Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Real Hoot Indeed

John Baldry's Cat turned up a rather interesting book review from the Camden New Journal.

Steve Roud's London Lore: The Legends and Traditions of the World’s Most Vibrant City (2009) is the subject. The reviewer is Gerald Isaaman, who, as it happens, was the editor of the Ham & High when the Highgate Vampire first hit the Press.

He candidly admits the Case was "a real hoot, and we played the story for laughs."

This extract from the review is also quite telling:
Then, as Mr Roud recounts: "The rapid escalation of media coverage, from local press to national press to national television, turned a small local event into a major flap. It was the TV coverage that did the real damage, by airing reports with a spurious 'let the viewer decide' angle, and giving some very silly ideas a national platform."
So it was that publicity provided the oxygen to keep alive a fictional story of a vampire terrorising Highgate, and one that exists today, long after after so-called expert scientific investigations, books galore and outrageous new explanations have, literally, gone round the world.


Vampirologist said...

It was "turned up" on the Vampire Research Society's blog long before it did on "Baldry Cat's" excuse of a blog to fuel Farrant's vendetta against Seán Manchester.

What follows is quoted from the VRS blog:

The person who was editor of the Hampstead & Highgate Express in those far off distant days [Gerry Isaaman] recently recounted his meeting with Seán Manchester in February 1970:

"Manchester arrived at the office wearing a black cloak lined with scarlet silk and carrying a cane."

He forgot to mention the top hat and tails that were included with the opera cloak and cane. There was also an accompanying young lady, also not mentioned, who was equally formally-attired. It was late in the afternoon and Seán Manchester had no idea how long the interview would take. He and his lady friend were dressed ready to go on to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, from the Hampstead offices of the Hampstead & Highgate Express. He frequently attended the opera in those days and continued to do so whilst he lived in London. The old (now ex-) editor [Gerry Isaaman] reminisced in Jauary 2009:

"The story of the Highgate Vampire [in a recently published book about London's folklore] is attributed to 1970 reports in the Ham & High, where I was then the editor. It recalled the fantastic events of a few months that year and the following one, which culminated in a TV programme inviting people to decide for themselves what was going on. That resulted in three hundred people, allegedly armed with home-made stakes and Christian crosses, storming the cemetery that night to kill the demon vampire lurking among the decaying tombs."

Anthony Hogg said...

Hi Dennis,

My response to your comment can be read here.

Vampirologist said...

Pedantry, pedantry, pedantry!

Are your days really that empty that you spend them looking for the mote in my eye when a bloody great plank protudes out of your own?

Anthony Hogg said...


It's a hell of a big mote!

You're the one who had a whinge about you turning up the Isaaman reference first.

As I pointed out in the blog entry, you also omitted a citation and what Isaaman actually thought of the case.

I think those are pretty significant details.

Now go play in your sandbox.


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