People often ask me how I got involved in the weird world of Forteana.
Well, there were a couple of particular reasons: (1) my dad worked on radar while in the British Royal Air Force in the early 1950s and was involved in a couple of UFO incidents which, eventually, he chose to tell me about; and (2) when I was a little kid, my parents took me to Loch Ness for a day, and, as a result, I became fascinated, excited and enthralled by the mystery of the monster.
But, there was another reason too. I grew up literally only about a five-minute drive from the scene of one of the most notorious events in early 20th Century British history - the strange affair of one George Edalji.
A resident of the town of Great Wyrley, Edalji was convicted of slashing and maiming horses in 1903 - events that provoked outrage and fear, and even attracted the attention of none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who firmly believed Edalji to be innocent of the attacks.
But, there were a lot of Fortean aspects to the Edalji affair too. Rumors flew around the area at the time that the attacks were the work of a "hypnotized ape;" "a malicious aviator" or huge bird; a pack of trained wild-boar (yeah, I know that's an oxymoron of the highest order!); or diabolical occultists.
The photo above (taken by me in June 2010) shows St. Mark's Church, Great Wyrley, at which George Edalji's father, the Reverend Shapurji Edalji, was the vicar.
Who would have guessed that such a pleasant-looking place would be so tied to such dark secrets and diabolical events?
Whatever the truth of the matter, the story of George Edalji became legendary - and still is to the people of Great Wyrley. And, growing up just down the road from where all the old carnage, killing, and high-strangeness occurred is yet another - little-known - reason why I gravitated to the world of all-things weird...