|Ronson just seemed to be there to plug his book and nothing else. My main problem with him was that all he did was read a couple of passages and show a couple of clips from his TV series - other than that, there was no real meat to his talk. His self-effacing manner was attractive and amusing, but otherwise I was left distinctly underwhelmed. He also failed to relate any of what he was saying to any similar occurrences/individuals. The list of apparent evil reptilian paedophiles has been provided by a number of people over the years, including their supposed victims, yet Ronson made it seem as though this was all down to David Icke.|
Jan Bondeson's 'Buried Alive!' was highly entertaining. I've praised Bondeson to ridiculous amounts in one of the threads in Books. Admittedly, he said nothing that isn't in his book of the same name, but he was knowledgeable, intelligent, entertaining and personable.
Steve Jones’ ‘Hooded Entities’ talk was also very good. A number of reports of hooded, red-eyed apparitions in country areas around what were possibly sites of worship. Linked to the ‘creature on the stairs’ episode related by Phil Hine in Condensed Chaos. Jones’ conclusion was that these apparitions are either manifestations of an Earth goddess or thought-forms (Jones’ is an active pagan witch). Again, an interesting and informative talk by a guy who wasn’t actually trying to plug anything.
Mike Jay’s ‘Mind Control in the 19th Century’ was the highlight of the weekend for me. Jay related the story of one James Tilly Matthew, a man whose attempts to help engender peace between England and revolutionary France led to his incarceration inside Bedlam. Matthew became convinced that a group of French revolutionaries were active in London, using a mind control device on politicians, the press etc. The ‘Air Loom’ was powered by the contents of three barrels, including, amongst other ingredients, the fart of a horse. A number of people, all of whom Matthew gave names and job titles to, worked the machine. Jay proposed Matthew as one of the earliest documented, scientifically-diagnosed cases of paranoid schizophrenia.
The Doug Skinner talk was fairly boring. The Mothman story is extremely well-known right now, as are the activities of John Keel. The film at the end was bizarre, if nothing else.
‘Legendary Dragons of the Mekong Delta’ saw Richard Freeman taking the audience through his journey to attempt to find the mythical Naga. Another highly entertaining speaker (with an uncanny resemblance to the comedian Bill Bailey), Freeman’s adventure unfortunately presented him with no concrete evidence of the Naga’s existence. Plenty of local anecdotes, though, which Freeman combined with the reality of other huge versions of specific species around the same area (as proven by the impressive slide of a dead, 7 foot by 7 foot Manta Ray).
The whole Ken Campbell thing was, as stated above, very odd. As Dolcino says, the appearance of a pretty blonde woman in a black suit who could shoot a stream of water out of her ring at least made it memorable, although I’ll be damned if I can work out what the hell it was all about.
Stayed in the second auditorium throughout Sunday. Lionel Fanthorpe was, as expected, fantastic. He even rounded each of his two talks off with a song, outlining the main points that he’d made.
Adam Davies’ told us about his expedition to find the Sumatran Yeti, a hirsute 4-5 foot mammal that is apparently peculiar to that part of the world. They even provided evidence of its existence, in the form of a plaster cast of a footprint (the discovery of the footprint shown in video footage) and hairs that have been tested by experts in the field of, um, hair-testing. The results point towards this being a previously unknown type of Orang-utan, which primarily lives on the ground and walks entirely upright. Exciting. A bit of a buzz in the room for that announcement.
Gail Nina Anderson traced the history of the Vampire mythos. Good fun, well researched, but nothing amazingly original.
Filip Coppens’ X-Files thing was shit. We walked out after about fifteen minutes.
Overall, an enormously enjoyable weekend. Even got to meet our very own Ellis for a few pints afterwards.