Strange days indeed!
The show kicked off bright and early with some suitably intellectually mordant doom and gloom from Richard Ingram, an old friend of mine from Exeter, who was talking about the `Decline of Civilisation`. A slightly downbeat subject for the first talk possibly, but it was very interesting and resulted in an almost unprecedented amount of audience feedback for a talk scheduled so early in the morning.
Then came Lionel Beer, who was on the Search for Camelot, which took us all across the celtic nations, and brought us back to the French Dictionary. I have known Lionel for many years, and it was good to have him on stage at a Weird Weekend at last.
Later, all the way from sunny Switzerland came Andreas Trottmann, who gave a fascinating talk about the Lake Monster traditions of Central Europe. It has to be said that all our foreign speakers have been excellent this year, but also very kind and generous to us. After his talk, Andreas waived most of his fee, and said that he would rather that monies raised at the event went back into the CFZ to pay for our ongoing programme of research.
Then came the notorious WW quiz, which was won by the home team, mostly because of the sterling efforts of young Ross Phillips (11), who is rapidly becoming one of the most eccentric, and loveable, members of the team.
Enter Paul Cropper for the first of two talks on Australian forteana. This was about one of the most notorious poltergeist episodes from the Antipodes, and went down very well. He was only on for a relatively short time, because he was a last-minute replacement for Tim Matthews, who had been taken ill, and had been forced to pull out at the last minute!
Then came one of the highlights of the weekend. Jon Ronson, an old mate of mine, and one of the big stars of British humorous journalism, gave a talk about his experiences when he infiltrated the notorious Bohemian Grove country club in northern California. The knowledge that our world leaders appear to indulge themselves by carrying out mock human sacrifices to a stone idol of a giant owl, can only give us even more respect for the powers that be in this ever more bizarre world.
Back came Paul Cropper, for one of the most eagerly anticipated talks of the weekend - on the Australian Yowie, the Antipodean analogue of bigfoot or the yeti! He was fascinating, nd what's more, an impassioned speaker, which was all the more extraordinary, when you consider that he had travelled for well over 30 hours from Australia only a few days before. Respect dude!
Nick Redfern, who is probably my closest freind apart from the boys at the CFZ with whom I live and work, was on next with a fascinating, if slightly chilling, account of why many researchers (mostly in the UFO fied, but including yours truly), have been under covert surveillance from H.M Government. Chilling stuff!
Then came the CFZ Awards, presented this year to:
and then, much to my embarrassment, I was presented with a special lifetime's achievement award, for services to cryptozoology, which - at the age of 47 on tuesday - made me feel that my career (or my life) was about to draw to a close. Seriously, however, I was very touched, and would like to thank Oll Lewis in particular for his kindness in thinking of it.
Finally came our very own Richard Freeman, gothboy of this parish! He gave an animated talk about the recent Gambia expedition, and was joined on stage at the end by Chris Moiser, Lisa Dowley, Suzi Marsh, and Oll Lewis.
During the day, Chris Moiser did a workshop, and there were all sorts of other things going on, like a Mad Hatter's Tea Party for the kids, and a children's treasure hunt, but it is 9.57, and I am due at the Community Centre in three minutes to soundcheck a 14 year old punk band who are playing a song about the yeti, sometime this afternoon.
Hasta la vista Baby!