Picture the scene - a starry-lit field, the wind blowing in the tress, the whirr of the windmill, and snuggling down in your sleeping bag, to be awakened suddenly by a low seismic rumble crescendoing to untold decibels from the tent next door. Undoubtedly, sleeping at the Weird Weekend was quite an experience, but the real experience came from the thrill of the lectures. People ask me, what exactly do you do at the Weird Weekend? Indeed my very staid mother-in-law enquired whether perhaps we had gone to the dark side and it was a weekend of occultism?
The Weekend is difficult to describe without, how can I put it, sounding weird to those that have not been. But for me, it is a chance to stimulate my brain in a way that mainstream life cannot. It is a chance to explore other people's beliefs, perspectives and standpoints and it is the unleashing of excitement at the thought that there is so much more to this universe than we can comprehend. If we all took time to reflect and listen on a regular basis to those ideas that are 'out there' and still unproven, I believe it would allow people to stop worrying about the pettiness and materialism, which has dominated our lives, and to appreciate what is truly important - an appreciation of what we already have, and the tantalising ideas of what is to come.
In my career I am surrounded by young people who have been so indoctrinated by our culture that their greatest ambition is to 'be famous.' At the Weird Weekend, I met amazing people who were intelligent, eloquent and well respected - what's wrong with that as an ambition? We are so closed down by what we think we should be doing, that we forget to look at what is already happening - in our communities, in our families and in the natural world. The Weird Weekend had it all: stories of men and women searching for unusual animals, the possibility of extra terrestrial life, treacle mines, whistling spiders and the confirmation that there is a big cat sidling around Devon, proving that a lot of our science fiction is, in fact, immersed in science fact.
The real stars of the weekend were the speakers who had prepared such thought provoking talks that by Saturday night, I was mentally saturated. Obviously, this is the main reason that I could not answer many of the quiz questions, that and the desire not to show up the rest of the guys competing. I am very kind like that.
Jon said to me over the weekend, 'I am not going to dumb down the Weird Weekend’, and to that I say 'Hoorah!’
Don't ever dumb it down, to do that it would lose its integrity and professionalism.
And besides, with me attending, I think you have enough of a dumb quotient!