Close Encounters of the Third World War Kind

Suddenly everyone’s talking about UFOs again. After President Biden ordered the military to shoot down a supposed Chinese spy balloon, several more unidentified flying objects were also tracked and destroyed over North America, with senior military officer General Glen VanHerck saying they were not ruling out the possibility of extra-terrestrial involvement.[i] Of course, it’s highlyContinue reading “Close Encounters of the Third World War Kind”

The Dublin Blackberry Poisoner

In the autumn of 1989 it was feared that a maniac poisoner was at large in Dublin, coating blackberries with the deadly herbicide Paraquat. Anyone, especially children, could be in danger from this lethal toxin as they went blackberrying. The press called him the ‘Paraquat Lunatic’ or the ‘Poison Maniac’ and it led to understandableContinue reading “The Dublin Blackberry Poisoner”

Music for Plants Weird Musical History #8

I recently came across an odd vinyl album on Hebden Bridge flea market called Music for Plants by the Baroque Bouquet (pictured above). The record’s back sleeve claims that playing it to your plants will keep your plants happy and healthy. What kind of music do plants like? Well, that was worth coughing up myContinue reading “Music for Plants Weird Musical History #8”

Uri Geller ~ The Album

Weird Musical History #7 In the early 1970s a young Israeli self-proclaimed psychic called Uri Geller made his first appearances in Britain, gaining tabloid headlines and demonstrating his supposedly supernatural powers on TV. The superpower that Geller became best known for was the rather prosaic one of bending spoons with the power of his mind,Continue reading “Uri Geller ~ The Album”

The Paris Vampire – The Vampires That Time Forgot #2

You may have heard of the Highgate Vampire said to have haunted Highgate Cemetery in London in the 1960s and 70s. You may also have heard of the Kirklees Vampire which was supposed to have infested Robin Hood’s grave, near Brighouse in West Yorkshire. However, I recently stumbled upon another ‘real’ vampire case that seemsContinue reading “The Paris Vampire – The Vampires That Time Forgot #2”

The Bound and Gagged Girl ~ A Lancashire Mystery

Hilda Sharrock (18), a domestic servant living in Rufford, near Ormskirk in Lancashire had failed to come home at her usual time after meeting a friend. By 11.15pm, her father and stepmother were becoming concerned – Hilda was a home-loving young woman, fond of knitting and engaged to a young haulage driver who was awayContinue reading “The Bound and Gagged Girl ~ A Lancashire Mystery”

Mandolinquents – Weird Musical History #5

Among top musicians, claimed one newspaper in 1932, the mandolin is much maligned and seen as ‘a tinkling toy, fit only for people whose musical ambition, like their musical ability, is severely limited’.[i] Not true, of course. I’ve unearthed a couple of French stories that show that the mandolin has played a role in heinousContinue reading “Mandolinquents – Weird Musical History #5”

Yorkshire Cave Girl Mystery!

In the summer of 1924, a shroud of mystery descended on the West Yorkshire village of Eldwick, near Bingley. Rumour had it that a beautiful but excitable young woman whose only companion was a grey cat had taken up residence in a cave in the nearby popular beauty spot of Shipley Glen. On her visitsContinue reading “Yorkshire Cave Girl Mystery!”

What did the atheist philosopher see when he returned from the dead?

In June 1988 atheist philosopher A.J. Ayer was recovering in hospital after a bout of pneumonia. Not wanting to eat hospital food, one of his lady friends had smuggled in some smoked salmon for him, and when he carelessly dropped some of this into his mouth it got stuck in his throat and he chokedContinue reading “What did the atheist philosopher see when he returned from the dead?”

In which I steal secret microfilm from the KGB!

As I discussed the shortcomings of the CIA’s recent report on Havana Syndrome in my previous post, I thought I’d stay in the murky world of espionage and tell you how I came into the possession of KGB microfilm of American secrets. I spent three years teaching English in Russia in the 90s, mostly basedContinue reading “In which I steal secret microfilm from the KGB!”