While considering the possible ingredients for the Bumper Christmas Blather, I did toy with the idea of doing something ‘Christmassy’, but eventually decided against it, bah humbug, due to the sheer weight of bizarre material that I’ve been hoarding over the last couple of weeks, which I’ve been unable to squeeze in to previous issues.
HITCHCOCK IN ROMANIA?
Following recent tongue-in-cheek Blatherings concerning Charles Fort’s humorously hypothetical ‘Super-Sargasso-Sea’, yet more sky stories have bubbled to the surface of the mainstream media. Blather 1.30 mentioned crows falling out of the sky in China, and in a similar sort of story on December 15th, The Associated Press told of the Romanian newspaper ‘Evenimentul Zilei’ told of an infestation by thousands of crows of the town of Turda, 190 miles northwest of Bucharest. Residents were reportedly using pepper gas, air rifles, slingshots, and presumably anything else that came to hand to rid themselves of this feathery curse. Some people incurred injuries from scratching by the birds, but no nobody required hospitalisation.
RELEASE THE BATS!
According to Reuters, on December 15th the Agriculture Ministry of Trinidad has been attempting combat another kind of aerial infestation, this time in the form of vampire bats. This has prompted an immediate rabies inoculation campaign, after 22 head of cattle had been lost. The bat blamed for the bloodshed is the Desmodus Rotundus, but it’s thought that the outbreak of the disease may be limited to a small number of the bats. Luckily, no humans have reported bites yet, but Blather is wondering when the chupacabras (goatsucker) reports will start piling in from Trinidad.
SMILLA’S FEELING FOR METEORS
In anticipation of the recent Irish Centre for UFO Studies skywatch, described in last week’s Blather, we previously mentioned the Geminid meteor shower, which peaked on December 13th. In fact, the meteors created plenty of confusion worldwide. On 12th December, a red light reportedly streaked across Minnesota and Wisconsin, Iowa and northern Missouri, prompting a brief search for a temporarily missing aircraft – it was just overdue (The Associated Press). The Independent, on the 16th of December, reported a search by spotter planes for a meteor which is thought to have fallen in southern Greenland on December 9th. Fishermen and other early risers witnessed the sky brightening to daylight as a green light streaked across the sea for a few seconds, at an estimated velocity of 7,600mph (12,160 kph – did I get it right this time?) followed by a 10-second shockwave recorder by seismographic equipment.
On December 16th, Bogota’s El Espectador newspaper, via, Reuters informed the world that a meteorite was possibly to blame for a house fire which caused the deaths of four children in the Huila province of Columbia, after fireballs had been seen ‘raining down’ in the area. Capt. Carlos Augusto Rojas of the Pitalito fire department recalled seeing three distant fireballs in the sky when he arrived. A 10 inch hole in the zinc roof, along with traces of a sulpher-like substance were being studied.
. . . in The House of Prayer, on Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland. So says the Irish Times of Wednesday, December 17th. Blather has been keeping a squinted eye on the ‘Achill Matter’, and it’s interesting to see The Irish Times is only giving coverage to it now that the Catholic hierarchy are making statements.
Not mentioned in the Irish Times (which makes the their article pretty nonsensical), but according to the Irish Independent a Mrs. Christina Gallagher (mentioned by Ted Harrison, in Fortean Times 96:34), who lives at The House of Prayer, ‘claims to have the stigmata wounds of Christ on her feet, and to have been given a divine insight into the future of Ireland and mankind’. Reports of healings and conversions have been investigated by the Catholic Church. According to the Irish Times, a commission set up by the church has decided that ‘it has found no evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that “supernatural phenomena” have happened’. On the other hand, the Archbishop of Tuam (Achill is in this diocese), Dr Michael Neary, has stated that Mrs. Gallagher and ‘her associates retain the right to believe and state their belief that such have indeed occurred and continue to occur’ (Irish Independent). The remainder of both reports are concerned the assimilation of the House’s funds into diocese funds. It seems to Blather that the Church is saying that whatever it is these people believe (e.g. stigmata) is utter guff, but because the funds of the House of Prayer are now going to the diocese, it’s really quite alright for Ms. Gallagher and her friends to believe in whatever they like, and mislead whoever they want. Is Blather guilty of seeing smoke without fire?
British TV’s Channel 4, on Monday, December 29th, will be showing a Secret Lives ‘documentary’, postulating that Princess Grace of Monaco, formerly Hollywood star Grace Kelly, was a member of the Order of the Solar Temple. The Order achieved considerable notoriety in 1994, after 69 of their members apparently committed mass suicide, mainly in Canada and Switzerland. The princess is alleged to have given more than 6 million pounds (UK) to the cult, and was initiated via a ‘sexually loaded’ ceremony, and to have died in a car crash in 1982 ‘as testimony of her commitment to’ the Order. (The Sunday Times 21st December 97)
Could this lead to the cult of Diana, i.e. Princess Diana, to turn perhaps a little more occult? Will claims be made of her sacrificial death for the Solar Temple too? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. J.G. Ballard will have a field day, if he’s not sick of the whole thing by now, as some folk reckon.
BRAND SPANKING NEW MONKEY
It has certainly been a busy few years for cryptozoology, apart from the rake of muntjacs, saola and pheasants in Vietnam, we now hear of a new monkey found in Makalu-Barun area of Nepal by a Nepali Primatologist and Associate Professor of Biology at Kathmandu University, Dr. Mukesh Kumar Chalise. Don’t get too excited about this being the elusive yeti, we said monkey, not ape – this creature is in some ways similar to the assamensis species, indigenous to this region. No more news on it as yet, but Blather will endeavour to keep the howling masses posted on this one.(EnviroLink Network via InfoBeat12th December 1997)
MORE ON THE WEXFORD BOOM-BOOM (SHAKALAKKA-BOOM)
In contradiction to what Blather was told by Shannon Air Traffic Control, Blather reader Tim Ferrett reckons that the aerial ‘boom’ currently being discussed on the Local Wexford Post on http://www.local.ie is ‘*almost* certainly the Concorde. It hits supersonic speed as it clears UK/Irish airspace (I think). . . you can hear the same ‘boom’ and clearly see the vapour trail (and the plane through binoculars) from the North Cornish coast most summer evenings at around 9.15pm’.
Blather was pleased to discover, amidst the pages of ‘A Word in Your Ear’, by Diarmaid Ã“ Muirithe (ISBN 1-85182-339-5), another use of the word ‘blather’. Apparently ‘blathering’ was an All Hallows Eve (Halloween) custom of banging or clattering sticks (or cabbages, it seems) on people’s front doors and then running away, as fast as ones legs could carry one, common in late 18th century north-east
And that’s it – a smidgen premature this week, perhaps, but after all, it is Christmas, or ‘mid-winter festival’, or whatever you might like to call it. . .
Dave (daev) Walsh
24th December 1997