Part-1 of this article detailed the beginnings of my interest in the controversial matter of the “British Bigfoot” phenomenon. It’s a story that continues like this: I heartily devoured the packed pages of Janet and Colin Bord’s Alien Animals and made a careful, mental note to soon make the drive out to the infamous bridge where the Man-Monkey was said to have its lair. Unfortunately, even though my interest in the world of the unexplained had undeniably increased, I simply forgot about the Man-Monkey and its crazed and beastly actions, and I began to focus my attention far more on unidentified flying objects – that is, until the latter part of 1987.
During this specific period of time, I was working in the Essex, England town of Harlow. One evening, in October 1987, I was sprawled out on the bed, triple whiskey and coke in hand (or some such similar potent concoction, at least), and once again reading through the pages of Alien Animals – probably, I’m pretty sure, for the very first time since that fateful day back in January 1986, when I watched the TV news reporting on the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
This second occasion, too, was hit by deep tragedy: namely, a devastating hurricane that decimated whole swathes of England, after BBC weather-man Michael Fish assured the good folk of the UK that any talk of a coming hurricane was nothing but complete and utter nonsense. Fish was wrong. Memorably and infamously so, in fact, as people found to their considerable cost and dismay the very next morning, when they arose to what can only be described as an apocalyptic scene of complete and utter carnage.
I actually recall waking up in the early hours of the morning, with macabre images of the Man-Monkey fixed firmly in my mind, as well as hearing the driving deluge, and the wild storm whipping up a frenzy outside of the rain-beaten windows. Like so many of the locals, I drove around much of Essex the next day. I was utterly amazed and appalled, yet also spell-bound and transfixed, at the scene of overwhelming destruction.
It was from pretty much that very moment onward that I began to take a far greater note of not only the Man-Monkey legend, but also of just about any, and all, reports of a British Bigfoot variety on which I could lay my eager hands. As time progressed, and as the days, the months, and the years went by, I collected more and more accounts. I also undertook numerous on-site investigations, discovered a wealth of witness testimony, and developed a startling realization that far from being the rarity I and many others had assumed it to be, the British Bigfoot phenomenon was actually one of near-epic, nationwide proportions.
The problem, as I saw it, however, was that while many researchers possessed a report or two, there had been no real attempt on the part of the Fortean community of the day to share, collate and study all of the available data – which, had such an action been undertaken way back when, might very well have led to a deep understanding of the nationwide scale of the phenomenon. In other words, this wasn’t just a mystery of not fully understood proportions. It was also an issue that was very much one of under-appreciated proportions. Maybe even of unrecognized proportions.
Nevertheless, however, from all across the country’s forests, woods, hills, mountains and even fairly built-up areas, reports most assuredly surfaced. And, unlike my personal investigations, those reports spanned not just the years or the decades, but the centuries even. It very soon became evident to me that this was a phenomenon which, aside from only the occasional comment, was pretty much ignored, derided, and laughed at. But, the undeniable fact was that there were dozens – maybe even hundreds – of people all across the nation who had encountered beasts that, if we were talking about the Pacific northwest woods or the Himalayas, we would be calling Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman.
As for the names of the “British Bigfoot,” they include the “Beast of Bolam,” the “Wild Man of Orford,” the “Shug-Monkey,” and the “Wild Man of Dorset.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – as research and time has demonstrated to me since that January 1986 day when I first crossed paths with the Man-Monkey.