March 2012

Haunted Black Dog Lane

David Farrant in Black Dog Lane circa 1995
Well,  Spring seems to have arrived at last – at long last!  Still quite a few things on the agenda though, most of which I tried to arrange for the warmer weather.  A Talk in June up in Yorkshire when I will be discussing the Highgate ‘vampire’ thing yet again.  Why people always want me to discuss a ‘ghost case’ that happened 40 years ago, is always a little off-putting, but its what people seem to want, and if the opportunity is there to set the record straight for a younger generation (and some older one’s!) then I really feel obliged to take it.  Other ‘ghost cases’ inevitably come into it so its not all repetition.
But before that, we have another trip planned for Lyme Regis in Devon.  Not much difference in the distance so another long car ride coming up.
In fact, I am quite looking forward to returning there after several years; and hopefully we will get yet more information on the ‘phantom black dog’ that has been reported haunting a lonely country lane by night.  Several people have reported seeing it over the years, but I was sad to learn that a nearby pub – The Black Dog – has since closed so we have yet to find different accommodation for a couple of nights.  I remember they sold really good real ale there, but with a bit of luck there’ll be somewhere else nearby.  I have not looked into the reason for its closure now (just lack of sufficient trade I suppose), but it would be intriguing to see if it had any connection with the legend!  That’s hoping for a bit much, but some of these ghost locations have yielded stranger rumours in their time.  Della will be going as well, and is really looking forward to it.
Then I have to attend a book signing event in London in July.  Yes, for my new book! but I’ll give more information on that nearer the time.
I have found an old picture of the haunted lane from last time.  It may not look too sinister in daylight,  but at night it has a really strange atmosphere.  It is so quiet there being half a mile or so from the nearest small village.  The ‘dog’ has reputedly been spotted by lonely motorists, although when we were last there, only a couple of cars passed in over three hours.
Some people due here tonight, so better finish this off for now.  Della won’t be too pleased if she gets in from work and discovers I have forgotten to get the food (and the wine, of course!).
So that’s it for now everyone,
David

Scene 1 – Take 2367

Yet more Takes

I am not a movie critic, nor have I ever professed to be, but I had the absolute misfortune to watch a film today about the legendary Robbing Hood that was filmed in 2002 AD in and around Brighouse, West Yorkshire.  The film was given to me by a friend who lived in Brighouse at the time, but who periodically visits London to help organise professional film events for television (the last major one being the BAFTA presentations in February), and when he does so, he frequently stays over at my flat in North London.  I enjoy his visits as we have several mutual friends in the Yorkshire area, and can ‘catch up’ on local gossip and activities, much of which centres around a local belief that Robin Hood himself was originally from Yorkshire, and is buried in a secluded woodland grave at Kirklees.  Such is the local belief, at any rate, and newspapers (local newspapers, that is) always seem ready to try and establish that Robin was a ‘born and bred’ Yorkshireman and that Nottingham Castle and Sherwood Forest (Robin’s reputed historical domain), are only ‘fairy Tale myths’ whose only true motivation was a ruse invented by the Nottingham Tourist industry.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the latter have argued that the entire situation is the other way round,  and that it is the ‘Yorkshireites’ who are trying to filch the historical tradition to attract tourists to their own impoverished area.

But I digress.  The fact remains that the current day dispute does exist; in fact, has done so since the early 1980’s when a local woman from Brighouse, known affectionately as ‘Babs the witch’, began a ruthless Press campaign to establish that the woodland grave at Kirklees (just 2 miles from her home, and in fact only a Victorian folly) was the exact place where Robin was buried after firing off his last arrow.

It is against this background that the film was made, and kept by my friend as a recorded account of ‘local history’ for his extensive archives.  Perhaps the fact that the film in question was made as a ‘spoof’ of the Yorkshire legend, was another reason my friend agreed to impart the film to myself and Della, wanting only serious research material to make up his library.

Anyway, Della and myself finally got around to watching it yesterday, and it has to be said that its content was truly hilarious!

The film is introduced and presented by one Mark Gibbons, and the only other participants – apart from surprised pedestrians having a microphone forced into their faces – were Mark Gibbons himself at a couple of locations near to Brighouse, and Babs herself who had agreed to be interviewed in the local Three Nuns pub.

But the film had some interesting moments near its beginning, before the ‘grand finale’ in the pub and the filming of the interview.

Perhaps most amusing was the sheer amount of ‘takes’ needed to perfect just one scene.  And maybe it didn’t help when Mark Gibbons was trying to give an introductory commentary about the famous outlaw, and Babs decided upon that very moment to walk her little dog in the background, right in camera view, when it was desperately pulling her towards some selected ‘doggy spot’ where it was trying to defecate!

The film crew’s luck did not seem to hold out when, later at the Three Nuns, and Babs was trying to describe some bonky person who had declared that the Kirklees grave was really the haunt of a blood-sucking ‘vampire’, that the portable pay-phone on the bar rang – not just once, but on three separate occasions!  If this was not enough,  people kept using the nearby loo, and as the toilet ‘flushings’ were clearly audible in the footage, those takes as well, had to be re-filmed.

But to be fair, the film itself made for great amusement.  Well, it certainly had its moments!  And perhaps little wonder that it had been filed away as a ‘spoof’!

Well, Della and myself were certainly entertained by it anyway.  Its not often you can turn in after a late night ‘film’, without ‘Hollywood violence’ giving cause for unwanted dreams.  The film scarcely did that much, but it did provide an opportunity for brief discussion about the potential importance of keeping our Green Belts clean!

For now everyone

David  (and Della who is now asleep!).

The Editor of The Oldie will Shortly Receive …

David Farrant - NOT so Oldie!
Has anyone seen the Eggmanne recently? Some say he is now a recluse, only rearing his head in Bournemouth to give after dinner speeches to a converted audience. Some even say that he is … DEAD!
But, I have digressed already … Yet another wide circulation magazine, The Oldie – well loved by readers of Private Eye – has just done a review of volume two of my autobiography, “David Farrant : Out of the Shadows.” It is written by Duncan Campbell,  who is quite familiar with the Highgate ‘vampire’ saga which he covered in such magazines as Time Out and City Limits in the 1970s and 80s. You really will have to go out and buy a copy of the magazine, as The Oldie’s piece is a bit too long for me to summarise here. Suffice to say that in addition to offering a good synopsis of it’s main subject, there are a couple of paragraphs which bring things up to date somewhat amusingly.  Duncan writes, for example: “I expect that the editor of The Oldie will shortly receive a letter from ‘Bishop’ Manchester or someone purporting to be an objective observer, who will declare Manchester as the true voice of occultism.”
Well it really is too funny for words, but until it is no longer on sale in the shops I am afraid that I can reproduce no more … yet!
Another interview at the weekend, this time with American journalists on the Highgate case and other matters. And then, hopefully, a quiet weekend with Della when I can do some quiet meditating (even levitating) on her Victorian bed. She does get a little bit annoyed with me sometimes, as when I am up in the air like that it is rather difficult to reach my absinthe and I have to leave her (but only temporarily) to drink alone, way beneath me.
Oh how I miss those green dales of Yorkshire sometimes, where at least the spooks are confined to Victorian follies and haunted answerphone machines and the like; and evil spirits don’t try to attack you at night  –  if you remember to shut your louvre windows, that is.  Don’t think I’ll be going back there though. Paid £20 for a couple of nights lodgings on the last occasion,  and believe it or not this was ‘spirited away’ by one of the little gremlins there. Although I’m sure it ended up on the church collection plate in the end! (Well – where else could it really go? Unless it was to pay for environmentally friendly pooperscoop bags, which are a very important issue up there apparently.) I don’t know. That’s still a bit of a mystery, although I think the landlady was fully aware why she never got her pin money.
Anyway, a little tired tonight,  and once Della has finished preparing my nightcap and given me my foot massage, must seriously start thinking about getting ready for bed. We are both very tired actually, and I must really make a serious effort not to levitate anymore tonight – there’s only so much levitation a girl can take after a hard day’s work!
So I shall sign off now,  and please don’t forget to go out and buy this month’s issue of The Oldie (see pic above).
David

Yes, It All Gets Stranger

That was a lovely Edwardian bed!
Late again for writing a Blog, but as I explained last time (I think, without checking back) SO much has been happening lately.  Filming and writing projects to be completed; loads of correspondence a little behind but still awaited, and on top of that, friends visiting and even staying the night.  Not that I mind the latter: sometimes it is nice to ‘have a break’, even though it can take up time from official working expectations.
But apart from this, a lot of other things have been happening, a couple of them  highly amusing! . . .As many of you may know, my friend Kev Chesham recently started his own Blog; mainly to make people aware of an autobiographical book he is writing (and which is now in its last stages of completion.  His long term friend and associate “Raggety” has been encouraging him in this project;  mainly because he was greatly impressed with the manuscript and because he thought Kev had a very interesting story to tell.  A lot of Kev’s manuscript deals with Kev’s life as a professional athlete, and how
he represented and won trophies for his country, the UK.  But he also writes about his more personal life, and his experiences and expectations that lay behind his sporting career.  To this end, his friend (and manager as well), “Raggety” has also released a few extracts on his (Kev’s) Blog, and some revelations are astounding, to say the least . . .
Kev tells, for example, of how he met a certain person in 1973 – in the young days of his sporting career –   whom he later fell out with; a person who recently learned about Kev’s Blog, and has since tried to slur him as a ‘nazi supporter’, when ironically it was Kev who later accidently found out about the extent of this person’s own involvement with far right Hitlerian politics. Well, it is only too apparent that Kev’s revelations have rung true with a great many people who have themselves been the victims of similar smear campaigns by the same person – obviously not least myself! There has been growing media interest in Kev’s first person account of what really goes on ‘behind the scenes’ of some people who profess or pose as ‘religious people’. This popular interest shows no sign of abating,  and no credible explanations from this person seem to be forthcoming – in fact, he seems to have ‘done a runner’ from any Internet forums which are (reasonably) seeking answers from this self-professed man of the cloth.  To make the matter all the more ironic, perhaps, Kev has been a practising Buddhist for circa 40 years now, and despises people who adopt a pseudo-religious life as a means to protecting their own dark political lifestyles – which inevitably breed hatred and violence.
But I do not wish to pre-empt the revelations Kev has made so far on his Blog;  much less to offer my own personal views which might inadvertently give away the revelations soon to be revealed in total in his own publication. I did say it was rather amusing – and I still stand by that – but I feel somewhat justified in saying this because by his own admissions Kev has told myself and other people that these false allegations about himself are just laughable, and to some extent, really funny.
Moving on from the bizarre Photoshopped attempts to malign Kev, another, true event which did happen recently, however – or should I say non-event – concerned not the ridiculous ‘nazi posturings’ of bonky people, submerged behind a camouflage of ‘holy cloth’ ; but an obsessive campaign on the part of two Yorkshire lasses who are trying to prevent dogs ‘pooing’ in their local park.  Yes, it all gets stranger, as seems to be the way in ‘Farrantland’ all the time  – but not through any fault of my own!
This secondary humourous tale concerns two rather obsessive fans of mine from Yorkshire. As regular readers will know, I am not the kind of writer who feels comfortable with the idea of ‘fans’ as such. But when one is well known, one sometimes has to deal with the extremities of professional ‘celebrity stalkers’. The fans in question have been ‘on the scene’ for some years, and seem to have developed a rather unhealthy fascination not only with myself, but also my wife. Well Della has tried to deal with this in good humour, but it seems that her sense of humour is not in sync with theirs – if in fact they have any, which seems unlikely. For a certain post on her blog seems to have sent them (as they say in Yorkshire) ‘doolally-pip [sic]’.
Della has been forced to write yet another Blog about this, in which she is trying to get behind the truth of these weird internet revelations habitually made public by these two people. Subjected to a daily onslaught of libellous abuse by people who have never even met her, saying for example that I only married her for her money, that she is (perversely) also complicit in some kind of benefit fraud, as well as obscene and childish references to our private life, she has concluded that the perpetrators are either extremely stupid, immensely frustrated in their own personal lives, or possibly just plain old fashioned MAD.  To this end, she did not (and does not) think it inappropriate to publish a scan of a flyer which was sent to her from the north of England, apparently depicting these odd individuals engaging in yet another obsessive campaign, this time some rambling affair involving dog mess being deposited in their local park which is in the Green Belt of the beautiful dales of Yorkshire, Robin Hood country no less! For example I have been reliably informed that they are the second people this year to try to get Della arrested for the evil crime of – wait for it – daring to ridicule people who spend their entire day writing malicious gossip about her on the internet. And to compound her ‘crime’ – she’s a lot wittier than any of them put together (talk about Coronation Street, Last of the Summer Wine and Emmerdale – they have got nothing on it!). However, as I said earlier I (and Della as well for that matter) have been extremely busy lately, and don’t really have time to dwell on such matters. In fact, the legal advice I have been given over the years – as well as the last few days –  regarding these people is to not feed their obsession by glorifying their time wasting actions.  But having said that I will give you a link here for Della’s Blog, for anyone interested, as I think it explains the matter quite sufficiently : http://dellafarrant.org/?p=312
Speaking of Della,  she has just brought me in a glass of wine, in a different glass from the usual. This made me cast my mind back to when she first invited me to her Knightsbridge flat, over a year ago now. I have already described this visit somewhere on an earlier Blog; but it just brought back pleasant memories. It wasn’t red wine on that occasion, but a beautiful meal cooked by herself, with appropriate reverse (!) aperitif to follow. This made me just start going through some old-ish photographs she sent me at the time, and thought maybe I should share one of these with you.   So I am posting at the top of this Blog for sentimental value.  That was a really comfortable Edwardian bed – must have cost her a small fortune. But then she does deal in antiques, so maybe no real loss there.
See you all soon, good people, and I’ll try to be quicker with my Blog next time,
For the moment,
David

Would You Believe It?!

 

Keep guessing!
A quiet day for a change.  Would you believe it.  Almost forgotten what it was like not to take phone calls!  Well, because its been so quiet, there’s not much news.  Although I believe Della has a little which has just gone up on her Blog.  Here is the link to that anyway . . .
 http://dellafarrant.org/
 Might cheer some people up at least as it really is like a real-life comedy drama!  And I mean REAL!  Its not meant to be funny in any way as the person  or people – posting these meanderings (and I don’t mean Della) have absolutely no sense of humour!  Anyway, enjoy her post folks.  Gives me a break for a change.  Sometimes there is really no need to write anything!
For the moment everyone,
David

Signed and Sealed!

Drew and Della working undercover! (c) BPOS
Such a busy weekend!  There just didn’t seem enough time to fit everything in.  But fit things  in  Della and myself did somehow, we always seem to manage somehow.  I should perhaps say, that Della is an immense help in this respect, and much better at accommodating visitors to the flat than I could ever be.  I tend to get a bit ‘lazy’ sometimes where visitors or appointments are concerned, even overlooking the odd appointment that may have been arranged a few weeks before.  Such arranged visits always get met: its just that I have a habit of forgetting schedules when things – even social things – get a little busy.
This Friday may be a good example.  A lady from Scarborough had arranged to visit at 3pm.  She lived in this seaside down, but was visiting friends in London for the weekend.  I remembered that much; but I had completely forgotten the date!  It was not until lunchtime that Della reminded me that the lady was coming.  Shaken ‘back to life’ with a cup of tea, she virtually pulled me from the bed, and then I realised I had not even shaved –   let alone still yet having to get dressed  properly, putting aside the pair of shabby jeans I had been wearing the day before.  It was only a preliminary meeting to arrange some radio interview; but I was still so tired from the day before – so very tired.  But that all went well.  She arrived promptly, and somehow I managed to look a little more presentable.  An interview was arranged to speak on BPOS investigations; although I had to disappoint her a little by saying I couldn’t travel to Scarborough for a studio interview, and that the interview would have to be recorded in London.  She had offered me expenses for the train, but still I declined, although managed to get these ‘transferred’ to cover my time at their Agents in London.  The interview has not yet taken place, but will be transmitted on a large Local Radio station when completed and will later be available on line for people to download.
Saturday was busy as well; about 8 people here, in a bid to get the new film finished off. Can’t say anymore about that really, but I’ll keep everybody informed when we have a release date. I shouldn’t say this (but being conceited I will) but I think people are really going to love this one! We have had so much positive response to A Christmas Quarrel that I’m only speaking factually and not from any sense of boastfulness. But just wait and see that’s all I can say. I think you’ll all be presently surprised.
Sunday was quieter, but we had a visit from our old friend Drew. He was in London due to some film business and stayed over. We had a pleasant evening just talking and reminiscing about old times; especially when we had visited him in Yorkshire back in 2006.  We spent many happy hours driving around West Yorkshire – oh mustn’t forget, North Yorkshire and Lancashire as well. In fact we ended up on Pendle Hill, but unfortunately due to my bad foot and a torrential downpour – not to mention the mud – nobody present really managed to reach the summit. Drew and myself gave up and went back to the pub. Gareth, and a couple of others (bless them) did attempt to walk on into the slippery misty depths of the hill, but they never made it, and returned to the pub about an hour later, soaked to the skin and in bad need of a hot drink.
Drew during his Volvo phase!

Anyway, I ramble …

Back to the purpose of Drew’s visit. I had been in contact with him the week before over issues arising from the Red Monkey film (shot in 2006) at Robin Hood’s ‘grave’. Anyway, there was some good news on that front. In fact there was even better news on another one. Drew had apparently found some long lost footage which he had taken at the ‘haunted grave’ some years before Red Monkey had filmed there. He had brought me a copy and I was very impressed with the content. All I had seen thus far was another film called “Gravewatch UK”, also shot at the ‘grave’ by Drew and his crew in the mid 1990s. This was recently released on Youtube (Dec 2010 to be exact). But the footage Drew brought with him to show me, was even more interesting. We all sat and watched it together, and when it was over Della and myself were surprised when Drew produced a document from his  coat pocket, which in effect signed the broadcast and distribution rights of the film over to the BPOS. As Drew put it “I’ve had enough of the whole Robin Hood nonsense, do what you like with it.”  Well we could understand how he felt, but in reality some of the footage of the film gives an excellent historical account of the ‘haunted grave’ itself, and indeed, provides a great insight into the roles of many people involved at the time. Well Della and I were greatly honoured, and naturally signed the relevant paperwork immediately!
Drew stayed on throughout Monday, but he had to be back in central London for 7pm as he had to attend a very important film meeting. But as this particular project is ongoing, he will be returning to London again very soon, and of course – as we told him – he will be more than welcome to stay again.
So with another busy weekend out of the way, I leave you for now, my friends. I still have a busy week ahead, as trying to get another book finished. But I shall be doing another Blog soon, with all the latest developments, so please don’t go away good people!
For the moment,
David