Wednesday, 15 March 2017



Populism, political programe or movement that champions the common person, usually by favourable contrast with an elite. Populism usually combines elements of the left and the right, opposing large business and financial interests but also frequently being hostile to established socialist and labour parties.”

Encyclopædia Britannica

OAF: especially a man or boy, as an oaf, you think that they are impolite, clumsy, or aggressive. Synonyms: lout, brute, yob or yobbo [British , slang] , fool.

Collins English Dictionary

 Why do old fogeys like me carry on bleating and railing against the current world? Haven’t us old 70+ lefties learned our lesson yet? People don’t want our ideas, our romantic socialism, ‘to each according to his needs’, all that Marxist crap. As it was in the 1930s, they’re looking for a ‘strong leader’. They don’t want the world for themselves; they want to be placed on a make-believe treadmill of power which leads to a New Order. And that, in a scary nutshell, is why geriatric politics addicts can’t stay silent. Strong leaders are cropping up from Washington to Bratislava, shepherding the electoral sheep into a pen which will have all the potential for becoming a new theme park; ‘Dachau Lite™’

On a recent US TV satire show, Real Time with Bill Maher, he commented on the way he imagined Trump and the rabid new White House posse would be looking through the window  at one of the mass anti-Trump rallies and laughing, saying “Huh. Look at those fuckwits out there …”

As an illustration of the mistaken way we still think of democracy in the west, it was spot on target. That is exactly how the new breed of politician will regard organised mass protest; as a kind of slightly irritating vision of no consequence; simply close the curtains and it’s no longer visible. Since the early 2000s and the illegal Iraq War, the increasing number of marches and demonstrations, even when they do make the news, are generally ignored by the arrogant powers who rule us. Perhaps, because of the peripheral violence which accompanied the Poll Tax riots during Thatcher’s reign, some indication of the country’s mood did seep through the insulated, anti-public walls of parliament, but since then, demos and marches are simply a way for those of us who care enough about a campaign to let off steam and lose our sense of isolation for a day. We feel as if we’re ‘doing something’; we’re venting our anger.

In the past year, Western politics has lost any grip it once had on reality. We have entered the Era of The Oaf. Dialogue and debate have morphed into something new and frightening. The people have been shunted into two new camps; one is fuelled by intolerance, bigotry and irrational hatred, the result of being ignored by politicians (other than at election times) for so long. Much of this toxic human underbelly can now find its voice on social media. The other camp are the objects of that hatred, because this group have naively continued to believe in what they imagined was the status quo; that reason and balanced argument in the form of politely exchanged views were the vehicles of social progress. Such a view is obviously incorrect, and there is no longer any neutral middle ground.

Prior to the UK’s EU referendum in June 2016, those who had absorbed decades of straight bananas and cucumber anti-Europe propaganda in our increasingly scurrilous press had little choice other than muttering into their teacups and tut-tutting about ‘Political correctness/health and safety gone mad’. In many cases they were right. But given the one big chance to turn their
eternal dismay into an effective weapon, when June 23rd came along, fired up by the Daily Mail, the Express, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, they realised that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stick it to Westminster and the metropolitan elite. This new wave of populism, fuelled by deliberately and easily ignored falsehoods, the international legal and economic repercussions and a total lack of what the future might hold, was hammered into the bedrock of society like the last spike in the Intercontinental railroad.

I write this in the week which includes International Women’s Day.  Long before TV and radio, back in Russia in 1917 the day was the catalyst for the revolution, which would finally fully explode in October after Lenin and Trotsky’s return from exile. On that March day women left their workplaces and threw snowballs at factory widows where their menfolk were still working. Eventually everyone was out on strike. The difference between a protest like that and the chants and seas of placards today is that back then there was a plan; even behind the perceived spontaneity highly organised leaders existed who had policies and who could channel the mass anger into something progressive. The recent impressive Women’s March on Washington would have no impression on Trump and his cronies whatsoever, but at least the women would feel great about it all.

Those who voted for Brexit and Trump will tell us that ‘the People’s Voice’ has been heard. Has it? Is it being heard in the UK in connection with the theft-by-stealth of our National Health Service? No. Why is this? It would seem, with the exception of The Daily Mirror the only headline-worthy interest shown in the NHS is about the way it is failing and struggling, which is the direct result of gross underfunding. In February, frightened of not toeing the Laura Kuennsberg line,(She’s been dubbed ‘the Voice of Reason’ by The Sun) the BBC ran a devastating series of reports on the NHS over five nights, with hardly a positive word for the struggles caused by the government or for the dedicated, beleagured staff.    Health Minister Jeremy Hunt has in the past, as an author, expressed his desire for the NHS to evaporate, to be replaced by a US-style private insurance system. But did the presence of 200,000 angry pro-NHS protestors in London on March 4 persuade the Chancellor to make provisions for the NHS in his Spring budget? Of course not. That was another branch of ‘the People’s Voice’ which fell on deliberately deaf ears.

All the working class (as it was once known) have left is the withdrawal of their labour. Yet today’s Trade Unions are hamstrung by various laws imposed by the Thatcher government which Tony Blair decided to keep on the statute books. But unless we have a general strike across the country the struggles of varous bodies such as railway staff, campaigning not for wage increases but for public safety, will remain ineffective and be assaulted daily by the media. So it would seem, in the face of uncaring, hostile politicians and their tabloid supporters, that protest is dead in the water.

We now live in a time of growing inequality where the only people who matter to the political establishment are the rich. The rich have only one game plan - to become richer, and that plan has been fulfilled over and over again. Wild radicals talk of a revolution. But that’s romantic waffle. Lenin, Castro and Mao didn’t have to face today’s highly organised media propaganda machine, in all its many brazen disingenuous forms. For Britain and America to ever become decent, egalitarian societies bereft of self-serving greed, then the people will have to reach such depths of angry suffering  that the only way forward will be to physically lash out in mass organised anger. But this won’t happen in my lifetime. Protest is dead.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017


The Forgotten Works of
Paul Andreas Weber

In 1995 I was commissioned by The New Statesman magazine to write a feature on the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Dachau Concentration Camp just outside Munich. On that cold, sleet-driven day there was no comfort to be found walking around the massive site. It felt thick with tragic ghosts. When I entered what was once the camp's SS barracks, among all the murals and photos one set of artworks stunned me.
A. Paul Weber: The Informer
In the 1930s Weber saw the wickedness and hypocrisy behind the Nazi sideshow and committed his thoughts to art. I find it haunting, and, as the 21st century world slips back into that dark, proto-fascist 1930s mindset, these drawings seem to have a new relevance in the age of post-truth. The biography below is a translation from the original German direct from the weber Museum's web site. It still gives me the creeps and sends me back to Dachau every time I see it.


On November 1, 1893, Andreas Paul Weber as the son of a railway was

Born in Wizard in Arnstadt (Thuringia). His grandfather, the manufacturer Christian Kortmann, and his mother encouraged him in the literary and artistic technical fields. Weber attended the secondary school Arnstadt, later briefly the arts and crafts school in Erfurt.

1908-1914 he was a member of the young Wandervogel, a movement that was looking for a new lifestyle in the hiking and natural way of life. His love of country and nature were awakened when hiking through all over Germany. From these experiences out, also the national and nature-loving ethos of the artist is to understand, who already worked in these years as a commercial graphic artist.

In the first world war, he performed military service as a railway pioneer on the eastern front. From 1916 he worked as a cartoonist and Illustrator for the "Journal of the 10th army" until 1918, he was sent to Spa.

in 1920, he married Toni Klander; they had 5 children. In the following years, Weber achieved first successes as an Illustrator: it created illustrations to Hans Sachs, till Eulenspiegel, Reineke Fuchs and time-critical work "The contemporary" by Hjalmar Kutzleb. in 1925, the artist founded his own, named for Toni Klander "clan press". In the later collaboration with his eldest son Christian, signets, bookplates, and promotional materials were produced.

in 1928, Weber joined the resistance circle to Ernst Niekisch. He often only partly followed the ideologies of the intellectual circle, but shared its growing concern for the future of Germany with regard to the rising national socialism. In the years 1931-1936, Weber besides Niekisch was co-editor of the journal "Resistance", for which he designed the logo. For the resistance-Verlag, he produced numerous book facilities, but above all politically satirical illustrations. From 1932 to 1945, Weber was also the German folk calendar North Schleswig, gave out his friend Hans Schmidt-Gorsblock.


Weber moved to residences in Berlin-Spandau, upper Ellen, Nicholas Berg, Reinhausen, outdoor banes on the Lüneburg Heath in 1936 after Schretstaken (district of Lauenburg). Resistance published the monography of Weber, Hugo Fischer, which stipulates that appeared at this time:

"... the artist the world holding up a mirror, themselves recognize that he scares himself...".


On July 2, 1937, A. Paul Weber was arrested and imprisoned until December 15 in Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel, in Berlin and Nuremberg because of its contacts with the resistance circle. In prison, he was allowed drawing apolitical leaves; first work on the motifs of "Chess player" and "Forest" was developed. After a trip to Florida in 1938, not used Weber his family due to the emigration, he began in 1939 regularly to deliver blades for the evil John derived "pencil Art Association" in Hamburg. This company aimed to publicise good graphics like all parts of society. Until 1980, Weber delivered for this 157 lithographs.

1939-1941 Weber worked at the cycle "Wealth of tears" (British pictures), which were published in the Nibelungen-Verlag Berlin. 1944/45, he was used for military service.


After the war, he created again critical lithographs to current problems. He met satirical human foibles and far-sighted pointed to abuses in politics, Church, judiciary, economy, art, medicine and the environment. 1954-1967 Weber worked at the magazine "Simplicissimus". This time the artist brought increasing recognition: already in 1951, a special "A. Paul Weber circle" was founded in the pencil Art Association, 1955 he received the art prize of Schleswig-Holstein, in 1963 the Hans-Thoma medal. Weber was appointed Professor in 1971, and was awarded the great Federal cross of merit.

the end

From 1959 until his death the "Critical calendar" published in self-publishing - a Yearbook with graphics, texts from literature and newspapers were put to the side. More than 600 works were published until 1980.

On November 9, 1980, the artist died 87jährig in Schretstaken. His urn was in the garden of A. Buried Paul Weber Museum. Weber's oeuvre includes nearly 3.000 lithographs, hundreds of woodblock prints, over 200 oil paintings, an immense number of gebrauchsgraphischer work and sketches, as well as several thousand drawings.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Falling Angels


Comrades of physicians,

More useful than a priest they stand

Bound by paperwork, short on hands,

Rarely ever short on caring,

Just drained of energy and sleep.

Male or female, angels are androgynous;

Wingless yet celestial:

A nurse is forever a nurse.

Yet beneath the prowling politician’s mask,

Hidden by their ‘caring’ camouflage

Dark hearts are lurking on the hustings

Electioneering evil, their moneyed masquerade

A catalogue of flawed belief.

Such are the methods of the City thief;

A conviction that all human souls

Are up for sale.

If every man and woman has their price,

Minister, investor, tell me this:

How do you privatise a nurse’s mind?

Where is your dividing line

Between profit and compassion?

From their wee small hours on darkened wards,

Let the busy, silent nurses speak.

Whilst corks pop from your Bollinger,

I collect the bedpans, whilst you wallow

In some shareholding haze

That gilded glade where profit blooms

Whilst I push trolley loads of pain

Into the healing, sterile rooms

Where lives will hang upon the straining thread

Of your insatiable greed.

And as you scheme and calculate

To tabulate my fiscal worth,

I still dispense thin oxygen of hope

I work where time is tight with saline drips

A catheter, syringe.

And as my long shift ends I wonder;

To my aid, what will you bring?

Survival of the richest,

not treatment of the sickest?

Will you let me do my job,

Will you grant me any hope?

And when the time arrives for you

To occupy a bed,

Will your profits  help me cope?

Don’t think your cash can purchase nursing

Forget the market

And its narcotic rush

The angels aren’t for falling,

No matter how you push.

Thursday, 26 January 2017


As Old As the Hills
Reflections on being a codger

I remember a day, perhaps 50 or more years ago. A hot day in summer, when I was between ships, working ashore in the building trade to earn a few extra pounds. Unskilled work was abundant then.

It you were fit and strong, could handle a pick and shovel or shoulder a bag of hot cement, most firms would employ you. It was sweaty, honest work after which cold beer tasted all the better and restful sleep was guaranteed. For the first 15 years of my post-school, working life, I did my share of it. In those days digging footing trenches for building a house wasn’t done with a JCB. Manual labour was the way; the trusty spade, the wheelbarrow. On that day, I remember the foreman standing over us, puffing on his briar pipe, telling us to put our backs into it. It didn’t annoy me, because I felt so strong, virile and invincible that I dug into that grey clay with even more vigour. I thought my energy might last forever. I was a human machine primed, lubricated for constant action. How foolish that notion seems now.

   Time for reflection. On the other hand, you might call it navel gazing. The moment has undoubtedly arrived; just two months away from 74 and I’ve finally had to surrender to taking an afternoon nap. I know this is the kind of thing the laid-back Spanish do, the siesta,
and much of my experience visiting UK OAP care homes has proved that for the inmates, the challenge and physical strain of getting through a sandwich and a Viennese whirl at lunch would usually result in a comatose two hours in a Shackleton’s chair (remember them?) interrupted only by afternoon tea and a biscuit.

But now, even though I still have all my own hair and teeth, I too am an ‘Old Age Pensioner’. I’m one of today’s 65+ group of the early 21st century who grew up with rock’n’roll. In the immediate post war years we were a ‘marketing opportunity’ - the first real ‘teenagers’. The generation of ‘oldies’ before us are dying off. They were the ones who went through the war. I was born in April 1943 with a vague infant memory of the Luftwaffe over Hull.
The way we were - a marketing opportunity with disposable income

The older generation who braved the shrapnel passed into peacetime loving Glenn Miller, the clunky Billy Cotton Band Show and dreary post-war BBC radio shows. Radio to them was ‘The Organist Entertains’ and the anodyne insipidity of ‘Sing Something Simple’, a Sunday teatime regular of such stultifying tedium it made you realise why the Lord’s Day Observance Society still had bombed-out Britain by the throat. But we, the rockers, weaned on Elvis, Little Richard and Lonnie Donegan, still imagined, even by the 1990s that we might well live forever, because our culture appeared as immortal as Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks or Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On LP.

If my memory serves me well, much of what you could do physically at 20 could still be managed in your 40s. Add three decades and the situation changes. I did try going to a gym once to tighten myself up, but found the experience highly distasteful. It was full of preening narcissists and the vinyl upholstery on muscle-punishment machinery and bench presses always seemed to have a patina of some would-be Schwarzenegger’s sweat on it.
another sweaty narcissist ...
I swam 50 lengths a day in my late 50s and early 60s and that eventually informed me that when all those abdominal muscles you thought were indestructible pack in, they express their weariness by giving you a hernia, and with hernias there’s a choice from inguinal to umbilical and beyond (check this out) and some, as I’ve discovered after three bouts of surgery, can all but finish you off.
I tried riding a bike but that was exhausting. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you can still have sex, because you can do it in a more leisurely fashion horizontally in bed. (I should be so lucky...) You can even go up and down in straight lines cutting your grass with a lawnmower and push the wheelie bins out or chop firewood.  But past 60, other things kick in. Then there’s the strong possibility of arthritis. This seems to favour the knee joints and coincides with that time when you’re just about to ‘enjoy’ retirement. Hips are another danger area. If, like me, you’re borderline obese and love your food, you’ll also find that whereas ten years ago you could walk two or three miles and feel a sense of achievement, now a half mile walk to pick up your newspaper demands an immediate nap when you get home. Smoking? Yes, I’ve puffed my way through many an ounce of Golden Virginia and packs of cigars; stopping’s easy. I’ve stopped loads of times. As I write this, due to my current disabling injury I haven’t smoked for 26 days. Will I smoke again? Put me in the vicinity of a couple of pints of decent bitter and I’ll no doubt surrender to the weed. It’s an evil, pernicious, death dealing carcinogen and indulgence in it is like Russian Roulette. Yet I’ve been stupid enough to do it.

The sad thing is that all these ailments (and for many victims, more serious ones) is that they don’t just ‘come and go’ when you enter your 70s. They come and stay. You can, as I do, take enough vitamin pills each morning to make your guts rattle like a pair of maracas, and eat your ‘five a day’ healthy foods, but if your number’s up, that’s it. You wonder what’s next; dementia? Alzheimer’s? Anything’s possible. 

There is no secret, spiritual palliative to aging. Your body’s like an automobile. Think back to all those shiny new cars 20+ years ago you once proudly polished and sat in. Where are they now? Big ends, carburettors, gearboxes, brake linings … all worn out and rusting at the bottom of some dystopian metallic death mountain in a distant scrap yard. They’re a fine analogy for the human body.
Yet I can only speak as a man. Women are much tougher than us. When you consider childbearing - nine months of carrying an infant in your body, then the pain of birth itself, the struggle to maintain a position and dignity in an unequal, male-orientated world, women deserve medals and a double pension.
So, what do us old folk do to keep ticking over? We try to be useful. Our experience is sometimes valuable. Those who can, turn to daily creativity. This blog is an example. Those with extended families are stimulated by the love of grandchildren. Others dance, try to exercise, read, study, expand their knowledge. Some of us remain pointlessly political; anger, said Johnny Rotten, is an energy.
And if we continue to annoy some sections of the younger generation, they should think on; we’re dying, we’ll soon be out of your way, we'll stop drawing that pension which annoys you so much (yet which, like the NHS, we've been paying for throughout our working lives) and then, guess what? You too will get old, creaky and cantankerous and believe me, kids, it ain’t no fun.

The Inauguration of Donald Trump: The Daily Show

Wednesday, 18 January 2017



Mention the name Lembit Öpik these days, and this ex- Liberal Democrat  MP for Montgomeryshire usually conjures up an erogenous image of his dalliance with Rumanian pop tarts  the Cheeky Girls.
But hang on. Lembit’s granddad was into celestial bodies of a different nature, and he’s a link, albeit a tenuous  one, in the more humorous annals of ufology. (Yes, honest, they do exist).
Lembit’s grandfather was none other than astronomer Ernst Öpik, who left Estonia in WW2 to settle in Ireland.
Ernst Opik
He was based at Armagh Observatory, where he worked with none other than the Sky at Night’s monocled, high-trousered space oddity, Patrick Moore.  In 1922, long before space probes, Ernst predicted correctly the frequency of Martian craters. Ten years later he came up with a ground-breaking postulation that comets originated in a cloud orbiting far beyond the orbit of Pluto. Today this cloud is called the Öpik-Oort Cloud in his honour, and the asteroid 2099 Öpik is named after him. The crater Öpik on the Martian moon Phobos bears his name.

    As well as his interest in good time Rumanian girls, grandson Lembit is well known for his enthusiasm for searching for asteroids that may collide with the Earth. However, his grandfather holds another distinction. He seems to be the inspiration for a fictitious stargazer by the name of Dr. Egon Spünraas, created by Ernst’s Armagh colleague, Patrick Moore. Let the fun begin.

    In a Maida Vale bedsit one tranquil night in 1954, the 35 year old tenant was washing his dishes[1]. What happened next was enough to crack a cup and saucer, as a disembodied voice told him

     "Prepare yourself! You are to become the voice of the Interplanetary Parliament." A week later, with the bedsit’s doors locked and presumably with the pots all washed, an uninvited stranger materialised in the room. He was without a name, but known to be a ‘world famous’ swami, and he was the harbinger of a new life beyond the tea towel for the new interplanetary spokesman. Four decades later, a long way from Maida Vale, with no need of Fairy liquid, this ‘chosen one’ would be known as Sir George King, O.S.P., Ph.D., Th.D., D.D., Metropolitan Archbishop of the Aetherius Churches, Prince Grand Master of the Mystical Order of St. Peter, and HRH Prince De George King De Santori.
Impressive nomenclature for a former taxi driver whose early oratorical prowess was gained by sermonizing  his passengers in the back of his cab on their lack of spirituality .

    Fortunately, George King (1919–1997) had a head start to equip him for his inter-galactic role. He’d immersed himself in orthodox Christianity, explored spiritual healing, yoga and psychic phenomena. Apparently, the voice he’d heard that night was that of a 3,500-year-old Venusian known as ‘the Master Aetherius’.  King’s assigned mission was to tell the world to pull its socks up, make love, not war, and take better care of planet Earth. Soon, after a series of  successful speeches at London’s Caxton Hall, he had a growing army of followers. The Aetherius Society gradually became a global religion, with offices from London to Los Angeles, with its own journal, The Cosmic Voice. King would speak to his disciples whilst being ‘channelled’ by extra-terrestrial beings, known as Mars Sector 6, Jupiter Sector 92, Saint Goo-ling, and even Jesus Christ himself.  Scientific progress and the negative feedback on the inhabitable conditions on Venus, Mars and Jupiter from US and Russian  space missions could not dent Aetherian belief that these barren worlds were populated by superior advanced beings of high intelligence and supreme power.

    Yet if you can’t puncture irrational faith with practical science, you can always try humour. Laugh, and the world laughs with you, as the saying goes, unless, perhaps, that world is Mars or Venus. Before long, tongues firmly in cheeks, bona fide astronomers were on King’s case, with some hilarious results. Pre-Brians May and Cox, they included Britain’s most popular TV stargazer. Enter Patrick Moore, the man with a comical plan.

    The mid 1950s were Ufology’s heyday. Translated into 12 languages, Flying Saucers Have Landed, by George Adamski and Desmond Leslie was a massive best seller.
But it had the advantage of silvery saucers landing in a California desert, where the wise and likeable fantasist Adamski met with a blonde, jump-suited Abba-esque Venusian who communicated telepathically, and, oddly enough, with his footprints, casts of which George duly took. After all, one
 should never go into a desert without a bag of plaster of Paris. What Britain needed was its own Adamski, and proof that the long-haired blonde aliens didn’t mind a touch of good old British fog and drizzle. So, as George King was dealing with his new role as dictated from Venus and Mars, in London the publishers Frederick Muller got on the Adamski space wagon with an exciting scoop, Flying Saucer from Mars by Cedric Allingham.

     Mr. Allingham opened with a run-down of what UFO literature existed at the time, then launched into his captivating story of his close encounter of the third kind. He’d been ambling peacefully along in a remote corner of Scotland when a flying saucer landed close by. Out stepped the pilot, and Allingham engaged him in conversation, using sign language. It transpired that the Highland-hopping space jockey was a Martian. As with Adamski and Leslie’s offering, Flying Saucer from Mars had a collection of photographs, which, unfortunately, weren’t up to Californian standards. The pictures, bearing similarities to Adamski’s, were out of focus, and one blurry shot showed the ufonaut walking away, with his craft out of the frame. The saucer had the characteristic dome, but this had what looked like a radio aerial vertically poking from it, (or, as some sceptics suggested, a wire to suspend it from). Never the less, we had a UK close encounter, and whereas Allingham’s writing style lacked some of Desmond Leslie’s florid flow, the writing was good enough and the story drew the attention of the press.

   However, Cedric Allingham seemed to be a bit of a mystery man. The science correspondent for the Sunday Express, Robert Chapman, was keen to interview the author, yet no one was able to track him down. Yet he did make one public appearance. It took place at a UFO club in Tunbridge Wells. The chairman of the club was none other than one of ufology’s favourite pillars of authenticity, a true believer, Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding. Dowding was at Allingham’s one and only talk, and sitting alongside him was the man who had tutored the air chief’s stepson; astronomer Patrick Moore. Anyone present at that talk was privileged, because Allingham vanished into history when it was reported that he had died from tuberculosis in a Swiss sanatorium.

   Robert Chapman did not believe this. He thought there was something fishy about the project, saying:

      “In my view, there is a strong likelihood that ‘Cedric Allingham’ is alive, in excellent health and far from repentant at having pulled a fast one on thousands of credulous saucerers.” But who was Cedric Allingham?

 In his book[2] A Directory of Discarded Ideas, John Grant wrote:

     “I have good reason to believe that Allingham’s Flying Saucer From Mars was in fact written by a well-known astronomer . . . but have been sworn to secrecy.”  Years later, in 1985, Steuart Campbell and Christopher Allan, a pair of UFO sceptics, had similar thoughts and decided to do some digging. They concluded that ‘Allingham’ at least knew his astronomy, appearing familiar with the works of astronomers like H. Percy Wilkins and Patrick Moore.  He had obviously read the Journals of both the British Astronomical Association and the British Interplanetary Society, neither of which graced the shelves of W. H. Smith. So they checked the membership lists of the BIS and the BAA.  No Allingham.

   Oddly enough, Allingham’s name did crop up several times in various works by Patrick Moore.
Considering Moore’s disdain for anything connected with UFOs, this seemed odd. A further revelation emerged.  A journalist from Oxted in Surrey, Peter Davies, had been engaged to add a little semantic polish to one of Patrick Moore’s early books. Moore was living not far away in East Grinstead. The photographs in Flying Saucer from Mars include one of ‘Allingham’ standing by a telescope in a leafy garden. The garden - in East Grinstead  - and the telescope, were Patrick Moore’s, and the man posing as Allingham is, in fact, Peter Davies, wearing the same disguise he used at the Tunbridge Wells UFO club; a false moustache, horn rimmed glasses - and a false nose. The mercurial Moore never owned up to what seems to have most certainly been a literary hoax, and whatever secret he had he took it with him to the grave. He did issue a warning to anyone accusing him of writing Flying Saucer from Mars that he would sue. Yet he never did. But although Britain’s favourite TV astronomer may have been laughing up his sleeve at Adamski and Leslie with this stunt, his irrepressible pursuit of a jokey hoax was far from quelled. Which will eventually lead us back to Dr. George King, but not before we enjoy a reminder of how Adamski and Leslie were themselves hoaxed in their own blockbuster UFO book. As a softening-up process, a tasty entree to prepare the reader for George Adamski’s main course, Leslie’s quasi-academic style was fairly compelling, although had he been more scientifically rigorous in his research he might well have saved some embarrassment. A good example of his scatter-gun approach was his inclusion of what had become a favourite “ancient UFO” story among the growing celestial crockery brigade. This was the Ampleforth Abbey sighting, said to have occurred way back in 1290. Leslie aims at authenticity by quoting the “original” text from the old monks in Latin, then gives a translation in English. He gives credit for the supply of this edifying nugget to a man with a name one might only expect to see in a black-and-white 1940s British public information film – Mr A. X. Chumley. It tells the story of two Ampleforth monks, Wilfred and John, and their abbot, Henry. They are roasting sheep when the crucial line of the Ampleforth Latin appears, with the sudden announcement: “res grandis, circumcularis argenta, disco quodum had dissimilis” (“Lo! A large round silver thing like a disk flew slowly over them”).

In his assessment for the Condon Report on UFOs for the University of Colorado, Samuel Rosenberg goes into some detail with his incisive dissection of ancient UFO sightings. For example, the Ampleforth Abbey “sighting” morphs bizarrely into the “Byland Abbey Sighting” as subsequent, post-Adamski authors clamber on to the gravy train. Whoever Mr A. X. Chumley was, he certainly had a sense of humour, for as the archivist at Ampleforth would have told Leslie (had he bothered to check the story), the “large round silver thing like a disk” and the rest of the “monks roasting a sheep” yarn turns out to be a joke perpetrated in a letter to The Times on 9 February 1953 – in a scurrilous communication sent in by two Ampleforth schoolboys. They made it all up[3]. Talking of cod Latin inscriptions, Patrick Moore often mentioned a Roman urn on display in a museum, the location of which he never revealed, but he liked to tell us it bore the inscription

Iti sapis potitis andantino ne.
see final footnote

To get a handle on Moore’s impish sense of fun, just try moving the letters around and you’ll soon realise what a wag he was.

   So, UK saucers duly ridiculed, it was time to boldly go where no hoaxer had yet gone, into the peace-loving corral of the Aetherius Society. Once George had his organisation up and running, the Society's journal, Cosmic Voice became essential reading for adepts. In 1957, a series of articles appeared in the journal, all submitted by eminent scientists and physicists from various countries and institutions.  It seemed to readers, and King himself, that the interplanetary communications were being taken seriously. The lofty proclamations channelled through him from Master Aetherius, Mars Sector 6 and Saint Goo-ling (not forgetting Jesus) were having some positive effect, because these academic contributors were taking notice. Mainly foreigners, they had unusual names. They included the eminent astronomy lecturer Dr. Walter Wumpe, PhD., D.Sc., F.R.A.P.C., reporting on the Geophysical Year Programme. Other top academic names lining up to add kudos to Cosmic Voice were Dr. Dominic Fidler, Professor Huttle-Glank[4],  other pillars of scientific academia including N. Ormuss, L Pullar, R. T. Fischall, E. Ratic, Dr. Hotère, Dr. Lupi, and Dr. Waathervan. Completing this list was a certain Egon Spünraas (remember him?) and two Dutch physicists, Drs. Houla and Huiezenass.

     Step forward the cool voice of spirituality, the cult-watching newspaper Psychic Weekly. The paper’s sense of humour was not as overcooked as that of the Master Aetherius - it was still medium rare enough to spot a cosmic joke in all its glory. John Grant’s Directory relates that “when it was rather publicly pointed out to King, in the newspaper Psychic Weekly, that he was perhaps the victim of an L. Pullar, he furiously cracked down on such spurious contributions to knowledge - accusing the British astronomer Patrick Moore, among others, of being the perpetrator of the hoax”.[5]  No doubt Patrick, sides splitting, was polishing his monocle in glee.

   Eventually plain old George King, Interplanetary Parliament Spokesman, needed to sound a little grander, so a Doctorate might do the trick. According to David Barrett, in A Brief Guide to Secret Religions[6], King’s Doctorate came from "the International Theological Seminary of California, a degree mill with no accreditation." The Knighthood came later, (but not, it seems from Buckingham Palace). The Knighthood  was eventually bestowed on him by a certain Prince Robert M.N.G. Bassaraba de Brancovan-Khimchiachvili-Dadiani. The ‘Prince’, according to William Brynk of the New York Sun, “ran a bogus Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta from his faux-marble apartment (filled with equally genuine Louis XV furniture) at 116 Central Park South. If you had a passage fee, he had a gong for you, and hundreds of men and women with more money than sense each paid him up to $30,000 for his phony knighthoods. Prince Robert styled himself an "Imperial and Royal Highness." This is not bad: A Roman Catholic cardinal is merely an eminence. In a program for one of his ceremonies, held at Manhattan's Christ Church, he described himself as "Grand Master, Grand Chancellor, Grand Bailiff, and Grand Prior of the Knights of Malta." This was a few years before the prince vanished after his 2001 indictment for wire fraud.”[7]

     One would assume that Dr. (Sir) George King would have claimed all these expenses from the Interplanetary Parliament’s Bursary.

   Hoaxing the UFO[8], paranormal and psychic community can be fun, yet as this writer can testify, it is dangerous ground. The borderline between an obsession or cult and religion is to say the least hazy. Tread on a true disciple’s toes and you’re in trouble. However forteans, even with our sense of humour intact, want to believe. The question is, however, what exactly is it we want to believe? One has to remember that in the UK, spiritualism is a bona fide religion. Yet ever since the days of Houdini, the hoax and the fraud remain as the sceptic’s weapons, and they are frequently wielded.

   A report by Matt Roper in the Daily Mirror, on 28 October 2005 exposed a few unwelcome revelations concerning the most over-the-top, melodramatic current medium of them all, Liverpool’s Derek Acorah. Dr. Ciaran O’Keeffe, lecturer in the paranormal at Liverpool’s Hope University, was drafted on to Acorah’s TV show Most Haunted as resident parapsychologist. Dr. O’Keeffe, in speaking out, was in danger of committing media suicide, but he believed viewers should be enlightened as to the real nature of Most Haunted. In an attempt to establish whether or not Acorah was acting deceitfully, Dr. O’Keeffe came up with a ruse which he prepared whilst the team were filming at Bodmin Jail (alternatively Bodmin Gaol), an old prison on the edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. This historic building dates from 1779 and was closed in 1927. He invented a long-dead South African jailer called Kreed Kafer – an anagram of Derek Faker.

   “I wrote the name down and asked another member of the crew to mention it to Derek before filming. I honestly didn’t think Derek would take the bait. But during the filming he actually got possessed by my fictional character!”

O’Keeffe made up another non-existent character for the shoot at Prideaux Place, Cornwall. This time, it was the highwayman Rik Eedles – an anagram of Derek Lies. It didn’t take long for psychic Derek to begin talking to the fictional outlaw. These are just a couple of the hoaxes Acorah fell for. Dr O’Keeffe’s summing up was pretty devastating: “In my professional opinion we’re not dealing with a genuine medium … all we are seeing is showmanship and dramatics.”

   Doug and Dave’s bogus corn circles, YouTube awash with fake UFO footage, phoney ghosts, cold-reading mediums, all these are simply aggravating speed bumps on the fortean highway that takes us over the hill to give us a glimpse of those genuine unexplained mysteries which add zest to our lives.  Yet as the wily old Patrick Moore has demonstrated, there’s nothing wrong with pulling into a lay-by now and again for a good laugh.
is this Cedric Allingham or Peter Davies - and does that look like a false nose?


[1] This version according to the late Dr. Christopher Evans, Cults of Unreason, Harrap, London 1973.
[2] Grant, John, A Directory of Discarded Ideas  Ashgrove Press 1981, Corgi Edition 1983
[3] For more on this comical prank, Anselm Cramer OSB, Archivist, Ampleforth Abbey, gives a good overview at  
[4] Dr. Christopher Evans, in Cults of Unreason, Harrap, London 1973 tells us that Dr. Dominic Fidler’s article entitled Mescaline and Flying Saucers ‘was challenged for scientific inaccuracies by a Professor Huttle-Glank.’
[5] Grant, John, A Directory of Discarded Ideas  Ashgrove Press 1981, Corgi Edition 1983
[6] Barrett, David V. A Brief Guide to Secret Religions: A Complete Guide to Hermetic, Pagan and Esoteric Beliefs
Robinson, London 2011.
[7] WILLIAM BRYK New York Sun Men Who Would Be Kings (Or Knights, or Counts) June 15, 2005
[8] For a classic case of UFO hoaxing, the Warminster Photographs, go to  Experimental UFO Hoaxing. David Simpson

'It is a pis pot, it is, and a tin one.'