The next problem occurred to me later - too late to do anything in fact. The problem being on this day with no DLR there is also a little matter of the Lord Mayor's show which attracts thousands, maybe tens of thousands. sure enough, even in the morning, the trains were infeasibly packed with parents and young kids.
The other problems were all of my own making - the fact that I didn't make my sandwiches on Friday, the fact that I stayed up till 2 am drinking and Tweeting, and finally the fact that when I woke up at 7 am on Saturday morning I could barely move.
I also missed:
Science and Sasquatch: the life of Grover Krantz - Brian Regal
Physical anthropologist Grover Krantz (1931-2002) was the most well known scientist to publicly champion the existence of the North American cryptid called Sasquatch—also known as Bigfoot. While he did not originate it, he actively promoted the idea that this creature was an evolutionary descendent of Gigantopithecus. For his efforts, he was dismissed or ignored by academics who viewed the Sasquatch as at best a relic of folklore and at worst a hoax, and also received a negative reaction from amateur Bigfoot researchers, some of whom threatened and abused him.
At the Camden Centre I only paused to buy myself a coffee before heading into the main hall to see:
1855 is best known to Forteans as the year in which the mysterious Devil’s Footprints appeared overnight during a heavy snowfall in Devon. But were supernatural forces also at work in Yorkshire – with fatal consequences? This talk tells the story of a Sheffield woman who died “from fright” following an encounter with a ghost, and the bizarre story that unfolded in the wake of the inquest – a story involving spiritualists, messages from a murder victim, buried treasure and a mysterious young woman with wild talents. Taking a story that would have perplexed the Victorian detective Inspector Jack Whicher, David Clarke follows the clues and asks: was this truly a case of death by supernatural causes?
I walked in while this guy was in full flow - talking about a series of events in Sheffield in 1855 which involved Mormons, seances and a woman who could apparently see the dead. She went into a fit and died - the death certificate recorded she died from fright. I had to work out the story in a backwards sort of way, having missed the beginning. but it was an interesting little insight into Victoriana. These people were clearly obsessed with being able to contact the dead, and with their high mortality rate, its not surprising really. It wasn't the last time we'd be touching upon the morbid fascination of the dead amongst British Victorians.
All Ape-men Great and Small - Richard Freeman
The search for unknown hominids continues – from the 10-foot-tall Yeti to the rather les imposing Orang Pendek. In November 2010, the Centre for Fortean Zoology took an expidition into the Garo Hills of Northern India in search of the yeti, or mande burung as it is know locally. They uncovered not only eyewitness reports and tracks but also stories of a monster snake unknown to science. In September of 2011, the CFZ mounted their fourth expedition to Sumatra in search of the Orang Pendek, building on the 2009 trip, where the creature was sighted and hair found. Richard Freeman will be giving full accounts of the results of these latest expeditions.
This is a short clip of Richard explaining what crytpozoology is.
Jan Bondeson reveals how an early-20th century German obsession with the supposedly superior intelligence of horses and dogs gave birth to a ‘new animal psychology’ and created a host of doggie celebrities noted for their philosophical thought, ardent patriotism and ability to communicate with humans. These canine luminaries included Rolf, the philosophical Airedale Terrier, who kept up a lively correspondence with scientists and thinkers, and Don, the incredible talking Pointer, who enjoyed a spectacular career and spawned a host of imitators around the world.
|piano playing dog|
it was a period of madness in pseudo science - the claim was that the animals were intelligent but owners were giving their pets unconscious cues for when to stop tapping, barking, etc, when answering questions or "talking". The case reminds me of the more recent fashion for teaching sign language to apes, with simlarly over-blown claims, and ultimately, simlarly discredited.
New York Times
The programme describes her spot thus:
In December 1877, a journalist writing in Scientific American noted there was now “a startling possibility of recording voices of the dead”. He had just witnessed Edison recording sound on his new invention: the phonograph. In this live demonstration, I’ll explore some of the stranger obsessions of the early adopters of audio recording, as I immortalise a voice from the audience by recording it on wax, using an original Edison Standard Phonograph. Delving into the archives, I’ll also examine a little-known curiosity from the 18th century, one which may have been used to record short segments of sound 150 years before the phonograph. This event will include some short, musical interludes incorporating a few of my own inventions. As I use the theremin to conjure up ‘music from the aether’, I’ll reveal how the first ‘electric servants’ were also seen as tools for paranormal investigation.
Sarah recorded a member of the audience, rather bizarrely saying (shouting - you had to shout as amplification was still a thing of the future) "I love you sausage man" and then played it back. Despite the claim of Jan Bondeson in the previous talk, this earliest of all recording technologies sounded remarkably good to these modern ears.
Finally she played a tune on her theramin - with robotic vent dummy as vocalist - a replica of John Logie Baird's "Stooky Bill" who appeared on the first ever television transmission.
You won't be surprised to hear that the music Sarah performs sounds rather creepy, and atmospheric. How else would you expect a theramin to sound?
This clip is just a taster for Sarah's music, which she performs with her band Spacedog: