Saturday 31 January 2015

Nessie Cartoons Through The Years

I ran an article a while back showing how the general populace and the media perceived the Loch Ness Monster through drawings and satire. I came across some more cartoons recently and have put them on here for comment and display.

Going back to the earliest days of the Nessie phenomenon, the Daily Express published this cartoon on the 14th December 1933, shortly after the first picture of the monster, taken by Hugh Gray, came to the world's attention. Click on the cartoon for a better image. The text of each cartoon is shown under it.

Diver to Nessie, "I can not help you to go, but good advice: stay at the bottom and have fun!"

Whether the artist referred to the Hugh Gray photo to draw his Nessie is arguable, but they do bear some resemblance to each other. The scene of various sceptics and party poopers trying to solve the mystery and consign it to history seems to meet with short shrift by the cartoonist. Whether there was anything in the loch or not, the newspapers wanted the story to run and stuff the naysayers!

The next cartoon is from The Daily Herald, some time in 1933. This is probably the least Nessie-like Nessie I have come across and one wonders where on earth the template for this monster came from. The backdrop to this cartoon was the discussion in Parliament as to what to do with this strange new phenomenon in a remote Scottish loch.

LOCAL RESIDENT: "Ye poor feckless beastie - get oot o' sicht while ye're safe! D'ye no ken the Hoose o' Commons,  Nineteen-thirty-three, has its eye on ye!"

From the Daily Mirror, 5th May 1971. The sign on the left says "Loch Ness Monster, £1,000,000 Reward". In 1971, whisky makers, Cutty Sark, offered an award of one million pounds to anyone who could capture the Loch Ness Monster. However, they began to get cold feet, and so asked Lloyds of London to underwrite the contest. The insurance company initially refused, saying the risk was too great. After being called chickens by the press, Lloyds agreed, on the condition that they got to keep Nessie!

"After all, what's a million quid these days."

The Daily Mail published the next cartoon on 3rd April 1972. It came after the police were unwittingly involved in the interception at the Forth Road Bridge of an alleged dead Nessie being taken out of Scotland. To the police's embarrassment, it turned out to be a dead elephant seal and an April Fool's Joke.

"Ignore it, Hamish McPherson - I'm damned if we'll be taken in again!"

From the Daily Sketch of 11th September 1970. A piece of newspaper lies beside Nessie with the headline, "Sex Potions in Loch to lure Nessie". This was a gift to cartoonists as the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau began to use the ground up reproductive organs of various animals such as eels as bait introduced into the loch. It didn't work.

"Ah warned ye if ye went swimmin' ye'd get covered wi' the stuff!"

On the 11th September 1973, The Sun parodied the arrival a few days earlier of a Japanese expedition to find Nessie. Despite having a miniature submarine at their disposal, the search was an unqualified failure as they headed back two months later having found some non-descript bones and recorded a strange noise.

 "Ah so. Honourable Nessie - unable to resist traditional Japanese bait!"

And to finally bring us up to date, here's one of the many cartoons depicting Nessie's view on the recent Scottish Referendum on independence (Daily Mail, 10th September 2014). More cartoons to follow in a future post.

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Thursday 29 January 2015

The Nessie Effect

People love a mystery and they don't get much better than the Loch Ness Monster. So when tourist agency VisitBritain decided on Nessie as their mascot for promoting the Loch Ness area and beyond, it was a no-brainer.

Why that's? Because there is a monster in Loch Ness. Now at this point, sceptics will guffaw and splutter, but the Nessie Effect is one reason why some of their bank accounts are a bit bigger than they might have been.

You see, the large numbers of tourists filing through the exhibition centres and then coughing up for the boat cruises and souvenirs are lining the pockets of people who don't even believe there is a monster in Loch Ness. That must be a real weight on the conscience. It is certainly a weight on their wallets.

Then again, maybe this is all not so hypocritical. After all, some will subject their customers to their sceptical theories once they have them in the middle of the loch and they can't swim away! Do these tourists ever come back once their expectations about the monster are ruined by these people? I think, probably not.

Sure, some will claim tourist numbers are up. I say they could only have gone up after the depths of the Credit Crunch. I also argue the numbers would be higher if people were more positive about the creature they consign to mythology. In other words, the Nessie you will see promoting the cause of filling the coffers, will probably not be too far removed from the green, fluffy tat that inhabits the souvenir shops that line the loch. 

To some extent, I agree with hoaxer, George Edwards - the real Nessie needs to be promoted more. But I don't agree with his methods of doing it via fake photographs. I say, take your stand and argue the case against less than convincing theories from the other side.

Most people will see nothing when they arrive at Loch Ness, some will see something that is readily explainable, others will see the monster in its various degrees of awe-inspiring splendour. Get along there, take in the scenery, enjoy the facilities and don't forget to take the lens cap off if Nessie puts in an appearance!

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Sunday 25 January 2015

Boat Collision With Nessie?

I caught this article on two alleged collisions between boats and the Loch Ness Monster. The first I did not recall and wonder if anyone knows any more about it? Original article here but reproduced here before it is pulled.

In the second incident, retired truck driver Stanley Roberts has revealed that a holiday cruiser, he owned was immobilised in a tragic collision on the loch near Urqhuart Castle. An elderly man aboard the cruiser suffered a heart attack and died following the incident around 1978, says Mr Roberts, from Lancashire who had rented the boat to the man’s family. Four bolts were stripped from the propshaft  and the propeller was damaged after the boat was pulled from the water at Fort Augustus.

Boatyard workers who then examined the cruiser "found flesh and black skin an inch thick along the propshaft", said Roberts, of St Helens, Lancashire, telling what had happened when he got a phone call from the boatyard telling him there had been an accident. He said, “The workers chiseled the flesh away and threw it into the Caledonian Canal. I said you stupid b-----s. It would have proved that Nessie was here.”

Stan, now 85, is in no doubt that the monster was most likely involved in a drama involving his cruiser. A family renting it collided with an unknown object near Urquhart Castle. "The propeller stopped turning. The family were very alarmed", said Stan. "The old man had a heart attack and seemed to have died. There was no radio on board so they  let off distress flares to get a tow back to Fort Augustus. The grandfather was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was found to be dead."

The rental managers phoned Stan at his home in St Helens to tell him what had happened. "They simply told me there had been an accident. It was only later that I learned more - what had been found on the underside of the boat when they pulled it out of the water." 

Told of the boat drama, Adrian Shine, of the Loch Ness project, said it was “very frustrating". With modern DNA techniques we could have learned a lot about exactly  what had caused the damage." Stan kept the cruiser on the loch for two years. 

I, too, express frustration that none of this black flesh was recovered for further examination. Black skin suggests it was not seals or dolphins, but then again, I don't know whether blackness occurs during subsequent decomposition; but it cannot be discounted that the sceptics' oft required, but seldom seen seal could have been involved.

This seems a new story, but if anyone knows of this case, can they leave a comment. Mr. Roberts then tells of his own personal sighting.

His reason for being convinced that Nessie was involved was partly an  earlier encounter he had himself. "I had just bought the boat and my family were up at Fort Augustus for a two-week trial run. The water was rough but the boat handled really well. That night I couldn't sleep so around 5am I got up to stretch my legs.

"The water was dull silver, flat as a mirror. I looked down the loch towards Foyers and I saw a black dot which I thought might have been a local fisherman. The dot continued to grow taller as it came towards where we were moored. "Then I thought to myself, 'There's no outboard motor!" It was then I realised its head and neck were like polished black leather.

"It gently lowered its head - and not a splash. It was so beautiful, you wouldn't believe it. It was like a nuclear sub going down. The bow wave travelling across the loch, bounced my boat like a cork. My wife was awakened by the commotion. And she told me off for rocking the boat.

The second incident is known to Loch Ness researchers and involves Lt Commander Francis Russell Flint in 1943. With the help of Henry Bauer, these details were forthcoming.

Details only emerged in 1969 when Lt Commander Francis Russell Flint wrote a letter to the Daily Telegraph. Flint said he was in charge of a Navy motor launch travelling from Leith to Swansea with about 20 men on board. Near Fort Augustus travelling at about 25 knots, “There was the most terrific jolt,” he said.  Everybody was knocked back. And then we looked for’ard. And there it was. A very large animal form disappeared in a flurry of water. It was definitely a living creature not debris or  anything like that."

Flint, who died in 1977, talked about the incident for years, said family members. He told author and broadcaster Nicholas Witchell that he signalled the Admiralty, “Regret to inform your Lordships, damage to starboard bow following collision with Loch Ness Monster. Proceeding at reduced speed to Fort Augustus.”

Flint said the Navy were not impressed with his signal. He got a “bit of a blast” when he returned to base. However Flint was an official war artist and painted a picture of the Loch Ness incident which went on display at a gallery in Leeds. It is not known where the picture is currently.
Sceptical cynics will suggest Flint made up the story to cover up his navigational inadequacies as he hit one of the local rocks. Funny how he kept talking about a monster into retirement ...

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