Weird '09 Conference - Warminster (29-30 Aug 2009)


The official song for Weird '09 - Touch the Sky by C.E.IV

Day 1 - Saturday 29 August 2009

Montage of day 1's activities

The Weird ’09 Conference was held at the Athenaeum Theatre in Warminster over the weekend of 29-30 August. The gathering was hosted by Glastonbury Radio.Net’s Ross Hemsworth and author of "The Dead Are Talking". The venue was perfect for this event, with a pleasant auditorium and rooms for the other activities such as merchandising and refreshments. Ross welcomed everyone to the event and talked about his background in the paranormal world, including being the host of hit radio show Now That's Weird. He then handed over to the first speaker - Kevin Goodman. Kevin is author of "UFO Warminster: Cradle of Contact". Kevin talked about the famous Warminster ‘Thing’ and the person associated with it more than anyone else - Arthur Shuttlewood. Although more than 40 years have passed since the original flap, there is still much interest in the case. Fascinating audio recordings were played of Shuttlewood, as well as Peter and Jane Paget, who ran the Fountain Centre at Star House in the 1970s. Shuttlewood passed away in 1996 but books have been published since and others are believed to be on the way. Kevin covered the ups and downs of the story in a sympathetic manner and this proved to be a great way to open the event. Each talk was followed by a break, which gave a chance for refreshments to be purchased as well as browsing in the merchandising stalls.

It does what it says on the screen

Ross Hemsworth welcomes everyone to the first day of Weird '09

Kevin Goodman goes through a history of the Warminster 'Thing'

Arthur Shuttlewood features prominently in the story

Several audio recordings of Arthur Shuttlewood are played

The famous photograph of the Warminster 'Thing'

The famous Fountain Centre at Star House

Arthur Shuttlewood died in 1996

Ross sends everyone off for the first break

There were two rooms where merchandise was being sold

Ross started the next session with an anecdote about Nick Pope and how the story about the RAF’s shoot down orders for a UFO were revealed for the first time on his Now That’s Weird show on Glastonbury Radio.Net. Nick then came on stage to talk in detail about the release of the latest MOD files on UFOs. He concentrated on the more interesting cases, as well as giving background information on why the files are now released in this manner. Talking about some of the inner workings of the process, it was about as far away from the X-Files as you could imagine. Nick was able to take a number of questions from the floor. Nick is the author of several titles, including "Open Skies, Closed Minds", "The Uninvited", "Operation Thunder Child" and "Operation Lightning Strike".

Ross tells a Nick Pope anecdote before calling up the UFO expert for his talk

Nick talked about the latest files released from the Ministry of Defence

Nick discussed some of the more interesting cases in the file

Nick talked about the reasoning behind the release of the files

Ross sends everyone off for the next break

Nick is besieged with questions after his talk

Hayley Stevens from Wiltshire Phenomena was the last speaker of the morning. She talked about her rational approach to researching the paranormal, shunning the tools that might normally be used. She showed how the brain can be fooled into seeing a familiar image in random chaos - pareidolia. And also how people can remember words that were not even on a list they were asked to memorise. She also revealed that a key had been hidden in the auditorium by one of the event staff. That person was the only one to know the location. She challenged someone in the audience to find it using dowsing rods. And much to her surprise, the volunteer (James Basil) did just that! Of course only a series of tests in controlled conditions would really prove that dowsing works. Hayley admitted that she had experienced some things that were hard to explain - not least in a Trowbridge shopping centre! She finished by answering several questions from members of the audience.

Ross advises everyone that they have some work to do in the next session

Hayley Stevens talked about her approach to paranormal investigation

Hayley showed how people could 'remember' information that wasn't real

And she didn't expect the hidden key to be found with dowsing but it was!

Hayley reminded everyone to consider prosaic answers before the wild and fanciful

Two videos shot for the event were shown for those not going out for lunch. The first showed Dr. David Clarke talking about his work in the UFO field. The second involved Steve Dewey talking about the long road to getting In Alien Heat published - a relatively recent book about the Warminster ‘Thing’.

Lunch Video 1 - Dr. David Clarke talked about his UFO work

Lunch Video 2- Steve Dewey talks about the long road to getting In Alien Heat published

After lunch Ross welcomed everyone back and introduced Brian Allan. He followed on from his talk the previous summer in Glastonbury on Rosslyn Chapel with a new talk called The Rosslyn Frequency. Sounding a bit like a Dan Brown novel, Brian gave a fascinating account of using a particular sound inside the famous building, with bizarre effects felt by all those present. This frequency is known as the Devil’s Chord, something outlawed by the Church. He believes a combination of sound and light will access a gateway built into the structure. He will have the opportunity to test this once the current building work has completed. Brian showed some interesting photographs and revealed that he had an even more interesting video, until BBC Manchester lost it! Several interesting questions were posed from people who have had experience of working with sound themselves. Brian is author of a number of titles, including The Hole In The Sky.

Ross introduces Brian Allan

Brian introduces the famous Rosslyn Chapel

Brian talks about the cubes of stone that resonate with sound

Brian takes questions

Brian takes questions

Following the last break, Ross read out various announcements and then got members of the audience to help pick the raffle tickets. All the prizes had been donated by the speakers of the day. All proceeds were for the Swindon Great Western Hospital Special Care Baby Unit. Peter McCue was the final speaker for the first day. As someone highly qualified with a previous medical background, on the face of it he was not someone who might be expected to be dabbling in the paranormal. But he gave a fascinating account of his findings of paranormal activity when buildings and land are disrupted. He talked about how some events stay at the location, with others being related to people and so following them to the new location when they move. Following questions, Ross closed this part of the event. There were two optional things going on in the evening. A six-hour sky watch on Cradle Hill that anyone was welcome to attend. And a ghost hunt in a secret Warminster location, something that had been sold out for months.

Following the last break Ross reads out the announcements and does the first day's raffle

Peter McCue starts his interesting talk on whether building and land disturbances cause ghost activity

Peter talks about his ghostly research

Peter sees some activity as being location-based

With other activity as person-based

Terrifying goings on in one establishment

Peter takes questions

Ross closes the first day and reminds everyone about the activities for that night

Day 2 - Sunday 30 August 2009

Montage of day 2's activities

Ross welcomed everyone back to the second day and started by showing some of his own paranormal photographs. The first speaker was Joe McGonagle, who would be taking the audience on a trip through the MOD UFO files. Many people were probably surprised to see what a shambles it all was. From hand-written flippant comments and disinterest to a lack of resource to address serious concerns. It was clear the officials of the day never dreamt that the public would be bulk-downloading files to home computers! Joe showed several cases that should have been of clear defence significance, when in fact the MOD had taken the opposite view. The occasional file had previously been classified ‘secret’, which clearly told its own story! He also revealed that at one time the files were only kept for a few years. As such it's only possible to dig back a few decades, when the issue has been going on much longer than that. Joe took questions from the audience. One of these was about the training that would be required for someone to be able to man the ‘UFO Desk’. And the answer was not a lot because the role was normally taken on by the most junior management grade - Grade D/Executive Officer.

Joe McGonagle took the audience on a trip through the MOD UFO files

Joe McGonagle took the audience on a trip through the MOD UFO files

Joe McGonagle took the audience on a trip through the MOD UFO files

Joe pointed out how unusual it was to see previously secret files

The files are littered with hand-written comments

The officials of the day didn't foresee how their successors would become overloaded with requests for UFO information

Several dramatic events in the same area but still no defence significance?

Joe takes questions from the audience

Nick Redfern was up following the first break. I had already taken the opportunity for him to sign six of his books. I’ve wanted to meet him for many years as he has written several of my favourite UFO books. Nick’s talk was about the infamous Men In Black (MIB). He took the audience back to the early days of this phenomenon. There is so much evidence that it has to be real. Yet so much of it sounds like it could be taken straight out of a low budget comedy drama. Nick showed how several of the early MIB contactees had their own FBI files. So presumably the MIB are not from the FBI, as the FBI were clearly worried about what was going on. In the question session there were some incredible statements from people in the audience. Including several people confirming that they had been visited by groups of three nuns in the Bristol area who wanted to examine their children! Nick is author of many titles, including "A Covert Agenda" and "Body Snatchers in the Desert".

Ross introduces the next speaker - Nick Redfern

Nick's talk was principally about Men In Black

Nick took the audience to the early days of MIB in the UFO world

Nick took the audience to the early days of MIB in the UFO world

Nick took the audience to the early days of MIB in the UFO world

The FBI were interested in early MIB contactees

Nick takes questions from the audience

Ross talks about his experience in this field

The final speaker of the morning was Paul Devereux. 28 books into his career, few have more experience of the ancient landscape than Paul. This talk was about how spirits might have used features of the landscape. Paul has been in this area of research for a few years now. There is a lot of history associated with apparently innocuous features such as crossroads and stiles. This theory builds on the previous knowledge that churches are often built on straight line alignments. It seems as though the eastern concept of feng shui can relate to our own landscapes. Paul had also done a lot of research into ‘fairy law’, with stories of the consequences of human disruption on ‘fairy routes’. Paul had done a lot of work in Ireland and he showed how protests caused a new road to be routed around a ‘fairy tree’. Paul lamented the lack of supply of his most recent book - Spirit Roads. In fact he had none to sell on the day. I’m glad I got him to sign my previously-purchased copy prior to his talk! He advised me to take good care of it. Some interesting questions came from the audience. It was clear that several other people present were working in this field. Grab a Paul Devereux title while you can. They sell quickly, if the lack of stock at Amazon is anything to go by.

Paul Devereux is up next

Paul talks about how spirits might have used the ancient landscape

Paul talks about how spirits might have used the ancient landscape

Paul talks about how spirits might have used the ancient landscape

The clues are there for all to see

Paul admits that he doesn't have all the answers but he's done plenty of research

Paul reveals a lack of stock for the book related to this talk!

Paul takes questions from the audience

Following the lunch break, Ross welcomed Mike Oram to the stage. He had the longest session of the weekend and he split it into two parts. Mike has been an alien contactee since his childhood. He regularly talked about his ‘ space brother’ during the session. Indeed he had been contacted by him in the weeks leading up to the conference. Mike used to live in Warminster and was around in the days of the 1960s flap and was a friend of Arthur Shuttlewood. Mike’s book is "Does It Rain in Other Dimensions?: A True Story of Alien Encounters." I read this some months ago after hearing Mike being interviewed on the Now That’s Weird show on Glastonbury Radio.Net. I found the book fascinating and was very pleased to get Mike to sign it prior to his talk. The first half of the talk involved Mike whizzing the audience through the Warminster flap days and his early readings on the subject of UFOs. In the second part he moved on to his 2004 visit to America and his missing two hours at Area 51. What originally appeared to be a straightforward chase sequence involved him being captured and taken through a gateway created by a mobile portal generator! He had apparently been captured because the Area 51 guards knew he was a contactee. Mike managed to get out of the situation but was advised by his space brother that he should try not to get into such scrapes! The whole encounter is covered in great detail in Mike’s book. Several questions were asked by intrigued audience members.

Following lunch Ross introduces the next guest - Mike Oram

Mike has the longest session of the weekend and it's split into two parts

Mike starts with details of his excellent book

As a contactee from childhood, Mike steps through his early UFO readings

As a contactee from childhood, Mike steps through his early UFO readings

Mike was around during the famous Warminster UFO flap

As a contactee from childhood, Mike steps through his early UFO readings

As a contactee from childhood, Mike steps through his early UFO readings

As a contactee from childhood, Mike steps through his early UFO readings

As a contactee from childhood, Mike steps through his early UFO readings

As a contactee from childhood, Mike steps through his early UFO readings

As a contactee from childhood, Mike steps through his early UFO readings

As a contactee from childhood, Mike steps through his early UFO readings

As a contactee from childhood, Mike steps through his early UFO readings

As a contactee from childhood, Mike steps through his early UFO readings

And something more recent

The second part of his talk involved his incredible experience at Area 51

No following truck and two hours of missing time!

Mike takes questions from the spellbound audience

Following the final break, Ross conducted the second day's raffle. As with the first day the prizes had been donated by the speakers and all proceeds went to Swindon Great Western Hospital Special Care Baby Unit. Ross then introduced Malcolm Robinson from Strange Phenomena Investigations (SPI). His talk was about the large number of ghostly photographs that are available. Like Hayley on the previous day, he acknowledged pareidolia and how perfectly normal situations can lead to people apparently seeing human figures and body parts. He talked of a theory that suggests the human brain is programmed to recognise a human face with the minimum of effort - probably part of the survival mechanism. He showed several photographs that were clearly of this type. For example, trees making the shape of a whole person or just a head. He then moved on to some well known photographs that showed potential ghostly images, as well as others from PSI’s files and additional ones obtained from the internet. One that particularly struck me was of a man who appeared in a social photograph, even though he had not been in the area for years and definitely had not been at the function. To me he looked like Jeremy Wilkin, a character actor best known for exploits in 1970s TV Sci-Fi such as Dr. Who and Blake’s 7! Malcolm whizzed through many dozens of images and there was hardly time to catch breath! Things had slightly overrun and so unfortunately there was no time for questions. Malcolm has a book due out soon so keep an eye out for that.

The final break of the day

Malcolm Robinson was the last speaker of the event

Malcolm asked the audience to make up their own minds on a serious of ghost photographs

Malcolm asked the audience to make up their own minds on a serious of ghost photographs

Malcolm asked the audience to make up their own minds on a serious of ghost photographs

Malcolm asked the audience to make up their own minds on a serious of ghost photographs

Malcolm asked the audience to make up their own minds on a serious of ghost photographs

Malcolm asked the audience to make up their own minds on a serious of ghost photographs

Malcolm asked the audience to make up their own minds on a serious of ghost photographs

The appearance of this man in a photo caused me a surprise. It looks like the actor Jeremy Wilkin.

After Malcolm had been thanked, Ross asked for the entire Weird ‘09 crew to come up on stage. He asked for a big round of applause for the group for their hard work, and another individual one for Chris Williams the overall organiser. Ross then closed the event. It had been a tremendous success - great value, good attendance and fantastic speakers. And hopefully it will all happen again next year!

Ross gets the Weird 09 crew up on stage so they can't be thanked

Ross closes the event thanks everyone for coming


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Page last updated: 03 Sep 2009