Photo of David Farrant courtesy of Rob Brautigam 1997
I suppose it’s about time that I wrote something here again, as I’ve just realized that it’s been over a week now. That was after we got back to London after I’d given a Talk at the Pendle Witchcraft Convention. I did put up a short “Coming Soon” trailer on YouTube, although the main reason we could not put the whole thing up in its entirety was because it is too long (over 1 hour long, not including the questions) and needed quite difficult editing. I don’t mean ‘run of the mill’ editing, but special attention had to be given to the sound of incessant rain hitting the top of the tent which was somehow intensified in the bleak – but otherwise silent – atmosphere of Pendle Hill which almost seemed somewhat ‘hostile’ to the small campsite that had chosen to invade its privacy. That sort of editing is by no means easy, but trusted Della has made a good job of it with the help of her friend George Preston.
Anyway’ it’s almost finished now and parts of the unwanted background noise reduced to a minimum. You can still hear a little rain in parts, but I just suggested we leave it, as am sure people would like to hear what it was really like; and besides, we can put subtitles over it. Personally, I think it makes the whole thing quite atmospheric; although we didn’t plan it, the rain just happened!
Other things have been happening since Pendle, of course. But I don’t want to Bourre you (yes, ‘Bourre spelt like that deliberately!).
It was a long trip, and we also had a couple of ‘haunted places’ to check out on the way back. In fact, we were half expecting a couple of more visitors to my Talk, but apparently these apparently chose not to turn up in person. Pity really as that really would have made a really good group photograph!
Della was glad to get back to London last week anyway. After that we just took it easy for a while, catching up on correspondence and book orders mostly.
On Saturday, we met with Mickey Gocool of the North London Paranormal Society. He came with his partner Louise and three other members of their Group. They couldn’t stay that long as they had to go out on another paranormal investigation in rural Essex; but they stayed long enough to get acquainted. It was a pleasure to meet them, as they are all very serious people.Della had to stay on a little at work this evening. Which probably means she will get back a little tired. In fact, it could be any time now, so I had better leave this and go and air a bottle of wine for her!
But I will keep you all updated on the Pendle film. Should be early next week I think.
Got back to Highgate tonight after a busy weekend. I had been invited to attend the yearly Pendle Witch Camp in Lancashire. This year’s camp was especially significant, as it commemorated the 400th year anniversary of the execution of the eight Pendle women who were hanged for practicing witchcraft back in 1612. I was asked to give a Talk to discuss my own modern day Witchcraft Trial, which took place in 1974. As the keynote speaker, I did feel a burden of responsibility to highlight the fact that the persecution of these innocent ‘cunning women’ was not an anachronistic sequence of events, merely indicative of the ignorant attitudes of its time. Sadly it has parallels in the late 20th century in my case, and in the modern age on a global scale, both in developed and third world countries where the perceived threat of witchcraft still results in legal trials – or in some cases much less ‘civilised’ ‘justice’ at the hands of the mob.
It is of course a very involved subject; but many people from all different cultures – from the UK to the USA, or from European countries to the dark reaches of South America and Africa, and even Australia – indeed support the persecution of witches today, and the main purpose of my Talk was to remind people of this point. In our so-called religious and (be these concepts strange bedfellows) progressive societies, people are being murdered every day for their actual or perceived beliefs, and the persecution of modern day ‘witches’ in Europe (the correct term is Wicca), pagans, or perhaps to put it more succinctly ‘new age thinkers’, still goes on today.
And such was the purpose of me attending the Pendle Witch Camp. It was organised by Ade Lord, and he had booked several other speakers to speak at the camp over a three day period, on various aspects of magic, paganism and the occult in general. I was interviewed by Tania Ahsan; a journalist who had previously interviewed me in 2007 for The Metro newspaper.
Anyway, we left London rather early yesterday (Saturday) to arrive at our booked hotel in time for the Talk which was scheduled to begin at 5.30pm. We found our hotel without any difficulty, and met some other members of the BPOS who had also booked rooms there. Della and I travelled in one car, while they made their way up in another. We had a little difficulty finding the location of the convention as it was not very well signposted, but managed to arrive by 5.20pm and get the recording equipment rigged up in time. Luckily the whole thing was running a little behind schedule, so I had time to meet up with Tania beforehand and get the basic arrangements sorted out.
The Talk went well – despite the intrusion of heavy rain upon the marquee, which forced me to say at one stage, ‘I think we might be being invaded by “Black Magical forces”’! I was just trying to lighten the situation a little, as it was very wet and windy there in the heart of Pendle country.
I will not give further details of the Talk at the moment, but can tell you that the whole thing was filmed and will shortly be up on YouTube (in the next week I hope). Then you can see it for yourselves. Personally I have not seen the finished video yet, and please forgive any audio deteriorisation in view of the lack of anticipation of a couple of heavy downpours.
Talk successfully accomplished (despite two of our cars being ‘stuck in the mud’ – literally – we all made it back to the hotel with just dinner in mind!
Anyway, we had a good night of relaxation, and met a few Lancashire and Yorkshire guests who were staying at the hotel. We had a bit of a party in our hotel room after the bar had closed (Della and I had a really big room luckily) – sorry to the management! But we all got to bed around 3am, in time for Sunday – obviously which is still today.
So enough of the Pendle Talk, you’ll just have to wait for it on YouTube!
Sunday came, and we left this morning after a full English breakfast. We still had two more reputedly haunted sites to investigate. The first was at the old Westwood Mill at Linthwaite, and the other, an old coaching inn at Flockton, where apparent recent ghost sightings have been reported on the premises (more of that later).
Regarding the mill (which ran alongside an old canal), we arrived there about 2pm, only to find the main point of access flooded. We met a few local ramblers trying to walk along the canal path, but they all gave up; probably because the water overlapping from the canal was some four inches deep. A professional photographer, and BPOS member, had accompanied us to the mill and, while he got some good exterior photographs of the mill itself, he was a bit reluctant to wade through the water, which almost seemed to act as a ‘guardian’ to prevent access to the sinister place. I could see his point, I had great difficulty in walking through the sodden undergrowth of the main path; so much so that I had to ask Della to support me before I could go any further. But even then I managed to get my feet soaking wet. It was worth it though to at least see the side of the main building, which abutted the canal.
However, Della was more persistent, and did not want to ‘lose’ the trip by giving up all hope of accessing the old mill because of the water. So she led me back to the car and told me to wait so she could get photographs via another route . . . Half an hour after we saw her disappear into the overgrown meadow to the north of the mill we were growing slightly concerned. But she eventually emerged from the tall grasses unscathed, although a little wet and perturbed by her experiences, camera in hand. I learned very soon afterwards that she had actually managed to get inside the mill from another direction, and had found a way in by a gap in one of the security fences. Once inside it was an awesome sight, and I was very impressed to learn that she had taken quite a few photographic shots of the inside of the mill for the record.
Anyway, more on that to follow. But it has really been a very busy weekend!
A little tired again tonight; quite a lot been happening lately. I know I always say that when I come to write a new Blog, but often it is not an excuse but really true.
Another busy day tomorrow for one thing, and again on Sunday – wouldn’t mind, but its all out of London and going to be quite a long trip. Giving a Talk at the Pendle Witch Camp at the base of Pendle Hill in Lancashire, to mark the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials. I understand it has been advertised quite widely on the Internet, so we are looking forward to meeting anyone who might care to come along. Anyway, will give everyone news of that after it has happened. So more of that later.
Oh yes – the point of this Blog really … welcome to the new look Blog. Well, I say ‘new look’, but it is still a work in progress, designed to compliment the new website. Oh, I haven’t mentioned that yet, have I? I don’t know how many readers of my Blog ever venture onto the main website, which until today has not been substantially updated for a couple of years. But it now has been, and I hope you will take a look and leave any comments you wish to make about it here, or via the contact form on the site.
Della has spent many hours meticulously working on the design and the content, and as she has never built a website before I think she has done exceptionally well. But Della says she supposes that that is really down to the reader to judge. Anyway the link for the main website is: www.davidfarrant.org
So, I may not be able to update the blog for a day or so while we are ‘up north’, but I promise to update you all fully upon our return to London.
Don’t really feel like doing a Blog today – just a little tired. But as promised, here is the download link for The Paracast radio program in which my interview with Gene Steinberg was broadcast today.
As I explained earlier, Gene interviewed me for a 2 hour session on the origins of ‘vampirism’ and other unexplained phenomenon. The Highgate ‘vampire’ was discussed, but did not monopolise the whole interview. Anyway, for anyone interested the link is above.
Well it’s a long holiday in the UK this weekend, due mainly to the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. I’m not really into all this ‘revelling’ (having been detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for crimes I had not committed doesn’t exactly endear one – sorry Ma’am!). But another reason is, I do not have a television or buy newspapers so I am somewhat restricted into getting into the spirit of things!
Anyway that aside, holiday time really presents a good occasion for me meeting up with friends. Yesterday evening Patsy and Rick visited Della and myself and brought with them some ‘lobster pizzas’ – only joking! Sorry Babs!
Anyway to be serious, we all had a good evening and sat up talking and exchanging news til at least 3am. I was pleased to learn that Patsy’s book, ‘The Highgate Vampire Casebook’, is going well and Amazon have requested some more copies. We also had a couple of calls on Skype from mutual friends and Patsy and Della had a chance to speak with them on the webcam. Much as technology can be a pain sometimes, it is amazing to think that you can converse with people nowadays and see the expressions on each others’ faces, whatever part of the world they are in at the time. Anyway we all had a good time, just relaxing and talking about nothing much in particular. Patsy has been working fairly hard lately (as has Della) and its just nice to sit down with a bottle of wine or two, or maybe even three!
I recently gave an interview for The Paracast, that well known paranormal radio station in America run by Gene Steinberg. It was pre-recorded for a change, so we did not have to be up at 4am in the morning for a 2 hour stint, like that evil Steve Genier and Br Don Ecker make us do sometimes!
Anyway back to the Paracast; it went very well and will be transmitted live at midnight tonight Pacific time and 7am UTC. The show will then be going into the archives for downloading, and I will put the direct link up for that tomorrow. So please watch this space. Well that’s most of the interviews taken care of for now – next stop the Brighouse Gala! Still that’s a good month away so lots of time to prepare for that.
Della has been using the holiday time to pursue her interests in quantum physics. She has a theory that this may be relevant to many cases of paranormal phenomenon, which Einstein himself seems to have neglected to mention. Anyway I’ll have to leave that to her, as such advanced formulas and spectroscopy techniques are somewhat beyond my humble comprehension. I’ve always said a ghost is a ghost full stop (unless of course it happens to be a ‘vampire’! But I hope I made that a bit clearer in The Paracast broadcast.
Anyway, we are both just relaxing now. Fish pie for dinner tonight, but no lobster Della felt she could make a really good one with a few prawns and shrimps and crayfish instead – but that’s still yet to be sampled. I’ll let you know the outcome tomorrow. Della did insist however that it needed a good Semillon Sauvignon Blanc to accompany it, which is no problem at all as we do have a few in the wine rack!
Anyway folks, hope you all get a chance to enjoy Gene’s broadcast and the link will follow tomorrow.
For the moment,
P.S. Just before I go to bed folks, new video uploaded to YouTube tonight which might interest some connoiseurs of the Highgate ‘Vampire’ epic. In fact it is one of the first videos produced by the BPOS, presented by myself covering the basics of that story. A classic film, as many have described it, and well worth downloading as a collectors’ item. Hope you enjoy it, David