Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Two sides of the same coin

The hatchety goodness continues on Friends of Bishop Seán Manchester. Every so often, its anonymous author likes sprucing up (i.e. revising) his blog entry, 'Anthony Hogg'.

The latest version features a colourised image of me wearing a vampire mask—the background texta-ed out—except, this time, it's captioned: 'Anthony Hogg wearing his mask that reveals his own demonic eyes.'

This echoes the Manchesterian habit of comparing enemies and/or critics to demons. Manchester, himself, dubs his adversaryDavid Farrant—'The Devil's Fool', also literally painting him as a demon

When describing former friend, Kevin Chesham, he adds, 'If you live by the Buddhist philosophy you would obviously want to avoid bad karma as depicted in my portrait of a Buddhist I once knew for many years before he inexplicably turned to treachery and allied himself with the Devil's own.' The 'Devil's own' segment of that sentence links to one of the FoBSM's blog entry on Farrant.

The FoBSM's blog entry on myself goes onto note, 'Anthony Hogg is not just pathologically obsessed with Bishop Manchester and the bishop's adversary, but is also too stupid to resist Mr Farrant's machinations despite being the subject of ridicule in comics distributed by the latter.' The comic in question, is The adventures of Bishop Bonky—with an updated version called The new adventures of Bishop Bonky

It features a character—'Cousin Hoggy'—who is 'The bishop's Australian cousin. He leaves his pet kangaroo Skippy at his Billabong home to travel to England. His aim? To 'avenge' the bishop, and verbally defeat the infamous David Farrant.' It was created by a rather 'eccentric' fellow who thinks I am Seán Manchester in disguise.1

However, despite the character sharing a similar name and Australian background—albeit, a stereotyped version—it's clear 'Cousin Hoggy' isn't a representation of myself, as the comic's disclaimer warns, 'None of the depictions, characters or stories herein are real, nor are they intended to harm living persons. Fictional names are used, except in cases where public figures are satirised. Any use of real names is accidental or coincidental.' Phew, that's a relief.

Therefore, the FoBSM's criticism of the comic is somewhat odd, considering the entry's accompanied by a picture of a pig's head grafted onto the body of an Iraqi woman who wanted to be a suicide bomber for al Qaeda. She was murdered by her father before she had the chance.


The blog entry's author labelled his doctored picture 'StalkerHogg'. The same entry claims I am a stalker. Why would the entry's anonymous author criticise a cartoon pig, yet publish something of such poor taste? Despite these antics, the FoBSM is still endorsed by Bishop Seán Manchester.

On a not-unrelated note, the porcine representations—and, one could argue, the demonic ones—reflect a political attack called zoomorphism, 'a very common theme throughout the world. To abuse one's adversaries, one dehumanizes them by turning them into animals.'

1. The author of the article gives his name as 'Joe', but was actually a member of the James Randi Educational Foundation Forum named 'CLD' aka 'Cecil Lamont-Dwiggins'.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Victorian sources—a lead?
On Thursday night, I was reading J. A. Brooks' 'Highgate' chapter and came across allusions to the cemetery's haunted past: 'Highgate Cemetery has long had the reputation of being one of the most haunted, evil places in London.'1 But for how long? 

According to David Farrant, 'Some interesting facts came to light' during his investigation. 'Firstly, it became apparent that stories of an apparition in Highgate cemetery had by no means begun with the then current sightings. Indeed, similar tales dated from the Victorian Era and interestingly enough more of them had "vampiristic" connections.'2

Did Brooks—an independent source—cite elusive 'evidence' confirming Highgate's Victorian era reputation for hauntings?

'One of the earliest of the strange incidents that have taken place her [sic]', Elizabeth Siddal's exhumation on 5 October 1869.3 She was the wife of Pre-Raphaelite poet, Dante Gabrielle Rossetti. He'd buried a book of poetry with her when she died in 1862, but later wanted it back. Upon exhumation, her body was 'described as perfect upon coming to light.' But Rossetti was not present.

As noted elsewhere, the witness—Charles Augustus Howell—had a decidedly nasty reputation and his testimony is somewhat suspect, as a result; especially as he was personally invested with publishing the book and perhaps easing 'Rossetti's guilty conscience'. Brooks listed no other 'strange incidents' from this period.

After discussing the Highgate vampire case, Brooks states 'There are more orthodox supernatural activities that occur in the cemetery apart from those involving voodoo and vampires. An old madwoman distractedly searches among the tombs for the children she once murdered; a tall man with a black hat mysteriously fades into the walls of the Cemetery at Swain's Lane; and a ghost with bony fingers lurks near the main entrance.'4

Despite claims of spectral consistency, such diversity upholds Bill Ellis' observation that 'the most impressive detail is the sheer amorphousness of the Highgate traditions'.5 In other words, different people saw different things there.

Not only did Brooks give no indication these are Victorian sightings, but one of the spectres was seemingly fused from two, different—and comparatively modern—sources. In 1975, Farrant mentioned 'One of the common tales of that time [the Victorian Era] told of a "tall man dressed in black" who used to disappear mysteriously through the cemetery wall.' 6 Rather than being one of the 'common tales of that time', it likely stems from a letter written by R. Docherty—in 1970: 'Many tales are told, however, about a tall man in a hat who walks across Swain's Lane and just disappears through a wall into the cemetery.'7

Interestingly, Docherty was exposed as a friend of Farrant's—later confirmed by Farrant, himself. Add Victoria Jervis' testimony on Farrant's behind-the-scenes machinations, the hoax tape allegations and we're certainly left with a disturbing picture.

1. JA Brooks, Ghosts of London: the East End, City and North, Jarrold Colour Publications, Norwich, U.K., 1982, p. 32.

2. D Farrant, 'Invoking the vampire', New Witchcraft, vol. 1, no. 4, 1975, p. 34.  

3. Brooks, pp. 32–3  

4. Brooks, p. 36. 

5. B Ellis, 'The Highgate Cemetery vampire hunt: the Anglo-American connection in satanic cult lore', Folklore, vol. 104, no. 1-2, 1993, p. 22. 

6. Farrant, p. 34. 

7. R Docherty, 'The ghost of N6', letters to the editor, Hampstead & Highgate Express, 13 February 1970, p. 25.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Challenger has entered the ring!

There's a new Highgate vampire forum in town: The Highgate Vampire Appreciation Society. It's a closed Facebook group, though, so you'll need to request membership. I might grant it, too—I'm one of its admins. Ha!

I really didn't want it to be a closed group, but because certain folk seem superkeen on hunting down personal info of their critics, it was really the best option.

It's also good to see a new Highgate blog on the scene. It's called The (Highgate) vampire exhumed!. Its creator—The Dark Spectrediscusses his personal 'journey' with the case and is 'resolved to try to get to the bottom of it all and discover just what was true and what was plain fiction.' Now that's a cause I can get behind! All the best, DS!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Medium, identified!

A little bit of this and not so much of that
As part of a ritual which allegedly took place at Highgate Cemetery in 1971, David Farrant recruited the services of a medium to summon the Highgate vampire: 'To the North of the Circle a small "sealed" triangle was cast (also containing a small fire) where the entity would be summoned to appear, and hopefully, be able to "communicate" with a psychic medium who would be inside the protective Circle.'

'As midnight approached, the medium began to make the Commands for manifestation'.

The temperature in the Circle suddenly dropped. The candles blew out. A misty shape began to form. The only thing missing? Thunder and lightning.

'The medium spoke aloud, attempting to aid "its" materialisation and all at once, two eyes could be seen at the top of the moving black form.' Farrant had seen these eyes before: 'They were the same eyes that I had witnessed inside the gate, dull red and almost diabolically evil; only this time, they had increased in strength to such a degree that it was like being confronted by some "living presence".'

The medium decided enough was enough of this supernatural tomfoolery, so Farrant and the medium 'performed a rite of banishment during which the entity promptly vanished.'

Who was this androgynous, anonymous medium? How are we supposed to verify the claims and their experience? Unfortunately, Farrant's account doesn't name our psychic sleuth. We've reached a dead-end.

Or have we? As it happens, I have an article he wrote in 1975 which reveals the medium's identity.

It turns out, the medium's name was—David Farrant. 'I arose to begin the Commands of manifestation'1, 'I spoke aloud, trying to help its materialisation . . . Seeing the dangers involved in prolonging the ceremony, without hesitation (though with some effort) I performed a ritual of banishment during which the entity vanished.'2

Despite being published only four years after the supposed manifestation, the article relates no familiarity with the smoky entity's eyes, suggesting a latter-day revision to add 'atmosphere' to the tale.

1. D Farrant, 'Invoking the vampire', New Witchcraft, vol. 1, no. 4, 1975, p. 37.  

2. ibid., p. 38.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


After I shut down Diary of an amateur vampirologist and started a new blog, I've decided this one could do with a shake-up, too. It's been a while a while since I've toyed around with it.

To see what the blog looked like till now, click on the image to the right. But it's not just the layout I want to change with this thing, but the 'tone', too. Some of it. I want it to have more of a scholarly tone. The previous entry gave a taste of that.

Now that I know how to create footnotes in HTML, the main text won't be encumbered with intrusive author-date referencing.

I've also been wondering whether I should merge this and my WordPress blog of the same name. We'll see.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tomb aux folles

Yesterday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day. To (belatedly) commemorate the occasion, let's take a peek at a paranormal pirate 'investigated' by David Farrant.

He reproduced an article covering the event from the Evening News, dated 'Wednesday 1, 1972'. While a month would've been helpful for citation purposes, we can pinpoint it to November, thanks to contemporary coverage of the case (e.g. 'Halloween ghost couple held', Daily Express, 1 November 1972, p. 13). Citations have never been Farrant's strong-point.

However, far from detailing any supernatural activity, the press coverage concerns the arrest of Farrant and his assistant, Victoria Jervis (listed as 'Lucy Grant' in the Daily Express account) while conducting a summoning ritual in St. Mary's churchyard, Monken Hadley, Barnet. On Hallowe'en night, no less.

The reproduced Evening News article describes Farrant's intent: 'Farrant, 33-year-old President [Farrant would have been 26 at the time, as he was born on 23 January 1946] of the British Psychic and Occult Society [his organisation was not called this until 1983. Farrant must have incorrectly transcribed the article], explained . . . "The ghost of Wallmsley the Pirate comes out twice a year - on Hallowe'en and Christmas Eve."' The source for this tale, was 'local stories'.

The couple were charged with 'disfiguring a churchyard' ('Halloween ghost couple held'), which later articles would clarify as 'indecent behaviour under the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act of 1860' ('"Ghost watchers" fined for ritual in churchyard', The Guardian, 23 November 1972, p. 10). They were fined £10. The same article mentions the presence of a reporter, who, according to Farrant was only there to 'be a witness if the spirit appeared'. He also denied informing the press. If that's the case, he certainly chose a strange 'witness'.

There is evidence that Farrant didn't tip-off the press, in this instance: mainly because it's clear he got his assistant, Victoria Jervis, to do it instead. After being subpoenaed for another one of Farrant's trials (in 1974), here's what she had to say about her involvement in the ritual:
I have tried to put most of what happened out of my mind. The false letters I wrote to a local paper were to stimulate publicity for the accused. I saw him almost every weekend in the second half of 1972 and I went to Spain with him for a fortnight at the end of June that same year. I was arrested with him in Monken Hadley Churchyard. That incident upset me very much. Afterwards, my doctor prescribed tranquilisers for me.
She added, 'You have photograhed [sic] me a number of times in your flat with no clothes on. One photograph was published in 1972 with a false caption claiming I was a member of your Society, which I never was.'

And reporter in question? 'By coincidence, her cousin was a reporter on the Barnet Press', as Farrant mentioned in Dark secrets: a true story of Satanism, Black Magic and modern day Witchcraft exhortations (London: British Psychic and Occult Society, 2001), p. 70. The irony is, Jervis was not even 'qualified' to participate, as the same page says: 'For the purpose of this ritual, I planned to use a psychic medium (in fact, one who helped in the Highgate Cemetery ritual some two years before) but, as she was unavailable at Hallowe'en, I chose an assistant called Victoria Jervis instead.'

After noting that Jervis was 'visibly shaken' by this event, he went on to say, 'Her cousin had certainly come across a good story but, now, before the case had even come to court, the episode had found its way into the national press' (p. 71).

The funny thing is, all these troubles could've been avoided if Farrant took the trouble to conduct an actual investigation, rather than trespassing on church property to conduct rituals in the dead of night. The 'mystery' of our ghostly pirate, Tom Wallmsley [sic], was unravelled by Jennie Lee Cobban.

For those unfamiliar with Cobban, a local historian and archaeologist in Barnet, she was the original founder of the Highgate Vampire Society. According to Farrant:
So lets begin at the beginning: in the latter part of 1995 a historian from Barnet started The Highgate Vampire Society. Her name was Jennie Lee-Cobham [sic]. She began the Society when she was researching material for a book (published in 1996) on ghosts in North London, including Highgate and the Barnet area. This was started mainly as an historical Society, but in 1997, the work-load got a bit too much for Jennie and she asked me if I would be interested in taking this over from her and running it as a ‘sister society’ to the British Psychic and Occult Society. I agreed, and kept the name and the membership she had gathered up to that point.
A similar version of events was recounted on the Arcadia forum:
In 1995, a lady called Jennie Lee Cobban was researching a book on the history of Barnet and Enfield, and had contacted myself. She was particularly interested in a case I was involved with at Monken Hadley churchyard, when I was arrested for 'summoning up a pirate's ghost' in the churchyard, in October 1972. She was also interested in the so-called Highgate 'vampire' case that had occurred in Highgate in the early 1970s.

She had been commissioned to write a book on the history of Barnet and Enfield, and she also wanted to include the so-called Highgate Vampire case as well.

For this purpose I was invited to her home in 1995, and learned that she had done a lot of research into the Highgate 'vampire' case. Because of all the interest, she had at that time formed a society, the Highgate Vampire Society, which she had set up to deal with the interest into this particular subject.

Her book came out in 1997 [sic], and was titled 'Geofrrey de Mandeville and London's Camelot: Ghosts, Mysteries and the Occult in Barnet', and dealt with these aspects, as well as including a chapter on myself.

As part of her research - as said - Jenny had already formed the Highgate Vampire Society, and because of domestic reasons she asked me if I would be willing to 'take this over'. I did so, using the name, and all of her initial membership.
Those are probably the only references you'll find to its founding, as this 'history' is not mentioned in the Highgate Vampire Society page. If anything, it alludes to Farrant being its sole founder and Cobban's role has been all but 'erased':
But in 1997, following a mass of speculation about the so-called Highgate Vampire and misguided controversy that had come to surround his name - not least because this had spread to a world wide interest in the case - David Farrant decided to form the Highgate Vampire Society, its purpose (as he said at the time) . . . “One of our main aims will be to become a repository for all the oral history and written data concerning the Highgate Vampire”.
While Cobban makes no mention of founding the society in the book Farrant mentions, Geoffrey de Mandeville and London's Camelot: ghosts, mysteries and the occult in Barnet (Barnet, U.K.: The Author, 1996), she does deal with the Monken Hadley case:
David may console himself with the knowledge that even had he managed to conduct his ceremony uninteruppted in 1972, he would still not have managed to raise the ghost of a pirate at Monken Hadley, because no pirate was ever buried there (p. 138).
She went on to say, 'The gravestone in question is that of Walter Walmsley who died in 1723 at the age of 42. His grave is certainly decorated with a design of a skull and crossbones (still just about discernible), but this was a very common funerary emblem and was never intended to imply that a pirate had been buried in the grave.' Indeed, the 'skull and crossbones' motif was used by pirates because of its symbolism, not to signify pirate graves. Here's more on trends with tombstone motifs:
Early monuments and grave stones in Europe and in old New England were crude and were carved with frightening motifs like winged skulls, skeletons and angels of death. The idea was to frighten the living with the very idea of death. In this way, they were apt to live a more righteous life after seeing the images of decay and horror on the markers of the dead. It would not be until the latter part of the 1800’s that scenes of eternal peace would replace those of damnation.
'Coincidentally', Farrant does not mention these revelations in his subsequent books which cover the case. A classic example of 'mystery mongering'. Therefore, it's safe to assume the story's a bunch of arrrse.

Edit (26 January 2012):  Farrant actually does acknowledge the revelations in one of his publications, Rob Milne's Return of the vampire hunter: an exclusive interview with reclusive vampire hunter, David Farrant (London: British Psychic and Occult Society, 2003). Sort of: 'A ghostly pirate. Presumably the reason it was supposed to be the ghost of a pirate was because a very small 17th century gravestone known as the pirates [sic] grave, had a skull and crossbones on it and so people imagined that it was a pirate (p. 12).

However, this revelation is obviously derived from Cobban, sans acknowledgement. After all, what was Farrant trying to summon, if he was aware of this 'urban legend's origins at the time?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Articles in VIEN

On Friday, I received a few issues of the Vampire Information Exchange (VIE) newsletter, VIEN, which discussed the Highgate vampire case.

I chased 'em up based on the citations they were given in Rob Brautigam's article, 'The vampire hoax of Highgate Cemetery'. After reading through them, I was left wondering: was it worth chasing them up in the first place? Here are the articles in question:
Paul B. Thomson [sic]:
"The Highgate Vampire"
in: "Vampire Information Exchange Newsletter" issues 22 and 23
VIEN, New York, USA, 1984

Jeanne Youngson :
"Highgate - Fact or Fraud ?"
in: "Vampire Information Exchange Newsletter" issue 23
VIEN, New York, USA, 1984
I recognised the first article as something that'd also been reprinted in Fate (May 1985, pp. 74–80)*, which, in turn, was originally published in the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained's journal, Pursuit, vol. 16, no. 3. VIEN adds that the article was originally printed in 1983. It also mentions that Thompson was a former VIE member.

The difference between 'em, is that the Fate reprint omits the reference list that VIEN's version retains. So, you could go out of your way to score the VIEN issues featuring Thompson's article—and believe you me, they're not easy to come by—or, you read its 'missing' reference list here. It's from VIEN's 23rd issue (November 1984, p. 12). I've rendered the underlined titles in italics:
Hampstead and Highgate Express: Feb. 6, 13, 20, 27, March 6, 1970.

Letter from Jean B. Pateman, August 6, 1975

London Times: Aug. 7, 30, 1970; June 11, 15; July 2, 13, 18, 1974.

Occult, newsletter of the British Occult Society, Vol. 14, No. 11, March 13, 1981.

Summers, Montague, The Vampire: His Kith and Kin, University Books.

Sylvaine Super Star, privately published in France, ca. 1980. Her bibliography contains references to the Highgate Cemetery case.

Underwood, Peter, The Vampire's Bedside Companion, Leslie Frewin, London, 1975.
Some interesting stuff there. For starters, Occult, appears to be a precursor to The Cross and the Stake, the Vampire Research Society's newsletter, which, in turn, transmogrified into an online forum of the same name. The volume and issue number of Occult is quite daunting: it must be nearly impossible to score a single issue of the newsletter, little alone all the issues.

Sylvaine Super Star is no doubt the work of French actress, Sylvaine Charlet, who Manchester captions 'a glamourous and invaluable ally' in the '85 edition of The Highgate vampire (1985, p. 100). According to the book, she also accompanied him on vampire vigils...and masquerade ball (pp. 118—20, 123—4).

Thompson's article, itself, makes references to the MS which would later become The Highgate vampire (1985). I definitely recommend Thompson's article, but it might be easier and cheaper to score it from Fate. I, however, am gonna try and find the original Pursuit version, as I'm a stickler for first editions and such.

Youngson's 'Highgate - fact or fraud?' (November 1984, pp. 19—20), on the other hand, appears to be an original article. She was the president of the Count Dracula Fan Club (now Vampire Empire). The article recounts a recent trip to Highgate Cemetery, in which she is taken on tour by a 'member-volunteer'. Naturally, she asks about the vampire, who mentions that such accounts are discredited by the cemetery's caretakers, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery. There's even a perfectly rational explanation for the mysterious dead foxes allegedly found in the cemetery—something neither Manchester nor Farrant seem to have mentioned in their writings.

She is very critical of Farrant's behaviour at the cemetery, however, she mistakenly assumes he was responsible for a corpse being propped up in a car (someone else came forward during Farrant's 1974 trial, admitting to the crime). Lastly, she deals with the 'controversy' over the cemetery's setting for Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). It is commonly assumed that vampiress, Lucy Westenra's tomb was located there. However, closer readings of Stoker's novel (which Youngson alludes to), have produced very different results.

The issue, itself, is billed as a 'Highgate Cemetery Edition'. Apart from the remainder of Thompson and Youngson's article, it also includes reprints of articles from The Times (referred to as the London Times, due to the paper's American publication) and one from the National Examiner, 'Real-life vampires roam cemetery' (August, 1984). Despite the article's date, its content harkens back to Manchester's 'Highgate vampire' chapter for Underwood's The vampire's bedside companion (1975).

However, there is one very noticeable difference. The assistants featured in Manchester's chapter, are here described as 'two policemen'. Surely there's an error here. That's probably not surprising, considering the paper's reputation: 'Like other tabloids, its contents have often come under question, and it has been derided for its sensationalistic writing.'

So, can I recommend chasing up these issues? Apart from Youngson's original article, no, not really. If you want newspaper articles, you're better off finding the originals, especially with the advent of digital archives. Thompson's article is a goodie, but if you can get it elsewhere, why bother? Its not even the original printing.

That's not to dismiss the VIEN altogether. After all, I've heard of some juicy stuff in the newsletter's sixth issue. Who knows, there might be more interesting tidbits buried there. But I think it's safe to say that you can give these ones a miss.

* A Fate article I already had.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Presenting the amazing...paranormal escalator!

Props goes to fellow forum member, Cú Chulainn, for sharing a fascinating article on the way (alleged) paranormal phenomena can morph from witness to media.

Maurice Townsend's 'The paranormal escalator' illustrates the need to pay close attention to an eyewitness's original testimony. Go back to the source. It's easy for an original account to morph into something else, especially when overlaid with paranormal assumptions and interpretations on the alleged sightings in question. Benjamin Radford depicts this scenario in Scientific paranormal investigation: how to solve unexplained mysteries (Coralles, N.M.: Rhombus Publishing Company, 2010):
"I saw a Bigfoot."
"How do you know it was a Bigfoot?"
"It was large and dark and hairy and standing on two legs."
"Okay, so you saw something large, dark, hairy, and standing on two legs. But no one knows for certain what a Bigfoot is. So how can you positively identify what you saw as a Bigfoot?" (p. 21)
This supernatural presumption is a hallmark of paranormal investigation. The 'answer' is often pre-determined, despite the use of scientific equipment to make the investigation seem 'legit'. Radford discusses the 'logic' behind this and why it's inherently faulty:
Some people believe that paranormal phenomena are inherently unknowable . . . I have encountered the same position elsewhere; during a haunted house investigation in California for a TV show, I had a friendly discussion with a member of a ghost hunting group. I asked him why the evidence for ghosts never seemed to get any better, and he replied that ghosts were scientifically unprovable. I pointed out that his team . . . had brought with them a huge van full of thousands of dollars' worth of cameras, EMF detectors, and ghost hunting gadgets of all descriptions. What was the point of all that, I asked him? If he was certain that ghosts existed—and he was equally certain that their presence could not be scientifically measured—then all the high tech equipment they used was by definition worthless (pp. 53—4).
In other words, be wary of 'scientific evidence' of the paranormal and those who claim to have it! Especially when 'magical' elements rear their head during supposedly 'serious' investigations:
There are certain methods I can't really talk about. But the Society get together to form a psychic chain and direct the psychic energy towards the person in question., a bit like an exorcism. We very rarely do this unless its a very serious case, and this was a very serious case.
Though, when you think about it, if the paranormal can be examined through scientific means, then is it truly paranormal? Is it really supernatural? After all, if such phenomena can be 'measured' and demonstrated, consistently, doesn't that just make it natural phenomena yet to be verified with sufficient evidence? But if the evidence thus far isn't sufficient - at least, by scientific standards - then what exactly is being measured in the first place? Round and round we go.

Don't get me wrong. I'm far from discouraging attempts to verify the existence of the supernatural via scientific means. On the contrary: knock yourself out! However, the paranormal, by its very nature, is an 'extraordinary claim' that requires extraordinary evidence. The evidence, itself, must withstand rigorous - but fair and reasoned scrutiny - to justify itself as valid 'evidence'. Every alternate solution should be exhausted before a paranormal explanation is put forth.

When it comes to Highgate, how exactly do we prove that the cemetery was haunted by a vampire, ghost or 'psychic entity'? What is the evidence? To that effect, we are dependent on eyewitness testimony. But, as the 'paranormal escalator' shows, this, in itself, is not sufficient. Therefore, we have to examine the building blocks of which the case is composed. That's one reason I was asking about certain Victorian era sightings.

Essentially, these sightings were being used to 'prove' that the cemetery had been 'latently' haunted and its descriptions paralleled contemporary sightings. If so, let's look at the source. Let's see if they do match or whether the claim was pulled out of thin air or, perhaps clumsily shoehorned into something that didn't quite fit. You can see how that went down.

Therefore, the best approach I advise when examining the vampire/ghost/psychic entity is to examine the way the cases have been composed. What was the evidence the main protagonists used to arrive at their supernatural claims? Does it withstand scrutiny? Have all rational explanations been eliminated? Have the investigators displayed sufficient expertise - or deferred to it - to eliminate rational explanations? Are their accounts consistent? Are their investigative techniques sound? Are they prone to lying and misrepresentation? And so on.

In the meantime, I highly recommend scoring a copy of Radford's book. It's also on Kindle, if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Handling innuendo bluntly

Innuendo is a passive-aggressive trait David Farrant revels in. Here's the latest example from his blog concerning a certain someone from 'down under'.

That'd be me. Most likely. According to Farrant, he's 'been getting a lot of unsolicited "nuisance value" emails from a certain person who lives "down under".' While it's true Farrant and I have engaged in a recent bout of e-mail correspondence, it certainly wasn't initiated by me. In terms of 'unsolicited', my e-mails have actually been replies to the stuff he's been sending me. That fact is omitted from the rest of his commentary:
I only wish he’d post the bloody things by land mail as at least then they’d take a week or 2 to arrive from his home by a nearby billabong. But no! He has to email them and they keep filling up my inbox so I am really forced to read them for amusement value. You know, the guy should really have been a comedian: I mean, talk about giving me potential ideas or scripts for the forthcoming film! You think I’m joking? Just you wait and see!

I am not going to name the character here – as he has used my name enough already to further his own attempts at self promotion. I suppose it must just keep him happy – just trotting around the bush with nothing else apparently more useful to do!
Firstly, the correspondence started after he began spamming me. I received an e-mail from him out of the blue ('New book list', Wednesday, 22 June 2011 12:09:07 AM) which opened with 'Dear friend', so it was obviously a group-send. It came attached with a pdf document called 'British Psychic & Occult Society publications list June 2011', which included an order form. I replied ('RE: New Book List‏', Thursday, 23 June 2011 5:05:01 PM):
Hi friend,

Is there a reason you're spamming me with your book list?
As you can see, my so-called 'unsolicited' e-mails actually began with his unsolicited e-mail to me. Apart from muddying and misrepresenting the facts in his patent style, one could argue that he suffers from a tendency to psychologically project his own attributes to others, as I've shown before. That'd explain why he also 'blames' me for his own writings on the Highgate case.

However, there's a distinct possibility that the person he's referring to is actually someone who's been dabbling in a bit of identity theft. I recall an e-mail Farrant sent me ('From David Farrant‏', Saturday, 9 July 2011 11:04:21 AM) asking if I was the person who'd sent him a Microsoft Word document which had some very nasty things to say about Manchester. I explained that I wasn't. I asked him to forward me the original e-mail, but he went silent on the issue. Since that time, I actually found out who did write it. Someone quite close to David, in fact. I only withhold their name until I get certain permissions to reproduce correspondence identifying them. That's implied in my response to his blog entry:

Onto the other comments in Farrant's blog entry. The 'upcoming film' Farrant refers to, is derived from his Bishop Bonky publications. It operates under the guise of satire, but is noticeably lenient on one of its 'targets': namely, Farrant, himself. That'd probably be because he published it through his BPOS imprint under the false pretext of 'free speech' (even though it was in violation of StripGenerator's copyright), served a consultant in its creation (this obviously throws the impartiality of the creator out the window—and what a dodgy mofo he turned out to be) and promotes related merchandise.

Apart from these issues, there's a rather unfortunate streak of xenophobia present in his writings. The references to 'billabongs', our postage, etc. are obvious digs at my Australian background. The question is, how is such pathetic stereotyping remotely relevant to discussions on the case? What if I was another nationality, say, Indian for example. Would he take digs at my cultural background then? Either way, it's hardly coincidental that his snide postings have followed in the wake of my exposés on his inability to provide sources for his own claims. A clear sign of desperation.

Presuming my comment gets published, I can already anticipate the response. The 'down under' character referred to wasn't actually me, but 'someone else'. Some other person who he 'coincidentally' refers to in the same derogatory manner as he does myself. Sad.

As to 'land mail', is that really an advisable form of communication with someone who will openly boast about having your address...even when it's not willingly provided?

It's a shame Farrant can't be more honest and openly admit that the Bonky stuff is simply another manifestation of his vendetta against Manchester as well as Farrant's critics (like me). Speaking of Manchester, his book From Satan to Christ: a story of salvation (London: Holy Grail, 1988) gives us a taste of just how vindictive and petty Farrant can be.

According to Manchester, he received a letter from Farrant dated 21 December 1986, which challenged him to a duel in northern France, due to 'deliberate public lies' Manchester had published about him. A meeting was arranged at Highgate Wood instead and took place on 24 January 1987. Manchester said he was 'obliged to ask several times what he considered to be "public lies" and there was clearly some difficulty in finding an answer' (p. 74).*

The source of Farrant's 'grievance'? 'In due course it became evident that all he wanted was some text added to a caption beneath a highly controversial photograph in an earlier book which mentioned his trial at the Old Bailey. He admitted to being exceptionally sensitive about anything concerning this trial' (ibid). Manchester even 'agreed to amend the caption in further editions so that this fine point about a photograph used in evidence was clarified' (ibid).

* I can certainly relate to that. Farrant has an annoying tendency to repeatedly avoid answering basic questions about his own claims and, when he does, it is in the most roundabout fashion and often not even directly related to the question being asked.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sigh. Another impersonator

Considering the timing, looks like someone's been getting a little touchy with my recent querying.

Some pathetic wanker - using my Blogger profile, no less - left the following comment on Jamie's blog:

Yes, I cite my sources and ask for proof. Yes, I am a pendant with an attention to detail. I thought that was obvious from the content of my blog! Big surprise, there. But if that's the best sly 'criticism' they can hurl my way, I'll happily grin and bear it. Interestingly, the 'OCD-incited ramblings' are eerily similar to what I recently covered in former critic, Gerard de Saxo's, comments. So much for originality.

Here's another example of their 'wit'. 'I' (the character is named 'Cousin Hoggy', 'Manchester's Australian cousin') am shown as ascending to Heaven after being butchered for a Farrant-Manchester Christmas dinner (a nod to the aborted Christmas dinner proposition). See how they've ingeniously literalised my surname to depict me as an actual pig. Bravo!

It began in 2007. Initial strips were published on JREFF like a shiny new bauble, to distract fellow forum members' criticism of his Farrant's spurious claims. Its creator was a forum member named 'CLD'. The same guy who warped the content of a private exchange I had with him, to publicly proclaim that I was actually Manchester in disguise. A pretty good 'disguise' on my part, considering I live on the other side of the world and have never even met the guy. Hell, I've never even been to England.

The worst part, however, was that CLD didn't tell me he'd written that article. I found out about it from the shadiest sources imaginable: FoBSM. If they hadn't e-mailed me about it, I would've had no knowledge of CLD's 'campaign' against me.*

Despite that CLD's subsequent ban for violating StripGenerator's copyright (karma, bitch!), Farrant went onto publish the a 12 page collation of the comics that same year, through his vanity press, British Psychic and Occult Society under the false pretext of 'free speech'. I say 'false pretext' because free speech is not something he adheres to. The ludicrous 'preserving free speech' justification was easily dismantled on the very same forum he originally used to promote the comics.

His latest anti-Manchester franchise (after publications such as Man, Myth and Manchester, also through BPOS) was just another manifestation of his vendetta with Manchester - with intent to cash in. I'm not kidding about that. Farrant's paraded about in a 'Bonky' t-shirt, promoted and discussed his involvement with 'Bonky' spin-offs ('I have some say in its production as I am really one of the main stars in it'**) and teamed up with 'John Baldry's Cat' to sell 'Bonky' mugs. Despite these efforts, he doesn't seem to be raising much cash off it, otherwise, surely, he'd be able to afford a comb, shampoo and maybe a haircut by now. Seems he's just happy to fuel the 'hate'.

Clearly, due to my criticism, I've become a 'target'. But aligning me with Manchester is both pathetic and stupid, considering that I also criticise his claims and dodgy practices, too. Surely, they should pay better attention to the 'house divided against itself, can not stand' analogy. I'm also on FoBSM's 'hit list', and Manchester, himself, has previously launched a copyright claim against me, when not saying - and encouraging - some vicious commentary about my good self.

Even as far back as 2006, attempts were made to shut down my forum. When that didn't work, they later went after my Windows Live Spaces blog (succeeding, to an extent), which is the main reason I started this blog, in the first place. They even had my website shut down. Yes, I actually used to have a website.

Despite knowing this stuff, they still think - somehow - that I'm one of Manchester's cronies. Talk about desperate.

I guess these are the 'OCD-incited ramblings' fake Anthony was talking about, eh? Ha! That said, my readers certainly like coming back for more, so I'm cool with that.

Anyway, I'm happy for them to have a go at me for 'OCD' habits, because it means they can't devalue the content of my criticism. They can't dismiss the issues I raise. Can't rebut them. That works in my favour, if anything.

What I do find objectionable, however, is the hijacking of my name. Using my Blogger profile to post stuff on 'my' behalf? That's pretty fucked up. Weirdly enough, Farrant also e-mailed me recently asking whether I'd written the content of an MS Word document, that had apparently been sent to him by 'me'.*** How are such acts any different from what this knobend was doing? At least, in his case, he was trying to mark himself out as a different person, even to the point of delusion. You know, a guy playing for the 'opposite' team.

But how 'opposite' are they, really, if they employ the same kind of tactics against me? As Nietzsche said: 'When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you.'

* Incidentally, same goes for the later comics depicting me. My attention were drawn to them by 'Vampire Researcher' (a VRS affiliate - or Manchester, himself, depending who you ask - on The supernatural world forum), who showed me the comics and revealed nasty depictions of myself on Farrant's Facebook page (which Farrant had blocked me from viewing). Talk about 'friends in low places'!

** Since when were the 'targets' of 'satirists' meant to be directly involved in the satire? Lolz. But by that logic, it's kinda strange I wasn't invited as an 'adviser', considering that I'm one of its 'star's, too: 'You should hear the voice given to Hoggy and the ‘Bonky one’. Hilarious is not the word for it!' On that point, we can probably agree.

** * D Farrant, 'From David Farrant', Saturday, 9 July 2011 11:04:21 AM.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Victorian era sources saga

My quest to get David Farrant to answer a simple question about sources used in his own writings has come to an end.

Or maybe a standstill. We'll see. For clarification, the sources are alluded to in this extract from his 'Invoking the vampire', New Witchcraft, vol. 1, no. 4 (1975):
Some interesting facts came to light. Firstly, it became apparent that stories of an apparition in Highgate cemetery had by no means begun with the then current sightings. Indeed, similar tales dated from the Victorian Era and interestingly enough more of them had "vampiristic" connections. One of the common tales of that time told of a "tall man dressed in black" who used to disappear mysteriously through the cemetery wall (p. 34).
I have been trying, for several weeks, to get him to simply state what they were. If Farrant is recounted these 'facts' firsthand, that'd mean he's over 140 years old. Despite his decades dabbling with the occult, I find that prospect highly unlikely. I'm sure you do, too. Therefore, we're clearly dealing with some contemporary sources here, whether they be contemporary to Victorian times or contemporary with the time he wrote his article.

It is a 'fact' he has regurgitated in other publications, too. For instance, he wrote the following in Beyond the Highgate vampire: a true case of supernatural occurrences and "vampirism" that centred around London's Highgate Cemetery, 2nd rev. edn (London: British Psychic and Occult Society, 1992):
When the investigation began in January 1970, I undertook the task of checking the cemetery's history. Some interesting things came to light. First, it became apparent that stories of an apparition at Highgate Cemetery had by no means began with the current sightings. Indeed, similar tales dated back to the Victorian era and, interestingly enough, many of them had "vampiristic" connotations (p. 8).
Is 1992 too far away for you? How about his online article 'abridged from the 4th edition [2002] of the author's book'?
When the investigation proper began in January 1970, I undertook the task of checking the cemetery's history. Some interesting things came to light ... First, it became apparent that stories of an apparition at Highgate Cemetery had by no means begun with the current sightings. Indeed, similar tales dated back to the Victorian era and, interestingly enough, many of them had 'vampiristic' connotations.
Apart from the relatively minor alterations, it's clear that Farrant considers these stories to be 'evidence' for his case, to which I say: prove that this information is valid via documentation, i.e. what's the source(s)? My query has been met with evasiveness, ad hominem attacks, fake deals, etc. I've compiled a narrative of my efforts into this handy, bite-sized list:

  1. 'What's been going on and upcoming books on vampire 3'
  2. 'Victorian era vampire or modern-day sham?'
  3. 'Persistence (sort of) pays off'
  4. 'Stonewalled'
  5. 'The stonewalled amendment'

In the meantime, I encourage other readers to try and find out the source for themselves. Here's his blog which is open for comments and queries. See how you do. Good luck!

You'll need it.

And the votes are in...

Last year, I set up a poll asking readers whether or not they believed in the Highgate Vampire and if they thought Sean Manchester or David Farrant were credible witnesses. It closed on 19 July 2011, 11.59pm. Here's the results.

After years of delving into this thing, I started wondering what other folk thought about the case. That intent also kicked off my postings on The supernatural world forum. Still going strong.

I should clarify that this ain't science; it was born of genuine curiousity. It's good to take a look outside the box, sometimes. I don't know who voted and I don't know how many times they did, so the results can only speak for themselves. I can say that they couldn't select multiple answers, though.

The first question, 'Do you believe the Highgate vampire was real?', giving voters the option of 'Yes', 'No', 'Maybe' and 'Undecided'. It received 37 votes. Let's break 'em down into delicious Microsoft Excel pie chart form:

That's one undecided (3%), four maybes (11%), nine yeses (24%) and, overwhelmingly, 23 nos (62%). 'No' wins this round. To be honest, I can't say I find that too surprising.

Let's take a look at the second poll. I asked, 'Who is a more credible witness?', namely, whose testimony do you find more reliable. I stuck to the main players, so the options were 'Sean Manchester', 'David Farrant', 'Neither' and 'Undecided'. This one scored more votes (47), perhaps because it was less ambiguous than the first.

One undecided (2%), eight for Manchester (17%), 13 for Farrant (28%) and 25 neithers (53%). That means slightly more voters believed in Farrant's version of events than Manchester's, but the majority thought neither of them were credible. I'm not overly surprised by that outcome, either.

Thanks to all who voted! It's certainly interesting getting 'outside' feedback and we, at least, know it wasn't overridden by supporters of Farrant and Manchester as I anticipated it might've been.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Notes to notes on a hatchet job

After writing my previous entry and exposing a malicious practice engaged by the FoBSM, I've noticed a slight - but significant - change one of their blog entries has undertaken.

The FoBSM essentially exists to 'payback' Bishop Manchester's critics, i.e. 'enemies'. Feel free to read through their blog if you don't believe me. A group that malicious and cowardly (the blog's author and/or authors remain anonymous when committing their 'attacks') isn't above engaging in decidedly warped and twisted practices, like intimidation and misrepresentation. The last factor, at least, also applies to the guy they effectively represent.

The knives came out when Manchester's former friends, Kev and Beverly, sent a package to Farrant who, in turn, gleefully mentioned its contents on 15 July:
Well, today is not my birthday but I certainly enjoyed opening Kev’s present! The package contained essential research material dating back many years, including b/w and colour photographs, written correspondence and a selection of personal emails which had been copied onto disc for me. There was also a typed summary of some fairly recent ‘birthday speeches’, or more precisely, suggestions from the host on what should be ‘done about David Farrant’. He (the party host) hadn’t liked my disclosures about fake religious groups and other written material in my published books that debunked a serious belief in vampirism.
The timing of Farrant's blog entry wasn't coincidental. Nor was the mention of birthdays: Manchester was born on 15 July 1944.

Rather than shrug off Farrant's pathetic innuendo, the FoBSM decided to up the ante with a post about Kev and Bev. As I mentioned in the previous post, the entry was threaded with links to their home address. Their blog entry gives no explanation for why their home address was repeatedly linked, nor how it was in anyway relevant to their criticism. I believe this to be an act of cyber-bullying, in which 'passwords, photographs, a home address or a private phone number can become a weapon of intimidation.' See here and here for examples.

Indeed, the FoBSM site is filled with photographs (and mentions of residence) of their 'enemies'. They once even tried blackmailing me by posting my home address (at least, what they thought was my home address) on their blog, as well as an 'unmasked' picture of 'me'. The picture wasn't mine, but that of an innocent caught in the crossfire.

Keeping in tune with their misrepresentation, they also failed to mention that the same picture and address had already been in circulation via their 'confidantes' long before my publishing of a 'UK address' (i.e. Gothic Press's business address, as found in their eBay listings). To compound this hypocrisy, they previously had no qualms with disseminating someone else's business address: Don Peek's. That is, Don Ecker's Internet service provider.

Fortunately, since I exposed their malicious tactic against Bev and Kev, they've altered the links repeatedly appearing under his name to another one of their blog entries discussing the couple (without the same kind of disclosure of personal info). I like to think that in some small way, exposing their disgraceful practices prevents them from 'harming' others.

I have no problem with the practise of criticising the critics, but there's a tactful and respectful manner in which to do that. Perhaps the FoBSM could be taken seriously if they turned down their 'hysterical' tone and learned to engage Manchester's detractors in reasoned discussion, rather than resort to cyber-bullying. The same, of course, applies to the 'opposing' side.

Check out Robert S. Lancaster's Stop Sylvia Browne as an example of reasoned discussion and criticism 'done right'. Funnily enough, I can see clear parallels in the way his subjects have tried to 'silence' him to the kinda stuff I've had hurled my way during my delvings into this case.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Notes on a hatchet job

As part of their hatchet job on me, the FoBSM used private correspondence from 'Vampire Researcher' to a forum member named 'Gerard de Saxo'. What they haven't noted, are some of his follow-up remarks.

Before reading about it in their blog entry devoted to myself, I hadn't really interacted with de Saxo who was a background presence to our forum debates. Nonetheless, after being 'filled in' behind-the-scenes by 'Vampire Researcher' (a VRS member), de Saxo had this to say about me:
I spent (or rather wasted) a good couple of hours going through Anthony’s blog. Wow – The poor man is utterly comsumed by every little detail, most of it is nothing to do with the original case or anything remotely paranormal. I get the feeling he is trying to garner a reputation purely on the back of stoking the feudal fire. Perhaps he has OCD or something, but he needs get a grip on things.
Let's say it was a bit of a shock seeing his 'assessment' of me with no real prior interaction. Nonetheless, de Saxo's had a change of tune since:
I have only seen the one where private emails between myself and "Vampire Researcher" (concerning Mr Hogg's blogs) suddenly appeared. I did not grant "Vampire Researcher" permission to publish these and I had to contact Mr Hogg to explain. If there are others could you kindly put a link in here or contact me privately and I will take a look. I still think the Bishop was given a hard time by certain posters here, but I'm no longer blinkered and can certainly see his faults now! His conduct has been pretty poor to be honest and I can understand how Mr Hogg felt when attempts to puiblish his address appeared.
Although he didn't revoke his comments about me attempting 'to garner a reputation purely on the back of stoking the feudal fire' or his diagnosis of 'OCD' in his post, it's certainly a lesson in why both sides of a story should be heard before passing judgement.

And speaking of releasing personal addresses, FoBSM's latest blog entry - a missive against one of Manchester's former friends - is threaded with links to the accused's home address (while cowardly hiding behind a collective nom de plume).

The tragedy of the FoBSM, is that they probably think those malicious tactics are a good thing...even though they're 'representing' a Christian bishop. Instead, such gestures can only continue tarnishing Manchester's reputation, especially while he lurks in the background.

Victorian era vampire or modern-day sham?

Was Highgate Cemetery homes to ghosts, bogies and beasties over 140 years ago? Time to examine claims made by David Farrant.

He maintains that 'in the late 1960’s/70’s . . . wide reports began coming into the British Psychic and Occult Society about a "tall dark figure" with "hypnotic red eyes" that had been sighted in and around London's Highgate Cemetery', offering precious little evidence to that effect. Indeed, not only were early reports often contradictory, but the description does not even match his original sightings.

This attempt to link a dubious 'past tradition' to the cemetery was expounded in an article he wrote called, 'Invoking the vampire', New Witchcraft, vol. 1, no. 4 (1975). During the course of his alleged investigation,
Some interesting facts came to light. Firstly, it became apparent that stories of an apparition in Highgate cemetery had by no means begun with the then current sightings. Indeed, similar tales dated from the Victorian Era and interestingly enough more of them had "vampiristic" connections. One of the common tales of that time told of a "tall man dressed in black" who used to disappear mysteriously through the cemetery wall (p. 34).
On the same page, he also discussed a famous 'witness' to this phenomena: 'That Bram Stoker was influenced by the Highgate Vampire when he wrote "Dracula" . . . is almost certain.'

How Farrant obtained this information is a mystery. After all, there appears to be no contemporary record of such tales told in association with Highgate Cemetery. I asked him for his sources on The supernatural forum (the Highgate section is password protected as of this writing), only to be confronted with nonsensical and evasive replies like this:
All you are doing here, Anthony, is just 'cut and pasting' your own questions, yet again!, most of which I have already answered in the past - many of these to you directly. For example: I have answered the question about the ghost sightings and how many times these occurred (and to whom) in detail near the beginning of this thread in my answer to the bogus "Vampire Research Society" - in fact the product of just one person, and one person only.
As I had to point out, several times, he had no answered questions regarding sources for his Victorian era claims. Indeed, his nonsensical claims were undermined by his partner, 'Della Vallicrus', who took also took up the conversational thread I was pursuing by asking, 'Also - I would also be interested to hear about pre-1969 sources, oral or otherwise, regarding the "ghost" or "ghosts".'

However, he wound up brushing off her query, too: 'Of course, I will Della. But it cannot be this precise moment. I have three people coming later, and I am not even half ready yet. I still think the allegations about the Ham&High letter and demands for "proof'' about the ghost's Victorian origins and comparatively trivial being based mainly on wild speculation by only a couple of people.'

It would soon become clear that Vallicrus' heart wasn't really in pursuing this lead. She'd later write, 'I know, that the entity he describes is real. Descriptions may vary. So what? This is not a stone-tape esque image from the past. It is a living, metamorphosising being, in a sense. David saw it. Others saw it. Others have seen it since. But in a strange way - if y'all want to pretend or hope it was a hoax - get on with it.'

I continued pursuing this angle, even engaging Vallicrus in discussion on the side, only for Farrant to pipe in with a decidedly warped view of our exchanges. He also offered a new 'validation' for not answering my (and, by default, her) queries:
You are now even ‘switching’ your personal obsession onto Della, just because she does not happen to agree with your own interpretation of the 1960 sightings. The only reason I have not answered Della’s question about Victorian sources now despite saying I would is simply because to do so would be to effectively answer yourself, when I have just explained why I will not do so. But rest assured, the ‘sources’ you are trying to dispute DO exist, and both Della and myself have examined them …
Yet, at no point did Vallicrus make any reference to examining these alleged sources. Indeed, as of this writing, she's yet to 'speak up' about them. It comes as no surprise that direct citations to the material are carefully avoided in Farrant's reply, which I'd call him out on:
Telling me the sources exist is not the same as stating what they are. I'm not asking you to prove the entity existed. I'm asking you to prove that there was a recorded history (from the Victorian era) of its 'existence', whether it be oral tales, books, articles, whatever...especially when a named person (Bram Stoker) is involved.
I should've been more cautious in providing a leading comment like 'whether it be oral tales, books, articles, whatever', but I needn't have worried, as he continued to evade providing any sort of reference. Instead, he made a vague offer to share his sources if I would discuss my Christian views on ghosts (?!): 'You have had my answer, i.e. that when you are prepared to explain your views here simply - and without further prevarication - I may then take up your repetetive [sic] question about "Victorian sources".'

I knew this was another ruse. After all, we had already discussed my views on the matter several times on the same forum, not to mention previous interactions on Arcadia. Nonetheless, I took the bait and provided an extensive answer on 11 July.

As of this writing, he has not replied. Therefore, the question still remains: do such sources exist or are we dealing with a manufactured history to 'validate' relatively recent claims? The jury's out, but my request/offer for him to provide sources still stands.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Internet theology 101

I've questioned the validity of the Bishop's lineage and exposed his propensity for plagiarism on multiple occasions (which is much more extensive than I realised). Let's examine one of his latest posts concerning very, let's say, sensitive theological topics.

A reader of Bishop Manchester's blog named Michael Douglass, asked: 'Do Jews and Protestants go to hell? Can either become vampires?'. His Excellency carefully considered an appropriate response to Mike's sensitive question and painstakingly researched the topic before submitting his answer in a blog entry titled 'Salvation' (8 April 2011).

Nah, just kidding. He engaged in some light googling and copied huge chunks of text from other websites, passed it off his own and omitted links to his sources. Compare the Bishop's Scriptural interpretation...
The statement "born again" means that God has to see you in a body other than the body of Adam. When we place our faith in the Precious Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 6) we are baptised into the Body of Christ. This means that in the eyes of God we are in a Body that has never sinned against God in any way. That is how man is redeemed. Whether you are a Jew or Gentile or any nationality, without the Body of Christ, no man or woman will enter Heaven. So anyone who says Jesus Christ is not risen in a physical body is still yet in his sins (1 Corinthians 15: 17).
...with the following response to 'Do Jews go to Hell?' on (17 April 2007):
The statement "born again" means that God has to see you in a body other than the body of Adam, and when you place your faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, Romans Chapter 6 says we are baptized into the body of Christ. This means that in the eyes of God you are in a body that has never sinned against God in any way and that body died and was buried and raised from the dead and brought into the throne room of God with you in Him. So that is how man is "redeemed." It makes no difference whether you are a Jew or Gentile or any nationality -- without the body of Christ, no man or woman will enter heaven. So anyone who says Christ is not risen in a physical body is still yet in his sins. (First Corinthians 15:17).
It doesn't get any better from thereon in, folks. Once again, from the Bishop's entry:
The Jews of today are not the Jews of the Bible. A group of them deviated from their beliefs and rejected their own saviour from their prophesies. Christians are now the new "jews" who did follow the teachings and accepted the saviour when He appeared. Therefore, the Jews of today forfeit their birthright just as their ancestors did during Jesus' time.
And from
The Jews of today are not the Jews of the bible. A group of them deviated from their beliefs and rejected their own savior from their prophesies. The Christians are, of course, the jews who DID follow the teachings and accepted the savior. Therefore, the jews of today forfeit their birthright just as their ancestors did during Jesus' time.
Right-o. To be fair, not all of the Bishop's entry is cribbed from that webpage. Take his comments on grace, for instance:
Redemptive grace is focused most clearly in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, whom Christians recognise as the Living Christ. We might refer to Jesus as Grace Himself, as Grace in the Flesh, as Grace walking around. The grace of Christ can inspire us in such a transformative way as to change our awareness of ourselves, of our potential as human beings and as mankind, and our awareness of God's gracious purpose for us and through us for all Creation. It is this changed awareness which recognises a still more specialised form of grace — the grace made available to all who choose to serve God's hope for all in Christ. This is the grace which makes us disciples and is available as spiritual power for goodness' sake. Jesus exhibited this kind of power and challenged us to do the same.
Inspiring stuff. Shame it's pretty much the same thing the Rev. Dr. Katherine M. Lehman wrote, four years ago, in 'What is meant by the grace of God?':
Redemptive grace is focused most clearly in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, whom Christians call Christ, meaning the one chosen to deliver this particular grace. We might refer to Jesus as Grace himself, as Grace in the flesh, as Grace walking around. The grace of Christ can inspire us in such a transformative way as to change our awareness of ourselves, of our potential as human beings and as humankind, and our awareness of God's gracious purpose for us and through us for all creation. It is this changed awareness which recognizes a still more specialized form of grace—the grace made available to all who choose to serve God's hope for all in Christ. This is the grace which makes us disciples and is available as spiritual power for goodness' sake. Jesus exhibited this kind of power and challenged us to do the same.
To be fair on the Bish, his commentary on the spiritual after-effects of vampiric contamination appear to be his own. However, in saying that 'the person is afflicted in life and is not one of God's true dead, is something anyone outside of a state of grace is susceptible to', really makes me wonder about the kind of shenanigans Lusia must've gotten up to while she was still alive.

On a serious note, my sincere condolences for the passing of Gitte.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Hatchet Job

The FoBSM's 'hit list' blog has an entry about me which I've neglected to cover, until now. Time to dissect their hatchet job.

Their blog entry has been revised numerous times (with no notes made about the edits) and one of the reasons I feel 'safe' in covering it now, is that until recently, it featured the photograph of someone they presumed was me along with - what looked like - a home address. It was the exact same photo and address that had been forwarded to me by a stalker on the Arcadia forum.

Therefore, I decided not to draw attention to their blog entry, lest this innocent party be exposed to further attention and distribution of his picture. However, it was some relief to find that the 'home address' they'd posted was actually that of a petrol station. Despite repeatedly telling and proving that neither the photo nor the address were mine byway of the Supernatural World forum, the 'details' of this innocent bystander remained in their blog entry for some time, before they caved into common sense.

How they connected the photo with the address still remains a mystery. Indeed, why they'd even try to seek out an 'unmasked' picture of me as well as publicly posting 'my' address has never been explained. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

The FoBSM's blog entry labels me as a 'stalker', which I can't help but find amusing, when the same entry describes me as 'Anthony Hogg, who lives in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia', includes a stolen pic of me, publishes my private correspondence with a forum member named 'Vampire Researcher' and, of course, previously featured an 'unmasked' picture of me along with a 'home' address.

I'm also described as an obsessive, once again, an amusing charge, when one of Vampire Researcher's correspondents says 'I spent (or rather wasted) a good couple of hours going through Anthony’s blog', without a trace of irony. Really, I should be flattered.

The third main charge labels me as an 'harasser', but no specifics are given into how my 'harassment' manifests except to say that I harass David Farrant and Sean Manchester 'almost every day of [my] life'.

In the midst of all this guff, there's also a pointed jibe at my anonymity ('Mr Hogg, who always hides behind a demonic mask'), yet the blog entry's author lists themselves as 'Friends of Bishop Seán Manchester'. And here's their own profile pic:

And my 'demonic' mask? It's actually a vampire mask. I thought the fangs, corpse-like 'skin tone' and widow's peak would've given that away.

They also mention my publication of a 'UK address in full', something I won't deny. But what they don't mention is that the address I published was a business address. Gothic Press's, in fact. The same address that Gothic Press freely published online. You can view it in this blog entry's footnote, as well as the link I obtained it from. The hypocrisy in their criticism is revealed in their Don Peek entry, in which they display no issue with posting his business address. Clearly, what's good for the goose isn't good for the gander.

But who is Don Peek and what is his relevance to their blog's coverage? FoBSM cites him as 'Don Ecker's internet service provider who stepped in to help when Mr Ecker's previous server deleted a cache of stolen images owned by Bishop Seán Manchester'. I should also point out that they've posted Peek's picture along with the entry.

It's admittedly strange to see them take such umbrage at the publication of 'a cache of stolen images', when the person they're 'defending' is actually a blatant plagiarist, who also includes 'stolen images' in his web output, just as they do.

Lastly, I'll discuss their claims of my (alleged) censorship, or, as they put it 'Mr Hogg who adopts the tactic of censorship with anyone favourable to Bishop Manchester'. Yet another bizarre accusation, considering the posts I've allowed from 'Gothic' aka 'Demonologist' aka 'The Overseer' aka 'Vampirologist'. Read through the comments in this entry, for instance. Oh, and this entry features a comment from Manchester, himself.

Speaking of 'Vampirologist', FoBSM mentions a comment from him 'still awaiting moderation', which will 'most unlikely ever to see the light of day'. The funny thing is, I have not seen his comment awaiting moderation on any of my blogs. I'm not saying it was never posted, of course, I'm just saying I've received no notification for it. I will mention, however, that it's not the first time they've evidenced that kind of paranoia. In fact, I'm more than happy to post Vampirologist's comment right here, byway of their blog. Here it is, and I'll even respond to it:
You offer "[Bishop] Manchester's 'profession'" as "Britain's only full-time vampire hunter" when you know very well that Seán Manchester has never described himself as such. That description belongs to somebody else. You purposely fail to attribute it to its source because that would affect the false picture you wish to present of the man whose profession is that of bishop with a specialist ministry in demonolatry and exorcism. But you already know that, Anthony, don't you? It just suits your agenda to misrepresent what his full-time profession really is.

Your petty obsession with this man and the case he investigated four decades ago is a clear indication of your state of mind. Bishop Seán Manchester has given his final interview on the vampire case that made him a household name. Why can't you now give it a rest?

Year after year you irritate the hell out of people on the internet with your compulsive behaviour and obvious fixation with Seán Manchester whom you misrepresent and abuse from one week to the next. What is the matter with you? There must be something seriously wrong when you focus on a stranger twice your age living on the other side of the world who you don't know or especially like.

You either need to get a life or at least get some professional psychiatric help. I'm serious, Anthony. You are out on a limb. Nobody supports your behaviour. At best, it is tolerated. At worst, it is considered pathological.

This is not the beginning of a dialogue between us, Anthony. Knowing how obsessive you are where these matters are concerned, it is the end of one.
Vampirologist's criticism of my reference to Manchester as "Britain's only full-time vampire hunter" appears to be referring to a recent entry on my amateur vampirologist blog. It's true that (as far as I know), Manchester doesn't refer to himself in this way. However, I didn't say he did, either. Indeed, I placed the description in quotation marks, as you'll see.

The description was taken from Joe McNally's review of Manchester's The Vampire Hunter's Handbook (1997). This 'endorsement' is actually incorporated into Manchester's website. Note, there are no retractions to go with it. Therefore, it's perfectly reasonable to assume that it's a title Manchester's happy with.

Once again, the 'obsessed' card is played against me, but with no sense of context. This blog is about the Highgate Vampire Case, as I clearly outlined in my first entry. How exactly am I supposed to talk about the case without discussing Manchester to a large degree, considering he was central to the story's 'plot'? Or David, for that matter. That'd be like advocating a blog dedicated to Dracula, which omits mentions of Van Helsing or the Count. Once again, how my 'obsession' manifests, isn't made clear by my accuser.

Furthermore, Manchester is a public figure and he's a public figure because of the Highgate case, which even Vampirologist mentions made him a 'household name'.

Vampirologist then goes on to claim that I '
misrepresent and abuse [Manchester] from one week to the next' but doesn't say how, when or where. No specific instances are given. No specific posts are mentioned or linked to. Just like FoBSM (of which he's a member), he resorts to hyperbole and ad hominem attacks against me at the expense of proving his case.

The childishness, maliciousness and pettiness displayed by both the FoBSM and Vampirologist makes the purpose of the group redundant if that's how they show their 'support for a man who adheres to traditional values and sound doctrine in the face of incredible antipathy from hostile elements'. Or, in other words: pot, kettle, black. In fact, their blatant hypocrisy could be symptomatic of narcissistic personality disorder, not aided by the fact that the Bishop is very clearly aware of their activities.


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