Friday, May 16, 2008

The Interview They Didn't Want You to See!

In "Another One Bites the Dust!", I briefly discussed an interview I conducted with Rob Brautigam.

It was originally available on my website, but, unfortunately, is no longer accessible due to an allegation claiming it guilty of "defamation". This claim is pending review.

In the meantime, you can read the interview here. Make your own judgements.

To set the scene; the interview was conceived due to a perceived bias Brautigam seemed to be displaying in the Highgate Vampire Case, on his otherwise impartial Shroudeater website.

There were also quotes and actions attributed to him elsewhere, which I was interested in having him clarify.

He agreed to an interview on this matter. I sent him some questions. Here's how he responded¹ (Note: the interview is taken in verbatim from the e-mail in question, so you'll have to forgive the formatting):

1. What first drew your attention to the Highgate Vampire?

As far as I remember, it must have been around say 1972, 1973. I think the case was mentioned in a book I read, perhaps by Peter Underwood or maybe someone
else. And possibly I did read something some place else as well. A magazine ? A flyer I picked up in some London bookshop ? Forgive me, it is a very long
time ago. And I am just recovering from some serious health problems. So it is hard for me to remember undocumented events like this exactly. Later, before I
first got in touch with Mr. Manchester, I had of course read much more material about the case.

2. You met Sean Manchester, after correspondance, in 1991. What were your initial impressions of him and the claims he made in his books? Have you met
David Farrant, also?

On our first meeting Sean Manchester appeared to be quite friendly. As to his own books, I had only read his article in another Peter Underwood book (The
Vampire's Bedside Companion), and his first edition of "The Highgate Vampire" published by the British Occult Society. As to his claims, I had an open mind
and was actually hoping that there might be some truth in his story. The moment I shook hands with Mr. Manchester, his wife Sarah came jumping out of the
bushes and started to take photographs of Mr. Manchester and myself. She had to leave and we said goodbye. Mr. Manchester apologised for the fact that his
face was covered by a layer of pancake because he had an appointment with a photographer who was going to take some portraits of him in Highgate Cemetery.
At the time I happened to be a member of the "Friends of Highgate Cemetery" and I could not help wondering how this could be possible. The "Friends", who had
been given complete control over the Cemetery, definitely did not approve of any vampire stories, let alone vampire-hunters ! And I very much doubt that
either Manchester or Farrant would have been given entrance if they had shown up at the gate. But another lady, Diana Brewster, appeared who was introduced
to me as being Manchester's "secretary". The photographer appeared, who was called Byron (first name) uh... something, I can't remember. Diana asked: shall
we do it the same way as last time ? Manchester approved. We went to the back of the garden of the teahouse where there was a gap in the wall that closed it
off from Highgate Cemetery. And we entered the cemetery through there. At one point, we were confronted by an old gentleman who seemd to be taking care of
the flowers on top of a grave. He noticed our overdose of photographic equipment. He said: I am surprised that they have let you in at the gate with all that
gear. And Manchester, dressed up as a priest (but wearing a bishop's cross that - in his own words - at that moment he was "not really allowed to wear as
yet") stepped forward and said: No, no, no, these are no video cameras, it has all been taken care off, don't worry, it is alright.
And that was my first meeting with Mr. Manchester. Why did I want to meet Mr. Manchester in the first place ? He is our one and only witness to the Highgate
vampire story. First saying that "The stake was not struck" and then changing the story and stating that he has indeed destroyed the vampire and such. So I
wanted to find out if he was a trustworthy person. Well, I know that I have found my answer...
And, yes, I did meet Mr. Farrant also. And, let us not forget: I did exchange letters and shake hands with the illustrious Brother Keith as well.

3. It is clear that a rift later took place between you and Sean Manchester. What was the cause of it? As evidence of this,in correspondance dated 22 August 1990, you declared Sean Manchester's The Highgate Vampire, to be a "masterpiece of vampirography". However, you now seem to
regard it as an "amusing piece of horror fiction". What changed your view?

Change of view ??? I still think that the first edition of "The Highgate Vampire" as published by the British Occult Society (in contrast to the more recent
expurgated edition) is a great and entertaining novel. It is a cunning and interesting mix of facts and fantasy. All those bizarre photos also add to it all.
But, allow me to stress the fact that at the time I have purposely used the term "vampirography". Because I consider the story to be a piece of fiction
rather than proper vampire research. Had I thought that there was some truth in the story, I would have said: "vampirology". So I do not think that there has
been any change of view in that respect. If there has been a change of view, it is that I have come to learn Mr. Manchester a little bit better. And I have
learned it the hard way. I was publishing a fanzine called "International Vampire". First, Mr. manchester tried to take over control by offering his
"Patronage". I told him - in a diplomatic way - thanks, I don't think so. After that, although we were still supposedly on friendly terms, Mr. Manchester was
already plotting behind my back. If I would announce something that was supposed to appear in my next newsletter he would quickly send some kind of "spoiler"
article to be published by a competing vampire fanzine. This is no speculation, I do have letters that prove it. And I only wish that I can ever forget the
absolutely outrageous things that have happened after our contact ended and Mr. Manchester sent me that message stating that "Those who are not with me are
against me".
The cause of our break ? Mr. Manchester had heard that Mr. Farrant had published a book about the case. And - for obvious reasons - he did not want to order
a copy himself. So he asked a friend of mine to order a copy for him. Obviously, my friend, who at the time was also interested in the case, ordered a copy
for himself as well. And he also told me about it. So I too ordered a copy. I received a very decent letter from Mr. Farrant. Which came as a surprise.
Because Mr. Manchester had always been suggesting that Mr. Farrant was some kind of subhuman satanic monster, living in a coal cellar, feeding on raw fish.
So, after receiving Mr. Farrant's letter, I expressed my surprise to Mr. Manchester about receiving Mr. Farrant's letter. Mr. Manchester instantly went
completely beserk, accusing me of God knows what. Well, after one or two of those ridiculousletters I decided that enough is enough, and I ended my
correspondence and contact with Mr. Manchester then and there.

4. Are you a member of an organisation affiliated with either David Farrant or Sean Manchester?

No I am not. I once payed money to subscribe to one of Mr. Manchester's publications. I paid for 4 editions, but after 2 editions he suddenly sent me a
statement saying that his club had been infiltrated or some other paranoid story, and that the magazine would go underground or whatever. I was sent no
further editions, although some of my correspondents assured me that the newsletter was still being distributed to them, and even sent me copies of it. There
were no attempts whatsoever to send me back the money that I had paid for the two remaining newsletters. What's the name for that, fraud ? theft ? I am no
legal expert... Anyway, at the time, against all odds, I was still hoping that there might be some truth in Manchester's Vampire story, so I did not think
that it would serve my purpose to turn this into an issue and end our contact there.

5. Sean Manchester publicly cites Reggie Naus, a Dutch correspondent of his, with the claim that you appeared on a television show proclaiming that a
vampire can only "drink fresh blood from virgins". Is this quote accurate?

Never mind the pathetic Naus person, who once wrote me an extremely slimey letter. No, no, no. His report on that television appearance is a complete
travesty of the facts. They first asked me a couple of rather stupid and superficial questions and that was it as far as my presence was concerned, and then
they interviewed the 2 British so-called "vampires". Not the other way around, as Mr. Naus has it. The guy who hosted this rather sensationalistic talkshow
did indeed mention something about virgins and their blood. Me, I most certainly did not. Hey, if you doubt my words, please have a look at my website. My
only interest is in historical cases of vampirism. Serious stuff. Not vampire fiction. I leave that kind of thing to Mr. Manchester and his not so merry band
of men. I do have the whole silly show on tape somewhere. So in case there are any doubts...

6. Your review for David Farrant's Beyond the Highgate Vampire on your Shroudeater website is surprisingly glowing. Do you uphold the claims Farrant makes
in that book, to be an accurate version of events - supernatural or otherwise?

Glowing ? I don't know about that. So what is the surprise ??? After falling out with Mr. Manchester, the few meetings that I have had with Mr. Farrant were
like a breath of fresh air. Unlike Mr. Manchester, Mr. Farrant seemed very open and willing to answer every question that I had. His book too, seemed like a
much more plausible account of the happenings. A little bit dull, perhaps. Less sensational. But an awful lot more credible than Mr. Manchester's exciting
fairytale version. For the record, as I have now completely lost my interest in the Highgate Hoax, I have not been in touch with Mr. Farrant for years and
years. Last rumor that I have heard is that he might be under "new management" in a matter of speaking. But if his story has changed, I am unaware of it.
All I can say is that Mr. Farrant has always behaved as a gentleman to me. While we knew each other. And after we knew each other. Unlike some.

7. Do you believe that any paranormal phenomena - be it vampiric or otherwise - took place at Highgate Cemetery? If so, what evidence convinces you of
this possibility?

On the one hand, I do know from my own experience that paranormal (I hate that word !) phenomena appear to exist. Having said that, I willingly admit that I
am a convinced skeptic and sometimes unwilling to admit the things presented to me by my own senses. I have gone through loads of material about the Highgate
case. I have read the old newspaper articles, the complete versions (not the selected highlites by Mr. Manchester), I have talked to others who were there at
the time, I have read police reports, and other rather interesting material. And I can not exclude the possibility that there may have been something unusual
going on. But a vampire ? A real vampire corpse that has been destroyed by Mr. Manchester ? Come on, get real !

8. What is your advice for people who wish to delve into the Highgate Vampire Case?

Please think twice (maybe more than that) before you decide to get in touch with Mr. Manchester and his associates. They are ok for as long as they think
that they can somehow use you for their purposes. But the moment they decide that you are not on their side, may the Good Lord help you. If you do not
believe me, there is a very easy way to find out. In that case, I do wish you the very best of luck. Believe me, you are going to need it !

¹ Source: Rob Brautigam. "RE: Beyond the Highgate Vampire Review". Thursday, 24 April 2008 9:57:46 PM. Reprinted with permission of the author.

4 comments:

Demonologist said...

Rob Brautigam first made contact with Seán Manchester in June 1990. He has adopted Farrant’s usage of "Mr" in denial of the bishop's proper style and title. They met the following year. Brautigam was also invited to attend a special service of consecration in 1991 where Seán Manchester concelebrated Mass with two other bishops. Brautigam took photographs and attended the reception afterwards. At this stage Brautigam had not met David Farrant. Seán Manchester wrote a chapter titled "The Highgate Vampire" in Peter Underwood's anthology The Vampire's Bedside Companion (published in 1975). This chapter and its accompanying photographs were a major contribution to the book. The allegation regarding Sarah Manchester "jumping out of the bushes" to take photographs is completely false. Seán Manchester's face was not covered in "pancake" and the remainder of this sequence of nonsense has been fabricated.

Seán Manchester is well acquainted with Jean Pateman, the chairperson of Friends of Highgate Cemetery, with whom he is on excellent terms and has never encountered any problem entering Highgate Cemetery. He did meet Brautigam at the cemetery but there the similarity with the latter's account ends. The late Diana Brewester was Seán Manchester's personal secretary at the time. In fact, she remained his personal secretary until her untimely death. Seán Manchester was not "dressed up as a priest." He was then and still remains a validly ordained priest. He is also a bishop (episcopally consecrated in October 1991). A cross that is not too large is nevertheless permitted to be worn by priests. The "old gentleman" and his flowers has also been invented for effect by Brautigam. The whole scenario is fabricated to portray Seán Manchester badly.

Seán Manchester is only one of several named witnesses cited and innumerable others who remain by choice anonymous. Nothing was changed in the account. "The stake was not struck" is a reference to the failed exorcism in August 1970 where the stake was not struck. Instead a spoken exorcism in Latin was employed. When the first part of the story was told in Peter Underwood's anthology it only took the reader up to August 1970 when the stake was not struck. The full account takes the reader through the successful exorcism and beyond; culminating in 1982 when the Highgate vampire case was finally closed.

Brautigam met Br Keith Maclean at a Mass (at which the latter assisted) concelebrated by Seán Manchester and two other bishops in 1991.

Far from being "expurgated," the 1991 edition is actually enlarged to include more personal data and photographs; otherwise the two editions are the same. Farrant complained about photographs showing open coffins featured as evidence against him during his notorious Old Bailey trials in 1974. These pictures later became exhibits at the famous Black Museum. He also complained about a photograph showing him above one of the coffin images where he is brandishing a sharpened stake. Seán Manchester, though not legally obliged to do so, deleted these photographs from the second edition to avoid causing offence. They had appeared on pages 62 and 63 of The Highgate Vampire (published in 1985). One photograph shows Farrant emerging from a vault. It is captioned: "Home-made cross in hand, Farrant emerges from a burial chamber in Highgate Cemetery. His amateurism and obsessive publicity-seeking would earn him an undeserved term of imprisonment." Perhaps "undeserved" was the author being too charitable. Farrant nonetheless objected to these images. The second edition contains just one photograph of Farrant where he is seen in his familiar black mackintosh in Highgate Cemetery late at night wearing his "ghost" make-up to try and convince people that a ghost haunted the graveyard. Pictures of him brandishing stakes in "vampire hunting" mode amongst the graves of Highgate Cemetery can be found in The Vampire Hunter's Handbook.

Demonologist said...

Some of Brautigam's claims smack of paranoia. Far from wanting “control” of Brautigam’s amateur magazine, it is because Seán Manchester did not have the time or inclination to continue to contribute to it that Brautigam looked elsewhere for his Highgate Vampire fix. The term "vampirography" was used by him at the time because he was unfamiliar with "vampirology." He meant the same thing. He is Dutch and his command of English was never especially strong. Brautigam went out of his way to compliment Seán Manchester on his “truly magnificent The Highgate Vampire” which the Dutchman described as “a masterpiece of vampirography.” Brautigam continued in his letter written on 22 August 1990: “I have been rereading the book ever since I got it. And I am impatiently looking forward to the moment when the revised edition will be on the market.” When the updated and revised edition was published some months later, Brautigam enthusiastically sang its praises in his home-produced amateur magazine International Vampire and elsewhere in other fanzines. He loved the second edition.

Seán Manchester actually showed Brautigam a copy of Farrant's first ever pamphlet which had just been released. Otherwise Brautigam in those pre-internet days would have not heard of it. Seán Manchester had absolutely no need to ask a friend of Brautigam's to "order a copy" for him. (Why a friend of Brautigam's?) Seán Manchester did not discuss Farrant with Brautigam beyond confirming that Farrant is an impostor who craves self-publicity. He warned Brautigam that Farrant was a bandwagoneer who should not be taken seriously where vampire research was concerned. There was no discussion of "Farrant's letter" and there was no going "beserk." Nor was Farrant ever described as a "subhuman satanic monster."

Seán Manchester does not run a "club" with "subscriptions" and has never done so. Brautigam desperately wanted to become a member of the Vampire Research Society. His application was declined because he was unsuitable. Brautigam also sought contributions from Seán Manchester for his amateur magazine International Vampire. When Seán Manchester proved too busy to be making written contributions, Brautigam looked elsewhere. It did not take him long to seek out and find Farrant.

It is revealing how Brautigam advises "Hey, if you doubt my words, please have a look at my website." On his website he sings the praises of David Farrant, someone with a schizotypal narcissistic personality disorder if ever there was!

Brautigam never recovered from being refused membership of Seán Manchester's research society. Farrant is a compulsive publicity-seeker and will do and say anything to gain one inch of newsprint. Of course he bent over backwards to curry favour with Brautigam who was more than willing to provide this impostor with the publicity he craves. Farrant's fraudulent claim that he was somehow part of an investigation into the supernatural goings on at Highgate Cemetery is exposed to the light of day when anyone who actually knew him at the time is heard. Farrant's first wife, Mary, was certainly around and she gave testimony as a defence witness under oath at her husband's trials at the Old Bailey in June 1974. This is what was recorded in various newspapers by their court reporters:

“The wife of self-styled occult priest David Farrant told yesterday of giggles in the graveyard when the pubs had closed. ‘We would go in, frighten ourselves to death and come out again,’ she told an Old Bailey jury. Attractive Mary Farrant — she is separated from her husband and lives in Southampton — said they had often gone to London’s Highgate Cemetery with friends ‘for a bit of a laugh.’ But they never caused any damage. ‘It was just a silly sort of thing that you do after the pubs shut,’ she said. Mrs Farrant added that her husband’s friends who joined in the late night jaunts were not involved in witchcraft or the occult. She had been called as a defence witness by her 28-year-old husband. They have not lived together for three years” (The Sun, 21 June 1974).

Demonologist said...

The concensus view four decades ago was that Farrant amounted to nothing more than a lone publicity-seeker in search of a convenient bandwagon to jump on. This opinion was reached due to the plethora of first-hand evidence from his contemporaries who knew his claims to be bogus. His publicity stunts nevertheless landed him in jail with a prison sentence of four years and eight months.

“Farrant was a fool. Fascinated by witchcraft … he couldn’t keep his interests to himself. He was a blatant publicist. He told this newspaper of his activities, sent photographs and articles describing his bizarre activities” (Peter Hounam, Editor, Hornsey Journal, 16 July 1974).

Another newspaper reporting on a court appearance where Farrant had apparently orchestrated his own arrest (this time in a churchyard, where witchcraft had supplanted vampires as his vehicle for publicity) recorded:

“Mr P J Bucknell, prosecuting, said Mr Farrant had painted circles on the ground, lit with candles, and had told reporters and possibly the police of what he was doing. ‘This appears to be a sordid attempt to obtain publicity,’ he said” (Hampstead & Highgate Express, 24 November 1972).

After his brief stint as a lone “vampire hunter” which lasted barely six months, Farrant hung up his cross and stake and replaced them with pentagrams, voodoo dolls and ritual daggers. This led to more arrests and a stiff prison sentence. Far from showing any remorse for his behaviour, Farrant has exploited his criminal past to the full in a life devoted to phoney witchcraft and malicious pamphleteering.

Selecting extracts from newspaper articles (and sometimes doctoring them) is what Farrant specialises in. He is willing to deny parts of his own letters printed in newspapers four decades ago! It would be interesting to learn how Brautigam has "gone through loads of material about the Highgate case" when he had no access to the case files and has spoken to none of the witnesses. When he spoke to Seán Manchester and Keith Maclean, both of whom are material witnesses to the supernaturalism at work in Highgate at the time, matters relating to the case were not raised once by him. He seemed in awe on each of the occasions he met Seán Manchester and stayed mostly silent as attested by those present.

Coverage of David Farrant's activities tell a very different story to the one proffered by Rob Brautigam. What Brautigam is falsely claiming about Seán Manchester applies one thousandfold to Farrant who has waged vendettas and feuds with people all his life. Ask those who have fallen foul of Farrant and have been on the end of his threats and malice. The tiny number of people who support Farrant are themselves found to be unpleasant and always dismissive of anything vaguely supernatural. Their dislike of traditional Christians is also palpable.

The Overseer said...

Next time you try and post any of that plagiarised copy-n-paste crap on my blog again, your comments will be declined.

Don't say you haven't been warned.

Incidentally, it's nice to see that the VRS - who harp on about copyright infringement - had no qualm in violating my own copyright by copy and pasting the entire content of my interview on their website, without my permission.

And, once again Deme, considering you're speaking about things outside your experience, pretty much everything you "said" (copy-n-pasted) was a load of hot air.

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