"Have you actually read any of my books or blog posts?" I ask.
"No" is the usual response. But, hey, they've seen the nutty stories in the newspapers and magazines and the "joke" items on TV news. And when you see programmes such as Ghost Adventures, Mountain Monsters and all those others you have to admit that, based on those, walking the line of counter-actuality makes you look like a nut.
However, people who are supposed to be friends take this attitude because you are the friend who is "completely mental". And, no, they haven't even taken up your offer to lend them your books.
How do you manage to explain in a few sentences things that you have crammed in your brain since you were a child? You cannot. Sasquatch? "Snicker. That's a man in a suit!" Or how about "sea monsters"? I prefer to call them unidentified sea creatures because we are finding new species all the time in our seas and oceans and even newspapers and magazines in the 19th century knew (though they treated it as a joke) that there was a seasonal migration of unusual sea inhabitants: "It is only June well before the month of September when the famous sea serpent is usually sighted" but if any of those creatures still exist in numbers -who knows. All a "joke" of course.
Poltergeist activity I have seen for myself and I have no doubt of that because of the circumstances at the time. Poltergeist are more than likely creatures of the Id. And creatures of the Id can be so solid that a person can see, feel and even smell them -ask Ruth. I am not saying that spooky little goblins are invisibly throwing things about. Nor some very angry dead person. The secret lies within the human mind. "You are completely mental!" they say.
If I ran across a field, through woods, climbed the rock conveyor belt of the largest quarry in Europe, sat in a car as the driver just swerved in time to miss a bus -all to chase unexplained lights then I did so based on knowledge and not expecting to get gang-probed by a bunch of aliens. My own close-to observations of strange light phenomena: "Oh, you've seen flying saucers and little green men!" Where did I ever say or write such a thing? Never. But seeing still makes me a "nut" in the year 2016. It's almost like living in some dark age of blind science at times.
A strange, lizard like creature seen at the roadside. Large "non Native" cats seen by people around the country -the good footage never gets shown or if it does some TV celebrity shows a badly cut up version and despite what is seen states: "It is not" and the Public say "Well, he is on TV -he'd know!" We have good plaster casts of tracks, hairs, DNA evidence/results and we have the evidence of the kills. If I presented plaster casts of fox tracks, some bagged fox hair, DNA tests showing the animal seen was a fox and footage of a fox (no matter how shaky or unclear -I need to get a new camera unless someone wants to sponsor me?) there will be a declaration of "That is a fox!" Exactly the same if a badger. If a deer. If a domestic cat. But if it all says "lynx" or "puma" or even "Panthera pardus" well, clearly "it ain't"
Why do a lot of prominent naturalists, zoologists and others talk to me freely about these animals -even state they believe these animals are there- yet will not say so publicly? I think I have answered that one but let us add in the fact that funding they receive or donations for research could be stopped because those with the money, having no knowledge on the matters, really do not want to give money to "a loony." In some institutions, even with evidence, governmental work means speaking out could lose you your job -and it has happened.
If naturalists, zoologists, the police forces I have advised between 1977-2007 with all their reports, photographs and evidence were to get together and issue a joint statement after a discussion what change would it make? Not much. People would know that medium sized cats, like other species, have been living and breeding in the UK for at least three centuries. Locals have already known it in some areas for many decades. That's it. Despite the cranks in the cryptozoology and "Fortean" circles and their various claims I can tell you that no person has ever been attacked or killed by a large cat living in the wild in the UK since 1799. Captive animals in circuses -yes. But they are shot and not living feral.
We know all of this. Saying it makes you a "crank".
This is the most basic of subjects: wildlife. Nothing "paranormal" or "other dimensional" just, as one police force logs them in its day-book, an "ABC" -Another Bloody Cat. Fact.
Unidentified sea creatures. Again -natural history/wildlife. David Rains Wallace in Neptune's Ark (University of California Press, 2007, p.XIX) refers to whale watching and there being odd things at sea.
The Canvey Island Dead Aquatic ("humanoid") Creatures of 1944, 1953 and 1954 I started looking into in the mid 1970s thanks to my late friend Franklyn A. Davin-Wilson. Finally solved it all beyond doubt in 2008. Various "Mystery Canids" in the UK I got involved in, again 'thanks' to Franklyn, in 1976. All wrapped up in 2011 in Canids.
I doubt I can afford 30-45 years to look into more mysteries!
Every time you look into a report or case you know that there is only one person who can be relied on. Yourself. You have to check every angle. Look for "tells" when witnesses are talking to you. Look for similar but little known reports. A visiting policeman from Dyfed looked over a case file back in the late 1990s (he brought plaster casts of tracks for me to look at) and told me "This is better than some police reports". Good (smug smile to self).
When I was a youngster, and later, in Germany, my aunt and gran asked "Is Herr Professor hungry?" I had no idea that because I always seemed to be in thought if not reading books (some times 2-3 at a time) or closely studying something I was being called "Herr Professor". "The Professor" stuck.
I understand that I don't "fit in" with what are termed "normal" groups of people. People often describe me in three ways: either they think I am some type of "university boffin" (I have my name on technical papers and been described as a "noted naturalist", which does not pay by-the-way) or some strange delver into the "paranormal". Or, "a nut case".
I mix with the very respectable, reasonably normal and the "odd people". That is walking the path of counter-actuality. If you have no idea what is on either side of that path-way then don't criticise or call me names. Those that usually do often have to swallow their pride when they veer onto the pathway by accident. Then, suddenly, you are not a "nut".