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Other Weird Stuff…

"Can you believe in what you read? One thousand pages couldn’t tell you why…" The Bee Gees

FT106: A parent of one of my students, Dr Chris Sperry, is a forensic pathologist for Fulton County (Atlanta, Georgia) and he told me about an autopsy he performed in May 1997. Police officers found what appeared to be an abandoned car on a local freeway, and they brought in four items for analysis: a woman’s thumb, an upper lip attached to only the smallest fragment of the bottom of the nose, a socket joint from the hip and some dirty clothing. The thumb was flattened. He said it looked like a cartoon version of a thumb. Inside the clothing was some human skin. Total weight of all items was less than 17lbs (7.7kg).

After analysis, he surmised that the 28 year old woman (they identified her by her thumb print and the handbag found on the seat of the car) apparently had a flat tyre and, stepping out of her car during a rainstorm late at night, was hit by a car or truck. The vehicle did not stop and neither did any of the other ones that hit her body. The missing body parts were scattered or dragged away by each subsequent hit-and-run. The blood was washed away by the heavy rain. A thorough search was done of the area and no other parts were found. One can only wonder what happened to the large bones, pelvis and skull. Chris Kern, Stone Mountain, Georgia.

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FT119: In the summer of 1995 I was on holiday in Canada with my sister and family in Guelph (between Toronto and Niagara Falls). On 11 August I awoke at 5am and visited the bathroom. The sky in the distance was flashing constantly, but I heard no thunder. I returned to sleep but was awakened by a tremendous crash at 5:45am, whereupon I found myself in the passage at the same time as my sister and her granddaughter. The lightning was constant and the thunder very frightening. We stayed in the corridor between the bedrooms until 6:30am and then returned to bed.

When I dressed – shorts and a swim top – I went into the kitchen. "What have you done to your arm?" asked my sister. I couldn’t understand what she meant as I felt all right. "Near your shoulder," she said and then I saw a 3.5in (9cm) burn mark. During the day a blister formed and my flesh became red, swollen and very painful. I am very tanned and the burn scar remained quite prominent for some time.

Also, the mobile phone appeared to have been struck by lightning and couldn’t be repaired. Dorothy Langford, London.

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 FT129: I’ve just learned a truly horrifying thing, and one which I didn’t believe until I tried it for myself. It was told to me by a work colleague, a keen cook, who wasn’t at all amazed when he discovered it.

Perhaps the best way of experiencing the amazement I felt is to try it yourself, in the following manner: take a good-sized piece of fresh liver and place it on your kitchen work-surface. Place a glass of milk 10-20cm (4-8in) away from the liver, on the same surface. Go away and do something else for 45 minutes.

Upon your return you will observe that the liver has crept a good distance towards the milk, leaving a trail of blood! It’s like something out of a horror movie. How, in the name of all that’s decent, does this happen? Fair enough, it may have (in scientific terms) "something to do with enzymes/diffusion/osmosis/whatever", but this is simply avoiding the issue of how the liver "creeps" (something which I am at present far too disturbed to even contemplate observing). I now have an uneasy sense about my internal organs (although perhaps it’s my nervous system, mounting a coup). Ugh.

We’re all colonies of micro-organisms, but it had never occurred to me that some parts might be well nigh autonomous sub-colonies (if that’s the explanation – and it’s the only one I can think of) – my liver, behaving like a slime mould? It’s upset my perceptions of the Universe! If one put beer in place of milk, would the liver crawl away, to avoid liver damage? If placed near a glass of sour milk, would a stomach turn over? What would attract/repel a kidney? Or is this unique to livers? Is this, in fact, the reason they are called livers?!?

My work colleague shrugged off my amazement by saying, simply, "liver likes milk" which is admirably assimilatory of him, but I am as intrigued and bamboozled as I am dumbfounded and appalled. I want an answer, and I want it now. Any answers? In the meantime: milkmen! Do not park your floats outside butchers’ shops…Garrick Alder, London.

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 FT130: On a recent early morning walk from my car to my sister’s house, I noticed large piles of small grey and white feathers all the way up the road, stuck in the grass and under the wipers of parked cars. My sister and her husband said they had woken that morning to find the entire street covered in these feathers. Their neighbours were standing at their doors and windows with a blank, even mystified, look on their faces.

It is possible that these feathers originated in duvets or pillows, but for enough to blanket the street I would hazard a guess at five, maybe six, king-sized duvets. The covering stopped at either end of the street with only a few stray feathers blown by the wind and there wasn’t enough of a disturbance to activate those annoyingly sensitive car alarms. Ross Sheldrake (by email).

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 FT132: I cannot say whether or not Garrick Alder’s letter [FT129:50] about the milk-loving liver is true, but I have heard of the phenomenon before. About 25 years ago a workmate told me that a liver, bought by his aunt and stored in the fridge, was later found to have crawled from its shelf and wrapped itself around a bottle of milk. When I asked him how this could possibly happen, he told me it must have because the liver was "off". He got quite shirty when my incredulity remained unbudged. Frank Adey, Wolverhampton, West Midlands.

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FT132: I read with interest the letter on creeping livers and decided to test this phenomenon myself. I took a piece of fresh liver and placed it on the kitchen counter about 15cm from a glass of milk, and went away for 45 minutes. Upon my return I was shocked to find, not that the liver had moved, but that both liver and milk had completely and mysteriously vanished! I was very puzzled and upset by this, as were other members of my household. In fact my cat, normally unperturbable by the strangest of phenomena, completely lost her appetite for the next eight hours. Dr Jeffrey Mazo, London.

(The editor follows with this note: Dale A Neiburg of Laurel, Maryland, performed the same experiment with the same result. "I can only conclude," he writes, "that the liver had made its way to the bowl, drunk all the milk and then (fortified by its meal) made its escape from the premises undeterred by the presence in the house of our eight cats". Michael Moore from Oswego, New York, also tried the experiment but nothing happened. "On reflection," he writes, "I decided this apparent lack of results was valuable research in and of itself".)

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 FT136: I’ve recently moved to the London suburb of West Norwood. Apart from a banker and a Scots bisexual, I’m now sharing with a Canadian woman who builds household objects out of cardboard and practises a weird form of self-defence she calls "stick" (it involves a combination of Tai Chi and hefty sticks).

The day after we all moved in, a letter arrived for the Canadian stick-waggler. Addressed to "Dear Mr [her surname]", it opened with the words: "I understand that you are interested in the supernatural and already have some knowledge in this area…" and went on to invite her to develop her telepathic powers so as to be able to control other people’s thoughts and actions, win large amounts of money, communicate with the dead and so on, culminating in the offer of a free trial (of what, exactly, was in no way explained).

It was all handwritten and came from somebody called Bill Hughes (I forget the address). My housemate replied saying yes she’d be delighted. We haven’t heard a dicky bird since. How did Bill Hughes know she was moving in? And if he did somehow know (unlikely, since she saw the place and signed the contract on the day before she moved), how did he get the gender wrong? And why wasn’t I honoured with a letter, seeing as I’m the one who’s fascinated with that sort of thing, not her? Was the gender right, and the surname wrong? What the hell’s going on?

Two further (hopefully) unrelated points: the following week we were alarmed to see a black van with mirrored windows patrolling the street; and a day or so after that, a woman in a black mac and beret talking into a mobile phone while trying to look through our front window. And on the day the letter arrived, we found an unmarked dead crow on our doorstep.
Have you heard of Bill Hughes? If so, what’s his game? I can tell you, I don’t like this one little bit. In West Norwood, no-one can hear you yawn. Garrick Alder, West Norwood, London.

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 FT136: On 1 January I found a 1943 farthing in the hob of our gas cooker after I lifted a chip pan which had been used the previous day. I tried to assess if the coin had been stuck to the bottom of the pan, having been in the pan cupboard. The pan is quite regularly used, the cupboard had been recently lined with new paper and the cooker had been moved from a previous property to our house some five years ago. Paul Dodsworth, Hull.

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 FT136: Last week upon going to her (part completed) jigsaw, my wife found a 1939 twelve-sided threepenny bit among the pieces. It was not there when she left the puzzle the day before, and she never pours the pieces from the box, but always carefully picks some at a time. Michael Billing, Henstridge, Somerset.

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FT136: About a year and a half ago, I found an unused 1995 American stamp on the floor of our lower bathroom. I don’t collect stamps and I haven’t visited America and neither had my flatmate. I still have it. When I woke up on 9 February and was hauling myself from my bed, my hand rested on another stamp. This time it was from Thailand – it had been used and has half a postmark on it. I have never been to Thailand and I do not know anybody who has been there who would send me a postcard (which the stamp may have fallen off). It had not been in my bed when I went to sleep. A couple of months ago I found a New Zealand coin on my bedroom cabinet. I’ve never been to New Zealand and I don’t collect coins either. Judith Lunny, Norwich, Norfolk.

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 FT136: On 7 December 1999 I found a coin on the linoleum floor of my kitchen in Kentish town, north London, an hour after it had been swept. I collected coins as a boy and so recognised it as a Russian one kopeck piece, but it was not from my collection. The worn copper coin bore the date 1800, and a large initial letter "P" in Cyrillic, standing for the mad Czar Paul (1796-1801). The only other people who had been in the kitchen that day were my wife and Weston Gavin, a friend who had come to stay and had just flown in from Virginia that morning. We considered the possibility that he had been handed the coin as UK small change en route from the airport and then inadvertently dropped it on my floor, but rejected this as the Kopeck piece bore no resemblance to any current UK coin. So…I am obliged to accept (tentatively, of course) that it was apported from the warehouse of the Cosmic Joker. Paul Sieveking, London.

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FT137: For 15 years now I have been the recipient of a strange sort of attention from above – streetlights go out over my head with astonishing regularity. Since I started keeping track of the numbers, I have seen 78 in the last six years. I estimate the total to be close to 200. Several friends have only witnessed it while in my presence, in the car or on foot.

On one occasion I got quite aggravated and demanded out loud that some proof be forthcoming. Three more streetlights then self-extinguished before I had gone another three miles! I have made enquiries with the municipal agency in charge of streetlights, who stated that they do not cycle on and off regularly (the theory always proposed by the sceptical). If everyone saw as many go out as I do, practically all of them would be out! Leo Scarpelli, Olympia, Washington State.

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FT137: On 17 September as I walked home down a busy main road, three lights winked out just as I passed under each one. I didn’t think anything about the first one, but the second cutting out as I walked under it caught my attention. Not long after I passed by, it lit up again, and for the several minutes it was in sight it didn’t cut out. The third light, on the other side of the road, went as I got parallel with it. David Patrick (by email).

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FT137: For nearly a month in 1983 I stayed at Puri Saraswati Bungalows in Ubud, Bali. One night, a little after midnight, I woke to see in the absolute darkness a tiny point of pure, shining light floating above my bed, about an inch (2.5cm) across and 5ft (1.5m) above me, nearer to me than the rafters. As I watched, it occasionally moved very slowly a few inches, irregularly and in different directions. It was nowhere near the ceiling fan; there was no hole in the roof; and I had no other source of light. After several minutes, I switched on the light by my bed, and the spot disappeared.

Some days later, I was sitting on my veranda writing, when a teaspoon materialised 6ft (1.8m) up in the air and fell with a clatter to the tiled floor 4ft (1.2m) away from me. It was a totally still day, and there was no joker in the bushes. It couldn’t have been thrown, it fell vertically. The veranda was 11ft (3.4m) high, but it had not come from that height; there were no rafters or cornices from which it could have fallen. I owned no teaspoon and there was no cutlery in the bungalow.

What annoys me is that there seems no hidden message in floating white light, or in the materialisation and fall of a teaspoon. If the gods speak, they choose a damned cryptic way of doing it. Ken Lake, Loughton, Essex.

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 FT138: Returning from a trip to Staunton, Virginia, on the night of 10 June 1997, while on Route 81 heading towards the intersection with Interstate 66, over the course of perhaps a mile, I observed the following on the shoulder of the road: a very large frog, belly-up, limbs outstretched and mouth agape; the hind-quarters of a large animal, perhaps a horse or a deer; a turtle, about 3.5ft (1m) long, on its back with fins turned back; and a large animal pelt or hide, crudely torn off some large animal with extensive singeing on the top surface.

I inquired of the State Highway authorities whether they’d heard of this detritus or whether anyone had reported "losing" anything of this sort out of the back of their vehicle. There had been no reports. The Virginia State Police also professed to know nothing of this motley flotsam; nothing had been reported to them by their colleagues in the Highway Department. But then, as a spokesman told me "They pick up weird stuff along the highway all the time. I doubt they’d tell us anything anyway – unless it was a corpse…" (maybe not even then?).

My first instinct was to think this the product of teenage "Satanists", but not even adult cultists would have easy access to sea turtles for their "rituals"; nor had any thefts of such been reported, to the Virginia police at any rate. Furthermore, no inland waterway in rural Virginia is capable of supporting large saltwater turtles. David Walsh, Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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 FT139: Here is a report of a very strange night in the early autumn of 1989. At about 1:30am we were driving along a country highway between Montevallo and Alabaster in Alabama. It was overcast and there was an oppressive feeling in the air. We both became uneasy, but chalked it up to nerves. As we continued to drive, the impression that something wasn’t as it should be increased, and I drove faster, eager to get out of the country stretch of the road and into a lit-up area. I was a student at the University of Montevallo at the time and I had driven that road hundreds of times, but that night it felt different.

When we got to the intersection of Highway 31 with I-59, we smelled a horrible stench and I began to lose traction on the road, which seemed wet although it had not rained recently. Slowing to turn into the Coosa Mart, I noticed that the road was covered in offal. There was an area about 400 yards (366m) long covered in animal parts, organs and viscera (at least I hope they weren’t human). They smelled bad, but not really rotten. It was a strange smell like ozone and sulphur mixed with faeces and, well, meat.

We pulled into the Coosa Mart and asked if the clerk had noticed anything. We thought maybe a truck from a meat-packing plant had crashed, but all the clerk said was he thought he had heard it raining very hard, but when he had looked out, the parking lot was dry. Soon after, a truck driver came in and also remarked on the offal in the road. We called the local police to see if someone could clean up the mess. As my friend and I had to get to Birmingham and were already running late, we left before the police showed up.

The next day I went by to ask about what happened and there was no evidence at all that there had been anything odd. They said the clerk had quit. I mentioned it sometime later to one of the Alabaster police officers and he said he didn’t know anything about it, and suggested I not go bothering anyone else about it or they might think was crazy and "lock me up".

As I was driving back to Montevallo, I noticed what seemed to be deep holes in a pattern resembling footprints crossing a field and then crossing Highway 115. The holes in the field were surrounded by churned earth, but on the road they seemed melted into the asphalt. A road crew was busy filling them in. Whatever it was had a stride of about 8ft (2.4m) and left "footprints" about 16in (41cm) across. For several years the pattern of footprints in the road was visible as the patches were darker than the surrounding road. Then they repaved the entire road. I asked around school and all anyone could tell me was they had heard there had been a one-car crash there the night we saw the offal, and that the car had burned. Mark Warner, Ooltewah, Tennessee.

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 FT139: I have experienced SLI – Street Lamp Interference – on several occasions [FT137:50-51]. One time in college I was walking across campus to meet my girlfriend when three street lamps went out one after the other as I walked past. When I got to my girlfriend’s, I told her about this but her reaction was scornful. We then went into the living room to watch some TV, but all four bulbs in the room blew as soon as she turned on the switch. She’s going out with someone else now.

A more useful variant on the phenomenon is Pedestrian Crossing Interference (PCI), or even Traffic Light Interference (TLI), although obviously you have to be a bit more responsible about them. If you get PCI going, you’ll never have to wait for that little green man again; he’ll see you coming and ease your way. Jim Mannix (by email).

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FT141: Back in about 1968, when I was about 15, my good friend Martin lived next door. We were in the same yar at school but in different classes. Both of us had tape recorders, the old reel-to-reel type; mine a Grundig and his, I believe, a Thorn. Neither of us used them for much more than recording pop music off the radio.

One day, as both of us walked home during the lunch break, we went into a local electrical shop and Martin bought a small reel of tape; I forget how these things were measured, but it was about 4in (10cm) in diameter and a well known brand like Phillips or BASF. Each of us then went to our separate houses for lunch.

Afterwards I went round to Martin’s house so we could go back to school together. I found him in a state of bewilderment. He played me the new tape. The sound was difficult to describe, like a mouthing, a sort of "Baaah blah blah" intermingled with various shrieks, screams and cackling laughter. It was the kind of noise that an idiot or imbecile might make and filled one side of the tape. It was quite chilling, definitely not easy to listen to. The other side was blank.

At first I suspected some kind of practical joke and accused Martin of doing it himself, but he pointed out he would not have had time to do this, and besides his mother confirmed that he had taken the cellophane off the tape and put it straight on the machine.

Only the three of us heard this tape. I believe Martin threw the thing in the bin very soon afterward. If it was a joke, who would perpetrate it and why? The very quality of the sound makes the joke scenario very unlikely. Was it a recording made in a lunatic asylum or the result of some mind control experiment somewhere? How did it get onto a tape in a sealed box from a reputable manufacturer? Pete Gateley, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.

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 FT143: In June 2000, I was driving into my nearest town which is about 40 miles (64km) away, when I had to yield at an intersection to let a brand new, white, window van go by. Through he passenger window I could see a mesh grill behind the seat and apart from the front windows the rest of the windows were tinted black. In the front sat the driver and passenger who could have been twins, as both had on white shirts with red ties and both had dark hair in a brush cut. Both wore the same type of sunglasses and looked neither left nor right as they passed by the intersection.

The van had no names or logos on it, nor did it have a licence plate; certainly nothing too strange about that, but this white van was followed by nine more evenly spaced, identical vans. Not only did the vans look like clones but so did the passengers and drivers. I had the impression of watching a film in a loop, and there was a funny feeling in the air, as the air feels just before a thunderstorm, only the sky was perfectly clear and dry. I could not see the next van until it was there and past me. I live on the rural prairies and believe me you can see 20 or 30 miles in any direction at any given time and I could not see those vans until they were almost on top of me. They drove down an old dirt road and I lost sight of them.

In the small town where I live, one brand new van with strangers n it would be the subject of conversation and interest, let alone 10 of them. However, when I mentioned the incident and made a few inquiries, I drew a blank. It appears that I was the only one who saw them. There have been a lot of strange aerial sightings here, and crop circles have appeared in a very remote area, so we have our share of "strangeness". Ruth Summersides, Saskatchewan, Canada.

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FT147: I have experienced effects during lightning storms similar to those described by Brian Smith [FT145:51]. In April 1999 I was in the town of Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, visiting some customers whose office was on the ridge above Balikpapan. A thunderstorm developed and moved over the town. Having concluded my visit, I went out onto the covered walkway leading to the exit to wait for the rain to stop. There was an intense lightning flash, immediately followed by a thunderclap. At the same time as the flash, the fire alarm bell produced a very intense single "ting". There were no other lightning strike effects in the area. I can only surmise that the lightning had generated a charge large enough to energise the ringer’s solenoid. Chris Gibson (by email).

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FT147: A few years ago I was the owner of a battery-powered Star Trek – The Next Generation moneybox. It lived, rather neglected, on one of my bookshelves gathering dust – the batteries, as far as I remember, were almost completely dead. When you inserted a coin or pressed a button, it would light up and say one of four phrases from the TV series.

One night, there was a violent thunderstorm right above my house. This in itself did not wake me up – but the odd side-effect did. Imagine how quickly I jumped out of bed when my moneybox suddenly sparked into life with a klaxon sounding and Commander Data shouting at me "Red Alert! The ship is under attack!". A J Summersgill, Portsmouth, Hampshire.


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