David Frost was well known for his catchphrase, “Hello, good evening and welcome”. As I'm more important than David Frost I have adopted my own opening gambit, which is Wotcha; a Geordie greeting which essentially means, “Hello, good evening and it’s your round coz I bought the last one”.
Now that we have dispensed with the pleasantries, let's get this blog under way.
I was born within the provinces of the Sovereign Kingdom of Geordieland in 1957. 1957 was a good year – like I say, I was born then – but life in the north was tough. Electricity was still a pipe dream, mothers had to feed their kids a substance called “milk” instead of proper brown ale and the dreaded sparrow flu had devastated stocks of our only source of good avian flesh. In desperation we turned to more exotic fayre such as rabbits and chickens. It was in such a climate that I turned to Forteana as a means of enriching my life, but my Geordie roots were buried deep in our black, northern soil and would not let me go. Eventually I reached a compromise, and promised our local deities that I would carry out my research into the unknown, but use it as a means of promoting our indigenous culture. Now I am a successful writer on Forteana, but my books, columns and other scribblings have a distinct Geordie theme. Well, at least most of them do, for I am not a purist. I will occasionally go beyond the borders of our land to other climes in search of a good story. I once went to a land called “Scun Thorp” (or something like that) to hunt down a Green Man, and many moons ago, when I was younger and fitter, I took part in an expedition to Lun Dun (Eng: London) in search of a Hairy Hominid that had been seen in a park.
During my travels abroad I have been much impressed by the natives of these foreign parts. The tribespeople of Manchesta (Eng: Manchester), for example, are quite friendly and, although not sophisticated by our own standards, possess a rude friendliness that endears one to them. We did not feel in the least threatened, and were indeed surprised to find that they too are not averse to the idea that there are things in, beyond and beside our world that we simply do not understand.
There was a time when Forteana was an unknown concept in our land. Many people believed in ghosts, UFOs and indeed cryptids, but their notions were simply a cacophony of ideas and legends rarely talked about and even less understood. As a teenager I felt it was my mission to change all that.
Until recently, Geordieland was uncharted territory when it came to cryptozoology. This was a shame – nay, an outrage – for our kingdom was teeming with bizarre creatures begging to be hunted, caught, examined and, of course, slaughtered in our customary fashion. Boggle pie and Sea Monster stew are just two of our local delicacies, as Messrs. Downes and Freeman will readily testify.
Perhaps the most legendary of our cryptids is the dreaded Beast of Bolam Lake, which, in the dawning days of this century, terrified the local populace whilst they were visiting one of our picturesque nature reserves. The CFZ sent an expedition to track the creature down, and I had the honour of arranging visas for the team and the pleasure of translating for them into our distinctive Geordie brogue.
The Beast of Bolam Lake was a hairy hominid not unlike the North American Bigfoot. It was approximately eight feet in height and covered with an unseemly pelt of dark, shaggy hair. It was never captured, but several members of the CFZ team saw it and there is no doubt in my mind that it really existed. My own position on the creature is that it was (or is) a zooform beast that can both enter and leave our world at will. Why it chose Bolam Lake to make its appearances I do not know, and conjecture is probably pointless.
The Beast of Bolam Lake is a cryptid of more recent advent, however, and there are others of much darker provenance that have a far older pedigree.
In future blogs I will be introducing you to some of these entities – not personally, you understand, but metaphorically, as they have a habit of killing humans that get too close to them.
Those who live outside the borders of our realm may not have heard of creatures such as the Shotton Dobby, the Staindrop Cloggy, the Hylton Brag and the Boldon Bogey Man, but they truly exist. In a forthcoming book I will be detailing these, and I can now announce that my friend and colleague Richard Freeman has written a superb forward for it. This is not a plug for my book, and I would not like readers to think that I am using this blog to encourage its purchase. However, as it says in the Geordie Bible, “Buyeth it now, for verily, we knoweth where you live.” (The Book of Trivialisations, 22;14).
The problem Geordies have with cryptids (or rather, the problem that cryptids have with we Geordies) is our passion for smiting. In our scriptures we are encouraged to smite. “Smite, smite, smite and smiteth again”, our prophet Toonarmius instructed. In the Great Soccer War of 1148, when we fought a bitter and protracted battle with the Mackem tribe to the south over ownership of the territory just south of the River Tyne, our great general Geordius Maximus is alleged to have slaughtered three alien big cats, fifteen dragons and no less than seventeen hominids of uncertain provenance simply to prove our manhood.
Well, that's enough for now. Should anyone out there know of other north-eastern cryptids that I might be unaware of, please let me know. I'll be glad to give them the oxygen of publicity that they so richly deserve.