Midnight Vigil for the Highgate Vampire – Evening News, 16th Oct 1970
This article first appeared in the London Evening News on 16th October 1970, the day after a BBC Television programme, which covered my acquittal of a charge of ‘hunting a vampire’ at London’s Highgate Cemetery.
I accompanied two nervous reporters to Highgate Cemetery late one night, who had been given the task of finding out if there was any truth behind this story. One of the reporters (Barrie Simmons) was later to report that I carried my ‘vampire hunting accoutrements’ in a Sainsbury’s carrier bag. Much has apparently been made of this latter remark on the internet, with implications that this was a form of unprofessionalism in the ‘vampire hunting trade’. But think about it, if you will: what could be a more professional way of averting suspicion at night than carrying a harmless Sainsbury’s bag of provisions? Surely no professional would attempt to go ‘vampire hunting’ in a semi-patrolled cemetery at night armed with a fake antique portmanteau containing garlic, hammers and stakes, and a bottle of holy tap water?! Unless of course they wanted to attract attention to themselves. In this instance, I had already attracted the attention of said reporters, who had approached myself, after seeing the television programme, and who had no desire to get us all arrested, thereby getting in the ‘bad books’ of the newspaper.
As another point of interest, this was the first time that the unexplained entity had been dubbed ‘The Highgate Vampire’ by the Press. Although it was a term that was to be copied on many occasions by aspiring ‘vampire hunters’ in the future.
It perhaps goes without saying, that I was not really trying to ‘hunt a vampire’ that night, but to give both men a nightly tour of the cemetery, and point out locations where the ‘menacing entity’ had been sighted. They were both very apprehensive to say the least, but then reporters are sometimes asked to go on ‘unusual’ – if not dangerous – assignments, and on this occasion I was perhaps the most logical person to approach to take them on this nocturnal foray.