Shaun Ryder. What Planet Am I On? Constable, 2013.

Well this is a record breaking UFO book, pity that the record broken is the number of appearances of the f-word. Otherwise this is the book of a TV series on Discovery Channel, in which Shaun reveals his lifelong interest in UFOs, starting with things he saw as a boy in Salford in the 1960s. I can confirm that some very odd things were said to be going on in Salford in the late 1960s, including if I remember correctly, walking statues, and on my only skywatch, in Salford, I did see a rather odd light in the sky. And of course, this is where Jenny Randles lived as a teenager.
Being based on a TV programme, of course, Salford is not the ideal location, so Shaun hops off to Chile and the desert and meets Antonio Huneeus, various US Air Force people, and a guy who takes him into the desert where nothing much happens. He also meets Travis Walton, though not in Snowflake Arizona, but in Salford - by now it appears that the fancy location money has run out.
Shaun and Travis tour the UK, meeting a family who hint they have been abducted, and then such old favourites as Alan Godfrey and Larry Warren (the guy whose tales of Rendlesham even the most credulous British ufologists accept as a load of tosh), and finally Nick the Pope himself. Shaun Ryder was last on TV on I’m a Celebrity…, which cynics hint is the last throw of dice for fading 'celebrities' who will pay any price to stay in the spotlight. But for Nick the Pope it might actually be a step up. Actually Shaun has got the measure of Pope, in that he hints that he mainly got the job because they owed his daddy a favour. Perhaps Shaun isn’t quite that starry-eyed after all.

Rob Kirkup. Ghosts of Edinburgh. Amberley, 2013.

If you are looking, as a psychical researcher, folklorist or just plain tourist for a comprehensive gazetteer of the alleged haunted places of Edinburgh, this is not the book for you. In fact it isn’t really a book at all, it’s more of a printed blog detailing the ghost hunting lads’ nights out of the author and his friends. Most of these seem to be associated with various ghost tours in various tourist fakelore sites. The blog-like format certainly gives a good idea of how suggestion works in these places, both the self-suggestion variety, and the pumped up fright talk of some of the commercial ghost tours. In at least one case, if accurately reported, this fright talk strikes me as very irresponsible, as it could lead to long term psychological damage and possibly even physical afflictions among the vulnerable.
A sad example of the power of fakelore to impress the gullible is provided by a place called 'Annie’s Room' in Mary King’s Close, where in 1992 a self-proclaimed Japanese psychic (?) claimed that the place was haunted by the spirit of a little girl who died alone in the plague in the 17th century, without even having her favourite teddy bear to cuddle! Presumably this lady’s psychic gifts didn’t run to her divining that teddy bears are a product of the 20th century and not the 17th. In the latter a poor child would be lucky to have the crudest rag doll as a toy. However the said psychic then suggested that someone buy a teddy bear from a local souvenir shop and put it there, and the place is now full of them. At least money is also being raised for children in need, but one hopes that the teddies and other soft toys left there also rapidly end up with the living children who might enjoy them and not left to rot. -- Peter Rogerson.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous15.2.14

    I've got the Ghosts of Edinburgh book by Rob Kirkup and it's a brilliant read. The author takes you along on every element of his trip, and you really feel part of the team. It reads as brutally honest as well. There's some really funny moments, but then you're hit with some really scary parts.

    It;s far more entertaining than the usual books that catalogue dozens of locations and regurgitate the same stories time and time again.