One of the things that everyone who investigates the likes of Cryptozoology, Ufology, and ghost-hunting hates is a hoaxer. Unfortunately, it's a fact of life. They're out there. So, with that said, I thought I would share with you two unforgettable hoaxes that came my way, but that - thankfully - didn't deceive me. I'll begin with the strange saga of an alleged colony of small humanoids hiding out in the deep caves of the U.K. It sounded good, but that's about all it was. It all began in early 1997. But, it didn't last long. The reality is that it's a bit of fun meant to offer a bit of "sword and sorcery"-style entertainment for those who visit the particular caves in question. But, what was interesting was the intricately woven tale that accompanied the picture when I got it. The accompanying letter ran to two or three pages and was a highly entertaining piece of horrific hokum written in a definitively atmospheric, Lovecraftian style. But, if you too are ever on the receiving end of this particular photo and its accompanying letter, know that it's just a piece of man-made entertainment, coupled with the written ravings of someone with - apparently - a very good imagination, but way too much time on their hands, and nothing else! There's something else, too: those who perpetrate such things are just idiots and a pain in the neck. Now onto Bigfoot (the British version, that is).
There's no doubt that the U.K.'s Cannock Chase has been the site of more than a few cases of what can only be termed as a "British Bigfoot." However, there is also no doubt that the creatures are supernatural, rather than flesh-and-blood. These real cases, however, have led to more than a few pranks that, for a while, took some monster-hunters in. There's no doubt this one is the most infamous of all Bigfoot hoaxes on the Cannock Chase. The story surfaced in the pages of the now-defunct Chase Post newspaper on March 23, 2006. The headline in the newspaper was: Bigfoot almost caused me to lose my baby! Utterly relishing the opportunity to relate to its readers a tale of proportions that easily surpassed the surreal, the Post began in fine fashion: "Police chiefs have hit out at the dangers posed by the spoof 'Bigfoot' craze after a teenager almost lost her baby when a joker clad in a gorilla suit jumped in front of her car. And the concerns have been echoed by a leading Councillor and conservationist, who fears the 'irresponsible idiots' are causing harm to wildlife as well as people.'" No, it was not April Fools' Day; although many might have been forgiven for thinking it was exactly that! So the story went, the controversy kicked off in the heart of the village of Brocton.
It was barely sixty minutes before the witching-hour struck when a 19-year-old pregnant girl and her parents were driving through picturesque Brocton, having had a Saturday night out in a restaurant in nearby Milford - a locale whose other brief claim to infamy occurred in September 1990, when Sir Peter Terry, the former Governor of Gibraltar, was shot and severely injured at his Milford home by the Provisional IRA. When questioned later by police, the girl said: "We noticed a BMW parked in the road. Suddenly it flashed its lights. Just then, out of nowhere, this person dressed in a gorilla suit jumped out in front of our car, flailing their arms like mad. Then they started running at the car like mad. It was terrifying." She continued: "Looking back it was obviously a fake suit, but late at night, in an isolated area like that, it was a very scary experience. In broad daylight, I suppose it could be quite funny, but this was 11 o’clock at night with no-one around. It’s very lonely there. If that had been someone with a heart condition, they could’ve had a heart attack. I screamed so loud. It was a real scare. It left me with fears that the trauma of it could have fatally harmed my baby."
The girl’s irate dad was up in arms and told the Chase Post: "If I’d have caught the idiots, I’d have pasted them." The local police weren't exactly laughing either. When contacted by the newspaper for comment on the matter, a spokesperson for Staffordshire Police HQ replied in stern tones: "We take it very seriously because it may result in a Public Order Offense. The person [in the gorilla suit] may very well be in high spirits, but this would be viewed as a criminal offense.’" And local Councillor John Burnett made sure he put in his word in, too, too: "This is the behavior of an irresponsible idiot. At this time of year, there are all manner of ground-nesting birds in that area; the partridge, the pheasant, woodlarks, skylarks - many rare birds whose habitat and nesting could be destroyed by this kind of activity." If nothing else, this article will demonstrate that hoaxes should be carefully watched, investigated, and then shown - ton one and all - for what they really are.
Note: Several years later, the photographer - quite out of the blue - handed over the well-made model in the cave and gave me the full copyright on it. A case of wishing he had never done it? That's exactly what it was.