July 2013

Gareth J. Medway And The Case Of The Apporting Bra Strap

 

Gareth under interrogation - check out that knowing smile! (c) Della Farrant 2013

[dropcap_1]S[/dropcap_1]ome people came round after dinner last night, and we had a relaxing evening, just generally discussing things and catching up on the good ol’ Internet. My friend and film producer Drew from Yorkshire was here for a couple of nights, and Gareth came along with Doug and Susan, some friends Gareth met through my old friend Kenny Frewin the other week.  Kenny drove over again last night, but it was easier for the others because they only live in Highgate. I think everyone was generally surprised at the amount of in-fighting and bitchiness which is going on between various  occult groups on the Internet (well, it is going on between all sorts of groups including political and religious ones, but we were only really interested in stuff relating to ghosts and the paranormal). One particular website we noticed is a local one to Highgate, called The Kentish Towner.

There appears to be a barrage of malicious disinformation on there ‘attacking’ my involvement in the Highgate ‘vampire’ case. Its all being done by a ‘gentleman’ using an alias of course, so that he can hide his real name and thus save being associated with his comments. Gareth wanted to make a post (which he did as he does not have access to the Internet) and after that had been dealt with we all had a good laugh at some of the other comments. One particular lady on there who is a tour guide at London’s Highgate Cemetery really appears to have ‘gone over the top’. She was alleging that myself and this other ‘gentleman’ had been solely responsible for attracting all the vandalism and hooliganism which has taken place in the cemetery, and for the state of the cemetery in recent decades.

When Kenny saw this latest post (and you can all read it if you want) he burst out laughing and remarked that we (that is myself and the Bonky gentleman) were virtually being held responsible for all the damage to the cemetery dating back from WW1; all the lead theft from coffins over the decades; the bomb damage from WW2; the laying off of all the gardeners from then until the 1970s; and all the activities of vandals who were breaking open vaults there and purportedly practicing Black Magic.  I suppose I can understand Kenny’s amusement at these gross errors – after all, HE was living in Highgate at the time. Personally I really find it quite funny; Kenny remarked that I really MUST be a vampire if I was capable of carrying out all that years before I was allegedly born, and latterly while I wasn’t even living in the country.

Anyway, enough of all that, although it does have its comedy value. But there was more comedy value to follow afterwards, when we all settled down to some wine and a Chinese takeaway. It was excellent food, and very quick delivery, but when the bell went I didn’t go down to the door which mean’t  I avoided giving him a tip. I mean, we don’t all have £3million in the reserves account like Highgate Cemetery does these days, do we! The vampire tourism industry – which it is in all but name, judging by the comments one reads about what motivates visitors to pay £12 for a rushed tour – really does seem to be proving lucrative. Kensal Green Cemetery, on the flipside, which lacks the notoriety and paranormal associations of its sister cemetery is nowhere near finding itself in the Financial Times Rich List. Only kidding, I gave him a tip really out of my “ill-gotten gains”. I am quite generous really which most of my friends will attest to.

This was where it began to get a little funny, although some might say almost unbelievable.

In the middle of a conversation concerning the fairer sex, something prompted Gareth to reach into his waistcoat pocket, purportedly to find a handkerchief. Well he got that safely, but in its aftermath a lady’s bra strap (or part of a lady’s bra strap) fell from his pocket onto the chair in full view of all present. Well Della and I were not surprised by this, as the same ‘accident’ happened a couple of weeks ago, but everyone else was very intrigued (which I suspect might be the desired effect). Despite an exhaustive campaign and interrogation we have been unable to trace the owner of the mystery bra strap, and to this end managed to snap a picture of Gareth exhibiting his trophy for inspection.

Gareth J. Medway displaying the apporting bra strap for inspection. (c) Della Farrant 2013

Is this YOUR bra strap??  Do you recognise it?? If so please email [email protected] so we can reunite it with its owner and obtain a full and frank report as to how it came into Gareth’s possession. Because Gareth ain’t saying – and all we can get out of him is a Mona Lisa smile. And without a testimonial we will be unable to blackmail Gareth into starring in this year’s BPOS Hallowe’en Special.

Well that’s it for now – have a load of other people over tonight so better go and prepare for the invasion.

For now,

David

Compared to Me, I Suppose, He’s An Angel!

"What the hell's that? A 'vampire' wearing a tea pot cosy???" (c) Della Farrant

 [dropcap_1]H[/dropcap_1]i all,

Thought some of you might appreciate the above still from a short skit filmed recently at Highgate Cemetery. It features my friend Kev Chesham, who is over in England for a few months, sorting out work and personal affairs, Redmond McWilliams of the official Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society, myself and a few other people.  Working title: “Five Go Mad in Highgate Cemetery”. Will try to put up some preliminary excerpts in the next week or so.  And no, don’t worry,  we didn’t get ‘in trouble’ –  far from it as you will see! 

In other news,  I am giving a talk in September which I hope some of you will attend.

 Actually two – the ASSAP conference on Sep 7th in Bath which I may have mentioned here before, and a talk for London Haunts and Horrors in conjunction with the Spooky Isles on Sep 23rd. They are both Highgate ‘vampire’ related, and I will be throwing fresh light on the mysterious goings on and the inter-rivalry which surrounded the events at Highgate Cemetery in North London (and still apparently does!)

 You can read more about the ASSAP conference and how to book tickets here: http://www.assap.ac.uk/SeriouslyStrange/whatshappening.html

My second talk in September is at The Green pub in Clerkenwell on the 23rd which is a Monday. You can read more about it here: http://www.spookyisles.com/2013/07/the-highgate-vampire-fact-or-fiction-talk-with-david-farrant/ There are lots of people going and it seems as though it is going to be a very friendly and sociable event (we are even planning a humorous ‘Highgate Vampire’ themed pub quiz to end the night with). And hopefully there will be a few surprise speakers too! 

If any readers want to attend it might be an idea to book soon as apparently tickets are going fast.

You can read more about the Talk below.

Well, hope you are all coping OK with the extreme heat. Kev is delighted as he is accustomed to a much warmer temperature in Saudi Arabia, and was quite shocked when he landed back in the UK! However the hot climes over there never prevented him from continuing with his athletic events and training; I really don’t know how he does it at his age, and when he can’t even have a cool beer to ‘chillax’ with afterwards (Kev doesn’t drink, smoke or indulge in occult activities – so compared to me, I suppose, he’s an angel!)

Speaking of which, things to do, so will sign off now, and hope at least a few of you can make it to the talks. If you can, see you there; if perchance not, then I’ll keep everyone updated on here.

For now,

David 

London Haunts and Horrors is proud to present a talk by the legendary David Farrant, who will explore the myths and realities of the world-renown Highgate Vampire case.

Discover how a ghost reported since the Victorian era became hijacked by the 1970s vampire craze – and reduced to an urban myth.

What really exists at Highgate Cemetery, and if it was a vampire, allegedly staked in the 1980s, why do people still encounter it today?

How did a relatively harmless ghost lead to a sensational Old Bailey ‘witch trial’?

David Farrant explains the facts of this infamous case, exposes the vampire hoax and explores the unanswerable – just what IS the Highgate ‘vampire’?

About David Farrant

David Farrant rose to international notoriety during the early 1970s because of his role in the Highgate ‘vampire’ scare which was dominating the headlines of the popular press.

Branded a Satanist, black magician and necromancer, he was sentenced to nearly 5 years imprisonment at his infamous and corrupt Old Bailey ‘witch trial’ in 1974, the first trial of its sort since 1944 – despite the witchcraft Act being officially repealed in 1951.

But Farrant, then a practicing Wiccan High Priest, has always maintained that the rituals which he undertook in Highgate Cemetery were intended to counteract the activities of real Satanists who had invoked the entity which is still seen today in and around the cemetery –  the same apparition which has become branded (albeit erroneously) a ‘vampire’.

Encouraged by his mother to embrace spiritualism and the ‘Old Religion’ from a young age,  Farrant has devoted his life to psychical research, delving into the origins of unexplained phenomena across the UK. He is founder President of the British Psychic and Occult Society (est. 1967), and the author of ‘Beyond The Highgate Vampire’ and many articles pertaining to the paranormal and mysticism, about which he is regularly asked to give talks and broadcasts.

Still resident in Highgate, Farrant is married and has two grown up sons.

The Talk: “The Highgate Vampire: Fact or Fiction? Talk with David Farrant” will be held on Monday, 23rd September, at The Green, Clerkenwell, from 7.30pm. Purchase your tickets here at London Haunt and Horrors or here at Eventbrite.

A Cinematic Survey of Highgate

 

 

David Farrant and Mark Pilkington at the Last Tuesday Society, July 2013 (c) Della Farrant. Don’t worry – that hog that’s sniffing round David is safely stuffed!

Hello everyone, am guest blogging tonight but hopefully I can entertain you all as well as the Supreme Leader himself!

We attended a very interesting lecture tonight, at the Last Tuesday Society in Hackney. The talk was led by Mark Pilkington, who has interviewed David in the past for his Strange Attractor radio show

Mark has an extensive knowledge of the Highgate case, and is particularly interested in its role in the social history of the 1960s and 1970s.  The event was billed as a cinematic survey of the film industry’s use of Highgate Cemetery, and it did not disappoint!

An author friend kindly drove us down to Hackney in the stifling summer heat, and we were very impressed with the venue. If you haven’t been to the Last Tuesday Society before I really recommend that you do; not only is the space visually stimulating (and seemingly air conditioned!) but the management and clientele are most friendly, hospitable and engaging. And check out the graphics on the website! Exquisite. Anyway, once we had made our way through the taxidermied bats and vases of Victorian glass eyes, we settled down in the auditorium for Mark’s talk, which began with an introduction to 1960s London’s fascination with the macabre.

I must admit I was quite delighted that Mark had tracked down some old north London news reports about the vampire scare which even we don’t (or didn’t!) have copies of. The selection of film clips was excellent, including a nearly destroyed remnant of Browing’s ‘London After Midnight’ starring Lon Chaney.  We were also treated to a lot of contextualized Hammer excerpts and the astonishingly bad and yet weirdly compelling ‘The Body Beneath’, as well as a rare mondo clip which attempted to reconstruct the crucifixion of Joseph DeHavilland on Hampstead Heath on July 25th 1968 (Vittorio De Sisti’s Naked England (Inghilterra Nuda) released in 1969).

That bit wasn’t funny, it was quite horrific. But the greatest hilarity came upon us when the BBC 24 Hours news item upon the Highgate ‘vampire’ was screened, which instantly rendered the audience in fits of sillyitis –  especially the closing sequence, the similarity of said clip to the clips we had just watched of hammed up horror films being lost on no one. What the audience didn’t know however was that David Farrant himself, who was also featured in the broadcast, was in the audience among them. Indeed, David found himself partaking in an impromptu questions and answers session when everyone had regained their composure.

I was glad that the lecture included a clip from Luigi Scattini’s ‘Angeli Bianchi, Angeli Nera’, as I have been musing over that sequence for some time. More can be read about the director (RIP) and how the occult troubles at Highgate Cemetery inspired his film here: http://luigiscattini.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/angeli-bianchi-angeli-neri-1969/ My apologies for readers who are not fluent in Italian! However, you can view the clip which was screened, with English audio below. Although slightly higher resolution versions are available online (sorry Jason!) I am providing this link because it will save readers watching the excruciating intro to the film itself.

Anyone who is interested in the ‘craze’ for desecrating graveyards and churches throughout the 1960s and 1970s (documented by Bill Ellis in his excellent work from 2000, Raising The Devil), will be aware of the necromantic rites which were carried out at Tottenham Park Cemetery on the night of Hallowe’en 1968. It was on this night that bodies were dug up and staked, and circles of flowers left in situ, with extraneous trails of flowers leading to fresh graves. The picture below was taken the morning after the events, and was part of the police documentation of the crime scene.

Cemetery workers point to ritualistic remains at Tottenham Park Cemetery 1st Nov 1968

What is especially interesting about the evidence is the strong indication that whatever went on that night was not the work of people who had seen too many vampire films, but of people enacting traditional necromantic rites regardless of what Hammer double bill was showing at the Essoldo that week. For example, the upending of one of the violated coffins is potentially indicative of a concerted attempt to pose the corpse in a manner which would enable a necromancer to gain communion with its previous inhabitant. The staking of the corpse is also telling in ways that are so commonly glossed over.

We are all familiar with the endless recountings of thrillseeking teenagers (and some grown up oddballs) driving stakes into dessicated corpses in Highgate Cemetery. But the use of stakes in necromancy has a very different – although related – context: that of finalising contact with the spirit of the body which has been used in ritual.  It is a common misnomer that the staking of corpses in Highgate began as a result of the media coverage of the Highgate ‘vampire’ flap. It is certainly true that irresponsible advice given on TV and in the local press during 1970 about how best to dispatch a vampire encouraged this revolting behaviour on a grander scale than ever before, and by people who previously would probably never have considered doing so. However it is true that on a small scale this was already happening prior to 1970.

An all too familiar crime scene is ‘caught on film’ in Scattini’s documentary, this time the location being Highgate Cemetery. We see a police car parked within the semi-circle of the Colonnade, a frightened witness being interviewed by DCs and uniformed police, and most significantly a circle of flowers, with a line extending from said circle to a recently opened grave.  Presumably the detaining of the witness at the fresh crime scene indicates – although this is not made visually explicit – that a body was involved in the incident.

At first I wondered if the film crew had spliced in footage of the Tottenham Park carnage, but on close inspection the trees and paths do indicate that we are indeed viewing footage shot in Highgate Cemetery. Various European releases of the film show sequences obviously shot earlier, at dawn, and are a must for the morbid aficionado. Titled ‘Witchcraft 1970’ for its mainstream release, Scattini’s film was actually filmed in the first half of 1969, which would place the Highgate sequence at around Imbolc of that year, as indicated by the visible breath of the policemen.  Were both outrages committed by the same people? We will probably never know. But the filmic record certainly contrasts sharply with the assertation of  BBC reporter Laurence Picethly who, representing the official views of Highgate Cemetery staff during the infamous BBC 24 Hours broadcast of 15 October 1970, stated ‘In all their years here no grave-digger has ever seen a […] black magic circle’. Is a circle of flowers in a rundown cemetery in 1969, allegedly recorded by the police as having been made, the same thing as a black magic circle?  If it is accompanied with evidence of the practice of necromancy I would say yes.

As to how the film crew knew to be there at dawn, and were allowed to film with the permission of the police, perhaps that is an even bigger question. For who could alert a film crew to be ready with charged camera batteries, boomsticks, a producer and director unless they knew the desecration would occur? And those police uniforms and indeed the police car do not look like they were hired from a fancy dress shop to me. You can read more of my conjectures about the pre-Operation Countryman conduct of the Met Police, including my speculations about the more venal motivations for the aggressive conviction of David Farrant for desecration at Highgate Cemetery here: http://davidfarrant.org/david-farrant-out-of-the-shadows-full-introduction/

But lest I go all Dan Brown, I best finish up.

At the end of the talk I took a few pictures of Mark and David, which you can see above. The heat had just about dropped by then, but regardless of that a good time was had by all. And it was great to meet in person some members of The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society, the group which I co-admin with Redmond McWilliams on Facebook. And I would like to say thanks to Mark and the Last Tuesday Society for a really interesting evening!

For now,

Della

David Farrant in the Last Tuesday Society’s Curiosity Shop July 2013 (c) Della Farrant

 

Not Vain

 

Vampire, unexplained phenomenon or outright hoax? David Farrant re-visits the myths and realities of the infamous Highgate Vampire panic that occurred in London in the late 1960’s.  David’s investigations into the case brought it worldwide fame, but also led to his ‘witchcraft’ trial at the Old Bailey in 1974 and a subsequent term of imprisonment.  He is author of the best selling book Beyond the Highgate Vampire. 

 Thus reads the programme description for the Talk I am scheduled to give at the ASSAP Conference at Bath University on Saturday September 6th this year.  It shouldn’t really surprise anyone that I was invited to talk on the so-called Highgate ‘vampire’ as the British Psychic and Occult Society investigation into this complicated case in the late 1960s  became the subject of much controversy involving police arrests and court cases and the claims of certain other people that the spectre witnessed in and around Highgate Cemetery was, in reality, a ‘blood-sucking vampire’!  Not so, I pointed out at a the time.  Stories of a genuine psychic entity – or ‘ghost – seen  in the vicinity were definitely authentic (at least the reports themselves were), but some other reports of this being a ‘vampire’, were ‘just pure fiction’.   I said as much to the Finchley and Hampstead Advertiser in 1987:  that the original reports of an unexplained phenomenon in the area were authentic – stories of a ‘vampire’ were just the result of a hoax perpetrated by just a small handful of people.

 Obviously, I will be expounding on this in the Talk itself, so people can still attend should they wish to as I believe tickets are still available.

 The Conference begins with an introductory speech from the Rev Lionel Fanthorpe (who many may remember from Fortean TV),  but many other ‘psychic celeberaties’ will be speaking over this 3-day Conference, and I understand the Saturday night dinner and disco are also included in the price of the ticket.

 Other ‘Blog news’ news?

 Well things have been pretty quiet recently.  Della and myself have just been catching up on a few mundane things, but otherwise enjoying the heat.  I’ve ‘switched back’ to cold beer in this weather (found some that’s 10%!) as our flat does tend to trap the heat.  It does overlook Highgate Woods luckily, so not too much smoke or noise,  and we can just walk over and lie in the shade if we want.

 Then only a couple of days ago, somebody from abroad sent me a photograph to illustrate a quote I was once supposed to have made.  I have posted it, but I seriously don’t remember making the quote – even if it might be applicable!  I don’t know.  But no doubt some of you might have your own opinions?!

 So, all for now everyone.  But I do hope some of you can make it down to ASSAP.  There are plenty of others speaking for any who don’t particularly want to hear myself.  (There, that’s not vain, is it!?)

 For the moment,

 David