The eighth Weird Weekend was a real stonker. Our good friend Helen 'Helen of Troy' Lester offered to write it up for us. Yes please, we said, not realising that she would deliver us with a manuscript the size of a small novel!

But here it is, in all its glory.....

And so to the final stint - Sunday

The first speaker - Paul Vella - 40 Years of the Bigfoot Patterson/Gimlin Film

Paul is a forensic computing expert witness. He dealt with the physical evidence for the existence of Bigfoot in last year’s talk, which should be considered as Part One. This year is Part Two - the Film, as it is the 40th Anniversary of the film being taken. There has been no other film of this quality in the last 40 years, which is something that fuels the argument of sceptics and debunkers.

It must be remembered that there is a difference between 16mm film and video.

Paul considers Patterson to have been in the right place at the right time. To put this into perspective, there has been only one video of a drive-by shooting in a year where 500 happened in the same area.

Paul listed the various topics he would be discussing in his talk, including the Build-Up, the Players, Timeline of Events, Film itself, Film Site, Dynamics and Analysis, together with the Debunkers and Debunking.

Lots of footprints have been cast over the years in the area in which the film was made. 1958 was the year the term ‘Bigfoot’ was coined. In 1958, in the area of Louse Camp, about a mile from Bluff Creek, disturbances were reported where huge oil drums were found thrown over the gully. The humans working in the area used machinery to move these drums around. Machinery that could not be moved by humans had been thrown around, indicating tremendous strength.

The first casts were taken in concrete.

This was not the first time Bigfoot had been discussed in papers, however. There were news stories going back to the 1700s.

In 1964, Pat Graves found tracks in the same area.

In 1963, Al Hodgson took casts of prints in Bluff Creek.

There were over 30 sightings in the few years leading up to the film.

In considering the film, one must consider the characters of those involved. Roger Patterson died in 1972 of Hodgkin’s Disease. The condition was in remission at the time the film was made. Bob Gimlin is still alive, now 76 or 77 years of age. Gimlin is an old horse man, who now works in a garage and talks about his motorcycling exploits with ‘Bob’ Knieval. Neither man made much money from the film, and Gimlin himself only received a small amount from Patterson’s widow. Certainly, neither man made a fortune from it.

The film itself was made on Friday 20th October, 1967, at approximately 1.30pm. There is approximately 59.5 seconds of film, depending on what speed the film was taken. Gimlin and Patterson had been in the area for three weeks, shooting footage for a documentary. They rode around a corner of the creek, and the creature was seen some 30 foot away. The horses bucked and some bolted. Patterson himself stated he stepped off his pony. He got the camera out and started running after the creature. Gimlin pursued the creature on his horse for some yards, until it was lost as it went up the mountainside, where the horse could not follow. Gimlin wanted to continue following the creature, but Patterson did not. They returned to Louse Camp, about a mile away, which is probably where they had left their truck, and returned to take a plaster cast of the tracks. More footage was shot, showing these tracks and the casts being taken, but the film was lost in 1972 at the BBC. The footage followed the tracks up the mountainside.

Late that evening, they drove to Eureka, which is about a 30-minute drive, to mail the film. A call was made to Yakima Times Standard, and the story was published the next day, under the banner “Mrs. Bigfoot is Filmed”.

On Saturday 21st October, 1967, at around 5am, Patterson and Gimlin were awoken by rain. Gimlin wanted to go out and secure the prints, but Patterson thought the rain would soon subside. Gimlin was too concerned about the tracks, so he got up and tried to protect them with cardboard boxes. However, the boxes were too water sodden and soggy, and proved useless; so Gimlin tried to cover them with bark and leaves. Gimlin was ill, probably suffering from exhaustion, so they returned home.

On the Friday 20th October, Patterson had made a second telephone call requesting people in British Columbia to bring tracking dogs to track the creature. They refused.

On Sunday 22nd October, with Gimlin ill in bed, Patterson, Green, Dahinden and McClarin watched the film over and over again - damaging the film in the process through constant re-running. There is a problem with the timeline in developing the film. Most shops were closed on Saturdays, and none opened on Sundays. Furthermore, film developing was a lengthy and costly process. It may be that De Atley simply threw enough money around to get the film developed so quickly.

On Monday 23rd October, Lyle Laverty visited Bluff Creek and saw the tracks.

The film was shown at Vancouver, and anthropologists and zoologists dismissed it as a man in a monkey suit.

However, the footage of Bigfoot on the film is the very last thing on the film. There is footage of other things Patterson and Gimlin recorded. Unlike video, film cannot be rewound and re-recorded over. There is no sign of anything else on the film - no ‘rehearsals’ or practice shots.

The sandy area seen in the footage is now gravely. Extensive flooding has brought logs down, and trees have been destroyed. The sand has been washed away. Footprints can still be found in the area, but not as many as before.

Gimlin described the musculature of the creature as being that of a quarter horse.

Calf muscles can be seen to bulge as the creature walks. This would be impossible to fake, as gorilla suits do not have muscles.

It must be remembered - in the light of other claims about the footage - that the road to Bluff Creek is a very dusty road, about 25-30 miles long. It takes hours to drive through it. Paul reported that the brakes failed on one of their cars.

Details can be extrapolated from the video footage, measurements can be taken and models made. It shows the creature was about 102 foot from the camera. It also shows that this is the film of something that is leaving tracks. The first 20 seconds of the footage are very shaky, as by his own admission, Patterson was running. The camera was a very basic one, lacking even the rubber eye cup over the viewfinder. Computer mapping enables the production of an animation which allows the film to be viewed (as an animation) from any angle. Measuring the timing between the jerks of the camera, given that it is known Patterson was running, enables calculations as to the film speed.

The film footage shows that the creature is getting faster, with the gaps between each footstep getting larger. For height comparison, McClarin is 6’51/2. Bigfoot can be identified as being taller than this. Height calculations, working from the height of Patterson and the angle of filming, estimate the height of the creature as being between 6’4” and 7’2”. 6’6” is generally accepted from size comparisons to humans. Andre the Giant was 6’10” (although reported as being taller) and was in New Zealand at the time the film was taken. Pictures of him used in comparison against the footage give an idea as to size and build.

In calculating the size, the intermembral index must be considered. This is common to all humans - the length of the arms multiplied by 100 and divided by the size of the legs. Humans, Chimps and Gorillas all show a different intermembral index. The Bigfoot in the footage has a different intermembral index again. Its arms are too long to be human, and the ratio between the arms and legs does not match.

If it is a human in a suit with extra long arms - how does the fist appear to be clenching and unclenching? It may be an optical illusion, but it is said that there are other hand clenchings in the footage. There is a distinct bulge on the thigh as the creature steps out, which is consistent with a hernia injury that can happen in sports.

The camera used - a Kodak K-100 - has five film speed settings. Patterson said he usually filmed at 24 frames per second (fps), but when he stopped filming the footage, he noticed he had filmed at 18fps. However, the camera does not have a speed setting of 18fps. At 16fps, the creature is moving at 3.2mph; at 24fps, it is moving at 4.9mph, which is too fast for a human. However, some say the calculations are the other way around, and 16fps would be too fast for a human. Calculations using the shadows from the photographs of the footprints shows they were taken around 5.30pm, which fits in with Patterson and Gimlin’s time line.

John Landis says that John Chambers produced the Patterson film. Chambers categorically denies this. Chambers made the suits for Schlock and Planet of the Apes, which finished filming about a month before the Patterson/Gimlin footage was filmed. However, there are no actual full sized ape suits in Planet of the Apes. Planet of the Apes represented the height of suit technology available at that time, and it does not resemble the Patterson/Gimlin film. Chambers’ comment was actually that he “was good, but not that good”. Paul tried to telephone a ‘Phone In with Landis and discuss Bigfoot, but Landis would not talk about it.

Rick Baker did the special make-up effects for films such as Bigfoot and the Hendersons and he is convinced it is not a man in a suit.

Chris Packham of the BBC recreated the Patterson footage - however, it does not look the same. The arms are not long enough. Humans lock their knees when they walk; the Bigfoot in the film does not.

Karl Korff describes himself as the CEO of Total Research - Total Research, however, have never heard of him. He also describes himself as Captain Korff of Special Secret Service, but he does not appear to know where of. In World’s Greatest Hoaxes, Korff identified the man in the suit as Jerry Romney. Korff is convinced there is a Mormon conspiracy involved behind the making of the Patterson/Gimlin footage, in order to back-up their beliefs as to the origin of life. Korff claims to have 20 years experience in the field, but no other Bigfoot researcher has heard of him. He conned Patricia Patterson into releasing the film to him, by saying it would be included in a video called World’s Greatest. Actually, it was released as World’s Greatest Hoaxes. Korff says that primates do not have a hair line down their back - he claims this is the zip of the suit; however, it is obvious that primates do have a hair line down their backs.

At Uncon 2003, Korff said he ‘deposed’ witnesses with Greg Long, as described in The Making of Bigfoot by Greg Long. However, no-one in the book was ‘deposed’, and it appears Korff does not actually understand what the word means.

Korff bases his assertion on the film being faked on a contract existing between Patterson and Gimlin to make the film. The contract was actually a home-made, typewritten one. Korff says that the reason Bigfoot walks strangely is because the person in the suit - Bob Hieronymous - had a car accident; except Hieronymous did not have the car accident until 1971.

Patterson did not make money on the film, simply because whatever he did make was ploughed back into research.

Korff says Patterson knew he was dying, which is why he faked the footage.

Greg Long spends more of his book assassinating Patterson’s character. Despite Hieronymous’ claims to be the man in the suit, he is noticeably shorter than the creature in the footage. Hieronymous describes travelling five miles to Bluff Creek, but it is actually much further than that. He says Bluff Creek was dry, but it never runs dry. He says Patterson was not running with the camera, but shaking it. He also claims to have mailed the film from Eureka, but does not explain why he would do that when he was driving back the same day. The suit Hieronymous claims to have used does not look anything like the creature in the footage. He claims to have bought exactly the same suit from Philip Morris. However, Philip Morris describes a completely different suit. For instance, Hieronymous says Gimlin skinned a dead red horse for the fur of the suit; Morris says he used Dymol fabric. Morris also says he does not make suits with breasts.

Furthermore, why would you fake film footage showing a creature with breasts in puritanical 1967 America? It would be guaranteed not to be shown.

Paul Vella concludes by saying that if the creature is not Bigfoot, it is certainly a very good hoax. And whatever else it may be, it is certainly not Hieronymous in a suit.

Articles such as that in Fortean Times Issue 182 of January 2005 discrediting the Patterson/Gimlin footage do very little to help the matter.

Any further questions or comments can be sent to Paul at paul@vella.co.uk

Answers to questions from the floor

* The film stock used is believed to have been Kodachrome 2, which is awkward to get developed within the time frame as described by Gimlin and Patterson. They may have found a way around it. It remains an inconsistency. Film was usually sent to Kodak to be developed. The footage could not have been filmed in September; the foliage colour ties in exactly with the October timeline. So the film could not have been made earlier than the October date given. The question remains, however - how did the film get developed so quickly?
* Amongst Korff’s extreme claims are that he has secured a 500 book deal - the most heard of is six!
* Cliff Crook in Washington is a debunker of the film; he believes he has identified the bell type end of a zip. However, Paul suspects this is just mud. Paul considers the fur of the creature to show areas of mud and bald spots.
*No-one knows where the original master of the film is; five copies were made, of which two are known. It is not certain where the others are.
* The focal length of the camera was set to infinity, which is why the film is in focus.

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Larry Warren and Peter Robbins
Excerpts and Outtakes : Stories that never made it into “Left At East Gate”

The main purpose of writing the book, Left At East Gate, was because Larry had had enough of seeing himself misrepresented in various accounts of what had happened at Rendlesham. He expected to find experts in the field, but found that the so-called ‘experts’ did not know any more than he did. At that time, UFOlogists tended to be older people with firmly entrenched views, and witnesses were frequently deemed ‘not credible’ simply on the opinions of others as to their character and truthfulness.

In the early 1990s, they both returned to the UK. They had become bankrupt while writing the book. They visited friends in Suffolk, who suggested a stay in a South Wales cottage owned by their sister. Peter planned to cook dinner one evening for seven - Peter takes his cooking very seriously, and can take six hours to cook a salad, according to Larry! However, the salad is said to be worth the wait. They travelled into town to buy ingredients, and when finished, returned to their car. At the car, they found a police officer eyeing their car suspiciously. He asked questions about whether it was their car, where had they been, where were they from etc. Eventually, the constable asked them to come back with him to the station to answer further questions. Peter asked what the problem was, but the officer would not elaborate, except to say that they were not under arrest, but he would appreciate it if they would accompany him to the station to answer further questions.

They went back to the station, and were taken into a back room. Eventually, two detectives entered, who fulfilled Peter’s pre-conceived notions of the typical cop duo - old, cynical, laid back detective with new, keen young sidekick. It transpired that the reason they were being questioned was that, an hour before, the Post Office had been robbed by a gang, the leader of which was described as being “below average stature” and having a foreign accent. They were questioned for 90 minutes before finally being allowed to leave. Whereupon, the two detectives asked what two Yanks were doing over here, and Peter and Larry explained they were taking a break from writing their account of what had happened at Rendlesham. The police officers remembered the incident, and asked them to remain in the room while they left.

They returned and said that Larry and Peter were free to go etc, not to leave area etc, and - off the record - where they both free on Sunday afternoon to discuss the Rendlesham case with them? Larry and Peter met up as agreed, and they sat and talked for some hours. The older detective said that he was used to making character assessments of people, and he considered it obvious that Larry was telling the truth. They stayed in touch. Some time later, they contacted Larry and Peter to describe a large triangle they had seen over their car whilst out on a stakeout one night.

Larry said he approached Peter to be the ‘objective voice’ in his story.

Larry had been having a lot of problems with his mail. His mail was being opened and reclosed, and there were noises on the telephone line.

After 25 years doing the UFO rounds, Larry decided he had had enough. He could not be 19 forever. He was not prepared to keep banging his head against a brick wall. He is proud of himself for having brought the case into the spotlight. He does not care what rubbish is published on the Internet. There are lots of good people in the field of UFOlogy, but also a lot of dubious practices and lots of less honest practitioners. In particular, beware of publishers.

The book was optioned for a film, but the option passed after 9/11.

Larry’s whistle-blowing brought more witnesses forward. It does not change anything, but it does make him feel better.

Peter said Larry was not exaggerating about the mail interference or telephone taps. When he returned from his first trip to Suffolk, he found that his mail had been opened and resealed officially. The mail of the friends in Suffolk was also being tampered with. There were funny background noises on the telephone. All of this started to unnerve Peter. A Friend of a Friend worked for a telephone company, and Peter asked him to come and test the telephone line and impedance. The man reported that the telephone was definitely being monitored. He explained there were two reasons for telephone monitoring; one was to pick up information; the other was to destabilise the person by letting them know they were being monitored. This was why Peter was aware of the clicks and noises on the telephone.

On one trip from Suffolk in 1990, Peter collected soil samples from the site. The soil was still affected after 10 years had passed. The area itself was covered in golden corn when Peter collected the samples; the affected area differed in that the corn growing there was green. On returning to the USA, he found himself filling in the form stating whether he was bringing anything back into the country. He had never noticed the question asking whether he had any soil samples before. He considered his options; if he did not check the box, it could raise problems, whereas if he did check the box, it may lead to awkward questions. He decided to check the box, and when Customs asked for more details, he explained he had 8-10lbs of soil to be tested at Massachusetts. Upon further questioning, he explained this was for a book, and the book was about a UFO incident. Whereupon the officer left and returned with another officer, bringing two more immigration officials with them. Peter was told to open his bag, which he did. Peter picked up one of the jars of soil, when one of the officers suddenly shouted at him not to open the jar. Peter said he was not going to. The officers seemed very nervous about whether Peter was going to open the jar! After this, the mood lightened somewhat, and they asked him for more information about the UFO story.

On one occasion, he was returning from a visit to London, where he had visited Nick Pope, who had given him a copy of his book. It was January 1st, Peter was rather hung over, and he simply threw the book into his bag, with his razor and a t-shirt on top of it all. At the airport, he put the baggage through the scanner - and it did not come out. Three security officers appeared and took him to a back room at Heathrow, where he was asked to open the bag. He opened the bag, and was asked, “What’s that?” - it was a t-shirt. Beneath the t-shirt was the electric razor. He was told to take the razor apart, piece by piece - including taking out the batteries. Next, he was asked to take out the book. When this was all over, he was told he could leave. Peter asked what had been the problem, and was told that the officers are trained to look for possible bombs, and the razor sat on top of the book looked exactly like plastic explosives set on a detonator.

Larry said the book was less about UFOs than the human interest and the effect such incidents have on people. The US State Department suspended Larry’s passport. Larry was the first whistle-blower to experience this. It was suspended because he was alleged to have spoken about sensitive defence issues on foreign soil. He could not leave the USA for over a year. He had attended a conference in either Leeds or Nottingham to discuss the incident. This was despite the incident being said to have no military significance. Obviously, it was of military significance - there were nuclear weapons at Rendlesham, and his role was to defend the nuclear ordnance on the base. The incident at Rendlesham involving lights from the object shining on the ordnance had adversely affected the ordnance, which had a blast radius of one mile. Despite protestations from the UFO community of seeking the truth, none of them considered this worthy of mention. The UFO community sometimes appears to have a secret agenda, and witnesses suffer from their apparent duplicity.

Larry had a friend who did not believe in UFOs. They saw a blue flash of light while in a restaurant, and came out to see a golden ‘thing’ hovering over the petrol station. Larry was invited to stay with a couple out Mississippi/Louisiana/New Orleans way. The wife was usually found wearing nothing but one of her husband’s shirts; when she witnessed a huge triangle hovering 100 foot above their house, and passed out, Larry was not quite sure which three objects he should be observing! They ran after the object, and took pictures, but they cannot be reproduced. They saw a little fellow in a bubble. On chasing the object, they were stopped by some police, and decided it was probably wiser not to wise-crack, as they may end up never seen again! While parked up with the police, they heard reports on the police radio following the object they had seen.

Peter recounted the tale of how Ramsay Clark got Larry’s passport back. Former Attorney General for Lyndon B. Johnson and first cabinet member to speak out against the war in Vietnam, he also defended Sadaam Hussein. He is a man of great integrity and honour. He met the three of them in his office, and they discussed how Larry was finding it impossible to renew his passport as there appeared to be some kind of problem with his records disappearing from the State Department. Ramsay Clark told them to write and say that if there were no passport within 14 days plus a full refund plus an apology, the former Attorney General would make them wish they had never been born. Larry received his passport within the 14 days.

Springbourne Laboratories examined the soil samples Peter had brought from Rendlesham. The ellipse is still clearly marked in the soil. While corn is golden all around the areas, the corn growing in the area is green. The reports found 4x the metallic particles in the affected area than the test sample from an untouched area. This was probably caused by some magnetic/electromagnetic force pulling the particles through to affect the soil in that particular area. Seed germination test found that seed took longer to grow in the affected sample, and it grew in a mutated form. The control samples were found to be consistent in sand content given the distance from the coats. In the affected sample, the sand content was found to have melted to form an interim form of glass. They are unable to replicate what happened to that sand in the affected area

Whatever happened at Rendlesham, it was not a lighthouse.

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Special Guest Speaker - Nick Redfern:
The Man-Monkey - On the Trail of the UK Bigfoot

There are reports of a giant hairy creature running around the UK - and it isn’t Jonathan Downes!

Nick’s latest book, Man-Monkey - In Search of the British Bigfoot, recounts his research into these stories.

The problem with the British reports is that they are not as straightforward as the reports of Yeti, Bigfoot, etc. The British reports are usually wrapped up in folk stories, ghost stories, UFO reports etc. The scale of Britain needs to be considered. Nevertheless, there are reports of this creature going back a thousand years at least, so if it is a flesh and blood creature, it needs a breeding population. There is no way that a creature of that size could live in this country and not be found. Therefore, it cannot be a physical creature. If it is not a physical creature, then - what are people seeing? Some kind of inter-dimensional being?

Nick has found 30-40 independent reports of sightings.

The initial starting point was 1879, when the Man Monkey was seen at the Shropshire Union Canal late at night. A man returning home with his horse and cart was attacked by a wild, hairy creature about five feet tall. The creature jumped on the cart, threw the man to the ground, and waived its arms around in a threatening manner. The man hit out at the creature with his whip - but the whip passed straight through it. So the creature had enough physical form to interact with material objects, but when attacked, the object passed straight through it - which suggests a creature spectral in nature.

This was reported in an area 10 miles from where Nick used to live, and was recounted in the 1880s in a booklet called Shropshire Folk Lore by Charlotte Burne.

The area is steeped in strange histories. There was a UFO encounter nearby in 1954, plus Black Cats, and reports of encounters with Fairies.

The incident in 1879 reportedly took place at Bridge 39 on the Shropshire Union Canal. There is a 35-40 foot drop from the road to the canal. 10 miles on either side of the canal is thick woodland. Charlotte Burne suggested the creature was a ghost. There are descriptions of sightings of white apes - possible a ghost ape - such as the Ghost Ape of Marwood on the south side of Dartmoor, which, according to folklore, is the ghost of a pet.

The question must be asked - what came first - the legend, or the sighting? Was the legend invented to explain the sighting?

Between 1986 and 2001, Nick interviewed six people who reported seeing the same creature at different times from the 1940s onwards. In 1986, at Chartley Castle in Staffordshire, a couple were driving past the castle when a huge stag ambled across the road, forcing them to stop. From four to five feet away, a monkey-like creature ran out at them and charged the vehicle.

There are parallels - a supernatural assault where the creature charges but does not actually cause harm.

The couple flooded their engine in their panic, and the creature ran off.

A crop circle was found at Chartley Castle in 2006. The location itself is intriguing - an ancient castle, with reports of a hairy creature, and a crop circle. Dozens of peacock feathers were found around the edge of the crop circle. It has been theorised that the circle was man-made for occult purposes, with the peacock feathers being employed in some kind of ritual.

The road from Cannock to Rugeley goes through Cannock Chase, and there are many reports of encounters with the Man-Monkey, lunging out at cars. Craig Blackmore, driving home across the Chase, experienced the creature lunging out at him. All the stories show the same attribute - the creature reacting violently.

Jackie Hornton was driving past the bus stop at just gone midnight when something lunged out at her, scaring her death. It finally ambled across the road and vanished.

The Cannock Chase is a very large area, but even it could not contain such large creatures - and the necessary sized breeding population - undetected. The Chase has much interesting folklore attached to it - Black Cats, Black Devil Dogs, even werewolves The most haunted area is the area of the German Cemetery, where Great War German PoWs were buried after dying in the ‘flu epidemic. Nearby Shugborough Hall takes its name from the Shug or Black Dog of the area, being the ‘Borough of the Shug’. Rendlesham also has reports of a Black Dog, or Black Shuck. ‘Shug’ may be Old English for ‘demon’.

Shugborough Hall is also famous for its strange inscription, known as the Shepherd’s Monument, which has links to every mysterious object or treasure, from the Money Pit to the Grail. In 1981, there was a sighting at Shugborough that closely matched the descriptions of the Man-Monkey. At the Chinese Bridge in the grounds of the Hall, in 1987, a creature was seen running over the ground. It has not caused damage to the area.

Reports have come forward from the 1960s, which parallel the 1879 case, where bridges seem to be involved.

The BT Tower on the Chase is also linked to the Man Monkey. There are reports of animal sacrifices taking place, and occult practices. There are occasions where animals have been found dead and mutilated, sometimes in strange circumstances. One report was of five disembowelled foxes, lying in a circle, with their entrails entwined. Another was of a dead deer - which, if it had been hit by a car, somehow managed to drag itself 800 foot and something dragged out the entrails. This was all near the German Cemetery. This shows there are all kinds of weird phenomenon within the same locality.

In December 1879, in Scotland, the Tay Bridge collapsed. A few months before, people had seen a Shug-like/Monkey-like creature hanging around. The incident parallels that of the Mothman at Point Pleasant. 70 people were killed when the Tay Bridge collapsed. Karl Marx was due to be on the very train involved, but missed the train.

There seems to be a link between bridge, water and the Man-Monkey. It cannot be a living creature roaming the land, as it would be seen at random times and places. There are similarities with the Kelpie and other shape-shifting creatures, luring people to their deaths. Kelpies could appear in the form of a horse, or a beautiful woman, or a giant hairy man who hid in waterways and attacked people.

Local police in 1879 said they had had other reports, since a “bloke drowned in the cut”.

The Man-Monkey may have some links to the shape-shifting Kelpie, the Tulpa, or some kind of doorway to another dimension. We simply do not know. We can keep collecting the reports, but we cannot always answer the mystery.

Answers to questions from the floor

* The Man-Monkey is reminiscent of troll stories, but ‘Troll’ is a misused term to describe a number of different entities and should be avoided. The only connection is with bridges, and the story of Billy Goat Gruff. Trolls were originally described as giants, and then became little bearded creatures in Scandinavia.
* There is a legend of a monkey living in the marshes at the appropriately named Monkey Marsh Lock on the Kennet and Avon canal.
* The BT Tower itself may cause hallucinations, if linked with the notion of technology affecting people. It may be a natural occurrence with the Tower influencing things.
* Most people who report seeing the creature report strange feelings of elation, or terror.
* Lady in the audience recounted an experience of seeing a seven-foot creature in robes at the side of the road, and feeling fearful.

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In the break, Grigoriy Panchenko showed slides of the Caucasus which he missed while giving his talk on Saturday. Unfortunately, as all my pens had run out over the weekend, I had to dash to the local corner shop in search of fresh ink! I returned in time to see the slide of a rather suspicious looking leaf, and Jon commenting that he would never have thought Grigoriy would have been the first person to show the leaf of an illegal substance at Weird Weekend! However, Almasty eat these leaves - they do not smoke them!

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Dr. Darren Naish gave the next talk, the title of which was Cryptozoology - Wherefore art thou?

Dr. Darren Naish can be found at http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/

Darren started by showing pictures of Bigfoot, a small brown bird, and a small deer, asking - which was the cryptid?

Darren discussed the extensive overlap between mainstream zoology and cryptozoology. The study of mystery animals appears to be a fringe subject, concerned with the search for fantastic beasts or monsters. It is not, however, monster hunting. Bernard Heuvelmans did not stick to the same description of cryptids, one description being “truly singular, unexpected, paradoxical, striking or emotionally upsetting”.

The problem with studying animals known only from eyewitness or other anecdotal evidence, sightings, photos, stories or accounts, is that the creature can be a perfectly normal, every day, creature; not necessarily huge, and not a monster. It is no less a cryptid for lacking the ‘emotionally upsetting’ label. Former cryptids include the Lowland Gorilla, which was only learned in 1840 to be a real animal. Mountain Gorillas were reported in 1869, but were dismissed as legendary creatures until the early 1900s when they were recognised as a genuine animal. The Shoebill Stork was not officially named and described until 1859; the Komodo Dragon in 1912, was known by locals as Bowenga Dowat.

The Kouprey Ox was only known from anecdotal evidence before being officially named and described in 1937.

Not all scientists who work on the discovery of previously unknown animals consider themselves Cryptozoologists. Should the term be more widely applied? If so, some negative associations would need to be dispelled.

Kipunji, a species of monkey, is another former cryptid, described and named in 2005. In the last 20 years, 45 species only known to scientists by witness descriptions - and therefore cryptids - have been officially named and described.

The Odedi is a small, dull brown bird - species of bush warbler - was identified. It was believed there were one European species of bush warbler, the Cettis Warbler. Prior to its discovery, it was a cryptid, for years known only from its song.. Jared Diamond reported hearing the song in 1975 in Bougainville. Don Haddon reported hearing the song in 1979. It was not until January 2000 that a specimen was obtained. The Odedi is four grams heavier than the other species, and is quite large.

Mainstream science is, therefore, using the same research studies as cryptozoology. In South America, Marc van Roosmalen has used classic cryptozoology methods to track down new animals, such as the Black Crowned Dwarf Marmoset in 1998, the Satare Marmoset, and Roosmalen’s Dwarf Porcupine. Roosmalen discusses animals with local people and finds animals known to the local populace but unknown to science. He has found 20 new Amazon mammals - new rodents, primates, cats etc.

The Giant Peccary was filmed in 2004, and is similar to the Collared Peccary, but larger, lacking the collar and other behaviour and characteristics of the Collared Peccary. Remains were found from a hunter’s meal and sent for DNA testing, which confirmed it as a different animal. There is another peccary documented in the area - the white-footed white-lipped peccary.

Physical remains - the skull - of the Dwarf Tapir were discovered. It is smaller, darker, has no white markings on the ears, a smaller teeth and short shout. It is similar to the Brazilian Tapir.

They have also discovered three new aquatic amphibian animals - including the River Dolphin, and the Dwarf Manatee. The Dwarf Manatee is similar to the Amazonian Manatee, but is smaller, measuring 1.3 metres and weighing 60 kilos when mature.

There are new big cats - Onca-cangucu, the white-throated Black Jaguar. The Jaguar has no rosettes on its fur, and has particularly large upper canines, and black skin.

Marc van Roosmalen was arrested on charges of bio-piracy, and although he has now been released, his ordeal is not yet over. His web site is http://marcvanroosmalen.org/pages/indexpag.html

Peter Hocking also talks to local hunters, and through this has discovered new animals, including Isnachi - a long snouted monkey; a spectacled bear; a speckled tiger, and others, including birds. Hocking has made a number of contributions to mainstream zoology. Physical remains can be used to identify new animals, such as a skull belonging to a big cat identifying the Striped Tiger, which is not like the Asian cats, and is described as a large cat, larger than the average jaguar, and there are various differences in the skulls. The skull itself does not seem to belong to a puma or jaguar.

Therefore, it can be shown that mainstream zoologists do embark on cryptozoological expeditions, even if they do not call them such. Darren thinks we should abolish the term ‘cryptozoological’ and any investigation into any kind of cryptid should be simply zoological. Alternatively, get rid of the ‘monster hunter’ label. Cryptozoology is not just an extension of normal zoology. Cryptozoology overlaps with Zoology and Folklore, while Zoology and Folklore have no such overlap. Dedicated Cryptozoologists combine zoology and folklore; Zoologists do Cryptozoology, and Folklorists do Cryptozoology. Folklorists find Zoology ‘boring’; Zoologists do not believe Folklorists, and dedicated Cryptozoologists accept normal zoology and folklore, and find them equally interesting.

Reconstructing evolutional history throughout the South Pacific concludes additional species would also be present in the same area. If crocodiles are known from an island, crocodiles can be predicted. Small terrestrial crocodiles such as Mekosuchus inexpectatus, and Volia athollandersoni are recently extinct from the islands, showing that they would have been an ordinary component of many tropical island groups until becoming extinct. We should therefore expect evidence of them to exist in local stories. From Fiji, we have Lapitiguana - a giant extinct iguana; a large frog; giant flightless pigeons, related to the Dodo, and large scrub fowl. Lord Howe Island had melolania - large horned turtles. The Caribbean was home to large and small sloths, giant eagles, tortoises etc. Some were hunted to extinction, shown by remains found in human kitchen waste. Some, like the Giant Spiny Rat and the West Indian Shrew, survived until the colonists arrived, and there are a few eyewitness accounts of giant rodents, shrews and sloths.

Chickcharnies were large, bipedal, tree-dwelling, bird-like animals, which could be based on giant barn owls. There are stories of Titan Hawks, Running Owls, and guinea pigs the size of sheep. There should be stories of these creatures, and it is probable that there was ethnic evidence, but it has either been lost or we have not yet found it. The indigenous tribes are almost entirely lost, now being genetically mixed with the colonists.

Camera traps are becoming cheaper, and are increasingly used to capture evidence of new creatures, such as Lowe’s Servaline Genet, the Sumatran Rhinoceros, and the Large Antlered Muntjac. That unknown animals are caught on camera also overlaps with cryptozoology. A new Brocket Deer was discovered in 2003, in Peru. An unidentified animal was photographed at Kayan Mentarang National Park in Borneo. Should this be called a cryptid? If it is a new species, then yes it should. It may be a giant flying squirrel.

Therefore, there cannot be said to be a clear distinction between cryptozoology and mainstream zoology. The small brown bird and mystery deer are as much a part of cryptozoology as Sasquatch.

Answers to questions from the floor

* Cryptids like Mothman do not fit into the flesh and blood creatures that are the concern of zoology. This is why Jon called the CFZ the Centre for Fortean Zoology in order to encompass creatures that do not fit into the normal flesh and blood model.
* Science tends to publish only positive results; therefore, if an expedition uncovers new animals, they will be reported. If nothing is found, however, it will not be reported, as there is nothing to report.

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The winner of the Dragon Naming competition was named; the competition being to name the red dragon used in the Dragon Dance on Friday night. The winner was Katie with Scarlet Burn

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Finally - what Weird Weekend would be complete without Ronan Coghlan who elected this year to tell us about the Fairies at the Bottom of my Garden

In the old days, everyone believed in fairies, even in towns away from the countryside.

Whereupon, Ronan apologised for the state of his trousers, which were two sizes too big; the result of his mistake in going shopping without his wife.

Back on subject, Ronan said that if people say they believe in UFOs, it is fine - nutter, but fine; if they believe in the Loch Ness Monster, it is fine - peculiar, but fine. To believe in fairies, however, is to be completely round the twist. No-one but small children believe in fairies - which shows how wise small children are.

We should remember that just because something is said to not be true, does not mean it is not true.

Primitive man wallowed - in a sprightly fashion - and did not know much about nature except what he could and could not eat. He believed in little things that supervised nature.

You will not get far in trying to prove in the existence of fairies; scientists want to put things on a table and chop them into little bits - which would cause anyone to complain, quite vociferously. Using the present day criteria, there is nothing to prove the existence of fairies. Only anecdotal evidence exists, and if someone claims to see fairies, they are assumed to be drunk or a lunatic.

Belief in the Tooth Fairy is not a new thing or recent invention; it is quite an old tradition. And appears to be affected by rises greater than inflation. Despite Ronan’s child’s claims, the Tooth Fairy is not Daniel Thompson’s father - who could not be described as fairy-like at all.

We can say where some of the fairies come from. They are undoubtedly the gods of the indigenous pagan population. The gods have the same names as the fairies. The Tuatha De Danaan were described as being very tall and beautiful, riding around on glorious horses. They are not the most widely reported fairies; most reports are of small goblins.

Despite one child’s claims, Ronan is not a big goblin!

Most reports these days are off small, little people. Tolkien did not think elves were small; he thought that as the size of the forests reduced, the size of the fairies reduced. There are a cumulative number of people claiming to have seen Little People. Evans-Wentz in Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries HERE did not believe in fairies, but liked to collect folklore. He was assisted by Douglas Hyde, who wrote the preface to the book. Evans-Wentz recounted eyewitness accounts; such as the story of a man travelling to see his doctor, who saw two regiments of Them (always Them - The Good People - Daoine Sidhe - calling them by the name ‘Fairy’ was considered bad form. In The Box of Delights Mouse calls them “very good people”. The Gentry - The Noble Folk - or simply Them). The man met two regiments of Them, one in green and one in red, playing music. They opened to let him pass through, whereupon the music ceased until he had passed by.

There are dozens of similar stories all over the world.

Native Americans had stories of a little people, half wasp and half man.

A man who witnessed the Tuatha De Danaan said “The Gentry are the finest folk I have ever seen. Far superior to us, and that is why they are called The Gentry”. They do not have a working class; they are military, aristocratic, tall and noble; a distinct race between us and spirits. They are expecting salvation.

In Sweden, Peter Raan, a Minister of the Lutheran Church, swore a statement to the effect that his wife, who was a midwife, had been called out to deliver a fairy baby. In 1660, he said that very late in the night, a Little Man had appeared, who begged the Pastor’s Wife to come and help his wife, who needed the services of a midwife. The pastor does not appear to have been anxious about the safety of his wife with fairy folk. They were paid with a heap of silver for their assistance.

There is a story - from Loch Lane in County Westmeath - of a little boy, stolen by the fairies, who left ‘something’ in his place. The Parish Priest, who was well into fairies - as many tend to be - went to the Changeling and said, “I command you to turn back into the boy for a moment and tell me where the boy is. Be not silent on this matter”. The Changeling duly turned back into the boy and said he was being held by the fairies at the bottom of the lake. They took the Changeling with them and dipped the Changeling into the lake three times, whereupon out came the boy - who did not appear to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The child’s father put his coat around the boy, as the child was naked - a precaution that is bloody necessary given Irish weather! The Priest gave them strict instructions not to speak to the child until he was home, else dreadful damage would befall. The boy’s mother, however, could not contain herself, and spoke to the child, whereupon the child was immediately pulled back into the lake, crying “Father, Father. My Mother has spoken; I must go back”. They returned to the lake and recovered the boy for the second time. The Priest did some heavy duty praying on the way back, and this time, the Mother managed to keep quiet - which is a difficult feat for any woman of the female sex.

The writer of the account claimed to have been a witness to the proceedings.

In September, 1979, fairies were seen in a park in Nottingham. Little children rushed back into their primary school and there were fairies in the park - of course, the Vice Squad went shooting straight down there…..or maybe not!

The school principal questioned the children thoroughly. The fairies were seen by four children at Woolaton Park. They said they saw around 60 of them, driving around in little cars. They sketched what they had seen, and the sketches do look like little cars - Noddy has so much to answer for. Their stories corroborated each other, as did their pictures. This is only anecdotal - no physical evidence existed.

Fairies are not always friendly. In Limerick, Ronan’s Mother’s native city, in 1938, John Keely went out for a walk. Well, it was either that or throw stones at people. He saw a little man and chatted with him, then went to get witnesses. He saw more little men, but when the little men realised they were being observed by the bigger men in the hedges, the little men ran off. The men in the hedge gave chase, but they could not catch the little men.

Janet Bord reported six fairies that walked into air and disappeared. In some reports, fairies are capable of walking through solid objects. This may give us a clue as to where they are, and where they come from.

There were reports of a pixie cat in Cornwall, seen when witnesses were driving up a hill. The cat hissed at the car and disappeared.

Story related by two women from the floor:

Someone had a house infested by elementals (a term first used by Paracelsus in relation to fairies). They had invoked Pan for a party they were having in their garden, when they saw a silver light across the curtain in the lower flat and across the top and bottom of the upper flat living room. They have seen orbs floating, and a tree spirit - which can be very shy - hides behind doors and under tables.

A rustling sound can be heard, but when they look, nothing is there.

Anecdotes are backed up by credible witnesses. Fairies do not exist in large populations, and would require a breeding population to maintain numbers. It may be they exist in a dimension co-existent with our own. Ronan is not saying that he believes in fairies - but he does not disbelieve in them either.

Physicists are now entertaining the possibility of co-existing dimensions, so such dimensions can be populated. It is similar to athletes running around a stadium, each in their own lanes. So parallel dimensions, or parallel universes, would run next to each other. This would explain how they disappear, crossing from one dimension to another. They are out there - but not always out there. They are out there - but not really there. It is difficult to prove anything is impossible, unless we say “If A exists, then B cannot : A exists, therefore B does not exist”.

To back up the theory of co-existent dimensions, a vicar in Yealmpton, Devon, found a hole in his garden path. He looked down it, and heard noises. He called his wife to witness, but when they both returned, the hole had vanished.

It may be safe to assume that vicars do not lie - at least not in those circumstances.

There are reports at Skinwalker Ranch at Utah, which is being investigated by a scientific team due to the paranormal things experienced there. They have seen strange things in the night sky, including a hole which appeared, and out of which a creature crawled. It was not simply a hole in the sky, but a hole through which another country could be seen beyond, as though a hole to another dimension.

Tooth fairies must exist, as they keep up with inflation. Making an offering of less than £1 leads to questions being asked. Tooth fairies are not Ronan’s favourite type of fairy.

Thomas the Rhymer was kidnapped by fairies, and there are other stories of similar abductions in older books on folklore. The books Google [ http://books.google.co.uk/] site have reprints available on-line. Evans-Wentz is available on line, as are dozens of other books on old folklore. The Shropshire folklore book mentioned by Nick in his talk is available on-line as well.

It has often been said that it is not over til the fat lady sings. And Ronan wanted to end on a song. But he can’t sing a note. Fortunately, Rolf Harris once recorded a song that requires no singing ability - The Chicken Song - so Ronan ended his talk with a rendition!

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Jon’s final words were that he was feeling ridiculously emotional. He had had a terrible time preparing for this weekend, and felt as though he did not wish to go through it again. However, it had turned into the best Weird Weekend ever; it had been a wonderful experience, which he had enjoyed more than any other Weird Weekend, and he felt it has been absolutely fabulous. He only sees most of the people at Weird Weekend once a year. The CFZ is not something that exists only for a three-day convention every year - they work long hours all year round. Jon therefore appeals for funds, for help, and for anyone wanting to help.

All member of the CFZ started as ordinary members. They are normal people going on expeditions all over the world - ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

He extended his grateful thanks for all the organisations who had given their help unpaid over the weekend.

The next Weird Weekend will be the third weekend in August, 2008.

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The Evening Dinner at The Farmer’s Arms, Woolsery, was another excellent opportunity to mingle and hear stories. The pub itself has recently uncovered a well. The food was excellent, the company charming and intelligent.

All in all, another wonderful Weird Weekend.

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