In his obsessive drive to persuade the world that crop formations are all man-made art, planker Matthew Williams recently set up his own live presentation at Devizes Town Hall. MARY BENNETT found his arguments seriously wanting…
On Monday May 27th 2002, those interested in matters crop were invited to attend a free meeting at Devizes Town Hall, Wiltshire, so that the only prosecuted planker on the planet could tell us the truth about crop circles. However, this generous invitation did not take into account the fact that most crop circle researchers do not actually live and work in Wiltshire, so it was unrealistic to expect that everyone interested in this subject would be able to attend a weekday event, even if it was a freebie. Of the local population, thirty-three people thought his invitation worth accepting and 25% of those were obviously close acquaintances of the speaker. Although it started later than advertised, when Matthew Williams (for it was he) finally got under way it was well worth waiting for – but perhaps not for the reasons stated on the invitation.
It turns out that Williams thinks that by making a crop circle he is opening himself to the possibility of interacting with paranormal phenomena. But it soon became clear-ish that this did not include ‘Aliens’ (his word, not mine). He even objected to the word ‘earthlings’. I was not entirely clear as to why this should be, except that this word implies the existence of ‘non-earthlings’. This part of his talk was totally unfocused and full of vague generalisations. Indeed, it was a striking demonstration of Williams’s virtually complete lack of awareness of the current scientific research concerning the subjects he is supposedly interested in. However, by the end of this section something emerged from the mist: I was left with the impression that it was of paramount importance that we all understand that extra-terrestrials had nothing to do with the actual making of crop circles.
Over the centuries better minds than his have created their own magic spaces in order to interact with the paranormal, without finding it necessary to plank crop to death. Williams justified his planking activities by saying that the farmer is able to pick up the laid crop, and that it doesn’t cost them as much as they say it does - a bit of cheek that took my breath away, since, according to the farmers I have spoken to, it is generally NOT possible to recover the crop completely and weather, animals and time can degrade the remains so that they spoil the ground for a further season, which means that most of the planked area is lost twice. Even in immature crop, planking makes for a significant percentage of broken stems, the crop then dies and is not the life enhancing foodstuff it was growing to be. It is therefore useless to the food chain. Williams and his ilk - while supposedly wishing us all to live in truth - contribute in a small but selfish way, to the problems on this planet, for these include deceit, as well as hunger.
Paradoxically, it was at this point that Williams then demonstrated that he can’t possibly be truly interested in the idea that crop circles facilitate interaction with paranormal phenomena. Robustly ticking off crop circle researchers for having forgotten, or not understanding, that the actual location of a circle has a great importance in this whole process, he then proceeded to demonstrate that he himself had not the slightest idea of the locations of virtually all the circles he had selected for his very own slide show! This ignorance was not due to bad memory, for he didn’t even know the location of last year’s important formations, such as the ‘Angel’. Assisted by a member of the audience, he stumbled through his slides, with no shame whatsoever, justifying his ignorance by saying that he only knew the circles of Wiltshire, while placing a Wiltshire crop circle in Kent. (Consultation with ‘assistant’) “No, sorry, west Kent” (consultation) “No, sorry! Kent” (consultation) “Oh! West Kennet!” Which is what his ‘assistant’ had been saying all along. This little exercise showed me that he wasn’t very interested in crop circles at all.
Williams then explained how even the very large and complex formations such as the Woodborough Hill ‘Torus’ and the Avebury ‘Magnetic Field’ were made by humans. And how it was possible to do this. If you had visited these, or indeed ANY of the complex or simple formations he attempted to describe, his words were utterly implausible, and if you hadn’t, they were still remarkably lacking in conviction. Never mind the lack of mathematical and geometrical detail, what was missing most from all of this was the authority that comes when someone speaks from experience. But the best bit was yet to come: taking a leap of imagination too high, he came a complete cropper, if you will forgive the pun.
Williams gave us a long and descriptive story of the apparent creation of the 1999 ‘Basket Weave’ formation by himself and a fellow planker. We were told that he was angry with the pain of HAVING BEEN PROSECUTED for simply attempting to bring everyone (and crop circle researchers in particular) ‘the truth’ as to the origin of crop circles. As a catharsis, he had THEN GONE OUT and made the Basket Weave formation. He made the woven floor; “Quite easy to do really”. His fellow planker made the circular components. At the time, his friend was cross with Williams, thinking that he had ruined a rather nice design with such intricacies; “We left the circle rather despondently. But later when we saw the aerial photograph, we realised how well we’d done, after all.” As questions were not allowed during the talk, this was greeted with silence (incredulity on my part). Then, after nearly two and a half hours, we finally reached the interval and the audience drifted towards the bar, prior to question time. Since I had another engagement I had to reserve my question for this article:
How can this claim that he made the Basket Weave as a result of being prosecuted be true? He was prosecuted AFTER the arrival of the Basket!
August 6th 1999 – Bishops Cannings Basket Weave formation.
August 25th 2000 - West Overton formation, which lead to the prosecution.
So Williams’s story CANNOT BE TRUE. If he does not know these dates, then at the very least he needs a calendar. But if he is aware of the dating of these two formations, the lengthy and vivid description of his cathartic act is deliberate disinformation. And he has told this story more than once. However, since his story is so easily shown to be untrue, one has to wonder why it is so important that Williams claim the Basket Weave formation as man-made?
The results of biological research undertaken on crop circles informs us that something other than hoaxing/diddling/planking is going on in some formations. If the plankers of this world stood back, we would get a clearer picture. But that is precisely the point. They are not doing this for any artistic reasons or for any ‘paranormal jolly’ (which they could aspire to in an authentic circle). They are doing it to confuse and to slow down our ability to understand what is going on here, and they are attempting to create division and stress within the local communities in which these authentic events occur and to which they gravitate for their plank. Those farmers who do have an authentic event on their land have enough to cope with; they do not need irresponsible plankers adding to their workload.
Apparently ignoring the fact that everyone has the right to their own ideas and that in this particular subject there is room - and perhaps even the requirement - for a multitude of opinions, Williams wonders why many crop circle researchers did not attend this talk, don’t care to talk to him about crop circles, or accept his truth. The pragmatic reasons for their absence from Devizes have been dealt with. Indeed, he should be thankful that they were not there to question him more closely. As for accepting his version of events, on this last showing he has answered his own question: It would be beyond foolish to rely on his information as a valid tool for those interested in crop glyphs (my word not his), their meanings and their origins.