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.


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