I am just back from a rather damp visit to Loch Ness, but I will post more on that later. When I got back I powered up my daughter's Kindle and it downloaded the new e-version of Paul Harrison's "The Encyclopaedia of the Loch Ness Monster". Well done, Paul, on another good job. I posted a review on amazon.co.uk which I reproduce here.
I already have the hardback version but when I heard Paul had revised and updated his book for Kindle, I borrowed my daughter's kindle and purchased it. It was not a disappointment and as I flicked thru the pages, I was again finding stuff new to me despite being someone who researches and blogs on the monster myself. Some indeed was quite revelatory and I wonder if Paul has a website or newsletter as I have failed to find any mention of him at all on the Internet?
There were a couple of errors in the text but this is to be expected of such a vast subject. Firstly, Rip Hepple still publishes his newsletter and I am sure the land sighting of Nessie at a place called "Sandy Point" actually occured at Loch Shiel. Also, some sightings are not recorded in the book which are visible on the Internet. I think particularly of Ala MacGruer's head and neck sighting last year.
All in all, a worthy book.
I would also like to flag up what Paul said in this book about his next work. It is to be a book on the notorious monster hunter, Frank Searle. I had checked Paul's entry in the encyclopedia about Frank and was astounded to learn that he had tracked down Frank to his home in Fleetwood in 2003 and had a long conversation with him about his life at Loch Ness. I say "astounded" because Andrew Tullis had tried to find him for his TV documentary ("The Man who Captured Nessie") but was too late as Frank had died some weeks before. Now it seems we will get a chance to hear what Frank Searle's last words to the Loch Ness Monster "community" were. I put the word "community" in quotes because as far as Frank and the other Loch Ness researchers were concerned, it was anything but a community and more like a battlezone.
Some of what Frank said to Paul is already known from his unpublished book, but Paul goes deeper in that he claims that somebody from over the other side of the loch sent some people round to Frank's caravan and threatened to kill him if he did not leave. It seems they also beat him up by way of proof of intent and after Frank had left, they tipped the caravan into the loch to make sure he never came back. Make of that what you will but I am sure Paul's book will make for fascinating reading. As a result of this conversation, Paul's attitude to Searle mellowed, I wonder if any of our attitudes will change? My own opinion on this has already been posted, there is more to this story than meets the eye and if the old adage "History is written by the Victors" is anything to go by, there will be more to come.
As an aside, Paul Harrison seems to be one of those Internet-invisible Loch Ness researchers. He says in the e-book that his Loch Ness Monster Research Society is still active but I know of no regular publications or web presence. If he is reading this, send me an email to email@example.com and tell us about your current work and new book.
In fact, there is a group of 1990s researchers such as Richard Carter, Alastair Boyd, Paul Harrison and others who do not post to the Internet in any open way that I can see. It would be great if they could engage with other Loch Ness researchers in a more visible way and share their undoubted wisdom and knowledge. Books are one thing but these people are in a sense living books with a limited time span stamped upon them. The generation of monster hunters such as Holiday and Dinsdale were gone by the 1980s. The generation of leading skeptics who followed them will be gone in the next 10 to 20 years. Who will that leave for the next crop of enquiring minds? In that light, the Carters, Boyds and Harrisons of this world who were believers in a large creature in Loch Ness need to make their presence more visible in this Internet age.