An Ayrshire Sea Monster!

Have I mentioned that I spend many of my weekends at Airshows, selling meteorites and pieces of spacecraft? If you would care to investigate this somewhat outre aspect of my life, click here!
At a recent event, I passed the all-too extended intervals between sales in conversation with a delightful middle-aged Scotsman by the name of Brian.
Having divined my interest in cryptozoology, Brian recounted his own singular experience, which had occurred in the early 1950's at Irvine, on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.....

At the time our hero was around eighteen years of age. Following a severe storm, Brian was walking on the beach when he came across a truly bizarre creature: this, at first glance, resembled a twenty-foot (six metre) long conger eel. Even a cursory examination proved that the beast was of less prosaic origin, for it had an eighteen inch 'frill' around its neck below the large-eyed reptilian head:-


Brian examined the strange creature more closely: the smooth skin, lack of opercula (gill slits!) and fins all indicated a large unknown reptile or amphibian, rather than any species of fish. Furthermore, there were few signs of damage or decay, merely occasional puncture marks left by marauding gulls.

Sadly there is no 'satisfactory' ending to Brian's tale! Glasgow University was alerted, and the creature was watched over by a police officer until (predictably!) that night's high tide washed the carcase back out to sea just a few hours before the experts arrived. And as Brian dolefully added: in those days, cameras were by no means as common as they are today.
Strange just how many similar and obviously truthful accounts end in this fashion......

The Loch Ness Monster!

At one time I had pretensions of authorship: then (as now!) I wrote articles for magazines and newspapers, but set my sights on having something less ephemeral appear in print.
A friend of mine shared my interests in the paranormal: he eventually took the cloth to become Father Lionel Fanthorpe, the wrestling vicar and presenter of 'Fortean TV'. Lionel encouraged me to pursue my ambitions with a study of Loch Ness: he himself was engaged in writing a book about the mystery of Rennes Le Chateau and was confident he could find us both a publisher.

To cut the proverbially long story short, I hired a caravan at the lochside village of Abriachan, taking along for company a somewhat dour 'Brummy' called Phil who had spent some time as a volunteer with the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau.

Every morning Phil and I would rise at dawn and drive to a vantage point above the loch near Urquhart Bay. We would sit and watch the huge expanse of water until dusk before adjourning to the nearby Drumnadrochit Hotel for an evening's chat with the locals.

I should at this juncture reveal that both Phil and I are scientists: he a chemist, I a biologist. While both profoundly interested in the mythology of the Loch, neither of us had any great expectations of seeing anything, other than the ubiquitous otters and water-birds that constitute a large percentage of claimed sightings!

One afternoon we had arranged to spend a couple of hours in the company of now-famous news presenter Nick Witchell in his caravan overlooking Urquhart  Bay. We were driving towards our rendezvous along the northern shore when, as we passed the village of Achnahannet, I happened to glance towards the water. To my amazement a large, living creature was sculling lazily past the John Cobb marker post on Johnnie's Point. It resembled nothing more nor less than the grey back of an elephant:  I skidded my Escort Mexico into a layby and Phil and I tumbled down the scree slope to the lochside. At 50 metres range, it was obvious to us both that we were watching the  back of a living creature that was predating the shoals of migratory fish concentrated by the jutting peninsula of the Point.

The beast moved round the point before heading out to mid-loch, where it submerged with barely a ripple. After a few seconds I turned to Phil, his face a mask of incredulity.  At this point I reflected upon the two cine cameras with 500 mm lenses on the back seat of the car! What an opportunity we had missed!

Since that day in 1972, I have had several similar encounters with the supernatural and mythical: strange to relate, whenever I have had camera equipment to hand, I have either failed to use it or (more mysteriously!) it has failed to function!

The book? Well it was written, but at the eleventh hour, the publisher decided to use Witchell's manuscript instead of mine!


What do YOU think?

Is it just me, or does the Hugh Gray
1933 photo look uncannily like a
Golden Labrador with a stick when
you increase the contrast?