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The Ilkley Moor Monster: A Watertight Story

Dear readers, I must apologize to you. I’ve had every intention of eating the pound of lemons a day that is required to get me sour enough to write in the manner you’ve come to expect from me. I’ve even considered changing this site to the ‘weblog’ format that the young people are so smitten by these days, but to be entirely honest, I find my crude HTML skills give this place a little more… pizzaz. Anyway, mea culpa, for I have lapsed. I hope only that you will accept my most sincere apologies.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about ghosts that like to have sex with people. That so many people have so many webpages dedicated to advising others on the best way to get ghosts to pork them was unbelievable to me; and yet, I don’t think I conveyed that hilarity quite well enough. So I decided to go back to my most fertile ground: stories of alien abduction. It took me a record 30 seconds of googling to come up with a case I’d heard of, but not written about, and that is a perfect example of why I don’t believe in space monsters from beyond the moon. Behold the tale of the Ilkley Moor Alien.

Ilkley Moor, like much of rural Britain, is a desolate moonscape of mud, rock, swamp, and prehistoric cairn stones. It has been compared to the moor in The Hound of the Baskervilles: and as a treat to you, I shall now share a bit of my personal life. I got my father the Basil Rathbone version of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries for Christmas, and the one we watched together was The Hound of the Baskervilles. Anecdote over! If that movie was anything like real life, then the moors of England must be the absolute ass end of the earth. Much of the population is sheep in nature, including terrifyingly cute feral sheep, and the place is littered with relics of ancient civilizations. Think Stonehenge, but smaller and not as well tended. Just like in the Hound of the Baskervilles. There are also rumors of strange lights (I have mostly resisted the temptation to write straaaaaaange liiiiiights) in the area. The fact that the moor is near not just an airport, but also a military base, is, if we are to believe our good friend Dr. Internet, totally unrelated to these lights.

So anyway, Philip Spencer, former policeman and full-time guy with a lot of guts, decided to go gallivanting across the moor one day in December 1987. Actually, he was on his way to his father-in law’s house, and since he’d heard the tales of strange lights above the moor, he decided to bring his camera with him, so he could take some pictures in case he saw anything. He also brought a compass with which to find his way.

Since the compass only pointed north, south, east, and west, and did not have an arrow for “straight into the damn sky aboard a space monster’s flying saucer,” he was rather unprepared for what came next. In the original version of the story, he was walking across the moor, when he spotted a little green man. Literally. The creature was green, and around four feet tall. For once I’m not using that term in a deprecating manner. Anyway, he snapped a shot of the little guy, chased it when it ran off, and watched in befuddlement as a silver saucer with a cube on top flew away into the sky.

I’m not going to lie. In his situation, I would have panicked, curling into a fetal position while sobbing hysterically. Spencer is made of sterner stuff; he continued his stroll across this hellish nightmarescape, despite the fact that his compass was now pointing in the wrong direction and, when he arrived in town, it was two hours later than he thought it was.

Fortunately, he had that photograph. This is the key piece of evidence on which the importance of the story rests. I’ll let you take a look at it before I comment. Behold:

It's a high quality photograph, and clearly unarguable proof of a reptile space creature presence on earth.

I tried to find a copy of the picture without that white circle around it, but the internet is strangely devoid of unedited veresions of the picture. Anyway. Imagine looking at that picture without the white circle: would you be able to guess where the alien was? To me, it’s like a Where’s Waldo image, except that Waldo and the entirety of the surrounding landscape is shit colored. Fortunately, we have the internet to thank for various cropped and resized images. Behold:

"Higher" "resolution" . As I said before, this is quite clearly undeniable proof.

I know what you’re thinking: stone cold proof of the existence of space monsters from beyond the moon. Well. I shan’t argue about it, yet, since it seems to be a matter of taste. Does that blurry mishmash of shapes look like a space monster to you? Yes? Fair enough. Spencer thought it was pretty sweet, so he got in touch with a UFO investigator named Peter Hough, who agreed: it was totally sweet. They sent the photo to a wildlife photography expert, who determined it wasn’t a naturally occurring beast (presumably, those deadly feral sheep so famed in Britain still walk on all fours.) It was estimated that the creature was roughly 4 to 4 and a half feet tall.

The photo was then ferried off to the Kodak laboratories. Allow me a stern word to the young people out there: in better times (i.e. the past) photographs were taken on film, not on mobile telephones, and Kodak was a manufacturer of film. Anyway. Kodak’s experts determined that the object in the photo was indeed there, and not a superposition or double exposure or whatever. Whether the object in the photo was a space monster from beyond the moon ora cardboard cutout was impossible to determine.

Finally, the photo went to Dr. Bruce Maccabee, an optics expert in the U.S. Navy, who determined that the photo really wasn’t of good enough quality for a proper attempt at interpretation. Yeah, I agree.

Oh! I should mention – does the name Dr. Bruce Maccabee sound familiar to you? It did to me, so I checked. Maccabee is a leading UFO entusiast. So, all you websites that just say “the photo was sent to a USN optics expert,” shame on you for not mentioning the whole “USN optics expert who is also a leading light of UFO research.” On the other hand, Dr. Maccabee, I salute you for calling a spade a spade and concluding that the photograph is of poor quality, and avoiding further speculation.

Anyway. So everything is over and done with: Ballsy man wanders onto a blasted British moonscape, takes lousy photo, everyone can draw their own conclusions? Incorrect! There’s a far goofier, far less believable portion to this tale.

While the photograph was making its way to various world experts and research facilities, Spencer began having dreams of a starry night. A couple of months after the photograph was taken he underwent that old abductee standby and got himself hypnotically regressed.

This version of the story is somewhat different. Under hypnosis he recalled walking across the moor, and spotting a green monster, but suddenly found himself paralyzed. He levitates a few feet off the ground, and the little green man began pulling him along like a child might pull a balloon on a string. They entered the cube-topped flying saucer and Spencer underwent a medical procedure including, as is so standard, doing weird stuff to his nose. There was also a voice telling him to be calm.

Several of the green creatures then took him, basically, on a tour of the ship. He got a better look at the creatures: short, green skinned, with enormous, three-fingered hands; V-shaped feet with two enormous toes, no nose, slit mouth. He mentions that they have ‘big eyes’, but doesn’t specifically say they are all black, a la the grays we’re so accustomed to.

They went past a porthole, and Spencer realized he was in outer space, looking down at the earth. They went into a room with some sort of metal ball in it, and his compass and camera started to float away from him; the UFO enthusiasts claim that this is when his compass was wrecked. (For the record, you can wreck a compass with anything magnetic; I can think of several dozen things in my house that I could use to create the same effect, if I needed to.)
Anyway, they finally took him into a room where he was showed two movies. The first was a movie of catastrophe: floods, famines, people starving, all that sort of end of the world stuff. Perhaps the aliens could time travel and got a copy of 2012, or one of those other films in the apocalypse-porn genre that’s so popular nowadays.

The other film, though, that’s the one that I’m interested in. Even under hypnosis, Spencer refused to say what it is. Apparently, he’s not allowed to tell us. It’s too important, and ‘they’ don’t want us to know. After showing it to him, the aliens dropped him off, and he took the photo of the green monster as the thing was waving goodbye to him. After, rather than before, the abduction, which is why the lighting in the photo is later in the afternoon, rather than earlier. Why Spencer did not photograph the spaceship, which would be much harder to fake than a blurry man-shape, is not clear.

Various writeups of the case make it clear that Spencer doesn’t want any money or fame from his tale. But for the life of me, I can’t track down where this comes from. Did someone just ask the guy, and he went “Fame? Oh, no thanks”? Regardless, he’s gotten some fame out of it, and developed a pretty interesting hobby, so who knows what his intentions were. There’s one thing that I think stands out, though: by his own admission, Spencer had heard tales of supernatural goings on, so he went to the area with a camera in hopes of witnessing some supernatural goings on. And that’s what he got.

Let’s look at the photo. I don’t mean that literally, I’ve seen that grainy malarkey plenty of times. There’s no proof either way that this is or is not a hoax: it could easily be something as simple as a cardboard cutout. A picture of a flying saucer, which would have been a simple matter for Spencer to take if his story is accurate, would be much harder to fake. Is that why he didn’t take such a picture? Well. I won’t say it is, and I’ll let you decide if “easy to fake monster, hard to fake ship” is more likely than “abducted by monster, decided not to photograph ship.” For that matter, why just one photo? And if his version under hypnosis is correct, why didn't he take a photo of the interior of the spaceship? He had his camera and everything.

Wait. That makes me think of another thing. The space monsters go through the trouble of erasing his memories, but then, specifically tell him not to tell anyone what was in the second film? Did they know their memory erasing was going to wear off? Why not just erase his memory of the second film? Or order him not to tell anyone, at all, of the event, since he seems to take their orders seriously?

The photograph is one of only two pieces of physical evidence, and it would be easy to fake. The broken compass is the other piece of physical evidence, and breaking something is not very hard at all. Trust me, I’ve broken a lot of things in my day. So this case really boils down to whether or not you believe his hypnotism-induced testimony.

I don’t. There’s a reason why hypnotic testimony isn’t allowed in a court of law. Hypnotic regression is right up there with ‘reading the entrails of a sacrificial lamb’ as far as producing verifiable data. I’ve gone into it in more detail elsewhere, and if I want to go to the thrift stores this afternoon, it’s time to get this show on the road. Suffice it to say, in my opinion, hypnotic regression can be misused to make anyone say anything. Especially if that person wants to say that thing in the first place. The fact that the bulk of Spencer’s story (the nose implants, the films, the big secret with which he’d been entrusted) are cobbled together versions of other popular abduction tales doesn’t help, either.

Anyway, if you believe, you believe. If you don’t, you don’t. If you’re undecided, I’ve made my case: Spencer went looking for something, and he found it, but when offered the chance to produce a hard-to-properly-fake photo of a spaceship, he went with the more-easily-faked blurry photo of a faraway monster. And at some point he ruined his compass.

Yeah. Sounds real, real solid.

Be seeing you.

Everytime I make one of these stupid posters, I can't stop laughing. I'm such a simpelton.