Clean shaven Professor Kettle spoke to us from his Loch Ness project HQ and warned visitors who suffer from pogonophobia (the fear of beards) to keep away or risk feeling queasy. “We seem to buck the UK trend when it comes to facial hair. Fortunately the women generally steer clear of beards around the loch but many monster specimens of the male denomination do exist. Some extreme examples are quite wild and unwieldy and could put an unwary tourist right off their tea. Our research reinforces the view that Neanderthal Man lived in peat bogs around Loch Ness and possibly still does.”
Dr. Pott added, “Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, is thought to be beardless and it’s heartening that the next generation have pretty much put beards to one side in favour of more sensible things like getting themselves an education. Cryptozoologists get a bad press, often because they aren’t formally qualified and cryptozoology deserves better”.
The twilight zone has well and truly moved into this year’s silly season Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness with news breaking in the Scottish Daily Record newspaper and also in the Highlands Press & Journal that local Loch Ness exhibition owner Donald Skinner has been arrested and charged by police for allegedly stealing a rival museum’s advertising sign.
Veteran entrepreneur Mr Skinner, 70, reportedly denies the theft, stating that he wrote repeatedly to his neighbouring museum’s owners to complain that their sign was blocking his own requesting that it be moved. He alleges they they failed to respond and so he warned them that he would “take custody of their sign” if they continued to ignore his requests.
Upon being arrested, Mr. Skinner says he told police that he “hadn’t stolen the sign under Scottish law” – worth, he says, about £30 (35 euro) but “had custody of it”.
Police say the matter will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal, the legal office which determines whether and how to proceed with criminal cases in Scotland.
There seems to be some desperation amongst businesses as, according to official data (and the obviously visible dwindling footfall in the village) tourist numbers have plummeted. Earlier this month the Drumnadrochit Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Association circulated a letter from long established and highly respected boat skipper George Edwards who was highlighting his concerns that the museum that is now accusing Mr Skinner of theft was itself being very negative about Nessie our famous Loch Ness Monster in its exhibits (apart from dumping tourists straight into a Nessie gift shop as they exit).
Perhaps Drumnadrochit needs an outbreak of common sense but there are a lot of apparently bitter old monster debunkers around and Highland feuds aplenty) so it’s unlikely that peace will break out any time soon.
In the meantime the silent majority can only look on in despair as a childish war escalates, which the fragile tourist trade here needs like a hole in the head. Perhaps it would be better for younger hearts and minds to push the bitter looking and seemingly failed and washed up old big beasts and pseudo scientists aside and start actually and actively promoting Nessie, The Loch Ness Monster.
What do you want to see? Debunking info and “facts” from non-academically trained folk about plankton and old wooden fence posts or the mystery and magic of the unknown monster who lives in the enormous dark depths of mysterious Loch Ness?
You could be forgiven for expecting to hear a PA speaker bellowing out “Good Morning Vietnam” from the village green as the four horsemen of the apocalypse bring Monster Geddon to the normally quiet Loch Ness side village of Drumnadrochit.
A Great Glen sized schism seems to have opened up between believers and naysayers over the existence of our beloved Nessie and the possible impact old museums and other places have on tourism to the area if they down play her existence.
“It’s like Channel 4’s ‘Homeland’ has come to our village. Normally normal sorts of people seem to be issuing fatwas and proclaiming they have the one and only Loch Ness Monster Truth & Orthodoxy viz-a-viz Nessie”, said Professor Kettle. “I seem to see Osama Bin Laden lookalikes all over the place and with past newspaper reports of Nessie wars involving Molatov Cocktails and other shenanigans one has to wonder what on earth is happening”.
“I know the sun has made a rare appearance and people can go silly season daft but it’s a fact that nobody has ever proved the Loch Ness Monster does not exist – certainly not non scientists and Loch Ness hobbyists”.
Dr Pott has seen a theme to the madness: “There are monstrous big beasts afoot and this looks a bit like some Loch Ness sleeper cells have suddenly received an Alien Pod mind signal spurring them to denounce anyone who says Nessie is:
a) a good thing and the monster should be pedalled and promoted as a cryptozoological prehistoric beast to an adoring public, or,
b) Nessie is just a plankton stuck to a floating gate post and she doesn’t really exist.
Unwary passers-by risk getting their heads shot off by either side if they venture onto the “forbidden lawns” (ref. Arthur Daley’s “manor” in “Minder”).
A spokesperson for the silent majority told us, “I know what I’ve seen and it wasn’t a old plank some joker tossed off Urquhart Castle”.