Category archives: Greetings Earthlings

Greetings Earthlings Revisited: Hairy Venezuelan Dwarfs

[Part 7 of the reposted Greetings Earthlings archives. Originally posted on July 14th, 2007. See here.]

Where: Caracas, Venezuela
When: November 28, 1954
Witnesses: Gustave Gonzales, José Ponce, An unnamed doctor.
Artist: Simon McGarr


While Greys, Nordics, Reptoids (etc) have (over the years) hogged their fair share of headlines, an obscure, but significant, group of “visitors” has been operating somewhat under the radar (so to speak). I speak of none other than the “Hairy Dwarfs” (or “Dwarves” if you prefer) – ufology’sSpellcheck continually “corrects” ufology as urology. It’s taking the piss. most hirsute mischief makers.

The above drawing was submitted by the mighty Mr. Simon McGarr of fame. Since it’s a photograph of a sketch (no scanners involved) Simon worried that it might be “one piece of home spun charm too much” for me. I assured him that such a thing was not possible.


There are quite a few descriptions of today’s dwarfs floating around online and in print, but this one, from Kevin Randle, seems as good as any:

The creatures were described as about 3 feet tall and covered with stiff, bristly hair. They appeared to be extremely light, weighing as little as 35 pounds. The hands had retractable claws. The bodies were extremely hard.Randle, Kevin, & Russ Estes Faces of the Visitors: An Illustrated Reference to Alien Contact (New York: Fireside, 1997), p. 28.

Randle doesn’t make any mention of the creatures’ eyes – an unusual omission given that “uncanny” eyes are some of the most frequently commented upon alien features (though our old friends “glowing eyes” are referred to in the account that follows).

Covering sartorial matters, Albert Rosales (on his “Humanoid Sighting Reports” page for 1954) notes that the attacking alien daringly wore “only a loincloth”.Albert Rosales, “1954 Humanoid Reports”.


Ufological heavyweight Jacques Valée lists the incident as number 188 in his exhaustive contribution to (the long out of print) The Humanoids (ed. Charles Bowen):Vallée, Jacques “The Pattern Behind the UFO Landings: Report on the Analysis of 200 documented observations made in 1954″ in The Humanoids, ed. Charles Bowen (London: Futura, 1974)

Two truck drivers found their road blocked between Caracas and Petare (Venezuela) by a luminous sphere over 3 metres in diameter, hovering 2 metres above the ground. Coming out of the truck they met a small creature with claws and glowing eyes coming towards them. One of the witnesses, named Gonzales, grabbed the being, found it surprisingly light (about 35 pounds) and observed its body was very hard and covered with fur.

The creature pushed him back with one hand in spite of its small weight. The second truck driver rushed to the police. Two more creatures emerged from the brush and leaped into the sphere, carrying stones and other samples, while the first individual attacked Gonzalez again.

Now terrified, he tried to defend himself with a knife, but the blow did no harm to the hard skin of the entity. Then one of the dwarfs in the sphere blinded Gonzales with a light while the others re-entered the craft, which took off.Ibid., p. 57.

Kevin Randle supplies a couple of details missing (possibly because they’re later modifications?) from Vallée’s summary.Randle & Estes, p. 29. According to Randle, an examination of Gonzales revealed that his ordeal had left him with significant “scratches”. Further “corroboration” of the story apparently arrived a few days later when an unnamed doctor revealed that he had seen the interplanetary fight but had decided (perhaps understandably) not to get involved…


While the hairy, be-loinclothed appearance and aggressive attitude of the creatures suggests a “primitive”, Captain Caveman-esque nature, their “craft” and “blinding light” points to a certain technological sophistication. In addition, they were interrupted while collecting “stones and other samples” – classic alien behaviour of course, and usually taken as a sign of scientific curiosity. A curious mixture of signals.

Their apparent invulnerability to harm is not altogether unusual. In fact, case “194″ in Vallée’s list describes a very similar encounter that occurred on December 10th of the same year (also in Venezuela): Two men approach a bright object near a road; Four small beings attack them; one of the men hits them with his rifle but it breaks etc. The attackers were described as “extremely strong and…covered with hair”.Vallée, p.59

One is also reminded of the famous Kelly-Hopkinsville Goblins, who responded to point blank shotgun/rifle blasts by simply flipping over and running away (before returning later, apparently unharmed). The fact that the sound of the on-target shots was reminiscent of “bullets striking a metal bucket” also suggests impressively hard bodies.

A final note – Is it just me or does Simon’s sketch suggest a “Hairy Dwarf” who (having been left behind by his fellows) finds himself down on his luck, begging for Earth currency as he sits on an Earth kerb? He also seems to have “let himself go” rather, if that gut is any indication.


Greetings Earthlings Revisited: The Laughing Little Men of Cennina, Pt. 2

[Part 6 of the reposted Greetings Earthlings archives. Originally posted on July 10th, 2007. See here.]

Artist: Hannah Byrne-Smith


It appears that the irrepressible jocundity of “The Laughing Little Men of Cennina” has inspired one of the site’s more junior readers to produce Greetings Earthlings‘ very first piece of original art. The above image arrives courtesy of my beautiful five-year-old niece, Hannah, and for me (biased though I may be) it’s every bit the equal of Walter Molino’s more polished depiction.


Thanks, Hannah! It’s fabulous.


Greetings Earthlings Revisited: Mexico City Mini-Man

[Part 5 of the reposted Greetings Earthlings archives. Originally posted on July 9th, 2007. See here.]

Where: Mexico City (?)
When: March 21, 1949 (?)
Witnesses: Unknown
Photographer: Unknown


While eyewitness sketches (and artist’s impressions) of alien entities are almost always accompanied by colourful backstories – photographs of extraterrestrial visitors often stand alone. Details are generally vague, origins tend to be uncertain etc.

Although today’s Greetings Earthlings image may be a frequently reproduced one, almost nothing is known (as far as I can determine) about the circumstances in which the picture was taken.


In Faces of the Visitors, Kevin Randle suggests a “Reliability Rating” of zero for the image (meaning, of course, that it is totally unreliable and most probably fake). He does, however, acknowledge some of the rumours and stories that have attached themselves to it:

It seems that several discs were seen in Monument Valley on March 21, 1949. Not long after that, similar craft were seen discharging small cylinders over Mexico City. A small creature was inside one of them. He was captured and turned over to the proper authorities.Randle, Kevin, & Russ Estes Faces of the Visitors: An Illustrated Reference to Alien Contact (New York: Fireside, 1997), pgs. 241-242.


While U.S representations of similar scenes usually involve the handcuffed “alien” being (aggressively) bundled into the back of a truck by hostile marines, the Mexicans appear to adopt a more relaxed and welcoming approach. Instead of strapping our visitor to an operating table and chopping “him” to bits, the nattily-dressed individuals above seem to have decided (good hosts that they are) to take the little fella for a brisk walk.

Having said that, it’s not entirely clear who’s leading who. The “Monkey Man” (as Randle dubs him) may, in fact, have initiated the excursion – possibly after asking the question, “Hey lads. Who’s up for a tour of my cylinder?”

All of which reminds me quite vividly of the following (enigmatic) UK road sign:

It’s ambiguous meaning was first pointed out to me by my elder sister (who will, hopefully, be contributing a few sketches to the site before long) and I engaged in the following speculations about it over on

Either the figure on the left is a girleen (in her nightie) being taken to the mother ship by a visiting abductor, or it is (in fact) a tiny, beneficent E.T. (of the Close Encounters variety) leading a willing, adult human away on an inter-planetary adventure. Either way it seems clear that the British government has designated those areas where this sign appears as “abduction free-for-alls”. At least the whole thing is regulated I suppose…

A final thought – Are they (one wonders) the creature’s own underpants and socks, or was “he” forced to wear them to avoid charges of public indecency? Unlike the genitalia-less “Greys”, he obviously has something to hide. Woot!


Greetings Earthlings Revisited: The Laughing Little Men of Cennina, Pt. 1

[Part 4 of the reposted Greetings Earthlings archives. Originally posted on July 2nd, 2007. See here.]

Where: Cennina, Italy
When: November 1, 1954
Witness: Rosa Lotti
Artist: Walter Molino


At first sight, aliens appear to be a pretty humourless bunch. They lecture us on the evils of war, prophesise environmental catastrophe, and mutilate our cattle in a distinctly non-jocular way. Nevertheless, they do seem to possess their own peculiar brand of mirth.

So sayeth “graylien” (over at the ever-entertaining Cabinet of Wonders) before going on to document a few chucklesome examples of black/surreal/absurd alien humour. The below case may not be too rich in extraterrestrial gag-making (alas), but in terms of joviality and merriment these “spacemen” would be hard to surpass.

Before getting into the details of the encounter, mention must be made of the beautiful Walter Molino image above (taken from the cover of La Domenica del Corriere, Nov. 14, 1954). It may appear (at first glance) like a highly-stylised impression of what was (in reality) a more banal event, but it actually captures the “fairy tale-esque” quality of the story quite gloriously.

Details sourced mainly from the invaluable contains an excerpt from Sergio Conti’s “The Cennina Landing of 1954″, FSR (Sept/Oct 1972).


The two beings were roughly one metre in height, and wore grey, one-piece overalls (covering even their feet). Over these they wore “a sort of doublet” (with small buttons “like shining stars”), and each had a small grey cloak on “his” back. They also wore tight-fitting trousers, “like the long underpants that our men wear in the winter.”

Though they wore “leather” helmets (which obscured their ears) their faces – which looked “normal, but small” – were uncovered. While their noses and mouths were “of normal shape”, their upper lips were “slightly curled in the centre, so that even when they were not laughing their [rather protruding] teeth were still exposed.” They also had “magnificent eyes”, suggestive of great intelligence.


At 6.30 a.m on the morning of November 1st (Feast of All Saints), 1954, Rosa Lotti (“a forty-year-old peasant woman”) set off toward Cennina’s church and cemetery. In her hands she carried a bunch of carnations “destined for the altar of the Madonna Pellegrina, whose procession had taken place the preceding evening.”

Given that it was a feast-day she was wearing a new dress and her “best” shoes (though she carried the latter, along with her stockings, to avoid getting them dirty).

As she arrived in “the middle of a small clearing among…shrubs and sparse trees” she suddenly noticed a strange object “near a pine tree and on the edge of the little grassy area” (she later described it variously as: “A sort of double cone, over 2 metres high and about a metre wide in the middle”, and, “Like two bells joined together at their bases”):

“The outside of it shone as though it was of very polished light metal. On the lower cone there was an open glass door, and inside it could be seen two little seats, little [sic] scats like those used by children. In the central part of the spindle, where it was widest, there was a sort of roundish glass, closely following the round shape of the mysterious machine.”From La Nazione Italiana, November 2, 1954.

As Rosa stood and stared in astonishment the two beings described (and pictured) above appeared from behind the “craft” and approached her “with friendly faces”:

They gesticulated, but with no trace of menace. Indeed, on the contrary, in a friendly fashion, as though they were trying to make themselves understood and to strike up a rudimentary conversation.

All the while they chattered away in a “vigorous, lively” fashion, making noises that sounded to Mrs. Lotti like “Chinese” (‘liu’, ‘lai’, ‘loi’, ‘lau’, ‘loi’, ‘liu’ etc).

They then approached Rosa (who, in spite of all the chatter and laughing, was terrified) and grabbed one of her stockings and the bunch of carnations out of her hands (see image for details):

When she remonstrated timidly, the one who seemed the older of the two handed some of the flowers back to her, but kept five of them. Then, having examined the structure of the flowers with an air of curiosity, and laughing the while, he wrapped them in the stocking and threw them into the “spindle” through the small opening.Ibid.

After stepping back a few paces they reached into the “machine” and took out two white, circular objects (which appeared to be wrapped in something akin to newspaper). Before they could turn toward her again, Rosa took the opportunity to flee – turning back only when she had put about 100 metres between her and the beings, to find (of course) that they and their “machine” had vanished.


Like the Rowley Regis case, this encounter further blurs the already fuzzy line that (just about) separates the worlds of “aliens” and “fairies”. Throw in the facts that it was the “Feast of All Saints” (the day after Halloween), and that Mrs. Lotti was on her way to honour the BVM and you’ve got a multi-layered winner on your hands.

I’m not entirely sure if you’d classify the site of the sighting as a “wood”, but it’s clear that Walter Molino felt a “wood-like” atmosphere would lend his illustration just the right flavour. He chose wisely of course – for woods and forests are places of magic; places where (as Shakespeare et al have shown) the “order” of the town/city gives way to the delirious “chaos” of the otherworld. Note: This may explain why fairies/aliens are rarely seen in shopping centre car parks…

Mischievous laughter, prodigious intelligence, petty kleptomania (etc.) are, again, all things commonly associated with “the good folk” (at least in this neck of the woods). They can also be generous gift-givers (when the mood takes them), so it’s possible the “white, circular objects” were intended as some form of reward for Mrs. Lotti’s “donation” of flowers and a stocking. Wrapping things in newspaper is never the classiest approach of course, but it’s the thought that counts.

The relentless jollity of the little fellas is, perhaps, the encounter’s most memorable detail – for though aliens may be notorious “thieves” (cow anuses, people, time) whose super-intelligence is rarely questioned, they’re not (as “graylien” correctly observes) necessarily the first beings you’d invite to a party.


Greetings Earthlings Revisited: The Solway Firth Spaceman

[Part 3 of the reposted Greetings Earthlings archives. Originally posted on June 29th, 2007. See here.]

Where: Burgh Marsh, Cumbria, England.
When: May 23, 1964.
Photographer: Jim Templeton.


While photographs of UFOs (from Adamski’s “Venusian scout craft” to Rex Heflin‘s “flying hat”) regularly give me those little shivers of pleasure otherworldly images often produce, photos of ‘extraterrestrials’ can leave me pretty cold.

There tends to be something vaguely crude and explicit about them (and not just because most are very obvious fakes). Perhaps they simply lack the amateurish charm of rough and ready eyewitness sketches – showing instead of merely suggesting.

There are, of course, exceptions, and I thought I’d post one such photo today.


For a concise summary of the circumstances surrounding the creation of the above image we could do worse than to turn to the photographer himself: Jim Templeton. Here’s what he had to say in a recent contribution to (urggh) The Daily Mail:

As an amateur photographer on a day-trip with my family, I took the photograph on Burgh Marsh on May 23, 1964, using an SLR camera loaded with the new Kodacolor film which was processed by Kodak.

I took three pictures of my daughter Elizabeth in a similar pose – and was shocked when the middle picture came back from Kodak displaying what looks like a spaceman in the background.

I took the picture to the police in Carlisle who, after many doubts, examined it and stated there was nothing suspicious about it.

The local newspaper, the Cumberland News, picked up the story and within hours it was all over the world.

The picture is certainly not a fake, and I am as bemused as anyone else as to how this image appeared in the background.

Over the four decades the photo has been in the public domain, I have had many thousands of letters from all over the world with various ideas or possibilities – most of which make little sense to me.

It should also be noted that I have received no payment for taking this picture.

The only suggestion that struck a chord with me was a letter from Woomera in Australia which came a month after the picture was shown around the world.

The people there were keen to see a good colour copy of the photo, as they had stopped a countdown of the Blue Streak rocket within hours of my photo being taken.

Apparently, two similar looking ‘spacemen’ had been seen close to the rocket.

Only later did I find out that part of the Blue Streak rocket was made and tested within sight of Burgh Marsh.

James Templeton


Not mentioned above by Mr. Templeton is his subsequent (alleged) encounter with a couple of “Men in Black”. There appear to be several versions of this tale circulating and its provenance seems rather dubious. One version reads:

“A few weeks later Jim Templeton received two mysterious visitors. He had never heard of MIBs: the subject was almost unknown in Britain then. But the two men who came to his house in a large Jaguar car wore dark suits and otherwise looked normal. The weird thing about them was their behaviour. They only referred to one another by numbers and asked the most unusual questions as they drove Jim out to the marshes. They wanted to know in minute detail about the weather on the day of the photograph, the activities of local bird life and odd asides like that. Then they tried to make him admit that he had just photographed an ordinary man walking past. Jim responded politely, but nevertheless rejected their idea, at which they became irrationally angry and hustled themselves into the car, driving off and leaving him. The fire officer had to hike five miles across country to get home.”

Hmmm…I’m glad I’ve always stuck to my “never take a lift out to a marsh from two strangers who refer to one another only by numbers” rule.

More intriguing is the supposed connection (mentioned above by Jim) to the figures spotted during the Blue Streak rocket testing in Woomera, Australia. Patrick Gross (over at the excellent takes up the story:

Not long afterwards the editor of the Cumberland News newspaper contacted Jim and asked if he could borrow the negative to send a copy out to Australia. Apparently the photograph had appeared in the press there and staff working at the Woomera test range area in Southern Australia had seen it. Jim was told that the day after he took his photograph, a Blue Streak space rocket was due to be launched from Woomera in Australia. The countdown was postponed when two automatic survey camera [sic] had independently spotted two large figures in the firing area during the countdown phase. They were very similar in appearance to Jim’s mysterious visitor. At the time of the launch, the photograph had not reached Australia and the staff had no knowledge of the bizarre image.

Curioser and curioser…and (as Patrick mentions) very Twilight Zone-esque.


The more one looks at the pleasant scene Mr. Templeton captured (a smiling child, flowers, green grass, sunshine) the harder it is not to be reminded of Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths’ famous Cottingley fairy photos – particularly given the ‘plastic’ unrealness of the figure itself. Part Michelin Man, part astronaut, part poorly-made action figure – it looks anything but a flesh and blood being.

There’s something slightly off (and askew) about its stance, while the flatness and absence of depth in the image make it appear that the “spaceman” is emerging from the top of Jim’s daughter’s head. In this it calls to mind the ectoplasmic, ghostly figures commonly captured (or most likely faked) by Victorian ‘spirit’ photographers. While “helmet” and “one piece suit” might suggest “spaceman”, the classic “I didn’t notice anything strange when I took the picture” refrain puts the image squarely in the spectral, supernatural camp.

Or maybe not…if you believe Fortean Times message board member Niles Calder, who sees not a spaceman (ectoplasmic or otherwise) but a living human “wearing a white jacket and a white/cream scarf”. On that same page a Justin Anstey appears to agree, before asking (rather worryingly):

Has this suggestion been made before? Has anybody returned to that place with a similarly sized child and attempted to recreate the picture?

“Fetch me my camera and a similarly sized child!”, I cry, as the distant sound of police sirens is heard…

Addendum 05/08/2010

Files newly released from The National Archives (UK) make passing reference to the Solway Firth Spaceman/Blue Streak connection. If you fancy having a look go here. The relevant section is: DEFE 24/1983 (p145-73). There’s plenty of other juicy stuff to idly browse through there too.


Greetings Earthlings Revisited: The Winchester Space Brothers

[Part 2 of the reposted Greetings Earthlings archives. Originally posted on June 26th, 2007. See here.]

Where: Winchester, England
When: November, 1976
Witnesses: Ted Pratt & Joyce Bowles
Artist: Jennifer Cook


Unlike Jean Hingley’s hour-long ordeal in Rowley Regis, this encounter seems to have lasted but a matter of minutes. It caught my attention because, a) I was a postgraduate student in King Alfred’s College, Winchester (not far from the location of the sighting), and, b) The account in Peter Hough’s article “UFO Occupants” was accompanied by the wonderful illustration reproduced above.Hough, Peter, “UFO Occupants” in UFOs 1947-1987: The 40 Year Search for an Explanation, eds. Hilary Evans & John Spencer (London: Fortean Tomes, 1987), p. 129


While driving along a narrow country lane one night Joyce Bowles and Ted Pratt (who were either a “middle-aged couple”Ibid., p. 128 or, simply, “neighbours” depending on who you believe) noticed an orange glow in the sky. Moments later Joyce lost control of the car which proceeded to swerve onto the grass verge by the side of the road.

Ahead of them, hovering in the middle of the road, was a glowing, orange cigar-shaped object, approximately 5 metres long. Through the windows on the object’s side three heads were visible, peering in their direction. As they watched (presumably terrified), one of the creatures exited the object and began walking towards the stalled car. Hough’s account describes “him” as:

…about 1.8 m (6 feet) tall, slimly built, wearing a one-piece foil-like suit, with a zip which went up to his chin. He had long blond hair combed back from his forehead, but wore a dark beard; his complexion was pale.Ibid

As he reached their Mini Clubman (fabulous cars, my mum used to have one) he placed a hand on the roof and (according to Joyce) “peered through the window at the dashboard controls”. The two occupants then noticed that the creature’s nose was “long and pointed”, while his eyes were “pink – entirely pink, without irises or pupils”. Joyce also recalled that as she turned her head away, “an after-image remained on her retina, similar to the effect of staring at a naked lamp”.Ibid.

Hough doesn’t provide the tale with an ending but an entry on (whatever that is) obliges. According to that (rather odd) source the Mini’s engine and headlights had conked out for the duration of the encounter. As soon as both returned to life the creature and the orange “craft” simply vanished. Our friends at Vreflect also point to a possible “Ley line” connection and illustrate their brief summary with an image that mixes the aesthetics of 50s “B-Movie” posters and Ladybird books to winning effect. I’m reluctant to reproduce it here (due to their scary-sounding, bottom-of-page prohibitions), but it’s well worth a look.


As Peter Hough notes, glowing eyes “abound in the annals of historical folklore, attributed to black dogs and other supernatural entities”.Hough, p. 128 Patrick Harpur concurs, suggesting that “many daimonic animals might be mistaken for a natural species were it not for their glowing red eyes”, a feature “we read about again and again”.Harpur, Patrick, Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld (Ravensdale, WA: 2003), p.273. They are, indeed, quite prevalent in the ‘otherworld’ – adorning everything/everyone from Mothman, to The Owlman of Mawnan, to Spring-Heeled Jack (etc., etc). Why “glowing red eyes” should give us the heebie-jeebies to the extent that they undoubtedly do is a matter of debate, but (like the leering face at the window) they remain potent horror staples.

Interesting too to note how hirsute the dashboard-fixated alien was. In an era where smooth, baldy “Greys” rule the imaginative roost, it’s worth remembering a time when (Nordic) “Space Brothers” wouldn’t be caught dead without a shock of blond hair.

Returning to matters ocular…I’ll leave the final word to Hough, who dryly states, that there appears to be “no biological reason why eyes should glow, although it does make the entities more ‘scary’”.Hough, p. 128

No arguments here (as I rush to pull the curtains).

Addendum (01/08/2010)

Since I originally posted the above (3 years ago) an uploaded video has materialised showing Joyce & Ted telling and reliving their story (in inimitable style). Added juicy detail of a sinister phone call from London (and Mrs. Bowles’ indignant and determined response to same) is delicious. It also appears Mr. Pratt was simply “a friend of the family”. Enjoy.


Greetings Earthlings Revisited: The Rowley Regis Case

Three years ago, I kicked my ass out of its default neutral gear and decided to set up an overly-ambitious blog/site on weird ‘n’ wonderful alien visitations (Greetings Earthlings: An Alien Miscellany). My super-talented wife produced a beautifully clean design and we were up and away. It burned brightly, for a wee while, before crashing to earth and strewing its guts all o’er the internet. Like a weather balloon. Go to the defunct domain now and you’ll be greeted with information on “Free Low Carb Ice Cream” and warnings about the Anti-Christ. This is a major tragedy…

But all hope is not yet lost. Thanks to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine I can (and will) restore some of these lost pieces of arcana. Starting today. Here’s how I described the ethos/purpose of the site back in June 2007:

Welcome to Greeting Earthlings (GE) – a blog for those haunted, fascinated or amused by illustrations, photos and descriptions of “alien” entities. Part “art project”, part encyclopaedia, the blog is intended as a place where the imaginative potential of alien encounters and images can be explored and enjoyed. The aim is to create a playful and provocative space that (hopefully) prompts, cajoles and stimulates readers’ imaginations. Above all else, I hope it’s fun.

Though GE will happily document celebrated/famous alien sightings, it is particularly interested in encounters that appear (on the face of it) especially improbable and “ludicrous”. There is (perhaps) a tendency among earnest, “nuts and bolts” ufologists to deliberately exclude more outré aliens from the “official” alien story. By focusing on encounters with sanctioned, “orthodox” creatures like greys a certain (misleading) homogeneity may be suggested.

As Peter Hough puts it, “Many researchers, in their efforts to make the ET hypothesis more tenable, have attempted to squeeze occupant descriptions into a mere handful of categories”.Hough, Peter, “UFO Occupants” in UFOs 1947-1987: The 40 Year Search for an Explanation, eds. Hilary Evans & John Spencer (London: Fortean Tomes, 1987), p. 127. The reality of reported experiences, however, suggests a far more heterogeneous phenomenon – one that ranges from “fairies” to robots (and everything in between). In fact, as author Patrick Harpur has suggested, attempts at “sensible” classification of the dizzying variety of reported alien beings may be inherently doomed to failure:

“On the one hand such a catalogue of contradictions makes one despair of ever satisfactorily classifying the aliens; on the other hand, it provides a real clue to their nature – which is to be essentially contradictory. It is almost as if their variety is specifically designed to refute any theory we might hold about them.”Harpur, Patrick, Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld (Ravensdale, WA: 2003), p.26

The intention here then is not to “make sense” of these creatures through rigid classification, nor to dogmatically pronounce on the validity of individual encounters. GE is simply intended as a place where these entities/encounters will be presented and (hopefully) enjoyed for what they are – whatever that may actually be. Very loose groupings (based on physical or behavioural characteristics) will gradually appear, but these are not intended to suggest any serious/literal connections.

While random thoughts and speculations about the nature (and possible “meaning”) of individual encounters will follow each entry, the aim is not to prove or disprove any particular hypothesis. Rather, the intention is simply to let ideas fizz and fly. Ultimately, I hope that the illustrations, photos, and accounts will (to a certain extent) speak for themselves.

And here, reproduced in some approximation of its original glory, is the first encounter I tackled. Enjoy. Or not. As you see fit.

Where: Rowley Regis, West Midlands, England
When: January 4, 1979
Witness: Jean Hingley
Artist: Unknown


I first came across this story (“one of the strangest, if not one of the most absurd ‘close encounter’ cases ever recorded” according to Alfred Budden) in Kevin Randle and Russ Estes’ volume Faces of the Visitors: An Illustrated Reference to Alien Contact. The delightful mixture of domestic banality and high-weirdness captured my imagination straight away. Randle’s pithy and understated opening paragraph sets the tone nicely:

Just after Jean Hingley watched her husband leave for work, she spotted an orange sphere close to the roof of the garage. Her dog reacted by becoming stiff and falling over. At that moment, three small beings…zipped into the house making a zee-zee-zee sound. Hingley ran into the living room when she heard the Christmas tree rattling, only to find two of the creatures shaking it. Later they jumped up and down on the couch like children left alone.Randle, Kevin, & Russ Estes Faces of the Visitors: An Illustrated Reference to Alien Contact (New York: Fireside, 1997), p. 74.

This cursory (but intriguing) description – together with Estes’ accompanying illustration (below) – made me wish for a further and fuller elaboration.

Happily, after flicking through a random volume of Fortean Times back issues, I found it – in the aforementioned Alfred Budden’s article, “The Mince Pie Martians: The Rowley Regis Case”.Budden, Alfred, “The Mince Pie Martians: The Rowley Regis Case” in Fortean Times, Issues 47-51: Fishy Yarns, eds. Paul Sieveking & Bob Rickard (London: John Brown Publishing, 1995), 50: 40-44. The following summary relies heavily on that piece.


The creatures were approximately 3 ½ feet tall and wore silvery tunics with six small buttons on the front. Their eyes were large and black and their faces were white (with no apparent nose and a simple line for a mouth). Mrs. Hingley noted that their expressions never changed (“like a dead person’s face”).

They wore transparent helmets with small lights on top and they appeared to be surrounded by a halo. Their limbs were “silvery-green, ending in simple tapering points with no apparent hands or feet”. Their large wings looked “as if they were made of thin, transparent paper covered with dozens of glittering multi-coloured dots” and as they flew around the room their arms were “clasped in front of their chests”, while their legs “hung down stiffly”. The wings appeared to be “ornamental” as they didn’t flap, but merely “fluttered gently or occasionally folded inwards like a concertina”.Budden, 50: 40-41


Alfred Budden’s account of the encounter’s early moments tallies fairly closely with Randle’s, while contributing a couple of additional details. We’re told that Hingley “could feel heat on her face” as she looked at the “orange sphere”, and that the shaking of the Christmas tree resulted in its fairy (which looked, according to one investigator, like a smaller version of the “aliens” themselves) becoming dislodged and falling to the floor.

Following the incident with the tree Jean tried to confront the beings, but found that she “had become paralyzed in an extremely ungainly pose, mouth wide open and eyes staring.” As she tried, in vain, to speak to them they turned towards her and said, “Nice?”

She recalled being shocked by the fact that they spoke “in unison, in a gruff masculine voice”. At that moment her voice returned to her and she replied, “Oh its nice to see you, to see you nicely”. Devotees of British light entertainment will no doubt recognise the above as a slightly amended version of Bruce Forsyth’s catchphrase.

After this opening exchange Hingley tried asking the creatures where they had come from, but she received no reply – with the aliens choosing instead to fly around the room before landing on the sofa and jumping up and down (“like naughty children”). At this point Jean seems to have become (somewhat understandably) annoyed and “told them sharply to stop, which they did”.

However, such attempts to gain control of the situation resulted in the creatures emitting “a very thin laser-like beam” from the lights on top of their helmets. The “aliens” focused this light on Mrs. Hingley’s forehead, causing an intense burning sensation as well as the occasional paralysis mentioned above by Randle. She then repeatedly asked her visitors why they insisted on hurting/incapacitating her in this way, to which they replied, “We haven’t come to harm you”. Unconvinced by this assurance, Mrs. Hingley countered: “Well, you keep putting that light on”.

After finding herself flying across the room and landing on the sofa beside them, she again asked the creatures where they were from – receiving the vague answer, “From the sky”.

The next section of Budden’s article captures the hilarious, “kitchen sink” oddness of the encounter so perfectly that I quote it (almost) in its entirety:

They flew over to a picture of Jesus on the wall and began a long conversation with her about Jesus and his welfare, Tommy Steele, the place of the woman in the home, the Queen, children, babies, and back to Jesus again[…]

She talked to them in the same vein as before, until they began to float slowly around the room lifting up and putting down, or simply touching, small objects like cassette tapes, as if the pointed ends of their arms were magnetic[…]

Jean decided that they were looking at the bottles of drink left over from Christmas and asked if they would like some, to which they replied “Water, water, water”, in unison as always. Jean complied, and found herself gliding down the hall into the kitchen. “So I got a tray, and put four glasses on a tray [one for herself, "to show it wasn't poisoned"] and I got a plate and six mice-pies. It’s rude to have just enough, so I put two extra.” She glided back into the living room[…]

“Each of them lifted a glass as I lifted mine…when they saw me watching them they put the power light on…I didn’t actually see them drink the water but the glasses were empty when they put them down.”Ibid., 50: 42

Jean began to understand that the beam disabled her “whenever the entities were unable to perform certain tasks, such as drinking or answering questions”. She also started regarding her visitors as ‘robots’, or “animated dolls with a set number of responses”.

A further detail worth noting is that the “aliens” constantly touched the “buttons” on their chests before speaking – leading Jean to conclude that this activated some kind of translation device:

“Every word they didn’t understand, they did 1-2-3 ever so fast on their chests…bleep-bleep, bleep-bleep…I said ‘You’ll learn a lot of things from me with that bleep-bleep’. And they said ‘Yes-yes’…”Ibid., 50: 43

The hour-long encounter came to an end when Jean decide to show the creatures how to smoke. As she lit a cigarette the three beings recoiled (leading her to conclude that they were frightened of fire), after which a loud noise was heard from the garden. Looking out the window she once again saw the orange “space ship”, now parked on the back lawn:

“It looked about eight feet long by four feet high and it had glowing round port-holes in it…it was covered with a sort of shining plastic…There was something like a scorpion tail at the back with a kind of wheel on top of it, but without a rim…like an old-fashioned sweep’s brush…They got off the settee, and…put their hands to their sides…they didn’t open their wings to go out…They lifted themselves up, and they pressed a press-stud…and they glided themselves out…”Ibid.

The final act of Hingley’s visitors, as they “sailed out of the room”, was to grab a mince-pie each. Then, as they boarded the “ship” and flew off “towards Oldbury and West Bromwich”, the craft “pulsed with light twice” – something Jean interpreted as their way of saying “Goodbye”.


As soon as the “aliens” had departed Jean found herself dropping to the floor in agony:

“I was in such pain. My legs, I couldn’t feel them, and then I was wobbly, and very very weak. I grabbed the table. I slid my feet along the carpet, and I got on the settee, and I didn’t know how long I was there. Ooh! I was dead!”Ibid., 50: 44

Budden informs us that Hingley “lay there all day until about five o’clock”, at which point “she felt sufficiently recovered to make tea for husband”.

Physical “evidence” of the encounter allegedly included: a) An 8-foot impression in the snow (in the middle of the lawn), b) “A circle about eight inches wide scratched into the glass in the back door, which Jean insisted was not there before”, c) A stopped clock, and a non-functional television (and radio), and, d) “Distorted and ruined” cassette tapes (those that had been handled by her visitors).

In addition, Jean was apparently afflicted with sore eyes (for weeks after the event), a painful inner ear, an aching jaw, a red mark on her forehead (which persisted for months) and such a general feeling of unwellness that “her doctor gave her two weeks off work”.

In a final (surreal/playful) twist, her Christmas tree disappeared two days after the encounter. It reappeared in her back garden a few days later, in pieces and stripped of its decorations (though these gradually returned over the next several days).


Because of the prankish nature of the “aliens”, the domestic setting, the “gruff, masculine voices” (etc), Budden hints at a possible connection to poltergeist activity, but doesn’t commit to a more concrete hypothesis.

It need hardly be added that prankish behaviour is traditionally characteristic of fairies – the folkloric entities whom Mrs. Hingley’s visitors most closely resemble. In fact, without the trappings of laser beams, translation devices, a “spaceship” (etc), the story could slot quite comfortably into the annals of established fairy lore. Making connections between aliens and fairies is, of course, a fashionable ufological pursuit – though one often hampered by over-literalism. The notion that traditional accounts of fairy encounters can be interpreted as literal, eye-witness reports (expressed in terms specific to that culture/time) of Close Encounters of the 3rd/4th Kind is one that I’ve never been convinced by.

What ultimately makes the above tale so memorable is (as previously suggested) the evocative (and…well…hilarious) juxtaposition of the banal and the extraordinary: Bruce Forsyth and paralysing laser beams; Tommy Steele and a hypnotised dog; Mince pies and beings “from the sky”. Add in the fact that these elf-like creatures came at Christmas and were concerned with Jesus’ welfare, and the whole account (as improbable and amusing as it is) seems pregnant with meaning.

The most telling (and poignant) detail for me though is the discussion Mrs. Hingley and her visitors had about “the place of the woman in the home”. This discussion seems to fit in well with the general air of quotidian domesticity – one in which Jean was eager (despite the bizarre circumstances) to be a good hostess, and where her ‘recovery’ seems occasioned by a desire to make her husband’s tea. Given all that (and allowing our imaginations free rein) it’s hard not to see some manifestation of repressed domestic anxiety at play!