The Centre for Fortean Zoology’s eighth Weird Weekend conference of cryptozoology opened (on Friday 17 August) with a dragon dance featuring the children of the North Devon village of Wolfordisworthy (aka Woolserey) carrying a huge Chinese-style red dragon. CFZ director and former music journalist Jon Downes (he used to specialise in writing about anarcho punk band Crass) said, ‘I think this is going to be a very weird weekend… People come from all over the world come to it, people from all the village get involved.’
A series of disasters dogged the run-up to WW 07.
‘Gregory (the star speaker who flew in from the Ukraine) got held in Zurich with hand-exercisers – they are weapons of mass destruction… Then one of the turtle tanks burst its banks’ and Goth former zoo keeper and curator of reptiles Richard Freeman twisted his ankle slipping in the ensuing slime. Downes twisted his ankle too, at the Thursday night pre-WW cocktail party. Champagne and margaritas flowed freely at the cocktail party, which I left around 11 at night to cycle back to my campsite. Only when I was out of the village did it become apparent how very drunk I was. Two falls from my bike and half an hour spent staring at the starry sky trying desperately to sober up, afflicted by a paranoia attack in which I believed all the village were vampires and would come flying after me, I somehow made it back down the A38 and to the campsite alive, after a diversion in which I went the wrong way to Clovelley. I blame the margaritas.
My near death experience was nothing compared to the Friday afternoon open day. Punters arriving at the CFZ’s office and soon-to-be museum were greeted with the words ‘Sorry, medical emergency.’ An exhibitor had been taken seriously ill, and an ambulance had to be called.