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What's hot – at the moment – in paranormal research
by Michael J. Hallowell


Two 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).

I’ve just 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 afraid.

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.

Crop 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 there.

And yet, 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?

My 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.

In recent 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 company.

Well, 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 ...

© Mike Hallowell, 2007


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