Strange phenomena special

Take me to your counci


Mass hysteria, out of control PR or genuine visitations from alien lifeforms? The truth is out there. The truth is BONNYBRIDGE. Words: Paul Dale

Anyone who’s had the misfortune to visit Bonnybridge is bound to think your average alien is both myopic and ill-informed. Nestling on the dreary edges of Falkirk, downwind of that mass chemical spillage known as Grangemouth, depressed and emasculated by years of Tory mismanagement, it does seem an odd place for a superior species to jettison centuries of anonymity. Bonnybridge is, however, the number one UFO hotspot in the UK with almost half of its 5,450 population having reported some kind of mysterious happening. And the evidence is overwhelming.

There is Katie Swanson, her son Andrew (then seven years old) and mother May Higgins. who back in 1994 reported seeing a cigar shaped UFO as they sat in their garden at 9pm one evening that summer. “There was no noise, no markings or windows and no visible energy source.’ she told The Sun a year later.

There is William and Mabel Bestall who saw a Catherine Wheel-shaped craft three times in a year out of the window of their seventh floor flat, their sightings corroborated by hundreds of calls made by their neighbours to a local newspaper that had run the story.

There’s Craig Malcolm whose whole family has encountered unexplained phenomena, crafts that appear, follow and disappear

noiselessly. Add to this thousands of other claims, ranging from bright lights to abduction. and Bonnybridge becomes a heady strange brew, further intensified by UFO-obsessed councillor, Billy Buchanan, and Malcolm Robinson from Strange Phenomena Investigations who wants to open an investigation file in this Scottish Area 5 1.

Councillor Buchanan has created a media circus around the extraterrestrial activity. His achievements are impressive in this most under-privileged of communities. But in attempting to twin the town with Roswell, Mexico, hectoring successive governments to open a conclusive file and publicising an alleged 60,000 sightings, he has repeatedly hit a brick wall. ‘We get the same old crap from the MoD that there is nothing unusual happening that is affecting the airspace,’ he complains, later faxing me a sheaf of snippy correspondence between him, the prime minister’s office and the MoD.

Buchanan‘s case is often compelling. For instance he has a secret tape of intercepted air messages on which pilots discuss an unidentified object they are looking at. With a

UFO theme park planned. a book about an alien landing in Bonnybridge and other personal projects in the pipeline. Buchanan is a driven man.

But Bonnybridge is not the only place in Scotland where the unexplained has been left unexplained. Sightings have been recorded from Cowdenbeath to Kirkcaldy. from Balmoral to Elgin. Bonnybridge has the copyright on little green men no more than Dover has the copyright on asylum seekers (should it ever wish to erect a statue). But

It does seem an odd place for a superior New species to jettison centuries of anonymity.

when you are clutching at straws in the face of economic decline, maybe you‘ll lind that myth and marketing can move in mysterious ways.

Whatever the answer to the Bonnybridge mystery, the final word should go to author and conspiracy theorist Nicholas Redfern: “For some inexplicable reason. UFOs are attracted to Bonnybridge. Something in that area is attracting them. This is happening nowhere else in Britain. The number of alien abductions in Scotland has also increased and the government knows more than it claims.‘

KOESTLER mind alone. Remember Carrie? PARAPSYCHOLOGY The Verdict The work of KPU UNIT is grounded in science. All the

The Evidence The Parapsychology Unit at the University of Edinburgh is one of the few places in the UK dedicated to the study of the

tests for these phenomena take place in rigorously-controlled environments to prevent cheating, and so far, the results have been fairly positive. (Kirsty

paranormal, but banish all Knaggs) thoughts of The X-Fi'les from y0ur mind; the researchers REINCARNATION

The Evidence The spiritual eduivalent of recycling, reincarnation is the belief that our souls

are eternal, and inhabit a new physical form when we die. Occasionally, people can have glimpses of the person they were in a previous life; a kind of grand scale deja vu. One of the most effective ways of accessing these memories is by regression hypnosis; there are numerous cases of people who have. during hypnosis.

there don't go rushing off all over the country to investigate wild claims of alien viruses. weird religi0us cults or the like. Their remit is to study means of communication which other branches of science have been unable to explain. Their research is focused mainly on extrasensory perception (ESP) which includes telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition, and psychokinesis (PK) where a person can affect their environment through force of

14 THE LIST 29 Mar—12 Apr 2001

described their past lives in detail, reporting facts about the time and place which have subseQUently been verified. There are even cases where the subject has taken on the


personality of their former selves or spoken in a foreign language. one which they were unable to speak either before or after the hypnosis.

The Verdict A wide-spread phenomenon, yet to be fully explained. (Kirsty KnaggS)

AMAZING ANIMALS The Evidence There are some animals that just shouldn't be roaming round Scotland. The Beast of Bodmin MOOr in Devon is the most famous British example, but panthers and other big cats have been spotted across Scotland with increasing regularity. There have been over 500 sightings since the 70s and there have been at least ten sightings already this year. Mutilated sheep's carcasses keep cropping up and during the 80s a puma was captured in lnvernesshire.

The Verdict There are several alien species living in Scotland such as wallabies. wild boar and muntjac. And there is plenty of wilderness and livestock in

Scotland to keep any large predator happy. It is likely that some of these tales are based on fact. (Henry Northmore)


The Evidence It was in the early 80s that the media started reporting on designs appearing on farmer's fields throughout the land. From a simple circle to much more complicated designs. they caught the public imagination and immediately caused a colourful debate; was this phenomenon the work of UFOs. tornados. ancient spirits or merely a couple of tipsy farmers? After a 1990 government meeting to discuss the matter. the hoaxing faction entered the picture. The most notorious were Doug and Dave. two retired pranksters. who unashamedly claimed to the world that they were