Gatwick Airport conspiracy theories

One of the world’s busiest airports, Gatwick, has been closed down by a few drones. Of course this means conspiracy theories galore as people wonder how one of the UK’s main transport and infrastructure hubs can’t deal with drones, so we have theories from aliens.to terrorism to kids twatting about to Theresa May lurking in the bushes with a remote control trying to distract the public from Brexit.

Here’s a good idea of the online chat.

All this japery hides the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are having their Christmas breaks ruined while government barely move in order to try to stop the problem. And there is a point to be made that this disruption comes three months ahead of Brexit and were it not a time of the year when many people aren’t working, the disruption would be vastly worse.

No be it aliens, ‘false flag’ or simple incompetency the fact it with Brexit coming, Gatwick shows how desperately unprepared we are and how our government fails to do the most basic jobs of government. We are basically, fucked.

Unless it is aliens in which case we might have a chance of being saved…

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This UFO episode from 1971 is years ahead of its time

The Gerry and Sylvia Anderson TV series UFO was a feature of my youth but on the whole I remembered it as a fairly decent bit of often camp TV SF. In the last weeks I’ve watched a few episodes and one leaps out as something not just different, but decades ahead of time in terms of meta-commentary.

Mindbender features this synopsis

Lieutenant Andy Conroy is investigating a crash involving an alien craft on the Moon when he suddenly gets caught up in a Wild west type shoot-out with Mexican brigands. Back at the SHADO’s earthly base another officer, Beaver James, gets involved in another shoot-out, this time with aliens. Then a voice shouts “Cut!” and the whole is seen to be a film being made at the studios telling the story of Straker’s life. So what’s real and what’s imagined?

This is meta before the likes of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison made careers out of it, and is arguably much more adventurous being as it takes place in what was a pretty mainstream programme of the time. Mindbender really is a superb bit of television and takes the sort of risks many a programme now would never risk in case it annoys the fans. Something like this probably did annoy fans at the time but it’s such an experimental script (possibly brought on by budgetry concerns) that it really is ahead of the curve by several decades.

Thankfully YouTube have it all, so enjoy…

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. Most 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.

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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.

ufo3

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..

My Top 20 SF Films-13-Close Encounters of the Third Kind

I’ve recently dived into doing ”best of’ lists, so as I’ve explained, I’ve decided to do my top 20 SF films. This is my personal list, so feel free to disagree with it and of course, you’ll be horribly wrong.

Previously at # 20, The Matrix19, Seconds, 18A Boy and His Dog17Sunshine16Dark Star15Rollerball and 14 Altered States.

We look to the skies at #13 with Steven Speilberg’s wonderful Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

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Close Encounters isn’t an especially intellectual film. It’s  not especially saying anything important about humanity. It’s not going to trouble your brain after you leave the cinema or take out the DVD. It will however dazzle the knickers off you as it tells the story of an ordinary working man Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) who encounters the extraordinary (UFO’s) and how it changes his life forever.

It’s a giant spectacle of a film which because it’s known to most people now through TV broadcasts, is lost. This was a film that when I saw it as a kid at the cinema on one of the biggest screens in the UK and on 70mm was an immense treat. As for the plot, it’s a thin one, but this matters little to Speilberg as it’s a skeleton he hangs well realised (not to mention well written) characters focusing in on something remarkable but they don’t know what until the end, and unlike a lot of films featuring aliens this is a hopeful, genuinely uplifting film that’s joyful. Ok, Neary’s family is a mess and he’s essentially walked out on them but lets skim over that and whoop in wonder at the spectacular tale that Speilberg tells.

This of course was back in the day when Speilberg was young and hungry, so it’s not as bloated and sludgy as some of his more recent films, nor is it trying hard to well, try hard. This is Speilberg at his most natural before he got, well, lazy. He’s grafting all the time here making every scene work which shows in any edition you care to watch.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a joy. What is also a joy is the sort of trailer we’ll never ever get again.

Next time, we venture into deep space…….