Hello to all the intelligent truth seekers out there, who have been following the filmed uploads of July’s Highgate Vampire Symposium.
Today we were informed by YouTube that they regretfully ‘had’ to remove our video of part II of “The Vampire Theory” session, resultant from a complainant using the name “Bishop Sean Manchester”. This was apparently due to copyright infringements. We have not, as yet, been informed as to what these infringements constitute, but there is (as far as we can ascertain) only one image included in the video upload which could possibly be relevant to a complaint of this nature, genuine or otherwise. This will be explained shortly.
Now, we all know that the Highgate Vampire case attracts (as well as sensible, clever normals) the unhinged, stalkers and the plain nasty. Let us contemplate for a moment just what “Bishop Sean Manchester” seemingly does not want you all to see – or educate yourselves about. As most of you know, there are some very strange people out there in the world today – some of them even seem to care more about championing the existence of a vampire over that of a ghost, than the real life tragic events affecting humanity more and more every day, and get a bit obsessed about it (to put it politely). There can’t be a ghost, you see, ‘cos then there wouldn’t be a vampire. Its all a bit nuts. Ghosts are far more frequently observed than vampires (to state the obvious), but Sean Manchester wants everyone to believe that the entity which has been seen for years at Highgate was a vampire, that he staked it, and that it is no more. So people who believe that not to be true, or believe in the ‘vampire’ and the ghost, really get his goat. As do people who claim the vampire was made up all along to make him famous. End of summary.
We, the Symposium co-ordinators, organised these filmed sessions in July 2015 for the benefit of those who could not attend in person, but also for posterity. Many speakers shared their thoughts on this enduring Fortean case, as did many audience members. Throughout a pleasant and well-mannered but very long day many people contributed their personal experiences of a paranormal nature, and those of friends and colleagues who were not/were also present, and who perhaps felt awkward speaking out in public. These narratives, recollections and reflections deserve to be shared with the world at large, for generations to come. They are vital to increasing comprehension and contextualisation of phenomena which have over the last 45 years become the subject of so much disinformation. How else will serious researchers in the future be able to draw objective conclusions? Even if the Symposium helps objectify matters a bit, it has helped.
We aimed to create a special day, with questions from around the world invited, where the reality of the Highgate entity – vampire or not – could be openly debated.
The atmosphere was a refreshing blend of old and new tales, and broke down many social boundaries. Everyone present, including those connected with Highgate Cemetery itself, seemed to feel that this was a positive achievement. Our published feedback reflects that, as did the calibre of our speakers and attendees. Although of course many guests doubtless left holding their own counsel (and so they should), so many people openly discussing the apparently very real – and enduring – supernatural phenomena within Highgate Cemetery and in Swains Lane was a real watershed. That not one of the hundred and thirty plus people present openly took the vampire theory seriously – and we provided ample opportunity for them to do so, in a respectful environment – says a lot.
Predictably, a packed theatre of people (many with a long standing personal and/or academic interest in the case) dismissing the vampire angle, with many deferring to the organically statistical probability that something supernatural, but not blood-sucking, haunts or haunted certain locations in Highgate, seems to have unsettled our most hardened critic.
Although we do not know what exactly Sean Manchester has taken umbrage with regarding our video, we strongly suspect that it is simply this:
Our compere, Paul Adams, who is entrusted with cataloguing vast amounts of paperwork inherited from the late Peter Underwood, was kind enough to share with our audience a bizarre black and white print. This photograph clearly depicts a rather theatrically inclined man in a suit, with delicate fingers, posing Lon Chaney-style, and sporting a skull mask, of the type which many of us will have seen over the last few months as Hallowe’en merchandise has bombarded our high streets. A basic transparency effect has been achieved, in an attempt to give the man in the photo a supernatural appearance. The image belongs to the estate of Peter Underwood, and has no photographic credit attached to it. It was therefore rightly credited to Underwood’s estate in the video. It allegedly depicts a real life vampire, caught on camera, in Highgate Cemetery. Supposedly it is a zoom of a much larger photograph. Although for obvious reasons we will not be reproducing this photograph here, those present on the day of the Symposium and those who saw the unedited film before it was removed by YouTube will recall the natural hilarity of the audience in response to what is instantly recognisable as a blatant fake.
It is fair to note that the photograph is very similar in terms of technique to a photograph which has intermittently appeared on Sean Manchester’s personal blog, accredited to him, demonstrating his use of such transparency techniques. The photograph he claims credit for appears to have been taken in Waterlow Park, with Highgate Cemetery East visible in the background, and depicts a sinister transparent figure which is described as representative of a supernatural entity sighted around Highgate. Manchester has indicated that this photograph was created as a piece of art by himself during the late 1960s or early 1970s, when he was pursuing a career as a photographer.
Comparison with the photograph exhibited at the Symposium by Paul Adams and other photographs submitted to Underwood, inclusive of typewritten notes, places it in the period wherein Underwood was preparing his book The Vampire’s Bedside Companion (which was finally published in 1975).
The Vampire’s Bedside Companion was the first – if not only – book by an author with a calibre such as Underwood’s to give ‘serious’ consideration to Sean Manchester’s vampire theory, and therefore its genus naturally deserves relative consideration its own right.
Many illustrations were provided by Sean Manchester around this time, and were in due course included to supplement the finished manuscript. This tome comes under scrutiny during part II of “The Vampire Theory”, wherein several commentators of note make reference to a diversion from Underwood’s typical style, as well as indicators that the work was somewhat of a burden to the acclaimed collector of ‘true-life’ ghostly experiences. Indeed, we learn that two chapters written by Underwood himself were published under pseudonyms, perhaps in an attempt to lend authenticity to an area of the supernatural which was not Underwood’s natural terrain and to give other chapters more credibility than they would have been afforded by his rather thin on the ground independent contributors. Underwood’s close friend, Paul Adams, in the now removed video of part 2 of “The Vampire Theory”, points towards the pressure that ghost-orientated Underwood was under to write a vampire themed book to fit the mood of the early 1970s – and the demands of his publishers.
Enquiring minds may well be intrigued as to who would send such a bizarre photograph to Underwood. Was it an in-joke, they may ask? They may certainly consider if such a seasoned investigator would take such a photograph seriously. They may also choose to bear in mind that Peter Underwood was no stranger to accepting a helping hand from ‘colleagues’ whilst preparing manuscripts for publication under pressure – and was an old school gent who kept his promises.
Work it out for yourselves, fellow Forteans! Whatever you conclude. You have the right to make your own minds up. This is still a free country.
Frankly, we don’t care either way if the original video gets restored or if we have to re-upload it without an image which Sean Manchester objects to the world seeing –for whatever reason. We look forward to seeing and explaining his copyright claim in full – and if indeed it contains a claim over a faked photograph of a man in vampire fancy-dress, gifted by himself to his initial and primary advocate, the late Peter Underwood, around the time they were collaborating upon Manchester’s ‘non-fiction’ vampire theory with regard to Highgate.
YouTube please take note: If Sean Manchester (aka “Bishop Sean Manchester”) sends you undoubted proof of his ownership of the obviously fake vampire photo screened and filmed at the Symposium we will courteously honour his civil rights – and more importantly for him – his dignity – by willingly uploading a revised video with (naturally) an explanation for our confused viewers, vindicating him fully. We will even reciprocally link to the photo should he choose to upload it onto one of his many websites or blogs, as evidence of the vampire he so vehemently defends the existence of.
What a funny old world it is. Is this post an act of war? No. We are not interested such infantilism – merely in paranormal truths. We are not interested in the inevitable backlash of hate blogs and FB gossip and nastiness. Make love, not war, all that. We’ve said all we have to say and have better and more important issues to devote our time to. There is enough real horror going on in the world, and to get emotionally invested in this craziness would be daft. And our attendees and followers online here are far too intelligent and grown up to have their time wasted by it. PLUS – they are sick of having their enjoyment of this supernatural case ruined by petty mindedness – which was the opposite vibe of the Symposium.
But rest assured – the full debate will be re-uploaded very, very soon.
Some REAL paranormal debate. Which is FAR more interesting than all this!