Saturday, 6 January 2018

Colin Wilson and a Long Neck Sighting




I contacted the late Colin Wilson some years back with two questions over a period of time. It was 2011 and he was not well after a spinal operation and so I was glad to get any answer from him. Colin had a friendship with Nessie hunter, F. W. Holiday that went back to at least the early 70s as the two men shared a common interest in both the Loch Ness Monster and the paranormal.

After Holiday died in 1979, Wilson posthumously published his work, "The Goblin Universe" which Holiday had withheld under the conviction that the recent 1975 underwater Nessie photographs had swung the nature of the beast from the ghost like back to the more familiar biological. As a result, Holiday sent a more anodyne manuscript to Wilson on the general subject of lake monsters. That document has never seen the light of day.

My two questions were simple enough. What happened to that unpublished manuscript and who inherited all of Holiday's archives and research? The first question was never answered and Colin said he had no idea what happened to Holiday's research (though he implied it may have been with Holiday's mother, who was also now deceased).

Oh well, perhaps one day. In the meantime, Colin published an excerpt of a letter from a Dennis Stacy of San Antonio, Texas regarding a sighting he had back in 1972. This was published in "The Mammoth Encyclopedia of the Unsolved" on page 487, which I reproduce below.

In 1972 I went to the Loch with the express purpose of looking for Nessie. The idea was to camp along the shoreline for about two weeks and see what was to be seen. I had a very distinct feeling of confidence that if I went to the Loch I would see Nessie. I met some students on vacation from Oxford and stayed with them just above Drumnadrochit.

Every day I would take my camera down to the shoreline and have a good look around. Except for the day it was cold and drizzly and all of us went for a walk in the pinewoods there. A girl student and myself soon wandered off on our own from the others and made it down to the lochside. While we had been under the pines, the sky cleared remarkably and the wind died down. By the time we reached the loch, it was completely still and mirror-like. About three quarters of a mile across the loch, nearly under Crowley/Page’s Boleskine, was Nessie, showing about six feet of neck and head above the water. We had jumped up on the little low rock wall skirting the road.

We both saw it at the same time and nearly caused each other to tumble over the side by grabbing the other’s shoulders and pointing and saying, Look! Do you see what I see? And my camera, a 35mm, was miles away. My companion, however, had a little small, cheap camera, and the presence of mind to take a shot. All that was visible in the picture was a white wake, about a hundred feet in length, left by Nessie (or whatever), and which showed up clearly against the dark reflection of the trees on the other side in the water. Nessie herself? The head was definitely angular, as described. Some say like a horse, with the very pronounced wedge-shape. In my own experience, I liken it to the shape of a rattlesnake’s head, a square snout running back in a flare to the jaws. The length of neck out of the water, including the head, was five or six feet.

The impression it gave, in the sense that spiders and snakes seem to exude their own peculiar aura, was one not so much of danger as power. I mean it was really cutting a wake through the water, raising a little wavelet on either side of the neck. At times the head was lowered down and forward, and would sweep a small angle from side to side, as if feeding, by lowering the bottom part of the jaw just into the water. But it was really too far away to be absolutely certain of this last manoeuvre; the head, however, could be very plainly seen swinging from side to side. It was swimming thusly when we first saw it and after no more than a minute, simply sank lower and lower in the water, much in the same way a person comes down from a round of water-skiing, or a submarine submerges. (Letter to the author, 20 Sept 1980.)

Colin Wilson had actually published this story to demonstrate the prevalent idea of the "Loch Ness Hoodoo" where the monster is more likely to appear before you if you had left your camera at home. Wilson likens this to Nessie's "Jungian game of Hide and Seek".

The lesson I would take is to treat your camera like an American Express card - don't leave home without it. Nevertheless, it is disappointing that we don't have the picture taken by the simpler camera for examination. However, at an estimated distance of 1200 metres, one should not expect any game changers.

Sceptics will naturally suggest the witnesses merely saw a bird like a cormorant swimming along. I don't think the witnesses were that naive and stupid, but neither would I resist unto blood over this one since it was so far away. However, the sighting was not on my database and so I bring it forward to add its own little thread to the online tapestry of Loch Ness lore.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com





51 comments:

  1. Superb piece of information Roland. This incident has the ring of truth about it for me. Must've been gutting not to get good images of the creature. I've long thought that the Loch Ness "hoodoo" or "hex" which we sometimes see referred to, is in fact the shock and awe effect which you have highlighted in previous articles. The animals are so awe-inspiring that humans observing them can generally ONLY watch them, it's nigh on impossible to observe these animals and calmly operate a camera, unless the person is a long safe distance away, as in the case of Tim Dinsdale.

    Thank you for another fine article revealing another piece of the Loch Ness puzzle.

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    1. No "shock and awe" here, the guy forgot his camera!

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  2. Even ardent believers must get dismayed at the amount of sightings with no camera scenarios. There's really no excuse for a Nessie watcher to visit the lochside without a camera
    As for Will's unlikely Shock and Awe theory, the beast was 1000yds away, hardly in your face, and anyway the female companion managed to operate a camera without fainting or becoming hysterical.

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    1. Yes I do agree that 1000 yards isn't close. Some people do get mesmerised when they see the animals though. Shock and awe isn't a theory I invented. It's been mentioned even by an eyewitness. Alastair Boyd stated that the sight of these animals is so overwhelming that he couldn't imagine anyone being able to capture it on camera. This is a very real reaction, but I do agree that it's less likely at 1000 yards. That said, if I saw one of the animals at 1000 yards I don't think I'd be very calm!

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    2. John, at 1000+ yards, yes "shock and awe" is not a major factor, but neither is it a 0 or 1 choice - "shock and awe" is in inverse proportion to distance.

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  3. Could this witness be the Dennis Stacy of San Antonio, Texas who contributed an article on "Alternative theories: the search for the Grail" to Hilary Evans's compilation "UFOs 1947-1987"? (I happen not only to have that book but to be able to find it)

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    1. Hi, David, Dennis Stacy here. Yes, that's my Nessie sighting and I actually co-edited "UFO 1947-1997 Fifty Years of Flying Saucers" with Hilary. There's an outside chance I may be able to put my hands on that picture.

      Meanwhile, my current project is anomalistbooks.com

      Something for everyone!

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    2. Hi Dennis, if you email me at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com, I can put the picture up on the blog for further discussion.

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    3. Oh, how do you view your sighting 40+ years on?

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  4. I See loads of people at loch ness with no cameras so its believable to me. The longest recording sighting of a creature involved 8 people but not one had a camera photo...it happens!! Great to hear of another sighting GB and i love a story involving Mr Holiday...he is my favourite monster hunter of all time as i think he was closest to the answer!! Lets hope the new year brings a few more sightings to talk about... and maybe a photo or two. Cheers ..Roy

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  5. That’s a lot of detail for an eyeball sighting at 3/4 of a mile (ie about 1200m).

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  6. We used to hunt mammoths, we can charge head long into gunfire - mankind is a cool enough customer. I don't believe that shock and awe is a universal condition we can use as an excuse for poor photography in relation to Nessie. And as this story illustrates the lassie managed to get a photo no problem. If it happens to me I'll be honest and tell you but until then I'm not buying it.

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    1. Kyle I think some are calm in such situations, hence the myriad of images obtained of the animals. There are several in the public domain and probably many more in private collections.

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    2. Is that possible Will? I used to believe in those two films in the bank, the MacRea one and the other. GB did two great articles on both. The question is: what could anyone possibly gain from not showing such pictures or film? Most aren't ridiculed - Searle kept going for years while pushing complete garbage. I just don't see what there is to protect... yet I do hope you're correct!

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    3. Some people, in fact a lot of people (myself included though I don't have any Nessie photos) quite simply avoid all publicity in any shape or form. I've taken a newsworthy photo in the past of something else, and only my family have seen it. That's why I'm of the belief that there will be some interesting images in private homes around Britain and further afield. Of course while they're private they're of no use to the wider world as evidence.

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  7. Very intrigued as to your photo Will. Can you possibly mention the subject? I have never met anyone who's seen anything unusual except for 2 people who saw Nessie. Can I ask why you wouldn't wish to help shed light on the subject? Particularly as you know the value such an image would hold to us if it was regarding Nessie.

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    1. Kyle, it was nothing mysterious! I managed to capture a good photo of a very well known celebrity inspecting the front of their car immediately after they'd smashed it into a kerb bollard. Family members reckoned it would sell for a lot of money. No other photos like it appeared in the press. But I didn't ever sell the photo or even forward to anyone outside my family because I just didn't want any attention. And frankly I didn't think the subject of the photo deserved such an image in the tabloids either.
      So nothing Nessie-like, but certainly a photo that would be interesting to the public which still resides on an SD card in my house.

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  8. I'm with Will on this one. I think there are umpteen undisclosed photos of something in the Loch, and even one or two videos. They are not revealed for obvious reasons, ie ridicule etc, a topic that GB has already covered in the past.

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    1. I personally don't get the "obvious reasons" thing. If I saw the Loch Ness monster and knew it was 100% real and had an interesting photo of it I wouldn't hesitate to publicise it. What real embarrassment is there? I think we're all tough enough to handle some lame digs - everyone on this blog can hold their own in an argument and handle a little criticism -particularly if it related to a discovery that would literally redefine history and create the biggest biological and cultural sensation ever.

      Ps Meant to say: great article again GB. Read Colin's book about 20 years ago. It's a classic.

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    2. I would want a Nessie photo I took to be publicised, if I were lucky enough to capture one of camera. But I really wouldn't want my name all over the internet forever attached to a photo. Not from any embarrassment, just because I value my privacy.

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  9. Trouble is Kyle it wudnt matta how good the foto is people wudnt accept it wud be a large creature...and if the foto was really good people wud say its probably faked or fotoshopped...weve seen it over thee years. So wateva happens the chances there wud be a certain amount of ridicule...a lot of people wudnt want that! U cud get the clearest foto ever and people still wudnt believe ya.

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    1. Very true. But a single piece of evidence could restart the hunt the way Dinsdale's footage did. Maybe I'm a fool but I'd happily take any associated ridicule. These day I'd say I was on balance a non believer but if I saw the creature and knew it existed 100% I'd put up with any grief that came with that. The only "good" photo that I think gets really ridiculed is Doc Shiels' Muppet Photo and he practically invited that himself with the way he presented himself. I used to love that photo as a kid. And that Geordie who took the close up - but he was threatening to shoot it. Also Lachlan Stuart gets it pretty tight... okay, okay now I really think about it there is a lot of grief given out to anyone who takes an interesting photo. Really hope I get my own photo soon. I'll try to get to the Loch this year.

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  10. I would fear for Nessie s safety if a definitive photo was ever published...I think I might take the Ted Danson route.

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    1. The Ted Danson route made me chuckle Riitta. That's not a completely terrible film... well it is but the ending is quite sweet.

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  11. Another film that relocated most of its shooting elsewhere as Loch Ness didn’t look enough like Loch Ness. Go figure.

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    1. "Loch Ness" and Alten's "The Loch" both visit themes where the Loch Ness Monster enjoys the guardianship of local men from prying eyes. You couldn't say that about the current locals.


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    2. Had to laugh at the end of "The Water Horse" film where Nessie swims into an open sea devoid of any intervening 8 miles of canal or river ...

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    3. I (and a few others) was invited to the premier of The Water Horse at Eden Court, Inverness. When the camera first panned across the Loch, revealing the towering mountains that surround it, the whole audience burst out laughing.

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    4. I've not seen the Water Horse film, is it any good apart from the scenery issues? I quite enjoyed the Ted Danson Loch Ness film in an easy watching kind of way, but did feel that there was a gap in the market for a more serious fictional work on the mystery. I think people would be really interested in something like that. A less Disney type of film, something a bit more intriguing. What are people's thoughts?

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    5. I am not sure any Nessie films have been serious. Erik's project on the monster hunter side of the story sounds interesting. However script writers can't seem to occuy the middle ground between a cute and man-eating Nessie.

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    6. I'm unaware of this project. Is there a film in the making about the hunters?

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    7. The serious side of Loch Ness research is a subject which would do well at the box office in my opinion. Maybe one day someone will go for it, backed by a big enough budget. Fingers crossed.

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    8. No more sarcastic comments, thank you.

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  12. Yes, when you consider that a US film company is happy to use Glasgow locations as a stand in for Philadelphia [ how does that make financial sense ? ] it's strange that the actual environs of Loch Ness aren't Scottish enough looking to be used as a location for a film about , erm, Loch Ness.

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    1. See the film by Comic Strip called "The Strike" for a perfect view on Hollywood's take on things. Why let the truth spoil a great story or a great visual? That's why indie films are often (but not always) better.

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  13. I can see it now, Matt Damon as grizzled Nessie hunter Dinsdale, the maverick Ted Holiday played by Denzel Washington and the love interest supplied by disgraced alcoholic zoologist Reese Witherspoon. A cameo by Billy Connolly as the indefatigable Alex Campbell.

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  14. If you're talking films - what about Herzog's "Incident at Loch Ness"? Shot on location and wonderfully presenting ideas about fiction, hoax and reality. These are issues intrinsic to the history of Nessie that grappled with on this blog and that animate our conversations.

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  15. INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS isn’t a Herzog film — it’s a Zak Penn mockumentary about a Herzog documentary.

    But I agree that it’s great. There’s a lot going on in that film.

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  16. Incident At Loch Ness is really good, early the best fictional work on The Loch. I'm a film maker myself. Often think about what angle I'd take. I'd either make it a drama set in '33/'34 or about the whole of the events in the 60s. Don't know who they'd be but it would star Peter Capaldi in full Thick Of It swear mode and the guy from Gregory's Girl.... John Gordon Sinclair. Oh, and Tilda Swinton.

    PS GB I'm not being sarcastic.

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  17. Does anyone know if any new LN documentaries are in the pipeline? When I think back over the years to how many I've seen, the thought I have is that pretty much every angle has now been covered. Eyewitnesses, photos, films, hoaxes, psychology, biology, geography, chemistry, you name it, it's been included in a documentary at least once. It's hard to imagine seeing a new one which isn't a rehash. When scanning technology really advances and we can properly 'see' the underwater in 3D over wide areas in one instance, perhaps the subject will be ripe for a new journalistic approach.

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    1. Possibly two documentaries.

      There is one I hope to be involved with later this year and there was the crew who filmed the fake Nessie back in May and simultaneously facebooked their presence at Loch Ness, don't know anything more about that.

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    2. Could be very interesting. I don't recall seeing a Roland Watson on a documentary. It would be really positive to have someone who approaches the subject with your vigour. You remind me of the pioneers who led searches in the 1960s and 70s. The Tim Dinsdale of the internet age! I'm certain your input will give the documentary a boost, Roland. Would you mind keeping us all updated as it progresses please?

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  18. Rolland was on that channel 5 programme last year or the year before... Sorry but I canny mind what it was called but it's on YouTube. It wasn't a bad show but it was very skeptical. Rolland came across very well in my opinion; serious and thoughtful and added some balance.

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    1. If you or anyone else has a link to the YouTube video I would like to see it. Thank you Kyle.

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    2. No problem Will. I think it's this but I can't watch it on my phone to check!

      https://youtu.be/w-Ouoggcp9Y

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    3. Thank you again! Roland Watson comes across in that video as a very positive, energetic force. Also in the brief time we get to see him he appears an easygoing, nice chap. The sort of person you'd happily spend a few hours in a pub with. This mystery is in very good hands!
      I was particularly intrigued by the cameras he ties to trees, they must surely get stolen quite often? They're like Roland's eyes, peeping across the water hour after hour, day after day. Have they ever recorded anything unusual and Nessie-like, Roland? It's fantastic that this on-site research is taking place.

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