In many ways we are very lucky. We get to travel around the world looking for mystery animals, and then write books about our adventures. Of course it isn’t quite as simple as that, because there is a whole slew of mundane administration and stuff, but on the whole doing what we do is a heck of a lot better than having a proper job. We live in Woolsery and we run The Centre for Fortean Zoology – the world’s largest mystery animal research group, and once a year we invite devotees of the weird and wonderful here for the internationally famous Weird Weekend.

We also write a monthly column for The Bideford Post and we decided that it was about time that we introduced Weird Torridgeside to the blogosphere..

Monday, 9 March 2009


The furore over what happened the night that The Devil (didn't) go down to Woolsery seems to be growing and growing. There newspapers are even more interested in this than they were when I didn't steal a seal head back in January. This is all part of our trivia obsessed culture, and although it is mildly amusing, it is also quite disturbing. This afternoon I had a telephone call from one of the less-salubrious national newspapers who had obviously done some in-depth research on the case (they looked me up on Wikipedia, and found that I have at times been involved with the local Church). "So you are a Christian?" the person said without bothering to introduce herself.

"I don't see what my religious views have to do with you, or anyone else" I said. "But, yes".

"And your brother is a priest?" I just grunted.

"So coming from a religious background, does this make you qualified to claim that The Devil has visited a small North Devon village?"

I began to get angry. "I have never said anything of the sort" I said. The silly bint began to get all self-righteous. "You have been writing about the night the Devil went down to Woolsery".

"For God's sake", I grunted. "It's a joke! Haven't you ever heard of the Charlie Daniels Band?"

Obviously not

So, just for the record, before the people who seem to like to take a potshot at me every time that I put my head above the parapet, read whatever is printed about us with glee:

1. The Devil did NOT come to Woolsery last weekend

2. Nobody in the CFZ has ever intimated that He did

3. I am not some weirdo fundamentalist who is claiming Demonic intervention for some peculiar reason of my own

4. The footprints found last week are of perfectly natural origin (as were the more famous ones of 1855) but we don't know what caused them just yet.

5. It is interesting that so many different explanations have been mooted for the Woolsery footprints in the week since they were photographed.

6. If we can find out conclusively what caused the Woolsery prints of 2009, we will have a pretty good idea what caused the South Devon ones of 1855, and we can put an enduring mystery to bed.

7. And, by the way, we did not put out a press release about these prints. The newspapers concerned read about the mystery online and telephoned us (that will scotch the inevitable "Jon Downes is a shameless self-publicist" rumours")

but above all (for the sake of tabloid journalists who may be reading this:

I do not know what made the footprints, but it was NOT the Hornéd One. Capisce?

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