I thought I would turn this 2-part article into a 4-part, as there are a couple of interesting stories to tell, and photos to show. The first one is a lighthearted one, as you’ll see. The photograph below was mailed anonymously to me back in the early to mid 1990s, if memory serves me correct, which I think it does. Anyway, a handful of years later, and after publishing the picture on the Net, I ended up getting a very weird, late-night phone call from someone who claimed it was a legitimate picture of what was known in the field of U.K. Cryptozoology as the Green-Faced Monkey of Churtson woods, England. How they knew this was not revealed, and no further data – beyond a slightly absurd Deep Throat-like message warning me not to meddle with ‘the beast’ – was revealed. But, I present the photo for you, just as it was given to me. Frankly, I think it looks like a cross between Donald Duck, the Dover Demon, and some discarded leftover from a 1970s-era episode of Dr. Who. You may agree!
Of the Green-Faced Monkey, Jon Downes, of the Center for Fortean Zoology, says: “Over a six week period, in the summer of 1996 in Churston Woods, Devon, fifteen separate witnesses reported seeing what they could only describe as a green faced monkey, running through the woods. Granted, some of the descriptions were quite vague, but most of the witnesses told of seeing a tailless animal, around four to five feet tall, with a flat, olive-green face that would run through the woods and occasionally would be seen swinging through the trees. Now, to me at least, this sounds like some form of primitive human, but again, of course, such things simply cannot exist in this country – and yet they seem to. And this area – Devon, Somerset and Cornwall – is rich with such tales, you know.”
There were others who thought that the photo showed what became known as the Beast of Brassknocker Hill. The strange saga all began in July 1979, amid wild rumors that a terrifying monster was haunting the dark woods of Brassknocker Hill, situated near to the old British city of Bath. Described variously, and in both excited and hysterical tones, as a long-fanged, four-foot tall creature resembling a baboon, chimpanzee, spider-monkey, gibbon or lemur, the creature was of far more concern to some than it was to others. Locals Ron and Betty Harper were hardly in good moods when they discovered that the mysterious creature had stripped whole sections of their old, mighty oak tree bare of bark. Meanwhile, eighty-one-year-old Brassknocker Hill resident Frank Green, clearly hyped up to the max and desperately trying to live out his Dirty Harry fantasies, took a far more grave and serious view of the strange situation. He took up nothing less than a day and night shotgun vigil, and told the media in loud and worried tones: “I am very fond of some animals, but I reckon this creature could be dangerous and I am taking no chances.”
Fortunately, or unfortunately – depending on one’s personal perspective on the monstrous matter – Green did not have the opportunity to blast the baboon-like beast to kingdom come, or, indeed, to anywhere. It skillfully avoided all of his attempts to track it down, much to the relief of the police, who were hardly enamored by the idea of a grouchy, old-age pensioner roaming around Brassknocker Hill with a loaded shotgun in search of a marauding, unknown creature. By the time the following summer arrived, the mystery seemed to have been solved: a policeman, one Inspector Michael Price, caught sight in the woods of what he thought was nothing less than a large chimpanzee running around; although the identification of the animal was never fully confirmed, thus leaving the cage-door open to the possibility it had been a baboon, after all. The local press quickly sought out comments from the police. And they got them, too: “We were sure this mystery creature would turn out to be a monkey of some sort,” said Inspector Price himself, clearly and happily wallowing in a brief wave of very odd publicity. “After all, men from Mars aren’t hairy, are they?” And, I think that’s a good place to stop!