September 2013

A Very Intensive Evening (But Fun!)

 

Highgate 'vampire' witness Martin Trent and David Farrant grapple over the mic (!) (c) Lorcan Maguire 2013

[dropcap_1]I[/dropcap_1] gave my long-awaited talk  “The Highgate Vampire – Fact or Fiction?”  in Islington this Monday past, for London Haunts and Horrors which is run by David Saunderson of The Spooky Isles – a website dealing with all manner of hauntings and unexplained phenomena.

The Talk was booked by ticket in advance, but if people just turned up expecting to pay on the door they were  allowed admission if space was available.  Nobody was turned away at my Monday Talk, but by the time it began there was standing room only. I know a lot of my readers here from further afield than London would have liked to attend, and the Talk was filmed largely for their benefit, but while the bulk of the footage is being edited this brief write up will have to suffice.   

The Talk ended up being quite a productive networking event in some ways, as the attendees were all very friendly and sociable, each with their own interests and/or ongoing activities in the world of paranormal research. As well as the stalwarts of the London Haunts and Horrors scene quite a few members of The Last Tuesday Society, which hosted July’s ‘Cinematic Survey of Highgate’ event were present, as well as members of Redmond McWilliams’ Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society (and the man himself of course – Redmond that is, not the ‘vampire’). There were also many paranormal authors at the Talk, including Paul Adams, who previously worked with Peter Underwood on titles such as the ‘Borley Rectory Companion’ and ‘Shadows in the Nave’, and is currently working on his next book ‘Written in Blood’, a cultural survey of vampirism in Britain; as well as Alan Murdie, Chairman of the Ghost Club of Great Britain who readers may remember wrote a very balanced article about the Highgate ‘vampire’ case for the Hallowe’en edition of Fortean Times in 2012. I was also able to catch up with John Fraser of the Society for Psychical Research, who I understand is speaking at ASSAP’s Seriously Staked Vampire Symposium conference in March next year, and my old friend Neil Arnold, author of dozens of supernatural surveys including ‘Paranormal London’ for which I contributed an introduction in 2010.  So, as Redmond commented yesterday, ‘who says that the paranormal world (Highgate especially) has to be a battlefield overrun by troublesome trolls and flame wars?’ !

But perhaps what made this particular Talk exceptional, in addition to the fantastic audience, was the inclusion of speaking slots by three independent witnesses who had all had their own experiences with entities or perhaps the same entity, in or near Highgate Cemetery. Their experiences were also recorded on film with their respective permissions. 

The first witness to speak was popular historian, medium and psychic researcher, Patsy Langley who is also the author of best selling book ‘The Highgate Vampire Casebook’. In brief Patsy spoke about the archival research which formed the backbone of her book, and her own experiences with others when she visited the cemetery in the mid 2000s. One interesting thing which Patsy mentioned was in response to a question put by Neil Arnold about the real origins of photographs which have been circulated on the internet which allegedly depict the Highgate ‘vampire’ in the flesh – or in some random corpse’s flesh if one was to go along with the notion that that it/he is in fact a ‘demonic revenant’.  I won’t relate all the details here as her full interview will soon be released on YouTube, and people will have a chance to watch it themselves. But the real reason is that it is going to save me a whole load of typing!

Second up was Mickey Gocool, founder of North London Paranormal Investigations (N.L.P.I.) who related an experience which he shared with a member of his group in June 2012, of a tall dark figure which appeared to them in Swain’s Lane round about the time of the Summer solstice. You can read more about his sighting here, and here whilst waiting for the footage to be uploaded in the next few days.

And finally was Martin Trent, a longtime resident of Highgate Village, who gave a very credible and sincere account of a disturbing encounter which he had with a tall dark figure – again, in Swain’s Lane – in 2005. Martin’s original account as published online in 2007 can be read here.  His interview is already up on YouTube, and anyone wishing to view can do so here:

[youtube id=”uJrh-0TsZ_o” width=”662″ height=”400″]

All in all it was a very intensive yet fulfilling evening, with some great comedy moments, some serious debate, and a good atmosphere, and from the feedback received I think everyone had a good time. But I must say that I was relieved to get a lift home and relax over a glass of wine when the crowd had dispersed at the end of the night.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another blog, but until then, I hope you all enjoy Martin’s interview.

For now,

David

Almost Fully Booked …

[dropcap_1]H[/dropcap_1]ello everyone,

Won’t be writing too much today; still a little mentally fatigued from some deadlines I have been meeting recently.  I have been asked to give yet another Talk on the Highgate ‘vampire’ which I shall be doing on 23rd September (all details in the links below).  The Talk will also break new ground by introducing some of the witnesses to the Highgate phenomenon who will be present to answer questions. As an additional treat, Redmond McWilliams, founder of the original Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society (accept no cheap imitiations!) will be hosting a Highgate Vampire pub quiz, with prizes including original memorabilia, books and Hammer Horror DVDS.

I hope some of you will be able to make it, and look forward to seeing you there. The event’s organiser, David Saunderson of The Spooky Isles and London Haunts and Horrors visited me on Saturday after his successful group visit to Highgate Cemetery and some of Highgate’s most haunted locations. While he was here he shot the following introduction by myself to the forthcoming Talk, which some of you may like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsheUFTjC68

You can find out more about the Talk here:

http://www.spookyisles.com/2013/07/the-highgate-vampire-fact-or-fiction-talk-with-david-farrant/

And about how to book here:  http://www.meetup.com/London-Haunts-and-Horrors/events

The event is almost fully booked and tickets on the door cannot be guaranteed although we will obviously try to squeeze in as many people as want to attend. So booking in advance is recommended to avoid disappointment.

So that’s all for now, everyone!

David

Books and Talks and Walks Oh My!!!

 

[dropcap_1]H[/dropcap_1]i all, Della here.  I am afraid that you are all going to have to put up with me instead of David tonight, as our Supreme Leader is rather fatigued following his debut at the ASSAP Seriously Strange conference on Saturday. But – the show must go on, and I can assure you that I have not tied him up in the cupboard under the stairs or anything remotely nefarious. He is alive and well, and sipping a whisky as I type!

Anyway, a few things – all on a related theme – to impart to you, David’s beloved readers. Firstly, we at the BPOS are proud to endorse the following publication from our friends over at the Spooky Isles:

The prolific, perpetually disseminating and ever enthusiastic about all things paranormal and horror related David Saunderson, founder of The Spooky Isles and London Haunts and Horrors, is being noticably humble in self-promoting his OWN new venture.  This, incase you haven’t heard, is his  glossy and original print debut which shall henceforth be known as ‘Dracula’s Midnight Snacks’.

Actually we heard that relevant blogs which show an interest get a free copy for review so … ONLY JOSHING! In seriousness, this book is the culmination of a lot of self-effacing, devoted research and collaboration with budding vampire authors from around the globe. From the back cover –

“Vampires tempt and terrify and the stories contained in ‘Dracula’s Midnight Snacks’ warn about horror but promise wicked delight. ‘Dracula’s Midnight Snacks’ is half of the two-part follow up to ‘Frankenstein Galvanized’, published last year by Red Rattle Books. ‘Dracula’s Midnight Snacks’ accompanies ‘Telegraph For Garlic’ which contains academic analysis of the novel, ‘Dracula’, by Bram Stoker. Horror expert, David Saunderson of ‘Spooky Isles’, invited vampire fans to submit stories for consideration. As well as tentative young Argentinean gentlemen heroes, we have porn stars and plastic surgeons in Los Angeles, cowboys and Comanche raiders, a vampire on disability benefit, a defiant feminist, black and white silent cinema, Victorian professional wrestling, an alienated sixties rock and roller and a nightmarish New York that almost overpowers our favourite anti-hero.”

Definitely worth a read if you enjoy your vampires modern, acerbic and cutting edge. You can check out the press release here.

This Saturday David S will be hosting a guided tour of haunted Highgate, taking in many of the local pubs, haunted spots in Swain’s Lane and of course the West cemetery itself. Rumour has it that the wife of a certain notorious occultist who still lives in Highgate had a hand in drafting up some of the places of interest on the walk and their various histories, but I never believe everything I read on the internet personally. The event has now sold out, but disappointed ghoulish sightseers may wish to console themselves with the following article which David F and myself prepared for The Spooky Isles last week (please click on pic for link).  The article brief was to write up 5 haunted locations in Highgate, and it takes in Ye Olde Gatehouse,  The Flask, Swain’s Lane and Highgate Cemetery, Highgate Woods and the Hillcrest Estate.  Of course, there is nothing to stop interested parties registering their interest with David S for a follow up walk – the man never seems to slow down!

 

David Farrant & the Gatehouse Ghost come face to face at last … Photo; Dave Milner (c)BPOS (Photo taken at a Hallowe’en event in conjunction with NLPI, 2012)

 

There are still a handful of tickets left for David Farrant’s talk for London Haunts and Horrors / The Spooky Isles on Monday 23rd September at Clerkenwell, but these are selling out quickly much like Saturday’s Haunted Highgate walk, so early booking advised to avoid disappointment. This talk will take a rather deviant format, following on from the success of David’s talk at ASSAP with first-time interviews by David Saunderson with mutliple and independent witnesses to the Highgate entity. And … a pub quiz with prizes, including Highgate vampire memorabilia, books and Hammer Horror DVDs to boot.  Not to be missed!

Well, I am shattered too now after all this linking. Just writing about David Saunderson wears me out – and to think he’s only just got back from the ASSAP conference himself! Maybe I can persuade him to share some of his vitamins or whatever keeps him going at this intimidating pace when I see him on Saturday!

But for now all,

Della (Farrant)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seriously Strange!

 

[dropcap_1]O[/dropcap_1]nly got back from Bath a couple of hours ago, after attending ASSAP (The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena) 2013 Seriously Strange Conference. I had been invited as a guest speaker to Talk on the Highgate ‘vampire’,  and it was a very tiring weekend.

My son Jamie and his girlfriend Joanne also attended, as did British Psychic and Occult Society Secretary Patsy Langley and her fiancé Ricky. I must confess, that I do get slightly bored having to discuss this subject so often at Talks – but if it is specifically requested, what else can I do!? Its just that so many people seem to forget that the BPOS has been involved with multitudinous cases of unexplained phenomena over the years, all over the UK; so why is it people keep wanting to ‘dig that case up’ (excuse the pun, but it was deliberate!).

Got the train from Paddington and was there in only a couple of hours – although I did have a bit of trouble finding the university from Bath, even though ASSAP had provided me with a map. Met Jamie and Jo down there, who had driven down earlier on Saturday from Southampton. In fact, Patsy and Rick had gone on the Friday, and were staying in a motel near Bath. So we all met up like ‘one big happy family’!

 

Patsy Langley, Jamie Farrant, David Farrant, Ricky Sorenti and Joanne Nesbitt-Bell at ASSAP's Seriously Strange Conference Sep 2013 (c) David Farrant / BPOS

 

I delivered my Talk at 5pm, which I understand was recorded. Unfortunately, the Highgate ‘vampire’ case being so complicated time seemed to slip by so quickly, and there was only time left for two questions at the end, one of which was from John Fraser of the Ghost Club who sits on the Council of the Society for Psychical Research who I met afterwards. John asked me whether I had also researched cases of alleged vampirisim in Romania and Transylvania which was a little difficult to answer especially in view of the time limitations. I tried to explain (hopefully successfully) that I do not believe in vampires full stop, and that it is rather difficult to investigate things which one does not even believe in the existence of! One other gentleman present was apparently confused about one issue I raised during the Talk. I had emphasized that whilst not accepting the existence of vampires per se, I did think the well known cases involving the incubus and succubus visiting sleeping human beings at night (and which date back centuries) are a very real possibility which could go a long way towards explaining the vampire myth. I must apologise to Richard Freeman of the Centre for Fortean Zoology as there was not time for his question to even get voiced (I did see your hand up, Richard!), but I was able to answer questions from many interested parties after the Talk had concluded.

I did know quite a few of the people at the conference, including Hayley Stevens who is one of the more skeptical psychic researchers, but unfortunately missed meeting up with her for a chat and her panel debate – again due to the dreaded ‘time’. At 6.30pm we all took our places for the gala dinner (we were seated at Table 7). Towards the end dinner the former MP Lembit Opik came over to our table; really as a record for his following speech which referred to the various speakers he had met up with. I understand that his presence at the conference, partly because of his former political role and his views on UFOs, made it into The Times yesterday (with a passing reference to yours truly in the opening paragraph). He delivered an excellent after dinner speech, in which he summed up his views on the conference and his career as a Liberal Democrat MP.

I was also pleased to finally meet in the flesh Ian Topham of Mysterious Britain, who I never realised serves on the ASSAP board! Ian kindly reviewed volume 1 of my autobiography back in 2009, and had asked me to bring along a copy of volume 2 (David Farrant : Out of the Shadows) to the conference for review.

All in all I considered it to be a very interesting and detailed conference, at which many dedicated people (albeit some of them skeptics) shared an opportunity to express and share their opinions and talk with likeminded people.

Patsy and Rick gave me a lift back to London, and even delivered me to the door and came up to the flat where Della made us wanderers some cups of tea. They couldn’t stay long, as Patsy had to attend a church meeting at 6pm , and had to get there in good time. I can only finish by saying I was extremely surprised by all the courtesy the members of ASSAP extended to me there. It was a long journey; but was well worth it!

So for now everyone, until the next Talk, I am just going to put my feet up!

David

 

 

DeForest Pioneer Cemetery Restoration Event

 

Steve Genier of the Southern Ontario Paranormal Society at DeForest Pioneer Cemtery, Milton, Ontario

 

[dropcap_1]A[/dropcap_1] note for your diaries – especially for my Canadian readers (and I know there are a lot of you out there) – on October 20th this year I will be appearing via video link as a guest speaker at an important fundraising event in Milton, Ontario.  The event will be streamed live, so you don’t need to miss out if you aren’t in Canada – and you can still help and contribute.  The event is being organised by my good friends Steve Genier and Alex Rondini of Nocturnal Frequency Radio and Southern Ontario Paranormal Society (S.O.P.S.). The aim of the event is to raise funds towards the restoration of the DeForest Pioneer Cemetery in their home town, which dates back to the early 1800s and is in a state of severe neglect.

S.O.P.S. have carried out many paranormal investigations at the cemetery over the years (with permission), but as well as being an important location for such research the cemetery is an important symbol of the pioneering spirit which enabled the community of Milton to flourish and become what it is today. As a historical landmark it is a tragic fact that it has become incredibly dilapidated as well as the target of vandals, and S.O.P.S. are hoping that the example of the good work carried out by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery will be an inspiration to local people and show what can be achieved with planning, fundraising and dedication.

The event will hopefully also see the debut of a new film about myself in 8 parts, which is currently in post-production. The film, titled ‘Tulpa’, has been produced by the Sycamore Brothers and represents a labour of love spanning six years. We are hoping that the screening of the film will create a harmonious link between the paranormal speakers and aspects of the event, and the practical matter of what happens when a cemetery reaches a stage of decline where it must be saved or lost for ever.

S.O.P.S. have many respected speakers lined up, as well as a silent auction planned, and the event looks set to be a great success and certain to raise funds for this worthy cause. I committed to this event at the beginning of the year, and know that Steve and Alex have invested many hours of unpaid work into promoting and planning this event, including securing the unique and historic venue.

The event will take place on October 20, 2013 between 12pm and 4pm at the Alexander Barn, Halton Museum at 5181 Kelso Rd., Milton, Ontario L9T 2X7. Tickets are limited.

You can find out more about the fundraising event here:

http://sopsinvestigations.com/sops/?page_id=526

And if you are on Facebook, here:

https://www.facebook.com/DeforestResoration

I will remind readers about this event a little nearer the time and let you all know how you can contribute – even a little – towards preserving this piece of Canadian history and paranormal folklore for generations to come.

Please circulate the link to this blog entry and the links above amongst your friends so we can all help spread the word.

In the meantime however here is a clip from YouTube to give you a feel for the kind of battle the cemetery’s volunteers experience on a daily basis.

For now,

David

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WiN9jSOQs0