I could have gone with the Bible here. It’s a good read, featuring a super hero who’s also an almighty villain (duality always works well.) Super-God thought it was a good idea to conjure up life, the universe and everything and then almost immediately destroy the whole shebang; rather like me when I start one of these posts and end up deleting most of my oh so disappointing creation.
But there’s a series of books out there which beat the word of God hands down.
During the 1960s Warminster, a town in Wiltshire about 90 minutes away from where I live, experienced an absolute glut of UFOs – flying about here, there and everywhere. Arthur Shuttlewood, a journalist on the local newspaper, smelled a really good story when he got wind of the local sightings, and decided that Ufology was just the thing to get his name into the national rags. Upon receiving a very grainy photo of a flying saucer c 1965 (later disclosed as a fake by Gordon Faulkner, a young man at the time) Arthur Shuttlewood practically ran all the way to the London office of the Daily Mirror requesting that they publish the photo, which they did without checking negatives or the source.
This photo became the embodiment of ‘The Thing’ , the name given by the local yokels to the weird sounds and objects that plagued their town. The Thing sparked off pilgrimages to Warminster by barmy devoted UFO addicts. My husband was one of these weirdos interested parties, spending an alarming amount of time hanging about on top of Cradle Hill (UFO hot spot) at night, trying to spot flying saucers (that was his excuse.) He claims that one night a little ball of light came dancing towards him and said hello – or maybe ‘greetings earthling’; he’s a bit hazy on the details – as are most of the UFO photos from that time (hazy that is.)
Anyway this interest in all things ufological(?) led my husband, many years ago, to spend his teenage, hard earned cash on two books by Mr Arthur Shuttlewood, entitled The Warminster Mystery (book 1)
and the self-published Warnings from Flying Friends (book 2)
and I urge you (my 5 blog reading friends) to purchase these books from Amazon right away, at roughly £7 each. (Whilst engaged in strenuous research for this sparkling piece, I discovered that Arthur published two later books entitled UFO’s Magic in Motion and UFO’s Keys to the New Age, both available on Amazon for a penny – can’t wait to get my mitts on them.)
Written in highfalutin, Bible-ese (a word I just made up, meaning in the style of the Bible) – Mr Shuttlewood documents UFO sightings by the townsfolk and, increasingly, by himself and his intrepid teammates, Bob and Sybil (you can tell we’re in the olden days here, when was the last time you met a Sybil?)
Maintaining a factual tone, expressed in astonishingly quasi-scientific and spiritual-esque (another made up word) gobbledygook, Arthur navigates us through his adventures on Cradle and Cley Hill before suddenly, and without warning, plunging into the even more weird and bizarre world of alien contact.
Midway through book 1 Arthur is suddenly called from a phone box up the road by three space visitors from the planet Aenstria (you couldn’t make this stuff up, except it looks like Mr Shuttlewood did.) He can tell these calls are from ET’s because he never hears the sound of the pips (how many people remember pips) or the money dropping into the slot, indicating that his callers have magical, alien-type powers. One caller, Queen Traellison of the planet Aenstria, has decided that Arthur is just the sort of special person who can be counted on to relay her message of peace to the world, along with the further information that the end of the world is coming c1967 (which obviously it didn’t, unless your own personal world came to an end that year.)
Arthur is much taken up with the horrid goings on in the world, or on ‘Planet Earth’, as he prefers to call it. To Arthur the 1960s seem like the epitome of EVIL – what with continual trouble in the Middle East, the use of pesticides on crops, drug taking amongst the young, people’s wilful destruction of the environment (sound familiar?) and he is convinced that UFOs herald a coming Golden Age of Peace, being that they’re light years ahead of us. Arthur’s space pals can boil water ‘by the mere touch of a finger’, determine how much stress you are under by the colour and shape of your aura and read your mind. Judging by their use of the phone box up the road however, they clearly lacked the space age technology to have invented the mobile phone.
Book 2, published in 1968, after doomsday failed to show up, continues with an explosion of UFO sightings around Warminster and a very wishy-washy explanation as to why 1967 had come and gone and planet Earth was still in one piece. This time a fourth space visitor, wearing a mackintosh and a cravat (we’ve got to assume here that the alien is trying to fit in or we’re likely to end up as mad as poor old Arthur) turns up on his doorstep, after Arthur angrily hangs up when the alien again rings him from the phone box (they still haven’t invented the mobile phone.)
This alien is called Karne and comes with woeful tidings:
‘All indications are that there will be a third World War on the Earth cantel’ (alien-speak for planet.) We are not given a precise date but the implication is that Armageddon is around the corner.
‘Christ the alpha and omega of our solar system will arrive not later than 1975 and possibly before the end of 1972’ – Again Karne is strangely imprecise. Here I should mention that in book 2 we learn that Christ was actually from Venus and Mary, his mother, originally came from Britain; in fact Arthur is pretty sure she lived in Warminster, being that his neck of the woods is actually the ‘cradle of all civilisation.’
Karne tells Arthur that he (Arthur) was ‘pinpointed’ by aliens as a child to be the chosen one with regard to the coming Golden Age.
This is a pic of Arthur at the time, not looking very much like the ‘Chosen One’ is he? Or is he?
Of course, it’s definitely looking like Arthur was a major nut-job, or maybe suffered a spectacular mid-life crisis (he was 48) when he decided to publish his UFO witterings but, to be fair, he does occasionally wonder if these space visitors are pulling his leg or if his other ‘earthly contacts’ (who tend to write to him and sound slightly more wrong in the head than he does, if that’s possible) can be believed. For example, one earthly contact named Eric, a poet living on the Pacific coastline, relates a story of sitting on the beach one day when a stranger sat down next to him and turned out to be none other than the dead poet Shelley. Shelley hung around for 4 days and in the end Eric got so sick of him he had to tell him to bugger off. There are many wonderful tales of this nature throughout book 2, all documented as though they are absolutely TRUE. One earthly contact does have the decency to tell old Arthur that he was a student experimenting with LSD at the time of his weird encounters.
After his chummy meeting with Karne, Arthur goes on to destroy Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the emerging Quantum Theory by saying it’s all a load of bollocks, without much explanation as to why, but it’s mainly to do with the fact that we don’t live in fear of God anymore.
Book 2 ends with the warning that 1974 is the date to look out for ‘as amazing things will have come to pass’ (Arthur has learned to shy away from predicting the Apocalypse at this point) and to wait until that date before accusing Arthur of being off his trolley. ( In my opinion, when predicting the end of the world, you should always go at least 100 years into the future, that way you won’t be around with all that egg on your face.)
Sadly, for Arthur and us, the Golden Age never materialised and we’re all still here dealing with the same old rubbish that was going on back then.
After the publication of his last book Arthur Shuttlewood, the former Guru of British UFO’s, went very quiet and died in 1996 at the age of 76.
But I love these books, re-reading them every few years (maybe it’s because they take me back to a younger, idyllic time when me and hubby could be found UFO spotting all over Hampshire.) I must get around to ordering the rest of the (newly discovered) saga and find out when we can expect the world to really end.