Out, right now, is the brand new book from David Clarke: Britain's X-traordinary Files. As you may guess from its title, the book deals with British Government records on an astonishingly wide and varied body of paranormal phenomena. Most readers of Mysterious Universe will, I'm sure, know that over the years various arms of the British Ministry of Defence investigated reports of UFOs in the nation's airspace.
What Dave Clarke's new book demonstrates, however, is what else the world of officialdom has had in its sights over the years. Some of it, as now-declassified files reveal, was not just weird. It was what we might term beyond weird. Dave is to be applauded for having spent who knows how many hours at the U.K. National Archives, digging around for material on the kinds of things that used to make Fox Mulder drool.
I read the approximately 200-page book across three sittings, and a fascinating study of real life X-Files it certainly is. I think it's pretty fair to say that when it comes to the world of the British Government and the unexplained, most people assume it began and finished with flying saucers, UFOs, and the like. Not so. In fact, the exact opposite.
Dave demonstrates the sheer diversity of material - which extends back not just decades but centuries. So, with that all said, where should I start? Well, I'll begin with my favorite section of the book. Namely, that of officialdom's interest in the domain of "death rays." Welcome to the world of a certain Harry Grindell-Matthews, otherwise known as the "Death Ray Man."
To say that Grindell-Matthews was quite a character is an understatement. His is a story in which secret files, alleged fantastic technologies developed by the Germans, and even Winston Churchill, pop up! We also get to hear of other rumors and tales of death ray technology reportedly studied by officialdom - to varying degrees.
Britain's ABCs - the mysterious "Alien Big Cats" that have roamed the land for so long - are covered too, specifically in terms of the government 's (somewhat reluctant) response to the phenomenon. As is the nation's most mysterious of all unknown animals - the Loch Ness Monster, which, as Britain's X-traordinary Files demonstrates, has been the topic of far more than a few official dossiers over the decades.
The curious and secret saga of how the British Police Force - during the Second World War - found itself caught up in the controversy of dowsing (or water-divining) is told , as is the fascinating story of Britain's very own 1970s-era wave of mysterious helicopters.
Many people will have heard of encounters with "phantom helicopters" and "black helicopters" in the United States. Far less, I'm sure, will know the intriguing story of how Britain's Ministry of Defence and Special Branch found themselves immersed in the puzzle - as a big wad of previously-classified files clearly demonstrate.
The idea that British Fire Brigade papers might exist on violent poltergeist activity in 1960s London sounds like something straight out of one of those old, Hammer-horror movies of decades long gone. Not so. As Dave shows, truth really is weirder than fiction.
If you know the 1964 story of Jim Templeton, the Solway Spaceman, and Templeton's run-in with a pair of very odd Men in Black, you'll be very pleased to know that this case (one with a definitive refusal to die) is focused on heavily, too.
Add to that official files on (a) sightings of sea serpents; (b) witchcraft trials; (c) British Intelligence dabbling in the world of the occult, as it sought to defeat Hitler's hordes; and (d) a wealth of additional mysteries that occupied, mystified, and sometimes fascinated the world of government, military, and the intelligence service of the British Government, and you'll find yourself immersed in a book quite unlike any other.