Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Oh, George, you didn't jump into the river. How sensible of you!

Here's the thing. Have you ever had that feeling you get when you know you should cowboy up and do something but, because you're week willed and pathetic, you keep putting it off? That nagging sensation that creeps up on you and then dances around in the back of your mind like a drunken uncle at a wedding? Well I've had that for a while now.

Allow me to explain. About, oh gosh, three weeks ago I fell out with a friend of mine completely by accident. No really, I certainly didn't intend for it to happen. Basically they sent me an email asking me to stop being a jerk about something, to which I replied in what I thought was a jovial and polite manner. However I was busy and wrote the damn thing in a rush, and so it's tone turned out to be more along the lines of "F*** YOU!!!!" than it was "Knock knock". Anyway they sent me a mail back apologising even though they had absolutely no reason to, and since then we haven't spoken a word to each other. I mean don't get me wrong, I've tried talking to them a thousand times. But every time I try writing a note of grovelling sincerity or summon up the nerve to go and say "Hi" I always end up slinking back to the corner from which I crawled from. And the more time that passes the harder it gets.

I think it's largely due to the fact that even though the entire thing is something out of nothing, I'm paranoid that whatever I say as way of an apology will get thrown back in my face. A fear that because this entire mess is my own creation, anything that I do is going to be treated with the contempt it probably deserves. And I don't know why that is. It's not as if I would go "Hey, about that thing. Well I'm really sorry about all that. What can I say? I'm a class A moron." only for them to blow on a whistle and summon forth a group of cheerleaders who will then point and laugh at my genitalia for three hours non stop. No, in reality they'd probably be a lot more rational about it than I am and accept that I really can be an idiot sometimes. But it's the idea, the bastard of a notion, that if I do end up apologising and it gets rejected then I've not only lost a friend but also made a massive arse out of myself in the process. Because of that thought alone I've instead got myself stuck in a horrible no man's land. Part of my wants to fix things. Part of me wants to leave them alone (Gee Note: Part of me wants to sell my organs on the Chinese black market to generate some spare cash. I mean, having two kidneys is just a bit showy offy right?).

It's stuff like this that makes me carry a modicum of respect for folks like David Icke and David Shayler (Gee Note: By the way did you know that whilst on the run from Her Majesty's Government for spilling state secrets like he was Tara Reid in an ill fitting dress, Shayler made an appearance on the comedy panel show "Have I Got News For You" via satellite? No neither did I. According to his Wikipedia page it was a "famous" appearance as well. Which means either I know nothing about anything or David Shayler's publicist really should work a lot harder at their job). I mean sure those guys are about as bonkers as trying to teach a crocodile to make a lasso out of used tinsel and Russell Crowe's sense of self satisfaction. But they really don't care what anyone else thinks about them. If you don't agree with them that the world is controlled by a secret society of sinister beings then you're an ill-educated fool. If you do then, well, your one of those benevolent souls who has seen the light.

It always makes me think though there must be a flip side to this coin. You know, people who experience genuinely nutty things sometimes dismiss them or keep it to themselves for fear of what other people will think. I mean put it this way, if you're kicking back and relaxing all cool on the shore of Loch Ness when all of a sudden a plesiosaur taps you on the shoulder and tells you there's no such thing as spoons, are you going to tell anyone about it? Well no, no you're not. At least I wouldn't anyway. In fact the first thing I would do is check myself in to the local loony bin and let them give me the once over. Assuming they don't find any problems my next step is to limit my diet and give up any form of red meat, alcohol, and drugs. Telling someone about it is way down on the list, right after "take secret with you to your grave" and "get elected as President of the World and make it a law that everyone agrees that spoons don‘t really exist".

Which I guess is why I find the story of the Crawfordsville Monster so intriguing.

Crawfordsville, Indiana is a small city famous for, er, well nothing much actually (Gee Note: Unless of course you count one of the world's first thin-slab casting minimills, again according to Wikipedia. Sadly I have no idea what that is. I mean I recognise the individual words. But put them together in that order and you've lost me. You might as well call it a bacon love touch paper station. Also Dick Van Dyke was a one time resident of Crawfordsville. Which is actually quite cool. You know I went through a period when I was little of watching Mary Poppins every day. To the point where I now know all the songs off by heart. Ooooh Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious. If you say it loud enough you'll always sound precocious. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Um diddle diddle diddle, um diddle ay. Um diddle diddle diddle, um diddle ay. In completely unrelated news I didn't date much in school). However at the end of the summer in 1891 Crawfordsville gained a wee bit of notoriety.

The story goes like this. On September 5 that year at around about 2 am, ice delivery men Marshall McIntyre and Bill Gray were going about their daily business (Gee Note: Which I've deduced involved delivering ice. Really the breakthrough in this case came from the sentence "ice delivery men Marshall McIntyre and Bill Gray…". After that it only took me two hours to put the pieces together) when one of them decided to look up in to the sky. What he saw was a "horrible apparition" that was "about eighteen feet long and eight feet wideband moved rapidly through the air by means of several pairs of side fins. . . . It was pure white and had no definite shape or form, resembling somewhat a great white shroud fitted with propelling fins. There was no tail or head visible but there was one great flaming eye, and a sort of a wheezing plaintive sound was emitted from a mouth which was invisible. It flapped like flag in the winds as it came on and frequently gave a great squirm as though suffering unutterable agony.". McIntyre and Gray watched the damn thing hover above their heads for about an hour, before they worked out that they had no idea what blinky might like to eat. Thinking that there might be a chance, however small, that 'ice delivery man" was considered a delicacy to great big air born jelly fish they decided to scarper.

McIntyre and Gray weren't the only ones to witness this strange beast however. First Methodist Church pastor G. W. Switzer was trundling along in his back yard at just past midnight (Gee Note: He claimed he was there to fetch some water from the well, but if professional wrestling has taught us anything it's that you can never trust a Minister. For all we know he could have employed a secret bunch of ninjas to attack him in his garden in order to "keep him loose". You just can't tell with Reverends) when he stumbled across the creature. So amazed by it's appearance was he that he sent the ninjas away and awoke his wife to come and have a looksy. Now obviously his wife was the forgiving sort and rather than brain him with a saucepan she followed her husband outside and took in the wonder of this strange creature. According to Rev. Switzer it was "swarming through the air in a writhing, twisting manner similar to the glide of some serpents.”.

The next night it has subsequently been claimed that the beast returned and was witnessed by over 200 of Crawfordsville's finest, although there's a massive of lack of evidence to support this. Regardless such a hullabaloo caused the media to take an interest. Initially published in the Crawfordsville Journal, this strange tale made headlines across the land as newspapers jumped on it like Kanye West at an awards show. People from all over started writing in to local publications claiming that Judgement Day was near, while one woman was convinced she had seen the exact same thing floating around in the skies of Ohio.

Of course such interest brought forth the sceptics as well. Two of them, John Hornbeck and Abe Hernley, claimed to have "followed the wraith about town and finally discovered it to be a flock of many hundred killdeer" in an interview published a couple of days later by the Crawfordsville Journal (Gee Note: Killdeer are a type of medium sized wading bird by the way. Not a crack team of ruthless Bambis as I first thought). This has since become the widely accepted explanation for the Crawfordsville Monster. A flock of birds twisting and turning through the air as they do, obscured by newly installed electric lights in the area and damp in the air. Except, and here's the thing, I assume the good folks of Crawfordsville had seen birds fly before. It's not as if they were Neanderthal man stumbling across a duck billed platypus for the first time. I mean it's pretty hard to mistake a flock of birds for anything else. Regardless of the lighting and the damp air, unless you're legally blind a flock of birds will in no way resemble a large air born amoeba. You'd have to be pretty crazy to make that assumption. (Gee Note: And if that was the case I guess they wouldn't let you become a Reverend. Or deliver ice for that matter. Job opportunities for people who are as mad as a bag full of badgers tend to be a bit thin on the ground). Still after only one night, possibly two, of frantic action the Crawfordsville Monster was never heard from again, and the people quietly forgot about it.

Anyway, to get this back on track, the reason why all this struck a chord with me has nothing really to do with the monster. Rather, after the story broke Rev. Switzer himself started to receive all sorts of bad publicity. People would openly laugh at him in the street, while experts in the newspapers would go on to say that he had "probably been imbibing intoxicants" the night he saw the creature. In fact he even received a letter from Keeley's Institute for Inebriates inviting him to pay a visit.

Now maybe Switzer was naïve enough to think that his claims of woovy bezerk red eyed flying things wouldn't garner this type of reaction. And that might very well have been the case. But I'd like to think that he knew exactly what he'd be getting himself in for and, despite everything, was brave enough to report it anyway. And if that was the case then I say bless than man. If he can do that, then I sure as Hell can swallow my pride and apologise. After all, whatever happens, I doubt they'll call me a drunk.

An asshole maybe. But not a drunk.

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