Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Analysis of the Hugh Gray Photograph

 


I was invited by the Society for Scientific Exploration to write an article on the famous Hugh Gray photograph of the Loch Ness Monster for their Journal of Scientific Exploration. This has now been published online and is available for viewing from their Summer 2022 issue at this front cover link. The article is basically a revised and updated work on a collection of various pieces I wrote for my blog over the last eleven years. Arguments have been added, removed or modified and hardened where they needed to be. 

Needless to say, like any picture claiming to be a close up of the creature, it has generated controversy from the first day it was published in December 1933. Unlike any other picture, it had no predecessor, it was the first claimed photograph of the creature coming about seven months after the Inverness Courier article which started the mystery off. Here we have a picture which has levels of details that others do not have, yet it frustrates as people debate what they are actually looking at. You may have your own opinion, read over the article and see if that opinion is confirmed or changed.

As a bonus, look down the journal contents and you will find a review of my book, "The Water Horses of Loch Ness" by Henry Bauer,

Comments can also be made at the Loch Ness Mystery Blog Facebook group.

The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com




80 comments:

  1. Shadows lengthen and shorten according to the sun's position, reflections are a mirror image of the object regardless of the angle of the sun.

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  2. Added to article: As a bonus, look down the journal contents and you will find a review of my book, "The Water Horses of Loch Ness" by Henry Bauer,

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  3. Outstanding job, Roland. Succinct, clear, and with just enough detail to keep the whole issue in front of the reader through the various complexities. And indispensable exploration of this mysterious photo. Thank you.
    Steve Bastasch

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  4. Again with the Hugh Gray photo? Okay, okay so you're doing it at the behest of of the Journal. Well here's my take. I have always believed that of all the classical photos, that one stands the best chance of being bona- fidee. That's a long article which I'll have to read later. Probably way over my head in the technical details, but my gut feeling is that it shows an anomalous animate object. But I get the gist of your argument. Where I beg to differ with you GB, unless you've changed your mind in the journal article, is your steadfast contention that it depicts some type of over-sized head. I think you likened it to be eel-like. In my thinking, that would not conform to the small head on a long neck of the classic archetype for the LNM, unless you're talking about another type of monster.

    As for the monster on land photos, If I had to pick one as being genuine, it would have to be, hmm, let me see, oh yeah, the Ian Monkton "Roast Chicken" Only because that is the only one!!!!

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    1. Just saw on youtube last night a video on a leopard seal, can grow to 12 feet, not saying that is nessie, but the seal had the head and a longer neck and flippers. looked like some of the nessie sightings, could Nessie be an adapted very large seal. that os population that is going on and out of the Loch?

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    2. Yes, I would need to develop some thoughts on where that head fits into the picture.

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    3. I want to backtrack a little here as regards to the size of the supposed head. If you take the pic in it's totality, you do get a sense of a long sinuous neck attache to the head. But I still think that is one big head! And as before, like I have stated, there is too much blur to conclusively say it depicts any true size.

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  5. An intriguing amalgum of the best bits from of all RW's Gray photo essays. Even it is a fake, what the hell is it a fake of ? As Father Ted stated Is it a small creature close up or a leviathan far away ?
    My spleen was clutched by a cold hand when I read that Gray has seen something unexplained on the loch not once but 5 times. Caution is advised, as they say on the telly when something unremarkable is shown.
    If we are men [ and women ] of science, statistically speaking, that amount of sheer luck goes against all the data we have re amount of hours loch gazing and actual sightings.

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    1. Ah John, having you as our in-house skeptic, it is always a delight to read some of your colorful incisive, biting prose and witticisms. What a contrast to my inane commentary when I'm in the throes of a foggy state of inebriation. Keep up the good work.

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    2. You're in good company John, Dylan Thomas, Brendan Beehan, Graham Greene, James Joyce and Ernest Hemmingway, all pissheads but brilliant scribes. We await your masterpiece.

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    3. Hugh Gray's other sightings seem unremarkable when described - bow wakes without visible origin, etc. If he was a faker, I suspect he would jazzed them up a bit. Statistically speaking a given individual should never win the lottery, but people do.

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  6. Well, even the skeptics generally agree the photo shows a living animal. But it's not a dog or swan imo! I'd like it to be the LNM, but if not then it could be a close-up of an eel or something like that. Doesn't really look like any extant species I can think of, though!

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    1. Therein lies the problem with establishing conclusively whether this is an animal and in fact the LNM. There is no foreground or background to give scale to the object. Which brings me to think, couldn't knowing the type of camera used and it's focal length, field of view and all that, trigonometry and all that fancy maths, along with the known location of the picture taker give some clue as to the size of the object?

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    2. Ever since I've seen the closeup picture Roland highlighted under the caption "Is this Nessie Looking at You".....all I can see whenever I see that picture, is the head at the right..... Call it paradoelia or whatever, but, I do think the picture is that of a genuine animal. I also think Roland hit the nail on the head with his up lose and personal picture of the 'face'

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    3. looks like an eel head, or maybe a seal to me!

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    4. Hi Latman. I see the same, but I know that can't be true. If it is, it's one big eel, or dare I say, a giant salamander! I think we have been conditioned to see what Roland has suggested. Ah, the power of suggestion. And then of course pareidolia sets in.

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    5. It much more than paradolia..its reality of an animals head. The paradolia claim is silly.

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    6. Go to steve plambecks giant salamander blog..he nailed it , IMO,as 2 giant salamanders possibly copulating.

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    7. Well that's really silly too! Sorry Steve.

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    8. Anyway Poofy, Steve Plambeck, to his credit, does a lot of what if out of the box thinking with the giant salamander theory. That notion has been around for as long as the implausible plesiosaur theory. Both improbable in my opinion. What do I think a Nessie is? Beats the hell out of me. Some type of unknown, undocumented creature for sure.

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    9. A new entrant, is that Mr. or Mrs Poofy? Copulating? Are you serious?

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    10. I don't think Steve Plambeck suggested that. Our new entry "Poofy" is having a laugh.

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    11. I just checked Steve's blog and it shows a figure of one salamander on top of another to show two different aspects of the tail appearing as a neck and head with hump. Yeah, don't think Steve is suggesting there is whoopee going on there. Poofy has a dirty mind. LOL

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  7. An old famous foto indeed! But was there any more? Surely he wudnt just snap one foto if he thought he was seeing a monster? Did other foto's go missing?? Any more foto's to show where he actually was on the loch or even proove it was loch ness? That's what I wud of done if I thought I'd snapped the monster! I take it the other foto's have since gone missing?. Cheers

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    1. Gray says he took five pics. Only one showed anything after developing. The photo is cropped, like many Nessie pics which make it into newspapers.

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    2. Have u seen the uncropped version? Has anyone? Pity it's not available.. Wud be good to know its 100% loch ness! I know Mr Raynor had doubts about the location Mr Gray said he was at. It is an iconic foto of nessie though as it was the first.. It will always be part of the mystery!

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  8. This photo never did anything for me. I think its a small object/ animal taken close by. I believe Gray was evasive when questioned as to how big it was,and how far away.He also had sightings on 5 other occasions. No other photos? Amazing luck. Did he see any resemblance to what he photographed previously?
    Why only one photo?
    Does anyone else think the water ripples are reminiscent of the infamous fake "surgeons "photo .
    There's compelling testimony about large creatures in loch ness but this photo doesn't add anything to that in my humble.

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    1. I agree a hundy p with your issues: saw it loads of times and saw it on this occasion for several minutes but only took one photo. Highly suspicious. However, the image itself is intriguing and the fact that Constance Whyte found him legit many years later counts for a lot. To me this is still in the maybe camp. And I know GB swears by it which sways me a bit more too.

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    2. I'm with you on that one, Pm.

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    3. These are not issues to me. Where does Gray come across as evasive? He took five, only one came out.

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  9. The new uncropped print is interesting and like the uncropped surgeon's photo has a huge amount of foreground that reduces the impact of the subject, but still no shoreline beyond the creature. Has the camera make and model been established ? film or glass plate ? focal length ? A box brownie type camera with standard 75mm lens and 120 size film would give surprising results at close range with a tripod, but hand held, fiddling about trying to wind the film on, looking through that tiny viewfinder with shaky hands, it's understandable how 4 of the other shots were duds. Finding
    a full frame print from the original neg would be awesome.
    I wonder where the Daily Record had its premises in the 1930s.

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    1. I enquired at the Daily Record in Glasgow, but nothing in the archives. There must be a full uncropped picture somewhere ...

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  10. In the first segment, this guy says that he thinks the photo is a fake, also believes it's the worn out dog with stick. That once you see it as that, it is hard to unsee it. Well, how come I never see it as such? Must be a ghost dog. And how come only the "stick" shows up more or less distinct? Meh, everything is subjective and we see what we want to see.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4htQi4clTMU&ab_channel=AllTop5s

    On another front, Eoin claims another sighting on the new webcams. Nothing to see there but a slight darkening in the water. We've gone from blobs to smudges. Sorry Eoin.

    https://www.coasttocoastam.com/article/watch-loch-ness-monster-spotted-twice-on-newly-installed-webcams/

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  11. LOL! I just saw the post made by Steve Feltham on the Loch Ness Mystery Blog Facebook group. He says Gary Campbell will no longer accept anymore dubious Webcam videos unless it includes "CLEAR FACIAL FEATURES. " This is all in jest right? What's next for Nessie ID card checks?

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    1. lol
      "It's me, Nessie the lake monster!"
      "Yeah right, pal. Prove it!"

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    2. Not sure what it means. The Gray picture here has facial features, lol.

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    3. So does the Rines "Gargoyle" head shot. LOL

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  12. Haha the mind boggles!!! I bet some of these people are fun ar parties lol .. Cheers

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  13. In my opinion, it is a magnificent work, interesting, well documented and argued. I see no reason why one should not go back, as many times as necessary, to any photograph or testimonial to analyze it from all possible angles.

    One more thing, my academic training is not scientific, but humanist, but I think I remember in the physics subjects I took in high school, that there was something called "viscosity coefficient" (or something similar) of liquids. I don't know if it could be applied in some way through photographs to try to estimate the size of objects in the water. I mention it because I seem to remember that someone commented that one way to estimate the size of, for example, a model of a ship in a marine-themed movie was precisely the viscosity of the water, which would make the drops and waves appear too large for what would be expected from a full-size ship.

    Perhaps it is something that has already been done, in that case, I apologize; In any case, I remember it that way or maybe this thing about boats and movies was something I imagined when the teacher told us about it in class... three decades, ago!

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    1. Wave sizes have been mentioned before in regard to some photographs, but only in a vague qualitative way. I have seen no attempt to quantify it into an applicable method.

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    2. I remember years ago some speculation that the head and neck in the surgeons photo could be sticking out of the water six foot if the waves were six inches in height. If we had understood that they were only ripples things could have been a lot different.

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    3. I think the surgeon photo might be real.

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    4. A real fake? You're not the only one that thinks that. There are Nessie believers that think it's "real" also. Even professional cryptozoologists. There's something here for everybody.

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  14. That looks like a giant eel and i have said it all along. Nessie cant be anything else. My work is done here now as i believe i know the identity of Nessie, so no need for further study anymore 4 me. I believe we will always have a Nessie as for the huge amounts of eels in Loch ness and 1 or 2 will always grow to giant sizes. I have enjoyed this blog but im now conviced a giant eel is the culprit, so i bid farewell 2 you all. Take care lads.

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    1. You won't stay away. I've been frustrated myself and said I was done with all this LNM stuff, but it draws me back. This is not something to easily walk away from when it has occupied most of your life. It's an addiction or an obsession, ask Roland about it. Even the skeptics can't leave it alone. You'll be back.

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    2. My wife thinks I'm nuts because I sit staring at the Loch Ness webcams in the evening haha!

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    3. Well these new webcams are of better resolution and closer to the loch, hopefully something concrete will show up someday. When they capture something poking its's head and neck out, followed by a back or humps, they will have proved their value.

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    4. About forty years ago I was on a family holiday with my wife and young son. When we were visiting Urquhart Castle there were a lot of tourists there also. My wife said to me "out of all these people you are the only silly buggar looking at the water" and I remember saying something like "well you never know what might surface for a couple of seconds".

      Forty years on and I am still looking.

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  15. John Alvarado, well you can never say never pmpl but i have my answers. I believe it can only be a giant eel, only my opinion of course. Talking of opinions i sense most photo's or video's off the new webcams wont be shown 2 the public? What is the point of having them on the loch if we cant see the results? Take care all and nice getting involved in these blogs on a legend of a story. Farewell.

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    1. I don't understand why video of the monster wouldn't be shown. This would only validify it's existence and would be good for tourism and the local economy. After all that is the main purpose of the cams, monster or not.

      Farewell and goodbye then.

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  16. If we bin forever the Wilson photo, the Finlay, Torquil McLeod encounters, the Spicer, Grant and Munro land sightings and the Dinsdale film, a mungous eel fits the bill for the Gray photo, and the majority of mid loch multi-hump, no head and neck sightings. Job done, all down to the Allcock and Brown, mine's a large one [ Oooo, matron ]

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    1. Well then, if it is a large or giant eel, so be it. The only question is, how big was it. I guess we'll never know for sure.

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  17. There was a recent sonar hit at Lake Champlain that's very interesting. I still believe any breakthroughs at LN will come from sonar rather than photos. Barring that, I continue to use the John MacLean sighting as a reference when considering what might be swimming around the Loch. Until proven otherwise, my best guess is that MacLean described the real creature (whatever that truly is).

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    1. Here it is:

      https://www.coasttocoastam.com/article/watch-lake-champlain-monster-spotted-on-sonar/

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    2. Me thinks we doth protest too much!

      https://www.coasttocoastam.com/article/nessie-purists-petition-for-webcam-reports-to-be-stricken-from-official-record/

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    3. That's the one, John. Now I wonder what it could be . . .

      Sorry for taking this O/T, but the researcher there has made some questionable claims in the past. As to the sonar data itself, I've not read any follow-up yet.

      I hope there's some meaty sonar data from Loch Ness that Roland is able to delve into in the future.

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    4. Ron; agreed on the MacLean sighting. There's a clue I think can tell if a sighting is believable. That's if the witness describes countershading, a type of camouflage with a dark back and light/white belly often found in aquatic animals (penguins, orcas, dolphins, many fish). It's not really the kind of detail you'd invent imo, unless one is a hoaxing marine biologist!

      (Ps: color varies between individuals so all won't necessarily have it)

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    5. Ken, good point. Dinsdale noticed a splotch on the flank of his creature via binoculars (?), which wasn't picked up by his camera, a detail that's been ignored by skeptics of his sighting who think he filmed a boat.

      Final time, re: MacLean. I don't know what he saw, but based on nothing more than reading the reports and Roland's discourse, it seems like the best choice. If the conversation turns to eels or the Gray object, et al, I'm okay with that. We're all just trying to figure it out.

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  18. Agree on webs..i wud like to see anything filmed to judge for myself! It's all bout opinions.. Nobody is right or wrong.. Same as sonar contacts.. One expert tells u one thing and another tells u summit else!! Where does that leave people who don't understand them?? Cheers

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  19. Recent sonar readings in Loch Ness we were told by the sonar people cudnt be shoals of fish! Same was said recently of a huge sonar target they thought was an ancient shark in the ocean! A week later they said it was after all a huge shoal of mackeral!! So either a shoal of fish can give off theses dense sonar targets or they can't... Which one?? ?

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    1. Good sonar easily differentiates between schools of fish and large marine animals..

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    2. Does it?? So why did Craig Wallace at Loch Ness say it was too far down to be a shoal of fish?... And the shark incident I mentioned was picked up with top sonar equipment and the people in the know said it was a lone creature only to change their minds within a week to a shoal of mackeral!.. Cheers

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    3. ... And Loch Ness does not have "large shoals of fish". And the sonar contact would look different. And the boat at Fort Augustus would be very familiar with large shoals of fish if there were any.

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    4. How would a large water tank show up on sonar Steve?

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    5. Are you still peddling that water tank nonsense, Roy? Give it a rest. A dumped water tank floating in mid-loch and fooling all those sonar equipped boats? Look, you dump a plastic water tank and one of two things happens. It floats on the surface or it sinks to the bottom. You claim so-and-so said this and that. I am not buying it, someone is lying to someone. Like Nessie, we want proof, perhaps a photograph of the corner of the tank floating with a pipe sticking out. A nice hump and neck picture. LOL!

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    6. How could a sonar hit distinguish the target as a prehistoric shark?

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    7. Not to mention the object that sonar detected wasn't there later on?

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    8. I agree, Steve. I have never heard of shoaling in Loch Ness or seen any photos of such a thing.

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  20. No need for the nastiness lol..u might not believe a water tank went into the loch.. But I do.!! !. It was actually a serious question? What wud it look like on sonar? What do inanimate objects look like?? I don't know that's why I asked!!.. Oh at least u seem to think sumone did actually tell me now...Unlike last year when you said I made it up to get at Mr Feltham!!!! Things are looking up!! !! Lol.. . Cheers

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    1. That's the ticket Roy! Don't let anything fluster you, it's all in fun and conviviality. When I first came here, every little thing set me off. I was a hated and reviled man. I'm not as bad as I used to be. That's what probably drove me to drinking. LOL

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    2. Quite simple, water tanks do not float around at a depth of 500ft.

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  21. Oh.. and I didn't say it was dumped in the loch.. I was told it rolled down into the Fort augustus canal! ! So my thinking is is that if ur right and it is sitting on the bottom then what would it show up on the boats sonar ...The boats who use the canal...Would it be a similar image to the to the sonar contacts obtained near Invermoriston?? I asked Mr feltham cus he seems to be bit clued up sonar....cheers

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    1. The canal is nowhere near the point of the sonar contact. A water tank that drops into the canal is a hazard to shipping and must be removed ASAP. Not a problem since it will float and just be pulled back to the canal shore. This tank story is ... a ... non ... starter!

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  22. And I agree.. A water tank with a pipe sticking up wud make a good foto... On a par with ur Jonathon bright photo LOL

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  23. And if ur still saying Im making up the story then it's simple.. The person who told me knows Mr Feltham and Mr Feltham know him!! I'm not into name dropping on social media but if Mr Feltham wants to drop me an e mail I will tell him who told me!!

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    1. I don't think that is necessary. It is a bullshit story.

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