Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Monsters and known beasts

I've been interested in monsters n stuff since I was about nine or ten. When I was older I found out the 'n stuff' was, along with the monsters, called the Paranormal. This must have been about the time I was given a copy of Chariots of the Gods by Eric Von Daniken by my uncle Jeffrey who was home on leave from the Army. Boy did that book open my eyes and mind.
Away went the Famous Five books and in came everything I could lay my hands and eyes on that was concerned with monsters, ghosts, ufo's and space. I went from Peter Parker to Spider-Man via the local library. When I earned money I bought books, read them voraciously and re-read them - this was the early 1970's and the internet was a distant dream in the mind of some geeks, Forums were something that Romans used to go to and 'Greys' were still only shades between black and white.
Dinsdale, Vallee, Hynek, Le Poer Trench, Underwood, Keyhoe, Keel - I consumed, lived and breathed them. Unsurprisingly, my schoolwork improved. I became more articulate, my grammar and writing ability improved and I had knowledge that the other kids didn't. The skies above Manchester also got my attention on a regular basis, especially on those rare nights when they were free of cloud, cigarette smoke and light pollution. I saw many UFO's, especially towards Manchester Airport and it's main approach above the Pennine Moors. I think I saw ghosts too but sadly no Lake Monsters on account that we only had lodges, ponds, canals and the river Irwell where I grew up (and nothing back then could survive in the river Irwell for more than an hour and if it did live to tell the tale it had either lost one or grown one such was the level of toxic pollution). The biggest creatures that lived in those small, shallow bodies of water were big Pike, long pale rubbery snakes we called Johnnies and Fecus Porcelainus Expellorum or the common house turd.
I think I must've seen a lot of things I would have classed as unexplained or weird but human perception is subject to many flaws and our memory is a constructive process that is shaky at best and unreliable most of the time.
All this reading and fascination carried on for years until Punk exploded onto the streets of my town in the mid 70's and it was married to Woodpecker Cider. However, although my appetite for all things paranormal dropped I still snacked on Fortean Times, the books of Tim Good, Jenny Randles and BBC2. 
Inevitably Punk ran it's course and I graduated to the likes of Kraftwerk, Bowie, Eno and the emerging synth movement of the late seventies and early 80's. I also became more serious in my skywatching and ghost hunting - investigating local 'haunted' locations and houses armed with cameras and tape recorders as well as spending nights out on the Lancashire Moors armed with hot soup, beef paste butties and telescope. I usually came back from those trips with nothing but lights that were probably planes, fast moving lights that were meteors and satellite sightings but sometimes, if I was really unlucky I'd manage to catch a cold.

They were happy times, times of wonder, discovery and learning but more than anything they were my times and I wouldn't be the person I am now without having lived through them.

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