WHEN: 7th September 2012
AT: The University of Bath
FOR: The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP) 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!).
I 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’!
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 up with 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!