You can imagine how sorry I was to hear that Tim Good had to pull out of his lecture owing to commitments beyond his control, but felt privileged when Chairman Matt Lyons asked me to talk following consultation with the BUFORA committee about a range of investigations conducted by us over the years, many of which will be found within the pages of Haunted Skies. Volume 1 and Volume 2
Just before we entered Newcastle station, we passed the famous bridge landmark shown on the front cover of the now defunct early UFO magazines ORBIT produced by the Tyneside UFO Society, produced in the 1960’s by Harry Lord, Leslie John Otley and his wife Jean, (photographs of the couple and a tribute to their work will be shown in Volume 3 of Haunted Skies 1966-1967)-out soon) I felt a twinge of nostalgia and emotion, as the train slowly entered Newcastle central station, as while I have never met the founders of the magazine I had learnt much about them.
We took our seat in the downstairs room of the Royal - a sumptuous Hotel which was opened by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1858, and is an excellent example of Victoria architecture, with up to date facilities and boasts many conference rooms.
As we didn’t arrive until 1am we missed the lecture given by Nick Pope who was attending the conference accompanied by his wife Elizabeth which had started at 11am.Nick spoke as we are led to believe not having listened to him about a range of subjects including his coverage of discussion meetings held on extraterrestrial life at the Royal Society in 2010
We listened to Andy Roberts shown on the right next to his companion with Geff Falla on the far left ) (after congratulating him about his wonderful eye catching shirt!) who spoke about his research and subsequent book ‘UFO down’ into the incident which took place during January 1974 in the Berwyn Mountains- still the subject of controversy never mind those ridiculous assertions of crash landed flying saucers and alien bodies being taken away by the authorities, that still continues to be spoon fed to us by the tabloids! Apart from some slight technical difficulties this was an excellent speech, accompanied by slides. We then went and said hello to Heather Dixon, whogave us a hug and thanked us for coming. After a short break Tony Eccles a member of BUFORA since the early 1990’s and co founder of the Merseyside Anomalies Research Association (MARA) who has published a book entitled A Different Sky (2003)which catalogues strange sightings and experiences from the Mersey side area began his lecture. ‘Touching Reality: Shamanism and the Close Encounter Witness’This examined our understanding of shamanism and what it could mean for the Western world and for certain individuals historically ‘labelled’as a 'contactee', 'abductee' or even 'spiritualist medium.'
Following my presentation which covered many classic UFO cases, I once again ran out of time without having showed three quarters of what I had intended to show and realised that I had to alter my format drastically, and would be concentrating on usingpower point for the BUFORA Conference in 2012 rather than talking about to many subjects which took me away from the thrust of what had been prepared.So it will be power point for the Matrix Conference!
I was followed by Mark Pilkington who has written for Fortean Times, The Guardian, Sight & Sound, the Wire, Frieze, The Anomalist and a host of other magazines and journals. His book 'Mirage Men: An Adventure into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs was published in July 2010. He presented ‘The Abuses of Enchantment’, and outlined how military and intelligence operators have shaped and exploited beliefs in UFOs, ghosts, monsters, vampires, and elements from folklore and conspiracy theory to create an armoury of supernatural weapons of mass deception capable of manipulating consciousness on a grand scale.At the conclusion of the lectures at 7.10pm Heather closed the meeting and was then followed by Matt Lyons who said a few words. After sorting our or equipment we deposited it into the room and made our way down, where we ate a delicious meal, peppered with the heady intoxicant of conversations which flew across the table about such matters as the Warminster UFO scene, the Hadron collider, the alleged end of the World in 2012 and all that other general ‘UFO etheric ‘chit chat’ which permeates such gatherings like this. After the meal we spoke to John Wickham and Matt, Lyons and thanked them for allowing me the opportunity of coming here today to speak about our research into the UFO subject.
We also spent some time talking to Nick Pope and his wife Elizabeth, who were clearly very much in love, which I found quite humbling and after taking some photographs of them we decamped to the bar area where the conversation carried on as before.
After vacating the bar (an enforced withdrawal) we went up to our room where we were unable to sleep owing to hordes of good natured young men and women, spilling out on pavements and clubs, many of whom formed part of a hen or stag do, their cheerfulness sharply punctuated by the frequent siren of police cars and ambulances that roared along the streets, although we never saw any bad behaviour which surprised us. By 5am we fell asleep and awoke at 7am still buoyant from the pervious day’s events. I later learned that some of the trouble involved a fracas by some midlanders at a local strip clubs, but Im not going to go there, other than to say twas not me or Dawn! and that the source of information will remain confidential. (Although I can confirm that a member of the group was punched in the face by a pole dancer!
I have to say that I have nothing but the greatest respect for the BUFORA team which included David Sankey and his partner Erica, for their kindness and assistance. Although I may not necessarily agree with some of their views, I was proud for that short time to be part of a prestigious UFO group, whose reputation is known Worldwide. The sky was magnificent ! a fitting tribute! well done BUFORA for organising a cracking conference!