Sunday, May 24, 2009
THE CATS OF UPPER MINSTER
Last week, as an amusing one-off Tim Matthews, wrote a silly short story spoofing some of the more ridiculous exploits of various self-styled big cat researchers over the years. It was so popular that he wrote another one, and now - by public demand - it has become a serial.Starting this evening, every other day will see an episode of Timmo's new Fortean soap opera The Cats of Upper Minster. And having read the first few episodes I can confirm that it is bloody smashing and highly amusing. "I'll carry on until it stops being funny" says Tim, and you can't say fairer than that!
As readers of my ramblings will know, I first moved to the little North Devon village of Woolfardisworthy in May 1971, and after a break of a quarter of a century I came back four years ago. When I first came here there was a family living next door. Mr and Mrs Braund had three children: David (about the same age as me), Lorraine (a couple of years younger) and Kaye (a couple of years younger still). Within months we became like brothers and sisters, and although David died over 20 years ago now, the two girls have been like my sisters ever since.
Kaye now has a husband and three boys (whom I treat as nephews), and regular bloggo readers will know the two eldest, David (17) and Ross (14) from their adventures with the CFZ. Finally (after months of being bullied by her big brother) Kaye has started a blog about the adventures and animals at Walland Farm, just down the road, where the family live, and in the debut posting they announce that - against all the odds - their pet hedgehogs have bred.
I was going to begin with a predictable choice, that being Bigfoot of the Pacific Northwest, as it had such an impact on my childhood after reading the 1974 book Monsters & Mysterious Beasts by Carey Miller. But I’m not one for predictability, and so I present to you my first favourite mystery animal. Mystery giant wolves.
The Amarok belongs to Inuit mythology, a solitary hunter of muscular form, which feeds on human flesh if there is no other prey around. From the wastes of the Arctic to the snowy rocky outcrops Canada there is every possibility that some kind of unknown species of larger, more fearsome wolf roams. The Adlet is certainly the most known legend of northern Canada and Alaska in regards to monster wolves, and although its origins are the stuff of folklore (It is said that the first wolf was a docile creature which mated with a woman and took her for his wife. Ten pups were produced, five being red-furred wolves the others being terrifying animals which were to become outcasts of the family, and so ate their mother and roam the wilds up to this day) could there be some truth to the beliefs of giant wolves ? The Witchie Wolf is feared in Chipewa lore also. Across the world legends persist, in Bandirpur, Uttar Pradesh, India, several huge wolf-like creatures have been blamed for the disappearance of more than thirty children. Many of the incidents took place in 1996. But the most feared canid is without doubt the Salaawa, or ‘female ghoul’ said to haunt parts of Egypt. The beast has become a folkloric marauder, connected with Anubis, the jackal-headed goddess of the afterlife. Yet this monster, which attacked many people around Cairo in 1996, resembles a giant hyena or mutant wolf/dog, often black in colouration, having two powerful hind legs, and two shorter front limbs and prominent fangs. Packs have allegedly been tracked and shot dead by the police, but sceptics argue such creatures are simply wild dogs, but, wild dogs would not have provoked residents to create anti-Salaawa defences, and the installation of phone lines across Egypt has reached a record volume. Unfortunately, being labelled the ‘Egyptian goatsucker’ hasn’t helped its credibility, but the Salaawa remains potent across the sands.
Secondly, the Amazonian Mother Snake. This was the monstrous reptile which explorer Benedict Allen went in search of during the early 1990s. His expedition was filmed for BBC2 and entitled Raiders Of The Lost Lake. Allen is one of my favourite adventurers, and in his quest he voyages into the heart of the Amazon to search for a mythical lake, greatly feared by local tribes who, whilst trudging through the forest, abandon him for the last part of his journey for fear of demons and phantoms guarding the waterhole. Amazingly, Allen finds the lake, a murky, still and eerie place surrounded by impenetrable foliage, and it’s here he claims that the mother of all snakes lives, possibly a giant anaconda. Of course, those who have allegedly found the lake, have never returned, possibly eaten by the slithering beast, or consumed by dread and the power of nature. But, if the giant anaconda, or any water monster exists, then it’s likely to lurk in this special lake.
Lastly, giant owls. Big Hoot and Big Owl maybe names not registered in cryptozoology circles, but for many years across the United States there have been sighting of huge, clawed birds often connected to Indian mythology just like the Thunderbirds. However, Big Hoot and Big Owl, could well be flesh and blood flappers. These birds stand four-feet in height and were considered by the Wyandot Indians to be far more aggressive during thunderstorms. If bad weather came with, before or after sightings of these huge owls, then it’s only natural such birds would be perceived as bad omens. In 1982 at Rocky Fork Lake, Ohio, a female witness saw an owl-like creature with a wingspan greater than most small airplanes. The Cree Indian’s spoke of Big Owl as a sign of famine. The owl was so terrifying that its presence was felt in the forests and most game animals would flee the area, causing the tribes to starve. Then, any hunter brave enough to scour the woods in search of prey, would be plucked from the ground by the swooping menace, and eaten. Strangely, giant owls of some considerable size were also mentioned in the wave of Mothman sightings in West Virginia during the 1960s, and also the Owlman case in Cornwall, although I doubt flesh and blood birds were to blame.
He is a nice guy and can always be seen necking back the tequilas at the cocktail party and helping the younger attendees with the more rigorous bits of the pinata (see left).
Last year he even came on stage and gave a short talk about how the Community Centre is at the vanguard of energy saving technology and is doing its bit to help the village achieve carbon neutrality.
All of you who know Stuart are going to be appalled by the picture of him in the press cutting presented here. He has serious kidney cancer and looks thirty years older.
The good news is that the people at
the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), who have to have one of the more sickening acronyms in modern Britain, have changed their mind, and Stuart is now going to receive the drug.
But the implications of this are appaling. It is just like what happened when NatWest cancelled my bank accounts for no good reason a few years ago. For as long as the injured party does things through conventional channels nothing happens. As soon as one writes a letter to the newspapers, or contacts the MP, or does anything which will focus a searchlight of unwanted publicity onto whichever part of the faceless beaurocracy of our increasingly neo-Stalinist state has screwed up this time, then they capitulate like toy soldiers being knocked over by a playful puppy.
No wonder the increasingly cvacuuous media is so powerful.
So, congratulations to Stuart. Let's hope the medicine works mate. You are in our thoughts and our prayers. And commiserations to us all for living in such an increasingly messed up society.
Sunday, as regular readers will know, is when I recommend a film along with the cryptozoology news and bad puns. This week’s film is a classic from the 80’s, ‘Tron’. http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi3405709593/
There is a sequel to Tron in the works now, lets hope Disney don’t mess it up by casting Zac Efron in it. And now, the news:
Anglers spot ‘Nessie’ in Horwich
Tasmanian devils now endangered
Another Weird Weekend at Woolsery
Menacing Spider Has Invaded Great Britain
What do you call spiders that have just got married? Newly ‘Webs’.
Pat Delgado, quite possibly the first crop circle researcher has died of cancer. His friend and colleague Colin Andrews writes:
"Pat Delgado, famous for being the person who started serious research into what became known as crop circles, passed away at 8.30 AM (U.K.) today in Winchester Hospital, Hampshire, England.Pat was a very young 90 years of age, when cancer struck and took a very rapid toll in recent weeks.He was a compassionate sensitive human being, an excellent engineer and reputable healer. He was a dear friend and my co-author who was largely responsible for one of the happiest periods of my life.I send my deepest and most sincere condolences to Norah his Wife, Jan his Daughter and Guy his Grandson, who showed such love and caring and did all they could in such distressing circumstances. My love to you all. Colin.(More later)"