
written that: There is no abbey what they think it ought to say for there is no objective place universe is subject to the same
so poor as not to have a specimen. rather than what it actually from which to observe what statistical argument as ours,
In some places there are large says, because, like all too many is real or simulated for the so hes almost certain to be in
fragments, as at the Holy Chapel researchers, they are fitting the definitions that we might use to a computer belonging to Evil
in Paris, at Poitiers, and at Rome, evidence to the conclusion rather demarcate these concepts are 2. In turn, Evil 2 is in Evil 3s
where a good-sized crucifix is than (as it ought to be) the other rooted in the language that we computer who is in Evil 4s
said to have been made of it. In way round. are born with and which frame computer and so on. This infinite
brief, if all the pieces that could Martin Jenkins all our perceptions. Indeed chain of nested simulations
be found were collected together, London nothing makes this clearer than becomes slowly less likely as it
they would make a big shipload. the frequent claim that science extends into the billions.
Yet the Gospel testifies that a is objective, as such claims One way to avoid this problem
single man was able to carry it.
Simulated universes always return to definitions of is to pick an arbitrary evil
Gail Nina Anderson As ever, David Hambling offers objectivity that are themselves scientist (say Evil N) whose
Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne us food for thought.This time not objective but are part and universe is a simulation in
asking if we might all be living parcel of a pre-existing worldview. the computer of a previously
Ted Harrisons article on the in a simulated world, such as Somehow this reminds me of unsuspected Evil Zero. The
search for Golgotha [Ft352:46-51] the one portrayed in The Matrix. Wittgensteins comment about key is that Evil Zero is living
was of his usual high standard; but [Ft353:14]. We can start with the man who buys a second (to use the term loosely) in our
there is one point he missed. He Wittgensteins example: the real copy of the same newspaper to simulated universe! This makes
quotes Rodger Dusatko as saying and the false apple. He suggests check if the first one is accurate. the infinite simulation chain
that three of the four Gospels that if there is no way of telling I am referring here to the real neatly into a finite circle and
testify that the Temple curtain which is the real and the false Wittgenstein, not his simulation. also has the added benefit of
ripped...The Gospels also testify apple, then the concept of real Mike Harding removing the need for that pesky
that the centurion and those with and false has no meaning, there London original universe which was
him on Golgotha saw the curtain being no way of determining always very unlikely (billions
rip (my italics). which concept applies. However, I read Prisoners of the Matrix to one) anyway. Of course its
The first part of this statement Hambling goes further by quoting with interest as it is a subject I possible this simulation ring is
is true. However, only one Gospel Marvin Minskys suggestion that have considered happily. One itself in a computer that is being
Matthews refers to what the we might be alert for errors point raised made me think simulated in another computer,
watchers on Golgotha saw, and and flaws in a simulation that there is a flaw in one of and so on. This could lead to a
it is ambiguous. It refers to an that do not follow the laws of the general predicates of the very tangled multiverse. Sadly,
earthquake, the ripping of the physics. But if we are living in argument for fake universes.The given the number of computers
curtain and the opening up of a simulation that frames our idea that we live in a fake universe involved, its unavoidable that
tombs, resulting in the rising up experience and theories, then is implied by mathematics, which at least one of them is going to
of dead saints (though only after there wouldnt be any errors of course must come from this crash any time now but would
Jesuss resurrection). It then and flaws, for these would be same fake universe. What then if we notice?
says: Now when the centurion the laws that we understood as the real universe was modelled on Rahn Kollander
and those with him, who were determining our world. Minskys different laws? What of our fake Minneapolis, Minnesota
keeping watch over Jesus, saw the observation assumes that we are universe then? We cannot
earthquake and what took place absolutely certain of these laws, make assumptions based
they were terrified (Matthew even though they have changed on evidence that by
27:54 NRSV). somewhat over the years. So definition is fake. It is a
This raises more than one whose laws hold true Newtons, circular argument. If the
question. How do you see an Einsteins, Bohrs, or those of a universe we are in is fake
earthquake? Does what took young physicist who, as I write then the mathematics
place specifically include the may be completing a world- is arguably fake too.
ripping of the curtain? (And there shaking PhD? Maybe the real universe
is a doubt whether the curtain In the Matrix example, the real is five-dimensional or
was at the entrance to the temple, world is one in which humans even partly based on
as Rodger Dusatko claims, or are fed illusions via machines, structures that our
within the temple, at the entrance which of course can be seen as a fake universe does not
to the Holy of Holies.) Why was metaphor for all sorts of belief entertain? No model can
everyone watching the Temple systems, science included.Thus reflect these difficulties.
rather than the main event, the these illusions emerge from Simon van Someren
Crucifixion? the real world, in which the London
However, the crucial issue production of a simulation for
is that all three Gospels agree ulterior motives is an aspect. I found the statistical
that there was darkness over the There was no other world; there argument that we are
land at this point. How could the was only the world of the Matrix. most likely living in a Eric was destined never to learn his dazzling
MARTIN ROSS

observers have seen the curtain Some might step outside the computer simulation guitar solo had opened up a window to
rip, even from 330m, in total simulations but still be in the real interesting, but I dont another dimension.
darkness? world, of which the simulation think this theory is

fT356 75
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IT haPPeneD To me...
First-hand accounts from FT readers and browsers of www.forteantimes.com

Parallel Life? happy time, as I have now, so Dirty Talk are a magnificent Mars-red
it was not a reverie of thwarted colour that Southern Utah is
I had a bizarre experience last wishes. There were three of us Back in the late 1980s I renowned for.
year of what I can only call going up that river and I only managed to track down a copy Upon arriving I noticed that
a Parallel Life. If I can make paid for two. of a fairly obscure dance record I had the place to myself as
sense of it in order to explain it A similar but much briefer that was being played in certain there were no other cars,
even to myself, it is based upon experience happened some 30 underground London clubs of campers or tents. Answering a
the following notion: that in the years ago, at the gates of king the time. The record was Dirty call of nature, I headed towards
quantum universe, everything Alfreds College in Winchester. Talk [1982] by klein & MBO, the base of the cliffs amongst
that can happen does happen; When I was 17 (Im 65 now) I and for a short while it became some bushes. Suddenly the air
that there are parallel lives, became obsessed with going a favourite of mine which I was filled with the most awful
some of which are only slightly to this teacher-training college played to death, eventually din. It appeared to be coming
different from each other. This even though I knew nothing tiring of it and relegating it to a straight down from the sky
might be pseudo-scientific tosh, about Winchester, nor could storage box where it has lain and resonating from the very
but it is the only way I can put have pointed it out on a map. forgotten ever since. cliffs. My first feeling was that I
it into shape. I daydreamed about the place On waking one morning wasnt welcome and that I was
My wife Margaret and I were intensely, but equally recently, for some reason somehow being sacrilegious by
on a boat trip up the River Wye intense family the record was on my peeing there. I felt as if I were
in Wales, about an hour both circumstances mind; so strong was being watched from above and
ways. Most of the time I was stopped me this impression bolted for my car. The noise
existing in a state of what I can applying and that I wondered was very loud and sounded a
only call dual consciousness. so I went to why I should bit like the fighting machines
Ive had fragments of this Newcastle suddenly be in the 2005 War of the Worlds
before, but this time it was instead. thinking of it movie. I dived into my car
ongoing. Not frightening in any Many years after all these and headed away. My iPhone
way, but fascinating. Although later when years. Soon after was plugged into the car but
I was fully awake and sitting I visited arriving for work I never for a moment thought
directly opposite Margaret the writer at my art studio I to record the noise I just
at a small table, and fully Christine Hartley in turned the radio on to wanted to be away from there. I
aware of the commentary by Winchester Hospital, BBC6 Music as usual, just in drove a few hundred yards and
the boat driver about how we I wandered out the back time to hear DJ Lauren Laverne paused, rolled down my window
were sailing between different and was astounded to find announce the next record, a and listened. The sound had
types of rock of two different myself at the very gates of listeners choice... Dirty Talk by stopped. I cant really convey
counties, it was as if the the college. for a moment klein & MBO! I have never heard how loud and all-pervasive the
Parallel Alan crossed over into I felt as though I were in a this record on the radio or to noise was. I looked around to
me, with all of his layers of pulsating stream of energy my knowledge anywhere else see if I could find the source
memories and experience. Or and imagery, as if all the for almost 30 years. I was so of it. Nothing. There were no
maybe it was me crossing into possibilities, personalities stunned that I had to sit down. other cars, machinery or people
Parallel Alans world? and events of the life I would Mark Wardel around.
The first crossover lasted a have experienced had I gone London On returning home that
few minutes and I kept thinking there were coursing through evening Id mostly forgotten
I must remember this, must me. This was not a case of a Clearfield noise about the experience, which
bring it all back with me, but poignant, gentle But... What seems very odd. Later I
only fragments of memory If? This was visceral, more like In July 2015 I was visiting remembered it and also
stayed. Then I came out of it having my hands clenched on friends in the four Corners recalled hearing of other
and told Margaret what had an electrified fence as I tried region [in the western US]. strange sky noises encountered
gone on. I knew she wouldnt to go over to somewhere that One weekday everyone was around the world. A quick
think me a nutter. But then I I shouldnt. Anyone watching busy or at work, so I decided YouTube search identified a
(or he) kept drifting in and out. might have thought I was to visit Moab, Utah, for some clip called Strange sounds in
Each time there was a mass of doing a kind of St vitus Dance sightseeing and hiking. Id the sky over Clearfield, Utah,
memories and experiences that because I was drunk. But a been to Moab a few times March 16th 2013. This was
were similar to, but not exactly whole Other Life which had run before and decided to have a the same as the sound Id
the same, as those I have now parallel to my own seemed to picnic lunch at a place called heard earlier that day. Upon
and here. Parallel Alan had a crisscross inside me, like a Williams Bottom. Its along the hearing it, the hairs on the back
different house, different car piece of Celtic knot work. Colorado River to the northwest on my neck stood up and I
and lived in a different part of Im sure many others have of town. Williams Bottom has felt very spooked. I dont know
the country. for the duration had similar experiences, and a campsite amongst some what the cause is. Could it be
I had the full backup of his Id be interested to hear about sparse trees at the bottom of atmospheric or geological? In
memories. I tried to remember them, with any explanation tall, red sandstone cliffs. I had any case, it scared the hell out
them but they floated away. I they might have. camped there before several of me that day!
know that M was in that Other Alan Richardson times. It really is a beautiful Ian Chesney
Life too. And that was also a By email spot and the rocks and cliffs Edinburgh

76 fT356
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SImULaCRa CoRneR

Harriet Sturgeon glover (aged 12) photographed this striking tree


skull.

fiona Ogilvie, on holiday in Menorca, came across this rock


protruding from the Cami de Cavalls route between Punta Prima
and Torre dAlcalfar.

A skull-like pebble at Dalnamein in Perthshire, photographed by


Steven Robertson.

Linda Cody came across this dirt-eating gnome at Chimney Rock,


North Carolina. I loved the fact that he had a tongue, she said.

fT356 77
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COMING
NEXT Strange deathS UNUSUAL WAYS OF SHUFFLING OFF THIS MORTAL COIL

MONTH Victor Sibson tried to blow During a hunt near Hwange National
his brains out with a gun Park in Zimbabwe on 19 May, a
but only succeeded in shooting group of hunters led by Theunis
his girlfriend Brittany-Mae Haag, Botha accidentally walked into the path
22 after the bullet passed through of a breeding herd of elephants. Three
his head and into her chest. The elephant cows stormed the group
shooting happened at the couples and Botha, 51, shot at them. A
apartment in Anchorage, Alaska, fourth cow stormed them from the
last April. Sibson and Haag were side and one of the hunters shot
hospitalised, but Haag died the her after shed lifted Botha with
same day. Sibson survived and her trunk. The shot was fatal and
was charged with second-degree as the cow collapsed, she fell on
murder. He could face up to 99 Botha, killing him. Botha, who leaves
years in prison if convicted. metro. behind a wife and five children, was
co.uk, 27 May 2017. a well-known hunter from Tzaneen
the invisible college Jonathan Mthethwa, a pastor with the Saint
in South Africa, and often travelled to
the US to recruit wealthy Americans for
robert boyle and the 17th of the Last Days Church in Zimbabwe, trophy-hunting in Southern Africa. He was a
century proto-forteans attempted to recreate a biblical scene on good friend of Scott van Zyl, 44, who was
13 May by walking on water in this case killed by crocodiles in Zimbabwe a month
the ominously nicknamed Crocodile River. earlier. news24.com, 21 May; NY Post, 22
He is said to have walked out about 100 May 2017.
feet (30m) when three crocodiles attacked
him. They finished him in a couple of Cemetery worker Manuel Gomes, 56, died
minutes, said church member Deacon after he blacked out and fell into a grave
Nkosi. All that was left of him when they he had just dug in Freixo, near Ponte de
finished eating him was a pair of sandals Lima, Portugal. He lay unseen for hours
and his underwear floating on the water. We until a woman passing by came across him
still dont understand how this happened with his hands cold and lips turned blue.
because he fasted and prayed the whole Medics were unable to revive him and he
week. Zimbabwe Today, via dailypost.ng, was declared dead in hospital. D.Mirror, 16
13 May; aol.com, 15 May 2017. Feb 2017.
town of a magic dream In early May, a 49-year-old man from A schoolgirl obsessed with hygiene died
arthur machen and bram Yokohama injured his ankle while hill- after being overcome by fumes from
stoker in whitby walking. Unable to continue, he contacted Right Guard deodorant while on a family
the emergency services and a rescue holiday. Paige Daughtry, 12, overused it

+
helicopter was dispatched. However, due after a swim on 18 July 2016 and butane
to the downforce that the rotor blades and isobutane affected her heart rhythm.
generated, nearby rocks and braches She was found face down in a caravan
were disturbed, resulting in a landslide the family was renting in Fleetwood,
boxing kangaroos, that buried the man and killed him. Lancashire, and died two hours later in
vanishing people japantoday.com, 15 May 2017. hospital. Times, D.Mail, 30 Mar 2017.
platypus venom, Three Daish jihadists setting up an ambush A South Korean man was fatally poisoned
anD muCh more in a bitterly contested area of northern after eating toads. He was among a group
Iraq were killed by a herd of stampeding of men who caught five amphibians at

fortean
boars. Sheikh Anwar al-Assi, a chief of a reservoir near the city of Daejeon in
the local Ubaid tribe and supervisor of March. Mistaking the animals for edible
anti-Daesh forces, said the jihadists were bullfrogs, the men cooked and ate them at

TIMES
hiding on the edge of a field about 50 a restaurant days later. The 57-year-old man
miles (80km) southwest of Kirkuk when the began vomiting soon after and was rushed
boars overwhelmed them on 23 April. Five to hospital, where he died the next morning.
other jihadists were injured. The group was The mans friends showed similar poisoning

357
poised to attack a band of local tribesmen symptoms but survived. Bufotenin,
who had fled to nearby mountains since commonly found in toad toxin, was found
jihadists seized the town of Hawija three in the leftovers of the meal. This can be
years ago. The jihadists had summarily fatal when ingested in large amounts, but it
executed 25 people attempting to flee their is also a natural psychedelic, giving rise to
would-be caliphate in the three days before a subculture where some lick toads in an
the boars attacked. usatoday.com, 25 April attempt to achieve a hallucinogenic high.
2017. BBC News, 21 April 2017.
ON SALE 17 AuguSt 2017
Could The Writers Bureau's
Writer of the Year 2017
Sarah Plater

You
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Writer?
Marian Ashcroft talks with Susie Busby, Principal of The Writers Bureau, Britains
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Who do you think can be a writer then, Susie? grafting. And in our experience, grafting beats pure talent every
Well, a writer is someone who communicates ideas through time.
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were all writers to some degree. Okay, but if someone already has that grafting spirit,
where does The Writers Bureau fit in?
But can you really say someone is a writer if they text Well, to stick with sporting analogies, for any student ready to go
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But you must be looking for something believe a writer must do three things. Firstly, read lots, and
Determination. Apart from a reasonable level of written English, widely. Next, write as much as possible ideally every day. And
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