weeks ago I was asked to guest a talk show, and a
presenter candidly admitted – to a live audience – that
as a youngster she’d had an “imaginary friend”.
Okay…nothing too unusual there, then. Actually, one
third of children have these so-called “imaginary”
friends. However, when the presenter admitted that her
imaginary friend had been called Semolina, a few
eyebrows were raised. Having a friend named after a
dessert isn’t common. Come on; how many people reading
this column has a pal called Twinkie or Fudge Sundae?
Not many, I reckon. (If you do have a pal called Twinkie
or Fudge Sundae, let me know where they live and I’ll go
around and beat their parents up).
written a book about the entire phenomenon of
“imaginary” childhood friends, actually (http://www.hoap.co.uk/general.htm#Invz)
and I guess what fascinated me about the subject was
that it is one of the few, true enigmas prevalent in our
society that has yet to be the subject of any serious,
sustained research. Truth to tell I love all paranormal
mysteries. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration; I love
most. Some just don’t cut the mustard with me, I’m
In the UK
at the moment ORBS are a big thing. Everyone is
photographing orbs, and every orb photographed is,
allegedly, uh…the best orb ever photographed. Orbs just
don’t do it for me, but maybe that’s because I’m a hoary
old cynic who thinks that the vast majority are just
reflections of light off dust particles.
circles are on the wane here. They’re still turning up
by the dozen, but they rarely make the headlines.
Everyone is waiting for the next Big Phenomenon to get
us all excited again. Of course, it could be something
that comes totally out of left field and surprises all
of us Brits, like a belief that you can contact the dead
by plugging an I-pod into a muffin toaster. (No, it’s
not true, but if you want a laugh then spread it around
the Internet anyway – someone will believe it).
Predicting what’s coming next in the field of paranormal
research in the UK is difficult, but I suspect that we
might see a revival of the BHM (Big Hairy Man)
phenomenon. It may surprise you to know (it sure
surprised the hell out of me) that the UK is reputed to
play host to a number of Bigfoot-like creatures. It
sounds crazy, I know, because hiding a large, hairy
hominid in the UK would be akin to standing an orange on
top of a postage stamp and expecting everyone to see the
stamp and somehow not notice the orange. We are just too
small to play host to a breeding population of such
creatures without them being seen on an almost daily
basis. If this seems like an exaggeration, remember that
you could place all of England in the centre of the
Yellowstone National Park and you’d hardly notice it was
BHMs are being seen in the UK with increasing frequency.
A few years back some colleagues from the Centre for
Fortean Zoology and I investigated a BHM sighting at
Bolam Lake in Northumberland. We had an extremely close
encounter with it and there is no doubt in my mind that
the Beast of Bolam, as it was dubbed, certainly had some
form of objective reality.
Dismissing the notion that there really could have been
a population of cryptid hominids living in the UK for
thousands or even millions of years undetected, what
could the answer be?
colleague Jon Downes from the CFZ has believed for many
years that some mystery animals are what he refers to as
zooforms; that is, creatures which ostensibly have the
attributes of flesh-and-blood animals but can seemingly
translate themselves between one dimension and another
instantaneously. Whilst they are here they are as “real”
as any other beast of the field, but, like phantoms,
they can simply disappear into the ether and go back to
wherever or whenever they came from. The famous
Kelly-Hopkinsville case in the USA may be a classic
example of this phenomenon.
times BHMs have been seen in the more rural areas of
Cumbria, and Sherwood Forest – of Robin Hood fame – is
also the residence of an eight-foot tall creature with
glowing red eyes and a smell that could fell a bull
elephant a mile away. Fortunately there aren’t too many
elephants in Sherwood Forest, so we probably don’t have
to worry about that.
Supportive of the zooform idea is the fact that our BHMs
are remarkably dissimilar to each other. Some are short
with four toes, some large with five. Others walk
upright, other like an ape. Some have hairy faces whilst
others are as clean-shaven as the guy who was so
impressed with the Remington shaver he bought the
Mrs. H wants to go shopping so I have to cut this column
short. However, I will bring you further updates on the
British BHM situation as things transpire. Of course,
being British, our BHMs will be incredibly
well-mannered, wear bowler hats and drink tea from
dainty china cups ...