Unpredictable weather, Silbury Hill purified at last, exploding garages, UFOs, and the usual cerealogical controversy… MICHAEL GLICKMAN opens the new season with some musings from the heart of crop circle country.
UPDATE FROM CROP CIRCLE COUNTRY
Here in the Vale of Pewsey, Spring arrived, early and unannounced. Before even the middle of February there were days when the sun shone with defiant glee. The weathermen, apparently taking their cue from both British and US fear-promoting governments, issued dire warnings about gales and blizzards. Accordingly, on hearing the news of an impending meteorological cataclysm, I bought enough food to see me through the equivalent of the Leningrad siege, stuffed my freezer and battened down the metaphorical hatches. The next morning, and indeed the following few days, were sunny and warm. Ah, well. I suppose weather forecasts are just about as reliable as what the authorities see fit to call "intelligence". We have all come to understand the reliability of that.
And then, some time later, there was a little snow! The chalk downs along the northern flank of the Pewsey Vale are magically transformed by snow. The hills seem, for a few hours, to have been lightly dusted with icing sugar.
And now, at the beginning of April, it is definitely Spring. Daffodils, a crocus or two, buds on trees, and - above all - burgeoning fields. Touring famous old fields, last year's cerealogical events are still there in silhouette.
Other local news. A drunk driver ran off the A4 into the little Murco garage near Lockeridge. He squarely hit one of the pumps which responded by exploding! There were no injuries, but the car and the petrol station were torched. A familiar landmark in crop circle territory has been destroyed, but is being rebuilt.
A story about an even more familiar landmark. Since the collapse of the vertical shaft at the top of Silbury Hill in May 2000, the hill has been disgracefully vandalised by its supposed custodians, English Heritage. They protected the exposed top so inadequately that there was a further collapse some time later, which turned an eight foot diameter hole into a crater. The crater grew and eventually became so large that the edge, and thus the profile of the hill, was threatened.
After an inordinate delay they started remedial work. This involved packing the void with a polystyrene-based foam. Forgive me, but this seems as obscene as packing the human breast with silicone. Clearly the construction site at the top of the hill needed to be protected, and accordingly English Heritage did what they do best. They put a fence on top of the hill.
I accept that I might be prejudiced and over-emotional, but I feel that the spirit of English Heritage delights, above all, in Enclosure and Exclusion. We were told that the plastic filling would be removed eventually. Eventually was never defined. We assumed that, eventually, the industrial chain-link fence would also be removed when the work was done. It sat there for years like a crown of thorns, blighting the noble silhouette of the hill. Every time I drove along the A4 was like a smack in the face.
The work finished two years ago, but they could not be bothered to remove the fence. Visitors complained every season. As this year progressed, it became clearer to me that this was going to be the fifth summer, the fifth tourist season, which displayed this lovely monument in its vandalised state.
I contacted English Heritage who, in time-honoured tradition, failed to reply. So I wrote to Lord Avebury, Lord Melchett, Prince Charles, Michael Ancram (the local Member of Parliament) and numerous local councillors. It got onto Wiltshire Sound radio and, abracadabra, the fence has disappeared. I am pleased (and rather proud) to tell you that the lovely hill is restored.
Next, the plastic stuffing!
More news. A dockyard worker (who wishes to remain anonymous) living in the St Budeaux area of Plymouth, Devon, bought himself a new digital camera and took a few experimental shots across the rooftops of the town. When he got home to examine the images, he was astonished to discover a gigantic circular object in the sky in several of the pictures. He contacted a local UFO researcher, who had the images checked. They were impeccable and were featured on several pages of the local paper.
Closer to home, there have been several independent sightings of a ring of lights "brighter than the moon" over Pewsey Vale. As the word gets out, more and more people, including a group at Alton Barnes, say that they saw it too.
Closer still to home, you can always be sure that the crop circle season is about to start by the way envy, gossip, vituperation and jealousy start to bubble to the surface. It is as reliable as the whistle that signals the imminent departure of the mail train.
What is it about us earthlings, and crop circle earthlings in particular, that makes us so insecure? How, faced with gifts of miracles, are we so consistently able to dredge the murkiest depths of our character? In the cosmic scheme of things, I imagine we are the prizewinners in the dysfunction stakes. And yes, to pre-empt the inevitable snipes, I do include myself here.
Nancy Talbott recently announced what seemed to be very positive results from BLT's work on soil analysis [see report this month – Ed]. I called her in Cambridge to thank her and congratulate her, though, as a non-scientist, I admit only a superficial understanding of the work.
Within days the internet was on fire!
A famous researcher pitched in, attempting to hitch his creaky old wagon to the new BLT horse. It was clear he understood even less than I did, but was desperate to get some of the credit. Astonishingly, attempts were made to revive the long-dead 80%/20% corpse.
Another pretender to scientific respectability promptly piped up with a pompous criticism of the "methodology" (new failed-croppie buzzword) of the BLT work.
I was sent a copy of ‘The Circular’, a hoax-fancying magazine I had not read for some years. There was a piece attributing to me words which I never said. Is it worth the trouble of replying? Their circulation, apparently, is 17.
[CCCS have asked us to clarify that this is a humorous comment by Michael and not an accurate reflection of the true, much higher, circulation figures! They also wish to point out that The Circular is not a "hoax-fancying journal", but instead it "seeks to be open-minded and fair" - Ed.]
And, finally, more e-mails whinging about "rumours". Here we are, faced with the most fun in the world, and we behave like teenagers in the dormitory.
Years ago, I guess I might have been upset. Now, with the prospect of a lovely season ahead, I shrug ruefully.
The tenth video in Michael’s ongoing ‘Crop Circle Lectures’ series has just been released. ‘SQUARES, ROPES AND TWISTED RIBBONS’ features Michael’s engaging performance at the 2003 Glastonbury Symposium, as professionally filmed and edited by Nikola Duper.
Cost: £16.50 (UK); $27.00 (USA): 29 Euros (EU). Cheques should be made payable to ‘Crop Circle Reality’ and posted to:
Crop Circle Reality
PO Box 1188
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