The Fortean Review of the Year 1994

25 years ago The X Files was first broadcast and all those weird things like conspiracies, UFO’s, cryptoids and the weirdness of the Fortean world. What was, at best, something hidden in the alternative, the offbeat , became mainstream and normalised to the point where the mainstream realised there’s a lot of potential with it. Arguably this is one of the things that’s led to everyone accepting conspiracy theories as the X FIles also came as the internet was growing into the Worldwide Web, which fuelled the rise of people like Alex Jones.

But in 1994 this dystopia we live in now was a bit of SF if you’d suggested it 24 years ago. It was a different, more rational time, even with Forteana. In December of that year, the BBC broadcast one of their regular theme nights, which in this case was called Weird Night, and it is a fantastic bit of TV. The highlight of the night for me was the Fortean Review of the Year which at the time listed the various oddities of the year, but looking back at it now acts not just as a log of Fortean weirdness, but archive of what those pre-internet days looked like.

It’s worth a look just for the fainting goats. Enjoy.

 

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Look to the skies:My encounters with UFO’s

First off. I’m not talking aliens from Uranus. I’m talking about bloody odd things that can’t be easily explained but could be anything explainable light aircraft, meteorites, atmospheric conditions and of course aliens.┬áMost of us have probably at some point seen something in the sky, The overwhelming majority of that time it’s completely and utterly explainable but as I take a Fortean attitude to the entire subject and it’s Halloween weekend, here’s some examples of things I’ve seen that I can’t explain.

ufo

As a lad I used to walk to school, which was around a half hour walk from Milton to Possilpark in the north of Glasgow. One morning I saw something big, red and glowing in the sky which wasn’t unusual as we were on flightpaths for Glasgow Airport so I was used to seeing big glowing lights in the sky, and seeing as we were next to a load of playing fields, and street lighting wasn’t as ubiquitous as today, I was used to small meteorites burning up. In fact I used to try to track them down, but never ever managed to find any. Looking at Street View shows that very little has changed in terms of geography in subsequent decades.

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Anyhow, one morning it was especially cold, but bright and I set off to school as usual when I saw something big, red and glowing but instead of going down, it was going up in a vertical line. It wasn’t a plane as I was used to how planes moved, and it wasn’t a helicopter as there was no noise and it moved behind the trees at the top of the picture below.

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In fact the vantage point where I saw the ‘light’ was pretty much at the angle in the above Street View image and those trees haven’t changed in decades. I can’t explain what it is. I’m not saying that a red glowing light that moved up from behind those trees and rushed skyward was an alien spacecraft but it freaked me out. I must say all of this happened in a second or so back then I could do 100 yards fairly quickly, and by the time I got to the top of that hill there was nothing by the trees, or indeed, up in the sky. For nearly four decades that’s bugged me as although there has to be a reason (one friend years ago suggested Earth-lights) I’m open to the idea it was something extraterrestrial.

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There were a few other oddities over the years. Some I can write off as planes, or seeing something the wrong way or being amazingly, and brilliantly drunk but there’s one more I can’t write off.

Many decades later from the incident in Glasgow, I was now all grown up and off to see a gig in London (Joe Strummer) at the Town and Country Club in Kentish Town. I was going after work which meant coming from where I was working in West London across London at rush hour, a thankless task at the best of times. So I wasn’t able to drink as time was tight as I’d arranged to meet people at the pub just next door to the club, the Bull and Gate, before the gig.

Coming out of Kentish Town tube you take a right, and that treats you to this view across London.

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As you can see, you get a nice clear view for miles which on that night in the late 1980’s was crisp, clear and dark so a couple of dancing lights stood out. Again, this was back in the days before street lighting swamped out all of the stars or any other lights so I was used to seeing stars and other lights in the sky, especially in London which by now I was spending a lot of time in for work and play.

There were two lights in the sky, roughly where the traffic lights in the middle of the above picture is, and there were not acting like a plane as planes don’t go up and down randomly nor do they cause hardened Londoners to stop and look which is what was happening as people were walking out of the tube. It went on for a few minutes before both lights vanished across London, and again I thought they might be helicopters but once I got to the pub someone else who’d seen them pointed out helicopters don’t move in slanted diagonal lines which these lights were. By this point I’d started on my third Guinness of the night so this dropped out my head until Sunday afternoon heading home to Leicester (where I was living at this point) on the train when my brain started wondering what these things were. Again, I’m open to a rational explanation but also a more unconventional solution.

I do have other examples; weird lights over Glastonbury (the town, not the festival), something that blocked starlight out on the M1, but these two stood out as things which have annoyed me as there’s no way I can explain them and that bugs the crap out of me.

Still, if you think that’s annoying I might tell the tale of the weird trip on the London Underground some time..