A British Roswell?
Now and again I'm asked about the strangest and most surreal experiences I've had on the road. Well, there have been many - from Brazil to Mexico, from Loch Ness, Scotland to Alaska, from California's Devil's Gate Dam to the resting place of the late Johnny Ramone, and to a cave filled with rabid bats...well, you get the picture. In other words, there have been plenty of strange situations - there still are! With that said, read on. We'll begin with a conspiracy-filled story concerning UFOs. In 1991, the now-deceased collector of "Crashed UFO" tales, Leonard Stringfield, revealed that he had been told – by a former U.S. military source – of the crash in 1964 of a UFO on the fringes of one of England’s most notoriously weird areas of woodland: the Cannock Chase. A craft and alien bodies were said to have been recovered, and a high-level cover-up was put into place to hide the out-of-this-world truth. For a couple of years I delved into the tale, but didn’t make any significant headway. Things changed, however, in 1996. One year earlier, local UFO investigator and good friend, Irene Bott, had established the Staffordshire UFO Group, and promptly began digging into that 1964 case. And it was after a year or so of digging that Irene hit pay dirt. She had been contacted by a man named Harold South who then lived only a few miles away and who claimed to have witnessed the recovery by elements of the military of a small, triangular-shaped craft from the woods in question – which was promptly loaded aboard a large vehicle and headed for destinations-unknown. Not only that: South said that after photographing the mysterious object, his camera-film was confiscated by the local police.
On a dark and cold December 1996 morning, Irene and I headed to South’s home for an in-person interview. When we arrived, a highly shaken South told us the military had phoned him earlier; and, as a result, he was not sure if he should speak to us at all. We were able to confirm that a call had indeed been made to him that very morning: we traced it back to the U.K. Ministry of Defense’s Guards Service. Was this evidence that South was still under surveillance as late as 1996 because of his close encounter on the Cannock Chase all those years before? Or was it me and Irene who were being secretly watched? We never really got to the bottom of the puzzle, but it was certainly one of the strangest situations in which I have found myself. Now, let's take a look at my first experience on Puerto Rico - looking for the legendary Chupacabra. What else?
Monsters on Puerto Rico
In 2004, I was on Puerto Rico with good mate Jon Downes - of the U.K.-based Center for Fortean Zoology - to make a show for the SyFy Channel (Proof Positive). Our mission? To find a Chupacabra. Our first interviewee was a man named Jorge, who had a small farm behind his house. We were there to investigate the matter of a strange series of attacks on Jorge’s chickens back in the late 1990s. The story that Jorge told was as bizarre as it was uncanny. At some point during the early hours of a summer’s morning, Jorge was suddenly woken up by the cries of his chickens, clearly scared out of their wits. Had Jorge checked on the chickens right there and then, the outcome would likely have been different. To his cost, however, Jorge did not. It was not until daybreak that he decided to see what had gone down just a few hours earlier. The scene before him both shocked and puzzled Jorge. Every single one of his chickens was dead. The killings did not look like the work of a wild animal, however. Indeed, the animals were not torn apart in the slightest, as one might well expect in a ferocious, wild dog attack. In fact, the only evidence of damage to the bodies was – wait for it, and take a deep, long breath – a pair of significantly sized holes in the necks of each and every chicken. Welcome to the world of the Chupacabra? Maybe, that's exactly what it was.
Punk Rockers and Government Agents
In the summer of 2001, I was commissioned by a British newsstand magazine called Eye Spy to interview David Shayler - formerly an employee of MI5 (the U.K.'s equivalent of the United States' FBI). I traveled down to London with the magazine’s editor, Mark Birdsall, and the interview was conducted in Shayler’s apartment. It was an extensive, recorded interview, which included questions about the Sex Pistols, and MI5’s interest in them and their music. Well, I sent the article off to Mark and didn’t think anymore about it – at least, I didn’t for a while. When the article appeared a couple of months later, and the relevant issue of the magazine was splashed across the nation’s newsstands, Mark Birdsall phoned me up to say he had received a visit at his North Yorkshire, England home from (and I quote exactly) "two lads from the Metropolitan Police." They explained to Mark that they were not at all concerned by what was contained in the article – indeed, it didn’t contain anything that wasn’t already in the public domain, in a then-new book titled Defending the Realm, and in the pages of numerous newspapers that covered the Shayler affair at the time. Nevertheless, as Mark explained to me, Scotland Yard wanted the audio-recording I made of the interview. That much became evident when, in late 2001, I received a phone call from Scotland Yard, specifically from a representative of what is called Special Branch. It was made very clear to me that I would hand over the recording of the interview, which was done on an old-school, small, voice-activated mini-cassette-recorder. I was also asked if I had made any copies (which I had not, as the recorder wasn’t of the tape-to-tape kind). And a lot of strange things happened around that time too, all of which led me to believe I was under some form of brief surveillance.
The Specters of Roswell
And, finally, there is the story of the ghosts of Roswell’s dead aliens. Located in the town is a place called the New Mexico Rehabilitation Center (NMRC). It’s built upon the grounds of the old Roswell Army Air Field Hospital. It was to the hospital, back in 1947, we’re told, that the strange and small bodies found on the Foster Ranch were transferred – for inspection, autopsy or brief storage. It all depends on who you ask. It’s intriguing, then, that some of the staff of the NMRC have reported seeing spectral forms of the diminutive deceased beings walking through walls and closed doors and acting in definitive spectral style. Are the dead of 1947 still hanging around? Maybe they are. In late 2005, I headed out to Roswell to investigate the stories of the ghostly, dead ETs – along with conspiracy author Jim Marrs, ghost-hunter Josh Warren, psychics Karyn Reece and Laura Lee, paranormal investigator Brian Irish, author Heidi Hollis, and Native American Richard Hernandez (for a TV show that never aired, which is a story for another day...). We personally spoke to a number of the staff at the NMRC about the claims. They openly, and on the record, told of personally seeing the ghostly, small figures on more than a few occasions. We even held a midnight seance in town to try and contact them - whatever they may have been. Yep, Roswell is seriously strange. As is my life!