Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Spare the rod...

I saw two flying rods soaring over a sheep then one flew over the sheep and the sheep hovered up behind it. the 2 rods were around 5 meters long each and they were making funny noises, like brrrr brrrr mooooo kinte kunte blaaaaaarg biscuit barrel. it went sumthing like that. anyway im really scared.... oh my god there coming for me get away.........arrrggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
That is an eyewitness report [more on this later] of a sighting of flying rods. Ah, how infallibly UFOs track our cultural-technological aesthetic! In the 1950s we saw hubcap-shaped chrome UFOs! In the 1990s, we had Flying Triangles, like pieces of huge black-ash Ikea furniture with serried inset halogen lights, zooming around Suffolk...

Did you know that Suffolk (along with Glastonbury Tor) is the centre of British UFO activity? And most particularly in the 1980s, the decade of massive US Air Force presence in East Anglia? Ah, those were the days! Hardly a view across a sugarbeet field without a warthog crashing into it, or (if you were lucky) F-111 pilots doing a dump and burn, igniting a trail of unburned fuel at the request of bored U2 pilots coming back from 9 hours reconnaissance flight. ("There wasn't much to do. I read a lot" explained a U2 pilot to me, once. "My favourite was The Once and Future King").

1980 was the year of "Britain's Roswell", when a UFO landed in Rendlesham Forest. Which is a 1500 hectare pine plantation spanning RAF Woodbridge and RAF Bentwaters. One night, a bunch of security guards from these US bases saw a flying saucer amongst the trees, chased it, walked up to it, and freaked out completely. [Note: from the tales I've heard of common recreational activities at US bases, none of this surprises me in the least]. Three markings were found on the ground the following day. Apparently they made up the points of a perfect equilateral triangle. Someone later ventured that these might be rabbit holes, but I'll let that pass. Who knows? It's nice that UFOs land in Suffolk. It's where I take my holidays, too.

BUT! It seems there's something even better than flying saucers or triangles or all those other gobots or transformer things. Here's the site for Flying Rods. Here's another one. Or this one, which has this haiku-like introduction:
Resembling squid, or small bugs
- they move faster then the eye can see -
but not beyond the perception of camcorders.
Rods seem right up there in the heights of cool, like small technological gadgets crossed with creatures from the burgess shale or truncated squid; an oh-so-now marriage of soft metal and biology. I love the home movies and the computer reconstructions of the anatomy of what seems to be—and fairly obviously—footage of lens flares and flies. And some of the aerial ones could, I guess, be some X-plane's peculiar new contrail, too, if I was feeling particularly conspiracy-theoretical. Or some form of Kelvin-Helmholz cloud...Pluvialis, stop!

I checked out some of the entries on the 'sightings in Britain' page. Very, very funny. Like the one at the beginning of this post, they're mostly just people messing about. I mean, calling them "rods" was really a bad idea...
  • I was walking down town and it whent straight past me it was shocking.
  • Big long hard metal object which tried to rape mt anus!
  • Was looking up at the sky when all of the sudden i saw a rod!
  • A rod of titanic proportions flew over my colleague james head today much to his annoyance. Twas a dark day for us all!
  • I saw a massive rod that kept darting around the lace market one night when i was on my way to Browns
  • it flew past rochester cathedral n scared da crap outta me
  • A rod appears to fly past a horse in a stable. I have it clearly on film.
  • Very long, about 2 metres, bright green. Saw for a few seconds, then went.
  • Flew through the leaves of a tree in which i was sitting. It shimmered like the sun at i was taken aback at its sheer gracefulness. It actually flew quite slowly, looked more like 3d rod number 1. It was incredible.
  • It was big and hairy, it chased me and my friend all around the school playground. Its name was Tom, he likes to drink tea. Im constipated!!!!
Despite some fantastic material on the site (arguments about the ways bees look in a photograph, musings on whether rods have some kind of interdimensional time-distort ability), even the readers of the site seem unconvinced. Here is the poll on the site's front page:

15.6% Never before discovered Insects discovered Insect
2.8% Tiny Alien ships
1.6% Military experament that excaped
0.7% Flying scrolls like in the Bible
0.7% Fairy of legend and myth
1.0% Scratches on film
5.9% Creatures that can pass between dimensions
71.6% A hoax

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