Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reconciliation Attempt, Mk. 2

During discussions on The Supernatural World forum, "Tony Sheridan" interrupted to ask about a recent offer made to David. An offer he shouldn't refuse.

Now that caught me off guard. It almost, almost distracted me from my line of querying concerning David's posts. Especially after David's reply:
Hello again Tony,

I can confirm that such an invitation has been made, yes, (and in all seriousness I might add) but I haven't confirmed it one way or the other yet. Yes, you are right where its to, but it all depends on two other people at the moment who own a car. But I'll certainly let you know here whether its 'yes' or 'no'.
I quickly expressed my support for the proposed meet. Yes, it might seem a rather odd thing to do, in light of my criticisms of each party, but let me explain: I'm sick and tired of the feud. I'm sure many of you are. While I largely concern my self with exposing their malicious tactics and contradictory claims, deep down, I just want them to get along. Honestly, the feud is repetitious, boring, distracting and pointless. It's just too damn circular. Claim versus counter-claim and so on and so forth. Did I mention that it's been going on for forty years?

As some of you might know, I've tried to get 'em to make up before. That petered out when it became clear David wasn't gonna live up to his own requisites for the "tea party" meet. Indeed, as of this writing, he's yet to offer a final answer. He's at least covered the offer on his blog, even if he uses his customary oblique terminology:
Oh yes, nearly forgot . . . received an invitation for dinner over Christmas from Bournemouth. Seems a long way to go, but I have been offered a lift by car. Shall I go? Haven’t made up my mind yet.. I won’t leave you in the dark, but tell you all later.
Bournemouth is, of course, the location of one of Manchester's residences.¹ In reading David's flippant coverage, is he actually implying that the only thing stopping him from going there is a bloody lift? This prompted me to ask him the following: "I’ve a question, David: why don’t you just drive there yourself? Is obtaining a lift the only thing stopping you from going there?"

My comment's "awaiting moderation", so we'll see what comes of that.

The optimistic side of me holds out hope that this meet'll go ahead. I mean, surely they'd have to bury the hatchet at some time, right? Why not over a nice, Christmas dinner. It'd be perfect. However, the cynical side of me thinks Dave's gonna bail. Why? Reconciliation isn't as financially feasible as perpetuating a feud. With a sizable chunk of his output devoted to attacking Manchester, that'd also leave a whole lot less to talk about, leaving his own claims open to further scrutiny. We'll wait and see, eh?


In the meantime, I was somewhat disturbed by this. That tall bloke's Andrew Gough, that is, the owner of the Arcadia forum. You know, the one I was banned from, after covering its double standards and featuring my correspondence with him.

We've made up since then, in a no-hard-feelings kinda way, nonetheless, it's a bit unsettling to see him in the presence of the guy who got away with many, many personal attacks on that forum, while I copped a perm ban, instead. I'm hoping the connection isn't as sinister as it appears to be. Oh, and I'm surprised Andrew was ok with this sleaze. Unless, of course, he's into that kinda thing. In response to David's question of "What Happened Next?!", I could only add, "Uh…suckin’ necks? :D"

The comment's awaiting moderation.

¹ Matt Salusbury, "40th Anniversary of the Highgate Vampire", The Cholmeleian (Summer 2010), p. 15. While researching this blog entry, I also came across an eBay listing for Manchester's The Highgate Vampire, rev. ed. (1991). Its seller is gothicpress (Gothic Press), Manchester's vanity press. The listing contains the following contact details under "Business seller information":
Gothic Press
51 Southern Road
United Kingdom

Monday, November 8, 2010

Farrant Responds to Hill's Hoax Boasts

David responded to the claims of hoaxing addressed in the previous entry. Unfortunately, he compounded his response with snide attacks against me and customary errors.

He began his post by making "it quite plain, as I have done in the past, that I do will not respond to malicious propaganda issued on the behalf of the 'Friends of 'Bishop' Manchester', alternatively known as the 'Vampire Research Society'." He then responded to it.

True, there's little difference between the two groups, but technically-speaking, they're separate entities. As to that "on the behalf" bit, I didn't post it on the forum at their request. I did it of my own accord. Like I said, I happened to come across the blog, which also targets me. Thus, why would I post things on their behalf? Indeed, I wasn't saying their blog entry was accurate, I just wanted David's official response to it, especially as David never denied knowing Tony Hill. So, we've got another one of those rare cases in which a "witness" has been on both sides of the Manchester-Farrant "feud".

David went onto speculate on why the blog had been written. Thus, serious accusations made against him are countered with more serious accusations:
The content of this document is untrue, and apparently concocted because of a disclosure I made on an American Radio broadcast recently to the effect that the above named ‘Tony Hill’ together with his ‘side-kick’ and close friend one Mr. Sean Manchester, had hoaxed their version of the infamous Highgate Vampire in the year of 1969 by making a home-made 8mm cine film (this film was in colour but had no sound) about its (The Highgate ‘Vampire) alleged activities. This film showed Mr. Manchester himself disguised as a ‘vampire’ and Mr. Tony Hill assisted in its original production.
He's given us two "leads" here. Firstly, there's the broadcast. If it was indeed intended as "payback", then it'd have to pre-date the Tony Hill article. Second, we have a film seemingly confirming Manchester and Hill's role in a hoax. Great! Not only that, but a third lead follows shortly thereafter:
It is perhaps little wonder why I do not take this issued propaganda by the ‘Vampire Research Society’ in the least bit seriously. Suffice to say, that the contents of the VRS post are totally untrue and that the ghost seen in and around Highgate Cemetery could be traced back to Victorian times, and it is, of course, not possible to hoax a ghost that had already been witnessed by so many people.
So now our "vampire" has a lineage: Victorian era London. We've also got circumstantial evidence heaped on, namely, so many people saw it that it couldn't be fake. There's only two problems with this reasoning. Firstly, the phenomena reported at Highgate was much more varied than David implies. We're not talking about one "ghost" here, but many. As Wikipedia notes, "Hardly two correspondents gave the same story."

Second, Tony Hill's account reveals exactly how such sightings could be faked. The majority of sightings were derived from newspaper correspondence. Hill indicates that he and Farrant used multiple addresses and names to send off fake accounts to the local paper. Many other witnesses were anonymous. The paper's editor saw the whole case as a bit of a laugh.

Oh, and wanna know how it's possible for a ghost story to be faked, despite a glut of witnesses? Ever heard of mass hysteria?

After railing against Manchester for the better part of the post, David took aim at my journalistic credibility because I asked him about an account of his involvement in an alleged hoax:
The main motivation for the 'VRS's' current allegation, is because I described in detail how the Highgate Vampire hoax had really been perpetrated in 1970. Mr. Hogg’s motivation for repeating this untrue allegation against myself here seems to be borne solely out of spite, and a lack of insight into any kind of serious research or journalism.
Due to his low level comprehension and quickness to "deal with" critics like myself, I had to point out a few of his, let's be diplomatic and call them errors. I also took the opportunity to ask him for evidence on his claims. Namely, did he have a copy of the mysterious 8mm film? Could he reference any Victorian era sightings that confirm his "ghost" theory? I also illustrated the ludicrousness of his attack against my leet journalistic skillz:
You'll recall I prefigured the quote with: "What do you have to say to Tony Hill's claims about your involvement in the Case?" I was not printing Hill's account as accurate. I was asking what you had to say about it. You know, to go on "record" if you will.

Asking for a response to such charges is not "a lack of insight". Jumping to conclusions, however...different story.
Beforehand, one of the forum's moderators, "Phenomenon", said that Hill seemed "far from impartial". I had to point out that David was far from partial, himself.

So, did David respond to my basic requests for evidence of his claims? Did he acknowledge having a copy of the 8mm film? Did he cite any Victorian era sightings? Did he mention which broadcast had been retaliated against? Did he provide anything substantial to validate his own claims? Of course not.

Instead, he deployed a passive-aggressive tactic he frequently uses on the forum. What's the recipe? Vaguely address what I say, avoid addressing me directly, stir in some rhetoric and compound it with an ad hominem attack and voila! You get garbage like this:
I'd better not go to far here Phen, but there is definitely a reason. This reason is unknown to Mr. Hogg, who I think would otherwise feel quite foolish for posting links to a 'hate site'dedicated solely to attacking myself and others members of the BPOS. As I stated in my post, this only indicates a total lack of any serious research on his part. I do not blame him for not knowing what this reason is (he couldn't in any event), but this could surely not excuse him for blindly repeating frivilous allegations made by others without first being aware of the true facts.
The problem is, David perpetuates the idea (as does Manchester) of "exclusive domain" of the Case. There's no doubt either of them played a central role, but it's a shame he has trouble upholding the ethos of his own Highgate Vampire Society:
After all, the case of the so-called Highgate phenomenon is not really a private issue or one that can be affected by personal views or interpretations. It is a matter of public record and should thus be open to continued input and debate, and not one that should not be allowed to become clouded or influenced by any who have no knowledge of events (which they certainly do not ‘own’) as these actually occurred or happened. There are many such persons around (including sensationalistic authors and members of the Press) but their stories should really be shared in total, and not be allowed to become ‘dictorial’ in the sense that these necessarily represent the public view of things.
David seems oblivious to his own "dictorial" nature. His concept of having the "true facts" involves repeatedly saying he has the "true facts". It's a cult-like mantra. It might fool some, but not me.

When dealing with a Case like this, we must verify as many of the claims and counter-claims as possible. This helps eliminate much of the feud overlay and gets to the truth. What really happened?

There's a reason a fact "can refer to verified information about past or present circumstances or events which are presented as objective reality. In science, it means a provable concept." This case demands that approach.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Outright Hoax?

"Duh," some of you might've said. But during the course of this thing, how many times have you come across someone actually admitting their part in a hoax at Highgate? Yeah, I thought so. Read on.

A coupla days ago, I stumbled across the FoBSM's new blog. It's written under a collective name, "Friends of Bishop Seán Manchester" and serves as a veritable "hitlist" of their perceived enemies (including myself). Awash with Manchester-worship, maliciousness, fabrications, hypocrisy, copyright violation, horrid photoshop and regurgitations from elsewhere, the clandestine group has the seal of approval from Seán Manchester, himself.

Buried deep within the manure, you'll find the occasional items of interest. One particular entry concerns an "informal dinner party in the summer of 2009 hosted by Bishop Seán Manchester and his wife at their spacious retreat on the south coast of England", the latter probably funded by the generous donations of Manchester's parishioners. Or, perhaps purchasers of his "best-selling books", which have been in continuous availability since 1991.

Anyhoo, the dinner in question was held in honour of Tony Hill, an associate and former employee of Manchester's. As is usual in the Case, some cross-contamination's involved: Farrant used to stay at Hill's place, after he was evicted and bankrupted. "Some of the guests were also members of the Vampire Research Society fascinated to hear what Mr Hill might have to say about David Farrant", namely, the same group that advises Farrant is best "ignored". The Bish can't get enough of him, either, despite giving the same "advice".

There's three stand-outs about the FoBSM blog entry in question: 1) it reveals the Bishop has actual friends even if they have no names, 2) it's plagiarised from a dead Hungarian scholar's MySpace blog, 3) Hill boasts about participating in a collaborative hoax with Farrant. Here's the claim:
It was in the winter of 1969/70 when Mr Farrant suggested to Mr Hill they attempt to hoax a ghost story to see what the public reaction might be. Mr Hill went along with Mr Farrant's idea, but had lost interest by the end of the year. In the pubs he frequented, Mr Farrant heard tales of a vampire reputed to haunt Highgate Cemetery and wanted to see how easily it would be to convince local residents that there was also a ghost in the vicinity. Mr Hill photographed Mr Farrant wearing "ghost" make-up at night in the graveyard. He was also privy to Mr Farrant using the addresses of acquaintances such as Nava Grunberg, Kenneth Frewin and Audrey Connely to submit fraudulent letters to local newspapers. It was always Mr Farrant's intention, Mr Hill revealed, to eventually expose the "ghost story" as a hoax to show how gullible the public are when it comes to things paranormal, but events overtook this plan as the terrifying reality of an emerging supernaturalism eclipsed David Farrant's asinine antics. Meanwhile, Mr Farrant was quickly becoming addicted to the attention he was starting to receive in the press.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I've asked David what he has to say about these charges, but he hasn't responded yet. In the meantime, let's turn to his blog. Or, specifically, one of its entry's comments section.

The entry in question concerned yet another talk (yawn) on the Highgate vampire. John Baldry's Cat, one of David's fans, got the ball rolling with a comment concerning the "ghost" photo depicted at the top of this page:
What’s with this picture, David? Does “Bonky” own the copyright on this? What was going on there? – It looks like you’ve had about 15 drinks at a pub, or are “auditioning” for an east end musical, or both!
As usual, David handpassed the blame back onto Manchester, not-so-subtlety referred to as "Bonky:
That was just one of the many pictures Bonky took of myself Cat in early 1970. He said (then) he wanted them for a book he was planning on myself.

I believe he used a couple of these at a later date, but completely out of context from their original meaning!

So that’s how they’ve turned up on his self-originatd site!
The conversation's joined by American Psycho, who pointed out a rather obvious "glitch" in the photo, that is, a sizable portion looks like it's been scribbled over by a 3 year-old with a texta: "Erm, with that pic, looks like Bonky blacked out parts of it…more of his revisionism?"

John Baldry's Cat made like Rorschach and squinted background details into the picture:
That photo is odd, over Farrant’s right facing shoulder you can barely make out an angled window, similar to a van’s windscreen. The blacked-out portions seem to be an attempt to disguise a street sidewalk.

David where was this photo taken?
David didn't confirm Cat's "angled window" theory, but did revert the "blame" back onto Manchester:
It was taken by Bonky, Cat, in late 1969/early 1970 and is of the path leading frm the top gate in Highgate Cemetery. In fact, the ground was covered in snow which might explain all the ‘blacking out’.

Anyway, the photo was taken by the bonky one who was with Tony Hill when it was taken.
He censored snow? You know things have gone barmy when he presents this deliberate topographic omission as it was the most obvious thing in the world.


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