More about the composer...
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined?
And, though you died back in 1916,
To that loyal heart are you forever 19?
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Forever enshrined behind some glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained,
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame?
But that's not what I wanted to write about. A couple of weeks ago Naomi and Richie - CFZ bods from Texas - and Naomi's lovely mum, came to visit, and on one of the days they were here, Corinna and I took them to Dartmoor.
Now, I first visited Dartmoor forty years ago this summer; the summer I turned ten, and I remember seeing these odd indentations in the turf back then. I remember exclaiming (much as Naomi did a few weeks ago) that they looked like bigfoot prints. My father impatiently told me not to be silly, and then explained what they actually were. But I cannot remember.
Recently a large orb weaver spider in Atherton, North Queensland captured a full-grown finch in its web, as these spectacular pictures show. Just a week later Townsville residents Tom and Judy Phillips took photos of a giant golden orb weaver spider eating a double-barred finch in their backyard. The finch was just over four inches long.
This got me to wondering what was the largest animal ever to be caught in a spider’s web? The tensile polymer is, after all, stronger than steel and kevlar.
In 2004 a 12-inch snake of unknown species was captured in the web of a Chinese house spider in Qingyuan county in the eastern Zhejiang province. After an 80 minute struggle, the spider managed to bite the snake in the neck and kill it. Though this was only a tiny snake the odds were still very much against the spider.
The same year Tania Robertson, a receptionist from Bloemfontein in South Africa, saw and photographed a brown button spider capturing, killing and partially eating an Aurora snake just under 6 inches long (see photograph).
- The spider had been nesting in the air-conditioning unit in her office.
- Both creatures are now in the National Museum.
- Once again the snake is a youngster but still much bigger and stronger than the spider.
- In 2006 Lisa Parsonage from England snapped a picture of a red back spider killing a snake in a bush toilet at Henbury Meteorite Craters in the Northern Territory.
- Again the snake is a small one. It seems to be that the snake gets its head tangled in webbing, giving the spider a chance to bite it then retreat to a safe distance.
On youtube there are a number of films of spiders subduing vertebrate prey. These include several films of a live mouse been fed to a tarantula who swiftly subdues it without the aid of a web, as well as one eating a small lizard. All of these were filmed in captivity.
- There is an impressive (and natural) film of a goliath tarantula killing and eating a young lance head snake http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjgRFONRwJ4
- A black widow with a small snake or legless lizard (the film is blurred) in its web
- Here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sLI0uHa-To and here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXHDa26BwiE&feature=related we can see a spider of indeterminate species, subduing a small snake and a tarantula carrying a small dead coral snake http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjgRFONRwJ4
A big factor is who gets the drop on whom. Giant centipedes often kill large spiders but here the centipede is killed by a tiny snake. http://www.youtube.com/watchv=FZFMhjTvWBI&feature=fvw
Small bats also fall foul of spider’s webs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRQaCvCZeTo
The summer is here! The summer is here for real and our summer attempts to catch The Great Lake Monster on film has once again begun. It has come some news since the last newsletter. For example, a very interesting picture of something mysterious in the water has been sent to us by a civilian who discovered the picture at our website using the camera function.
The picture is now in the archive and you can also see it in the end of this newsletter. Observationcenter Svenstavik has also opened. Here you can watch all of the documented videos and pictures, registrated [sic] by our cameras and you can also watch some drawings of how a new observation center could look like. Adventually [sic] we will also have a small table for the children so they can sit and draw their own picture of The Great Lake Monster.
So welcome in and we promise that more surprises are waiting! Observationcenter Svenstavik is open 12.00 – 17.00 weekdays and 10.00 – 14.00 Saturdays. The phone number to Observationcenter Svenstavik is 0046730808741. In the week 28 we are going to have an expedition here in Svenstavik, the so called “Summer expedition” of 2009.
We are going to search for The Great Lake Monster using some modern underwater technologies like Sonar and Seago. Sonar, Sound Navigation and Ranging, is an underwater camera, specialized to track the sound under water and a Seago is an underwater robot with a camera. You will find more information about this in our next newsletter. We are looking forward to an exciting summer!
A meeting was to be held at the Minster Village Hall and many villagers would be there out of concern. The local vicar, Thomas Harrison and the head of the Village Council, Lady Penelope Gregson, would be chairing the meeting at which The General would be speaking and locals would be able to ask some of the questions that were concerning them.
The children were all going and Robin was bringing his camera to film events and to produce the first scenes for his internet movie, presenting, he hoped, a villager’s view of events. Many of the children’s friends would be going too and it was said that local farmers would be out in force almost certainly to give The General a hard time.
The children met at the war memorial. Ellie had decided, after talking with Frieda, to stay away from the event and true to form, The General asked her to stay away because “things might get heavy”. He also didn’t fancy having any of the limelight being taken away from him by a pretty young girl, and a local one at that.
As the children approached the meeting they said hello to lots of their friends and neighbours. All those attending had to fight their way past a strange man selling “Minster Beast” t-shirts and a van selling “Big Cat Burgers”. Disgusted, the children and their friends from the village mocked the money-makers and made their way into the hall.
The place was a hive of activity; women from the local WRVS offering tea and sandwiches, the vicar speaking with a local radio station, Channel X TV personnel lauding it over the locals and setting up cameras for a “live link” and villagers mingling with strange people who looked like they rarely saw daylight. Various groups were giving out leaflets including the “Rendlesham Research Initiative”. Robin reliably informed his brother and sisters that in fact a lighthouse had been responsible for the sightings in 1980 but the people giving out leaflets – and asking for donations - said it was a government-alien cover-up, and that rabbits and radioactivity were also involved.
The children sat to the left of the hall next to friends of theirs and Tom produced a huge bag of sweets including jelly snakes, curly wurlies and Sherbert Dip Dabs. He also had some other goodies in his bag but they were for later. (He was carrying materials that would be of use to friends; when the time was right.) Whilst munching away at their feast, Robin filmed various scenes and Frieda assisted by taking lots and lots of digital photos with mummy’s new camera. All would be included on a new website Robin had set up and that afternoon he’d used his pocket money to buy a website and domain name – www.minstercats.co.uk – which would become the main vehicle for putting out a sensible, balanced view of what was happening and also a lot of information designed to encourage all the visitors and trippers to leave as soon as possible.
After around twenty minutes waiting, The Reverend Harrison stood up on stage and welcomed “friends and visitors” to the village, to the hall and to the meeting. He noted that such excitement was relatively unknown to locals and that some resentment had been caused but that he hoped that some understanding could be gained through the evening’s proceedings. “It is to be hoped that from tonight we can start to see thing’s from each other’s point of view and that the Spirit may guide us towards a common purpose,” he added. Lady Penelope then took the stage and declared that this was one reason why tonight’s meeting had been called; to see what could be done about the current state of affairs, the interruption to village life and what - if any - evidence there was for the many extraordinary claims being made. “It would be nice to see some of the outsiders acting with class and tact,” she added. Several people laughed.
Reverend Harrison continued with a prayer and it was interesting to note that the villagers joined him and that the outsiders mocked. Just as the prayers were ending The General and his motley crew of shower dodgers burst in through the main door. His troupe pushed their way past some of the nice old ladies making tea and marched up to the front of the room where ABC sympathisers had saved some chairs for them.
“I demand an audience,” screeched The General. “I must be heard!”
His supporters, around 20 in all (probably the entire membership), clapped furiously as if The Messiah had entered the room but nobody else was impressed by this fake. Florence stood up and threw an empty bottle at him and was immediately chastised by her older brother even though it hit the target. “Silly girl,” he rasped. “We’re supposed to be pretending to just be here for the fun. Keep a low profile. Please keep calm my darling....” Florence went bright red but her actions met with the approval of her friends. It was a good shot. The General swung around with a look of hatred on his face and felt the back of his head to see if there was any damage. “Might knock some sense into him,” said Albert Brigstocke, a local gardener. Everyone nearby laughed.
After a few minutes of bullying and loudness from The General, Reverend Harrison agreed to allow him to say a few words. What transpired can only be described as the rantings and ravings of a madman but to cut a long story short, The General basically said that Upper Minster had become, variously, a focus for dark forces, was being visited the devil and was “a centre for “Nephilim Activity.” The big cats were “a small part of it but evidence shows that Upper Minster is a window area for Paranormal activity.”
He made some pretty offensive comments about local farmers too; so rude in fact that even the Barton family, who were sitting to the right of the hall near the back, were stunned. If he had been trying to win friends and influence people he had singularly failed but his brief from Yvonne Fawcett was to cause as much trouble as possible so she could get more dramatic scenes on camera and make it look as if the villagers had something to hide.
After The General had finished, the floor was opened up to questions and it was at this point that local frustration and anger boiled over. It started with Susannah, the local vet, calmly but firmly asking The General a series of straightforward questions. “What evidence do you have for local big cat activity?” she asked.
“Too much to mention here,” he said. “But Marj Seaton told me what she saw and there have been many other sightings too,” he replied.
“Yes,” said Susannah, “but these reports, that I have seen on your website, could be anything. Having done five years training at Vetinary College and a further two years specialising, I can find no good evidence, no scientific evidence, to support your claims. Indeed,” she continued, working up a head of steam, “several of your supporters believe in aliens, UFOs, abductions, the global conspiracy and none of this has to do with big cats, and nothing to do with Upper Minster. Not one of you is a vet, none of you have any qualifications, none of you are experts and nowhere in anything you present is there any meaningful evidence. In fact, yesterday one of your supporters claimed to have found evidence of something you call “animal mutilation” of two field mice and I ask you, Mr Norman, why any of us here in Upper Minster should take you at all seriously beyond the offence and upset that you have caused.”
Clearly shocked that a wretched local, and a damn vet too, should have inside information on his activities, The General struggled to maintain control. “Errm, well, yes, eh hem...yesterday we did make momentous discoveries down by the river and errr, we were ably assisted by, errm, local people, in making these finds. As I speak, the samples are being looked at by experts.”
“There you go again,” interrupted Susannah. “Without meaning to bang my own drum and that of Minster Vets, which deals with all the local animals and provides an excellent service to people here,” (cue appreciative applause from local farmers and pet owners alike) she stormed, “I am the only real expert here. And you’re not talking to me and you haven’t asked for my help. What scientific methods are you using and which experts have you consulted? I think, given the interruption of village life you and these damn media whores have caused, that you should at least present us with evidence; a picture at least, or some detailed answers.”
“Young lady,” The General replied, “you are clearly here to disrupt tonight’s proceedings and I am wondering who put you up to this!”
“I put myself up to this. I realise you probably have trouble with women,” she added, much to everyone’s delight, “But I am asking questions that you don’t seem to be willing or able to answer. You are the one making the claims and I am the local vet. Now I do not discount the possibility that a large cat could be operating locally – one released into the wild perhaps - but you are coming here making ludicrous claims. I would like to know the names of the scientists you are working with and I can offer them my assistance and I am sure my friends here would prefer me to represent them than you misrepresenting them.” Massive applause erupted and people cheered Susannah. She was the local heroine.
The General was beside himself and started shouting. He was a bully after all. At this, the mood changed from interest to anger. “Yes, she’s right,” shouted Will Smith, local shopkeeper. “Come on, tell us: who are the experts?”
“Answer her questions you fat prat,” shouted Lynsey Stark, local mother of three. “You’re just talking lots and saying very little.”
Other people joined in as Susannah sat down. Several local farmers got out of their seats and walked towards the stage wanting to have meaningful discussion with The General. He, meanwhile, was visibly distressed at this evil turn of events and fiddled with his glasses as Reverend Harrison struggled to maintain a semblance of order. Yvonne Fawcett was not pleased, either, as her propaganda coup was turning sour. It would look like she was working with idiots and her expensive live link was being ruined by what she saw as inbred locals.
The General stood up and prepared to walk out with his people. The meeting was going nowhere but he figured that at least he was at the centre of attention and could present himself as the hero of the hour. Just then, on cue and as arranged, several of the Fox children’s friends armed themselves with some goodies Robin had prepared for the evening. Throughout the evening, Robin had been passing his friends little bags of ammunition. The General walked, with his nervous-looking troops, towards the back of the room, whose audience was shouting much abuse at him and telling him to clear off. As he approached the back, and the gaggle of journalists clamouring to ask him questions, a group of youngsters ran towards Farley Norman, shoved custard pies into his face and fired crazy string at him and his supporters. Others threw feathers. What a mess! The ABC Team was covered in bright colours and gunk and some looked shocked and terrified.
Priceless! What a wonderful picture for live TV viewers and local media. Clearly, Big Cats Research had entered a new stage in its development....
Robin Fox sat back and smiled. Things had gone nicely to plan. The General might think he was calling the shots and his sidekick, the Fawcett woman, might think she was famous and untouchable, but he was actually, a teenager, going to make things happening the way he and his family wanted them to happen.
Tonight had gone very well for the Foxes.
Also some good news, my daughter Naomi, who has ADHD and an autistic spectrum disorder, has just passed her MSC by research in plant science. I was told when she was 6 she would never come to anything and to put her in a special school but I didn't listen and even though there have been lots of tears on the way, she has made it and is looking to do a Phd. So I may have had to give up my masters degree but one of the family has succeeded. The university have said I can go back and finish my studies anytime I feel able to, but whether I will I don't know. It was mainly to keep me sane whilst unable to work. Now I have to decide what I can feasibly do and go for it.'
'Legendary creatures play important roles in many ancient texts. Sometimes they are symbols of the hermetic processes of alchemy; in other cases they crop up in antique accounts of natural history. No doubt, these beings haunt our dreams and nightmares to this day. These are some of the books on dragons, were-wolves, unicorns, mermaids, giants and other elusive creatures at this site.
Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life by Ivan T. Sanderson  The Bigfoot researchers' Bible, by the writer who coined the term cryptozoology.
The Book of Were-Wolves by Sabine Baring-Gould.  All killer, some filler.
The Unicorn: A Mythological Investigation by Robert Brown  Explore the deep mythological significance of the unicorn.
Mythical Monsters by Charles Gould  Dragons, Sea-serpents, Unicorns: fact or fiction?
The Seven Tablets of Creation by L.W. King  The Babylonian creation saga, including the battle between Marduk and Tiamat, a very angry goddess taking the form of a dragon.
Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art by John Vinycomb  Lore of the fantastic beasts of English Heraldry.
The Celtic Dragon Myth by J. F. Campbell and George Henderson  The ur-myth of the struggle with the dragon, told in fine Celtic form with giants, mermaids and sidhe. (English and Gaelic)
The Evolution of the Dragon by Grafton Elliot Smith  The dragon: a neolithic symbol of the goddess, mutating into the prototype of the devil.
Dragons and Dragon Lore by Ernest Ingersoll  [EY]
Lore of the Unicorn by Odell Shepard  [EY] What is the reality of the myth of the unicorn?
these are stories from an uncorrected proof of News from the English Countryside 1750-1850 by Clifford Morsley (1979), which I found in a bookshop somewhere; I can`t recollect where.
Boy eats cat
Cambridge. On Tuesday evening a country lad, about 16, for a trifling wager, ate, at a public house in this town, a leg of mutton which weighed near eight pounds, besides a large quantity of bread, carrots, &c. The next night the cormorant devoured a whole cat smothered with onions.
Cambridge Chronicle quoted in The British Chronicle 13 September 1770
Strangest Phaenomenon within Living Memory
Birbeck Feell, September 23. The following circumstance, however improbable, may be depended upon as a matter of fact. A farmer`s wife, in this neighbourhood, who attended duly to the milking of her cows morning and evening, observed for two or three mornings successively that her best cow was deficient in her usual quantities of milk; this made her suspect that some of her neighbours were not over honest, and communicating her suspicions to her husband, they resolved to watch all the succeeding night, which they did without making any discovery….
A goosebury was gathered in the garden of Thomas Tebbit, a gardener of Soham, at the beginning of August, which measured 4 ½ inches in circumference. The Cambridge Chronicle and Journal. 27 August 1813
Rider in the Sky
The following story has appeared in several papers:
Some months ago a very singular appearance apresented itself in the sky to several persons at Hartfordbridge, near Basingstoke. About noon was distinctly seen by many persons, without any difference among them as to the form of the figures in the clouds, a man on horseback riding at full speed, pursued by an eagle, which soon darted upon his head, when he lost hold of the reins, fell backward, and eagle,horse and man were seen no more. The figures were apparently of natural size. The County Chronicle 10 February 1818.
Mr Charles Parker, of Arundel, brought home three very young rabbits, which for the sake of warmth were placed before the fire. The house cat had kittened the same day, and on discovering the young rabbits showed great affection for them; on the following morning all the kittens but one were destroyed, and the rabbits placed under the care of the cat, who has ever since showed the greatest solicitude for their welfare, and they are now thriving under the kind offices of their feline foster-mother.
The Sussex Advertiser 4 April 1831
BTW Lizzy and I are working through the final proof of Glen's book as we write, and it is smashing.
While putting together the Mystery Animals of the Western Isles I came across a number of very interesting tales contained in various old books. Only some of these tales made it to the final draft but there was one about a phantom black dog on Mull that I definitely wished to include an account of. Eagerly and somewhat amateurishly, I approached the publishers of the book requesting permission to use the copyrighted material.
When they asked what my offer was to reproduce this material was, I was momentarily stumped, then thought, 'I wonder if they would like one of my pictures?' Yes, they agreed and so it was that the Black Dog of Ardura can be found in all its gory glory. With publication of the book being on the horizon I have in the last few days posted off a picture in way of payment. It is one of the original concept sketches for the spotters guide that forms part of the book and features a rather dashing each uisge. I hope they like it as much as I did.
It has often been theorised that a majority of ‘zooform’ creatures are 'tulpas', or unintentional manifestations created by the human psyche. There is also the possibility that such phantasms, or monsters from the id, can be created intentionally. One such example was researched by George Foot Moore, an American Orientalist and religious historian, who died in 1931, who took on the view that ‘monsters’ are mental projections, although it has never been explained as to how several people can muster a creature. However, over the centuries such ‘monsters’ have been born in the form of dragons, fairies, phantom hellhounds and the like, to the modern day manifestations known as Mothman, the Jersey Devil and the Bray Road Werewolf of Wisconsin.
Polish expert Julian Ochorowicz coined the term ‘ideoplastic’, which he used to describe the unconscious power of a medium to create tangible and apparently autonomous physical forms. Another Polish researcher, Franek Kluski was said to have caused the materialisation of more than two-hundred apparitions, mostly in the form of animals. His most famous manifestation, or projection was the shaggy ape-man which appeared at a séance on 20th November 1921, under the supervision of Professor Geley. The bizarre beast materialised and Geley felt the apparition rub shoulders with him, and also give off a pungent stench. This monster resembled a similar ape-man conjured on August 10th 1923, and was said to have lifted several chairs (which women were sitting on at the time) and also overturned a sofa. Famous ghost hunter Harry Price also partook in several séances where ‘ghosts’ of children were manifested.
This complex nature brings me to the tale of the ‘Mole Kingdom’. This strange place was created by the already mentioned Franek Kluski, but when he was a child. He described how he would often lay down for hours in the corner of the room of his parents house, and then as darkness drew in, he would arrange two chairs with a rug positioned over them, resembling a makeshift camp. Franek would then lie under the ‘camp’ and visit what he called the ‘Mole Kingdom’. Although his parents left him to it, knowing full well how the imagination of children worked, little did they realise that Franek was interacting with ‘creatures’ he’d manifested. On one occasion Franek invited a couple of friends to join him under the canopy of the rug where they all heard a vase break, a strike from a clock that had been broken for a long time, and the footsteps of the ‘Mole’. The vision appeared to be enshrouded in a bluish cloud, and was accompanied by two children who those in attendance knew had died some years ago. Franek told his friends that dead children often came back to life in the ‘Kingdom’.
Scientist Charles Richet called this ‘place’ the ‘cryptocosm’, or in occult circles it has been known as the ‘astral world’; places where dreams come to life. Of course, those who raise such ‘monsters’ seem able to dispose of, or control such levels of strangeness, but is this world, which we inhabit, plagued by forces or apparitions and monsters, which we have, over thousands of years, unintentionally manifested? It seems so, and certainly, in my opinion, the only way we can fully describe what Jon Downes originally coined as ‘zooform phenomena’, peculiar ‘monsters’ or forms with animal characteristics, which are not your average ghost of a pet. However, with the full power of the mind as yet not understood, what creatures could we create intentionally if we really wanted to? And should we attempt such a practice?
I really can’t think of anything even remotely entertaining that I can do on Tuesdays as well as posting links to the latest cryptozoology news stories that Corinna has entered on the CFZ cryptozoology news blog, and ruining it all with a bad pun. If anyone does have any suggestions then write up a comment after this blog. However, before anyone gets too excited at the prospect, let me just pre-empt you by saying I DO NOT do poetry… under any circumstances. I had several ‘bard’ experiences (do you see what I did there?) with it.
And now the news:
Not just cuckoo's clock that's upset by climate change
Two men guilty of badger digging
Rare fish 'proves water quality'
Map of elephant DNA reveals trail of ivory smugglers
Heath fritillary butterfly sees boost in population
The eagles have landed in Scotland
Three Spix macaws, one of the world’s rarest birds, hatched in captivity
Two New Frogs Discovered in Western Australia
Thieves 'using Google Earth to steal koi carp'
According to the police, the thieves get around by motorbike and side‘carp’.