Well I’ve given lectures in a number of strange place over the years, from a bus speeding down the motorway on its way to Bonnybridge, to lecturing to eight of the most hardened criminals in a special unit at Shots Penitentiary near Glasgow and adding to my list of strange lecturing places was the World War Two tunnels etched into the cliffs below Fort Southwick on Portsdown Hill which overlooks the Naval base of Portsmouth in the county of Hampshire England. These tunnels were the nerve centre for Operation Overlord which helped co-ordinate the D-Day landings. They were excavated by the 172 tunnelling company of the Royal Engineers between February and December 1942 and extend 100 deep into the bowls of the hill. On June the 6th, Day 1 of D-Day, there were 700 personnel working underground.
Anyway, the reason I was there was due to being contacted by representatives of FOX Entertainment based in London who asked me to help promote the release onto Blu Ray of the new blockbuster movie, Independence Day 2 (Resurgence). Anyway, always glad to help I quickly said yes and a week or so later a taxi was despatched to my home in Hastings to take me on an 82 mile journey to Portsmouth and the location of the lecture and shoot.
After getting a bit lost in the taxi trying to find the location (it was near Fort Southwick). Neil Clark, event coordinator at UCAP Airsoft was despatched to find me and bring me to the location. Upon my arrival, I was met at the entrance of the tunnel system by the video photographer who was there to film the morning’s proceedings. We had a good chat about Ufology and a few minutes later numerous cars pulled up containing the media people and representatives from FOX. I should mention that just prior to my arrival all the lights had gone out in the tunnels, not a good start but thankfully this was soon rectified. The media consisted of a wide selection of newspaper men and women from various newspapers. There were also some bloggers there to make their own alien autopsy film, (but that’s another story)! It soon became apparent to me that this was going to be different to what I had imagined, and whilst yes I was still going to present a lecture to the press people, there was also another chap, Steve Hart from the U.K. Preppers Guide who was also going to give a talk about surviving not just a U.K. or Global Disaster, but also the possibility of an alien invasion, but more of Steve in a moment.
Being in these tunnels was just something else, it really was. It was like one of those ant’s nest’s that you used to make at school in the glass case where you could see them building tunnel after tunnel. It was also quite cold as well and some of the tunnels were unlit making the atmosphere spookier than it already was. These tunnels would make a great place for a ghostly Investigation and maybe that could be a money spinner for those that run this place. Before my talk, I met up with Pete Connell, senior publicist for Premier Entertainment arts culture in London and Annie McMonagle Wilmot and Matt Belgrave (Events Manager) of the same, to discuss my talk. Annie and Pete pointed out a small room just off one of the tunnels which had a number of small plastic chairs, rusty filing cabinets and some old P.C’s from the 1960’s brought in for effect and asked me to wait in there where we would soon be joined by the press people. Before too long the press folk all filed in most of whom were wearing special light brown jump suits with the words ‘Earth Space Defence’ etched on the back (see photos) these were given to them by the FOX representatives and little did I know it at the time, but there was a reason for them wearing them, (more in a moment)
So I began my talk in this small arched room 100 or so feet underground (it’s certainly the lowest that I’ve ever lectured lol) and after just 20 minutes or so it was time to take some questions from the media. All good questions and nothing that has not been thrown at me before. After this the media were invited to shoot at some targets in the dark tunnels with some specialised guns which shot out white pellets all good fun and in keeping with the day’s activities.
ALIEN IN ROOM
Next on the agenda was something else that I didn’t expect and that was to meet an alien! Thankfully not a real one but an alien nonetheless! We were all marched towards another area in the tunnel system which had a plastic sheet hanging down from an entrance into a small room. The lady from FOX Entertainment invited everyone to venture inside two at a time. Eventually it was my turn and I pulled back the green fluorescent splattered plastic sheet to be met by a scene like something out of the alien autopsy movie. What I saw before me was a slimy looking tall creature lying on a table next to which were some glow sticks, a wall of automatic rifles and a small table full of documents. There was a man in one of those white plastic forensic suits with a white face mask on prodding and dissecting this creature. Above our heads were rotating red and blue lights. The whole scene was pretty bizarre and you honestly felt that you were in a scene from a movie it was really well put together. I was later told that the alien was a prop used in the movie Independence Day Resurgence of which was sent over to the United Kingdom from America. For some reason it had to go through Germany and then France. Now ask yourself this folks, can you imagine those lovely chaps at customs in those countries “Excuse me sir, what’s in the box”! Boy I would love to have seen their faces.
STEVE HART ‘PREPPING’
After this we were all shepherded off to another dusty low ceiling room where another guest speaker was lined up to talk to the media, not on UFOs however, this time it was all about prepping which in effect, is all about preparing for any possible doomsday situation, be it a nuclear effect, or civil unrest, or, as in keeping with the Independence Day scenario, an alien threat from outer space. Steve Hart, founder of the UK’s U.K. Preppers Guide did a talk on how best to survive with your family in adverse situations. He brought along a normal backpack of which he took out item after item all of which one would need in times of a crisis. The table was soon looking like something out of the movie Mary Poppins where she keeps taking things out of a small bag. Soon Steve’s table was packed with gloves, medicine, a specialised water bottle that coverts dirty water into clean water and much much more. Steve took questions after which it was time for lunch. Lunch for the media comprised of a vacuum-packed bag of, well knows I didn’t really ask but it didn’t look overly appetising. I was fortunate I got a proper egg and ham sandwich with a can of orange. During lunch I caught up with Neil Clark, event coordinator at UCAP Airsoft and his friend munchy (I’m sure there is a reason why he is called that) Anyway, they told me all about the history of the tunnels and boy there sure is some history. He told us that these days they have wedding parties down in the tunnels for gun games, and they also do corporate parties. Indeed on one occasion, they had an 80 year old women come down with a party who came up to the front desk demanding that she get a gun, “Why should all the others have all the fun” she remarked! Indeed. They also have some of the emergency services down in the tunnels from time to time to train. One of the staff members took Steve and I back into the tunnels and showed us where they had been digging into the walls as they believed that there was a secret room which had been bricked up. Peering into the hole with his flashlight it was clear to see that yes there was evidence of something and one could feel the air circulating towards you from the area that they had chiselled away. Why was this bricked up, what, if anything is hiding behind this wall? Are there some secret Government papers that are not meant to be found? It will be interesting to see what, if anything, these guys find when they eventually release the rest of the masonry
FIND THE ALIEN MISSILE!
During lunch I had a chat with a lady from the Daily Star who told me that back in the office she gets labelled as the ‘UFO Girl’ as she has a strong interest in such subjects. She told me that she gets a bit of ribbing from her fellow journalists, but in the main it’s all good fun she said. After lunch Neil Clark assembled everyone together and told them that they were going to play another game and for this one, we would all need ear plugs. I laughed thinking it can’t be that bad surely, ‘it was’ The scenario was that the staff had hidden an alien missile somewhere in the confines of the tunnels and teams of two would go out in search of it and bring it back to the front desk. All were asked to keep their ear plugs in and thankfully each were given a map of the tunnels so that they didn’t get lost, to be honest with you, I don’t think that even with a map you would have found your way out on your own. Anyway after a quick briefing everyone all filed out into the warren of tunnels. After a few minutes it became apparent why everyone (including me) were issued with ear plugs, the staff were hiding in the deep recesses of some of the unlit tunnels snapping back industrial bangers and launching them near the media people. With orange sparks a blazing the sound of one of these things going off was enough to knock a man off his bike in China! Jeez oh, loud, I’ll say it was loud. Of course you are in narrow tunnels with low ceilings so you can imagine the noise. After 10 minutes or so you could hardly see your hand in front of your face as the smoke from these industrial bangers was everywhere. It was chocking and you were glad to get out of there. The smoke coupled with the continuous sound of a siren pervading through the tunnels was enough to drive you nuts, but you know what? It was bloody brilliant. Steve (the prepper guy) and I were following Neil around (the main man) and I could see that he was taking great delight in snapping and throwing these bangers in the direction of the media. I was in fits of laughter I really was.
After about 15 minutes or so the sirens were cut off and we all headed back through the tunnels to the main entrance where we all had a catch up. And that was it. The lady from FOX said that the press could keep their Earth Space Defence jump suits (trust me not to bag one!) It was now two o clock; we had been in the tunnels since 10:00am and as I stated at the start of this article, it was not what I had expected, it was much much better. It had been a terrific day, a day which I thoroughly enjoyed and a day which I was happy to be involved in. I now await to see what the media will write up about this day as the media were all there to hear my lecture on UFOs and find out my thoughts as to what would happen should an alien invasion ever occur what would we do? They were also there to hear Steve Hart’s “What If” scenario and unbeknown to me at the time, there to partake in a bit of fun in the tunnels.
After dusting ourselves down Steve and I jumped into the Fox lady’s car where she took us down to Portsmouth train station where a taxi was waiting to take me back to Hastings and just before I climbed into the back seat of the taxi, I shouted out to those members of the press who had also been taken to the train station, “Great day folks, see you at the next one, Independence Day 3” with some laughs and with some puzzled looks I climbed into the taxi and my Hungarian taxi driver and I headed off to Hastings sharing stories of Hungarian folk dancing, UFOs! And a multitude of topical stories to pass the hours away. I’ll tell you what folks, my life is never dull.
(c) Malcolm Robinson (SPI)