Nick Popes Weird World
- September '99
  Posted by Georgina Bruni
Editor in Chief Hot Gossip UK
Check out Bruni's Column

UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, animal mutilations, the paranormal. In short, anything weird and wonderful from all around the world. If it goes on, it goes in. This is the column that mixes serious research, breaking news and a few light-hearted items for good measure. Yes, this is a gossip magazine, but there's more hard data in here than in many of the self-produced UFO 'magazines' circulating on-line. And to critics of this column who get hung up on the word 'gossip', check out your dictionaries, because there's more than one definition of the word gossip: as far as this column is concerned, we're talking unconstrained and topical writing, not groundless rumours. Check it out!

One other point. Although I write for this magazine (and produce another column - London Calling - which can be accessed at I'm not on-line myself. So I can't respond to any Internet messages, open letters etc unless an address for snail mail is included. I really do try and reply to all serious requests for information, so if your communication is motivated by a genuine interest in my research - as opposed to attempts to have a dig at me, score points or generate publicity for yourself - you will get a reply.

Total Eclipse

It was cloudy, we didn't see the sun, we didn't see the corona and we didn't see the shadow wall rushing across the ground at around 1500 mph. Were we disappointed? No way! I was one of the many people who travelled to the South West, in order to experience the total eclipse visible from parts of Devon and Cornwall, as opposed to the partial eclipse visible from London and much of the rest of the country. Michle and I travelled down to stay with my Dad and my stepmum, travelling several days before the eclipse to avoid the anticipated chaos on the roads. After a pleasant few day's break we drove over to Wrangaton to stay with Seb and Laura (my brother and his wife), arriving the evening before the big day.

On the day of the eclipse (11 August) people started arriving at around 9am, by which time - despite some earlier sun - it had clouded over. There were around a dozen of us, and we decided to climb nearby Ugborough Beacon, on the fringes of Dartmoor. It took us about an hour, and when we arrived at the top, there were around two or three hundred other people up there. We could see hundreds of people gathered on top of all the nearby hills. There was a great atmosphere, and although everybody had their eclipse viewers, pinhole cameras etc, the sun was hidden behind a solid wall of cloud. The extraordinary thing was just how quickly it went dark. Totality hit us at around 11.13am, but the light didn't really start to fade noticeably until about two minutes prior to that. But it was the final moments before totality that were truly awesome, as the light faded from normal, dim, overcast levels to darkness in around thirty seconds. The temperature plummeted in a similarly dramatic fashion. The reaction from people varied: there were gasps of amazement as darkness descended in seconds; some people applauded and a few cheered. Others watched in reverential silence. Jared (Seb and Laura's three year old son) was a little frightened, although we soon cheered him up. There were several New Age types present (it was just like the Eastenders eclipse special!), one of whom had a drum which he used subtly and cleverly, and another of whom twirled a device around in the wind to produce an eerie moaning sound. The flashbulbs of thousands of cameras could be seen on nearby hills, and the orange streetlights from Plymouth all came on. Where we were, totality lasted little more than one minute and thirty seconds, and it seemed to be over in an instant. Afterwards, my brother opened a bottle of champagne, and we passed it around our group. I saw one or two other people (not in our group!) smoking . er . herbal cigarettes. There was really no need: Mother Nature had given us the biggest natural high on the face of the planet. Several people were so overcome with emotion that they were crying. Somebody in our group had a bag of Runes so we each drew one and she interpreted them for us.

So, were there any UFOs seen during the eclipse? Not really. A few people in the path of totality might have seen Venus if they were lucky enough to have a break in the cloud; and there were numerous aircraft, helicopters and hot air balloons which would suddenly have been visible when it got dark. But that was it, really. Back to our own story, our post-eclipse BBQ/party lasted until about 1am, and we all went to bed tired but happy. When we got back to London, several people told us that it had gone 'quite dark' there, and had commiserated with us for spending all that time and money, only to have it ruined by cloud. We've tried to explain that the cloud didn't stop day turning into night within thirty seconds, but there really aren't the words. We tried 'awesome', but it really doesn't do the event justice. The only thing that's convinced people we saw something mind-blowingly wonderful is the fact that we're talking about going to Zimbabwe for the next total eclipse on 21 June 2001. It's only when people realise we're serious about it that they realise just how truly amazing an event they missed by not seeing the eclipse from the path of totality.

NIDS Animal Mutilation Report

For those people interested in the disturbing cattle mutilation phenomenon, check out the extraordinarily detailed June 1999 report issued by the National Institute of Discovery Science. The report details research carried out into the unexplained death of a cow at a ranch in Utah in October 1998. Check out for details.

The Big Conference

Please don't forget that the biggest and best UFO conference of the year is fast approaching, and is to be held in Leeds on 17, 18 and 19 September. The venue is the Conference Auditorium at the University of Leeds, and speakers include Tim Good, Nick Redfern, Michael Hesemann and from America, Dr Roger Leir - a physician who claims to have retrieved several implants from abductees. I'll also be giving a talk, and will be discussing the state of abduction research in the UK, and examining the apparent differences between UK and US reports. I'll also have a few interesting revelations to make, but that's another story. Check out the new and improved UFO Magazine website at for full details of speakers, and information on how to order tickets.

Cosmic Crashes

Several people have asked me to elaborate on why I'm so sceptical about the UFO crashes that ufologist Nick Redfern writes about in his latest book, Cosmic Crashes. My objections are twofold. Firstly, the lack of firsthand witnesses prepared to speak out on the record, using their real names. Now, conspiracy theorists will say that this is because they're fearful of what action a vengeful government will take, and that such people are worried about their safety, the safety of their families, or the security of their pensions. Of course, democratic, western governments don't really behave like that, outside of cheap spy novels. But I'll never convince conspiracy theorists of that, so I won't bother. A more interesting problem is the lack of a paper trail. Nick Redfern's first book, A Covert Agenda, revolved around incidents that he could verify through official UFO documents, obtained from the Public Record Office. Some of these documents were formerly classified at the level of Secret. I've seen all these PRO documents, together with files that civilian researchers will almost certainly never get to see. But when it comes to trying to find a paper trail to validate any UFO crashes in Britain, there's nothing. And yet, there would be more things to record with a crash, because there would be so many analyses to produce (and because they'd be technical, they'd need to be properly recorded). Every detail would have to be recorded, and many different specialists would need to be brought in, covering everything from metallurgy, aerodynamics, propulsion, avionics and much more besides. So many people, so many scientific studies, and yet not a hint of a paper trail - not just at the PRO, but in the files ufologists haven't seen. I've been in Government for fourteen years, and whatever you might argue about Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) I'm afraid that doesn't make any sense.

Operation Thunderchild

Although the official publication date of my novel, Operation Thunderchild, is 4 October, copies may well get into the shops during September. I'll also be doing quite a lot of media work late in September and early October - so look out for me on TV! I'll be saying more about Operation Thunderchild in next months column, but I can confidently predict that this novel (a techno thriller with an alien theme) is going to be extremely controversial.


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