I gave a Talk on the Highgate Vampire on Thursday evening for the Gothic Valley Women’s Institute (WI) based in North London. It was at a quiet pub on Hornsey Road where they regularly hold their monthly meetings.
I’m not too sure why they invited myself (although I have heard a rumour that my wife Della ‘loaned’ me to them for the night for an undisclosed sum); but it was probably because I was always considered central to that case when it first broke in the news in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s. A ‘real life’ vampire lurked in the dark decaying Victorian tombs in Highgate Cemetery – at least, according to some. Although never to myself. The British Psychic and Occult Society had only been investigating sightings of a ghost that had been sighted there by several local witnesses: it was certain other people who had approached the local Press at that time claimed that this reported figure was in fact a ‘blood-sucking vampire’, despite them knowing full well that this was a figment of their own imaginations designed to attract the sensationalist Press.
Such claims always amused me at the time (they still do!), but circumstances at the time led myself to being arrested in Highgate Cemetery whilst trying to conduct a psychic séance there to communicate with this restless spectre which had been sighted by so many people.
The police arrested me for ‘being in an enclosed area for an unlawful purpose’, this ‘purpose’ being (at least according to the police) to break open coffins until I found this ‘vampire’ and then to ‘stake it through the heart’. At least, that is what the police claimed in Court. And they even produced a hand-written statement to this effect purporting to relate what had said to the police following my arrest – although this statement was never signed by myself!.
I denied having made such a statement to the arresting police officer and the Court ruled that the ingredient of ‘for an unlawful purpose’ in the charge had not been proved following my denial of ever having made such a statement in the first place!
I was eventually acquitted of the charge, but not before another two Court appearances after I had decided to fight the case.
I explained all this (and much more) during my Talk on the Highgate ‘vampire’ on Thursday evening, and I have to say, I felt this was sympathetically received after they had invited a supposedly notorious ‘vampire hunter’ as their guest!
But it was a pleasant evening, and the early summer sun was still giving its soft light until approaching ten. All the ladies there were very amicable, and it almost made a change to be able to speak directly to an audience who had learned the facts of this case first-hand, as it had really happened. My son Jamie drove me to the Talk, and we both sipped a drink before it began at about 8 O’clock’. And yes, we WERE the only men there! The photos above were taken by Jamie Farrant, but following the Talk the organisers asked me to be photographed with themselves, and as soon as this picture comes through (which is their copyright) I will post it up.
We then collected a takeaway meal before driving back to enjoy a much-needed glass of wine at home.
So, another Talk over. But another big one coming up for me in early September when I have been invited to speak at ASSAP at their bi-annual Conference in Bath.
Subject? Well, need I hardly remind you all . . . The Highgate Vampire!
The link to the Gothic Valley WI is here . . .
All for now everyone,