Monday 29 – Tuesday 30 August 2016
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated by the mysteries that the world threw around. I remember looking through my some of my paternal nan’s books that dealt with the oddities of life in the world – witchcraft, the abominable snowman, big foot, the Loch Ness monster, the Bermuda Triangle, UFOs, the Philadelphia Experiment, the identity of Jack the Ripper, how the pyramids were built, the mystery of Roanoke; the list feels endless. So I thought: hey, why not write a post about some of these mysteries? Ta da! Here it is . . .
Let me start with Jack the Ripper. I know, it’s a very macabre thing for a kid to be interested in, but way back then it fascinated the hell out of me. It still does. For centuries, the identity of the most notorious serial killer in world history has gone undiscovered, not for lack of trying. There have been hoax diaries brought to light, theories posited, logic, fantasy, history all applied to determining who the Ripper was. Unfortunately, this is a mystery that will never be solved.
As suddenly as the Ripper started murdering prostitutes, the Ripper stopped. My lil mind wandered over to why. Why did the killing stop so suddenly? What happened to the Ripper? As I got older, and began to learn a lil about psychology, I wondered if the Ripper ended up in prison for something other than murder. I also considered that perhaps the Ripper left London, left England entirely, and fled to some other country where, possibly, he reinvented himself, or perhaps he continued his killing. Maybe the Ripper died. That could explain the sudden cessation of the murders. It’s possible that almost getting caught on the night of the double murder put the wind up the Ripper, and he decided to cut and run (apologies for the pun).
The questions will remain though: who was Jack the Ripper, what were his reasons for killing, and why did he stop so suddenly? My thoughts also wandered to a few questions about the person committing such heinous acts:
- Was he married?;
- Did he have children?; and
- What if Jack the Ripper was actually Jane the Ripper?
Cogitate on that for a bit.
The Loch Ness monster intrigued me. I remember seeing those grainy photos of what was supposed to be Nessie swimming in the loch. Examining and analysing them at length and in depth. Trying to figure out what the hell that thing was. Finally deciding that it wasn’t entirely implausible for some prehistoric creature to have hidden away in Loch Ness for centuries without being seen. Of course, a better story would be that the locals always knew that Nessie and her family made the loch their home, and set about keeping her existence secret. What? Stranger things have happened. When you think about it as some kind of local conspiracy, all those hoax photos of Nessie make sense. What better way to throw people off Nessie’s scent than to provide alleged evidence that could be debunked as utter crap? If I happened to be keeping a secret of such magnitude, that’s what I’d do.
That brings me to a couple of other critters – Big Foot and the Yeti. It’s cool to think that out in the wilderness of the United States, there’s a gigantic, hairy, humanoid wandering around. Equally as cool is the thought of the Yeti wandering the slopes of the Himalayas. With so much inaccessible wilderness, and much of the Himalayas also being inaccessible, it’s not too far-fetched to think that these critters could be roaming around rarely seen by humankind.
The Bermuda Triangle is a fascinating piece of watery real estate. Boats, ships, and planes have allegedly gone missing in that part of the world, never to be retrieved or seen again. Reports of instruments failing in planes, and compasses on boats and ships going haywire any time that they near the area have been a common thread in discussion about the Bermuda Triangle. A lucky few have made their way out of that devil’s triangle, despite malfunctioning electronics and equipment. Their recounts of events all very similar. So what exactly is happening in that part of the world? Who the hell knows, but it’s massively intriguing, isn’t it?
One of my favourite everyone-just-disappeared story is that of the colony of Roanoke in North Carolina. The colony, founded by Sir Walter Raleigh during the late 16th century, was established under order of Queen Elizabeth I. It was meant to be a permanent English settlement in the new world; an attempt to outdo, and outmanoeuvre the Spanish. However, three years after the last shipment of supplies, all of the colonists disappeared. Literally. All 115 people gone. Men, women, and children never to be seen or heard from again.
The continuing war between the English and the Spanish meant that Governor John White, who was sent back to England for reinforcements against the local native tribes, did not return to Roanoke for three long years. When he eventually made it back to the colony, and his granddaughter (who was the first English child born in the Americas), he found the settlement deserted. The 90 men, 17 women, and 11 children had disappeared without a trace, no sign of struggle or battle. The only clue left for White to find was the word CROATOAN carved into a fence post. The houses, fortifications, and buildings had been dismantled, leading to the thought that their departure had not been hurried or in haste.
White had told the colony if they were forced to leave the settlement before he returned, they were to carve a Maltese cross on a nearby tree, but he found no sign of the cross, indicating that their departure was forced. Discovering the word CROATOAN, White presumed that the colony had made their way to Croatoan Island (now Hatteras Island). He was, however, unable to conduct a search of the island as a massive storm was forming, and his men refused to go any further than the deserted settlement. The next day, they left for England.
What happened to the colonists is a mystery to this day. Many hypotheses exist, including the colonists’ integration, forced and willing, into the local tribes, and massacre at the hands of the natives. For me, the story of the Roanoke colony is one of the most fascinating events in American and English history.
Oh, it’s all so fascinating. I could go on for days about this stuff. Unfortunately, answers to these mysteries don’t come easily or freely. I doubt, however, that two of the most mysterious questions posed in modern history will ever be answered:
- Who did let the dogs out?; and
- How much is that doggie in the window?