Monday, 28 March 2016

Good Searle, Bad Searle

As part of this mini series on Frank Searle, there is one final question. Is there any side to the story of Frank Searle that is redeemable? If you felt his fist, were on the receiving end of his tongue, were duped by his fake photos or witnessed daubed castle walls and petrol soaked beaches, then it is unlikely that your mindset is going to be graciously inclined towards him in any way. 

What we know of him in writing is mainly from 1976 onward and by then the battle lines had been drawn between him and his perceived enemies. By then, the man Frank Searle was increasingly consumed by persons and events on the other side of the loch and became a man who spoke and acted through those red tinted glasses.

But when and how did it go wrong? Even those who hate him or hold him in contempt, will admit that the Frank Searle who turned up at Loch Ness on the 16th June 1969 was at best a different person or at worst had a different attitude. Indeed, Frank Searle goes further back than that as his autobiography tells us he annually took camping holidays from 1958 onward after being inspired by Constance Whyte's "More Than A Legend". Indeed, his first claimed sighting was of a single hump during such a trip in June 1965.

I, myself, find it unlikely that this Frank Searle arrived at Dores Bay with the intention of punching other researchers or churning out a series of fake photographs. Like Tim Dinsdale and Ted Holiday before him, it is likely his intention was to watch the loch and get that photograph of the Loch Ness Monster that would convince the world there was a case to answer.

Searle got his first published photo on June 27th 1972 (though he claimed to have got his first photo on November 10th 1971). That is shown below on this contemporary newspaper article. Assuming this is as fake as his other pictures, we could say this marks the beginning of the hoaxing period for Frank Searle. But what had happened in the previous three years?




Of course, one may conclude nothing happened for three years, much to Frank Searle's frustration and his eventual decision to "create" his own evidence. However, if you believe there is one or more large creatures in Loch Ness and you have a man initially and sincerely watching the loch for long hours for at least three years, there is a good chance he saw something.

What that could be is difficult to tell and perhaps Paul Harrison's upcoming book will reveal a more conciliatory Frank Searle who owns up but also tells us what he really saw out on the loch over 13 years. One thing is for sure, the seventeen sightings claimed by Frank Searle over three years in the article above is somewhat excessive, shall we say.

Finally, one point of debate concerns Frank's first photo shown above. This was originally pointed out by Jay Cooney on his Bizarre Zoology blog in 2013. It concerns an article on the Loch Ness Monster from the Illustrated London News of 13th January 1934. That article was a compilation of drawings made by an artist of various Nessie sightings up to that time.




The one of interest was seen by a Nora Simpson which I have scanned from my own copy of the magazine for a comparison with Searle's first photograph. There is more than a passing resemblance between the photo and illustration which raises several speculations. In both cases, we have the two humps, the suggestion of a tail at the right and at the front something smaller.




The first speculation would be a sceptical interpretation that Searle copied the drawing for his photo. That is, of course, possible, though Searle would have been nine or ten years old when the 1934 article was published. A search of the various books and magazines I have published up to 1972 do not reproduce this drawing for an adult Frank Searle to see. That does not mean that the article was never republished, time will tell.

The other option is that it is just coincidence, the other is that both drawing and photo represent a living creature in Loch Ness. I am taking no position on that particular point of conversation and merely throw it out as a conversational item.

By the way, the Illustrated London News has a very nice painting of the B.A.Russell sighting from 1933, worth framing if you can get a hi-res copy.




The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com


26 comments:

  1. Just a thought, might it have been (negativity to Searle) that most of the Nessie hunters at that time were middle class and financially sound.

    An ex army and working class chappie maybe was looked down upon for invading the gentleman's club?

    He might have been considered the Alex Higgins (late snooker player)of Nessie hunters by the established and well know Nessie hunters.

    There again, I could be completely wrong.

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    1. Darryl - i don't think Searle was 'looked down upon' because he was working class. I think he made his own reputation through being a pretty contemptible piece of work.

      If even a quarter of the tales told of him are true, he's just wasn't a nice man. Let's not re-write history here.

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    2. There is no aim to rewrite history but rather to find history previously unwritten.

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    3. RP..... "If even a quarter of the tales told of him are true, he's just wasn't a nice man"

      Tales/stories et al. Myself, I would never form an opinion of a person without meeting them (in this case a bit late now) as to my judgement. I'm not defending him as to his photos, but hey, the fakers are about Surgeon photo? And more that can be questioned as to authenticity. Why has this man not been castigated as Searle has been. I read that the wife of the late Tim Dinsdale would not submit (for what ever reason) the original 16mm film of his famous sighting.

      As the saying goes "Never judge a book by its cover"

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    4. Indeed, but I don't form my opinion on Searle on the back of his fake pics. I form it on the back of countless stories of bullying, aggression, violence and all round unpleasantness.

      The tone of his ramblings, to me, indicates a bit of an unhinged guy with a major chip on the shoulder.

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  2. Trouble with trying to 'redeem' a serial liar, thug and swindler like Searle is, when so many lies came out of his mouth, how are you supposed to take any else remotely seriously?

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    1. The word "redeem" implies a full rehabilitation. That won't happen and was not the intent of the article.

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  3. It's also pretty clear from his written ramblings that there was a fair amount of ego involved in Searles vigil. He wanted to be the renowned expert who solved the mystery, and the fame and fortune that would come with that.

    Seems to me he started to slide when he realised others were close to achieving that and better at marketing themselves.

    He was a crackpot

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    1. There's still one or two going around who covet the title of "the renowned expert"!

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  4. In word: bad Searle, but who am I to talk.

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  5. One of the main elements going against Searle's first photo is the framing - if it as described, with tail on the right, it is swimming toward the left hand edge ofthe frame. First time out actually shooting a moving object you would expect that the object may not be perfectly centered, but if not it would certainly be to the left half of the image. Yet Searle has framed it so the object is just enetering the frame from the right; all the better to hide something just out of shot...

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  6. Surely frank wasn't that daft he expected anyone to believe his photos! I think he got fed up and treated it all as a big joke in the end. Perhaps it was a bit of a dig aswell at the sceptics he fell out with. You cudnt bully Frank.

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    1. The tone of his written notes would suggest otherwise

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  7. I thought I'd share with you my very brief chat with Mr Searle in the summer of 1981. At that time I had read somewhere that there was reported UFO activity around Loch Ness, so when I went to visit his exhibition and asked him about this. I wish I hadn't because he was fairly abrupt and dismissive and didn't seem to want to engage with me. I can't remember now exactly what he said but I just came away with a negative opinion of him.

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  8. Well the bags are packed and im off doing what Searle did all them years ago.Im never quite sure what the signal is like up in the highlands so i will try and keep posting on any developments while im there.Hopefully its going to be a great 6 months on the search. Take care all for now.

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    1. It is often on /off when im there, depending wherabouts I am. However, after seeing the latest video from the River Thames, maybe i should stay at home to look for a monster ;-)

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    2. You are basing out of Fort William, right?

      Why there?

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    3. My sister lives in Fort William so I use it as a base and spend a lot of time there, and my tent comes in handy around Loch Ness when the weather improves.

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    4. Hey Nessie Hunter , that footage from the Thames is rather good i'm thinking whale/dolphin.. not unknown up there although it would have had to pass the barrier .Now if only they would build a cable car from Urquhart castle straight across the loch the chances of sightings would improve greatly !!

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    5. Haha yes the sightings would improve i think bodge. I think whatever that is in the Thames is bigger than a dolphin, the cameraman did well to catch it on video as it wasnt up for long.

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  9. Good luck Nessie hunter! I will be up there myself in June! Might bump into u in the fort Augustus area. Roy.

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