Updated: Jun 24, 2019
On Wednesday 6th May 2010 I met up with BUFOG founders Craig Lowe and Mark Martin to interview them about the group and their thoughts on the group so far. Below is the transcript of this interview. It is an interesting, and sometimes amusing insight into what it’s like to create and run a UFO group.
How long have you known each other for?
M: About three years. C: Yea a few years, not that long.
How did you first meet?
M: Our girlfriends. C: Yeah, through our girlfriends. We went out quite a few times didn’t we? M: Hmmm. We’d all go out together. C: Cause our girlfriends went to school together so we met quite a few times, but neither of us knew we were interested in this subject. M: No. C: And it popped up, I’d left a Timothy Good book out. M: Timothy Good brought us together! (laughs) C: Yeah Timothy Good. He spotted the book and we started talking. M: I said “Is that Timothy Good?” “Yeah, yeah, a UFO book.” “Are you into UFOs?” “Yeah!” C: When you said you knew who Timothy Good was, I thought well if you know Timothy Good then you probably take the subject seriously. M: Yeah. That was at the end of one night when we were both quite p***ed! C: If I remember, the next time we met we didn’t talk much about it did we? M: No. C: We was waiting for each other to start the subject. M: After about an hour and then we started talking about it a bit more and then... C: Bit of a strange night.
How did you first get interested in the subject of UFOs?
C: Mine was quite strange, from as young as I can remember, always been fascinated with space. I always remember drawing pictures of space men even from about the age of 4. Quite a few strange experiences I had in my bedroom from when I was 3-4, of...seeing things. M: For me Star Wars, 100% Star Wars! Watching Star Wars back in 77, and the possibilities of Star Wars, and thinking about species out there really opened up my mind 100%. George Lucas knows things! C: Yeah.
When did you first come up with the idea for the group?
C: At a UFORM meeting. M: Yeah. The last UFORM meeting we went to. C: We both....Before we knew each other we both wanted to go to UFORM meetings in Stourbridge but we didn’t want to go alone. We got together and said “Shall we go to UFORM?” Went to a couple of lectures didn’t we? M: Only two. C: Two lectures. M: Then the second lecture they announced they were closing. In the car on the way back home from the lecture you spoke about trying to help out. C: Cause we were planning to approach them and ask if we could help. When we found out they were planning to close we decided to form a new group ourselves.
What were your main motivations for wishing to create BUFOG?
C: I suppose it’s what we’ve read and researched, wanted to prove it to people. M: It was the next natural step for us. It seemed really natural progression from discussing the subject to actually getting a group together, so we could all discuss it together, and open people’s minds up as best as we could. C: Well I think our natural path was we’d probably done about 10/11 years of researching it and it was time then to get the info out to people who didn’t know as much about it. M: So we hoped to start the group, make it as popular as possible, in this area.
Why do you feel Birmingham needs its own UFO group?
C: Heart of England. M: Yeah. Heart of England, it deserves it! C: I mean you’ve had big groups up North, then South, and it’s always restricted people – if you’re up North then you can’t go down South, but we are at the heart, it’s the heart.
How did you come up with the group logo and name?
M: I think we more or less came up with BUFOG together. We just thought “Birmingham UFO Group, yeah BUFOG!” C: We just came up with that name and it seemed to stick. M: Yeah, Birmingham UFO Group.
What were your main concerns with the creation of the group?
M: That nobody would turn up, on the first night especially. C: Yeah. M: That there would be no interest. C: We’d flop from the off, nobody would pay any interest and we’d fall on our face. I suppose seeing a group like UFORM, which had been going for about twelve years, it was well established. They started when there was no internet so it was the only thing people had to go to was the group. M: Mm-hmmm. C: We’ve started when technology’s a part of everyday life. M: Yeah. C: Neither of us have done much public speaking or organising events, so it really was a shit in the woods for us wasn’t it? Cause we hadn’t a clue where to start, what to do. M: Yeah that’s right.
How do you let people know about the existence of the group?
M: Word of mouth, we told UFORM members who passed it on, we advertise it on the website. C: It was one thing we thought about from the beginning, “How are we going to get people to know about it?” Cause the only contact we had was UFORM members and anybody who contacted us. So far we’ve had 40000 hits on the website so people are obviously finding us. M: The most important thing for us was to get the website up and running, and out there to the world wide audience, and then obviously we tried to get the word around UFORM as much as we could, and then it was word of mouth after that.
How did you choose the location for the first meeting?
C: Cause we were in here having a drink! That is the answer... M: You can leave that in (Laughs). C: No, no, seriously, we wanted it to be in Birmingham. We did look towards the Oldbury area but obviously that’s going outside of Birmingham. Especially this location here, it’s very accessible. M: The Hagley Road is one of the best known roads in Birmingham. C: It’s one road from the motorway, so it’s a perfect location.
What were your main concerns with meeting the members for the first time?
C: Shitting ourselves! M: That there’d be people like you! (laughs) C: I think out of everything we’ve done, and how far we’ve come, that was the most nervous we’ve ever been, that first night. M: Yeah sitting in the corner over there. C: We’ve both said in the past, neither of us have been a very public person, if there’s a bunch of people we tend to step back. So becoming the front of it and the centre was quite un-nerving.
How do you feel the first meeting went?
C: Absolutely fantastic! We expected to get here and there be one person here. M: Yeah. And we were late getting here. C: I remember us both bursting through the door, both out of breath... M: And then there was quite a few people over by the bar. C: It was a pleasant surprise. M: We got a drink, sat down and then everyone was sort of looking at us then, as if to say “Say something then.” C: Maybe if it was a different subject we may not have done it. But probably with the research and background we had we were comfortable with it, we knew what we were talking about. M: That was the key definitely.
What were the reasons for the choice of location for the ongoing meetings and lectures?
C: Well it’s next to the Amber Tavern, it’s a very well known pub isn’t it? M: Yeah. C: It’s easy to get to from the motorway, Birmingham. The only thing with the Amber Tavern is they didn’t have a private room, which just would have been perfect, so we had to go with the Midland Red Social Club which is next door to it.
What are your regular activities in regards to keeping the group going?
M: Research, researching articles, definitely trying to get as much information as possible to provide for the group. C: It’s everything many other groups don’t do. M: Yeah. C: Searching through newspapers, website, meetings, video nights... M: It’s all about information, information is the key to everything. So we research every new sighting we can get our hands on.
How do you go about choosing and setting up lectures?
C: Strangely enough, the first year it was as if it did it itself wasn’t it? M: In the first year they landed in our lap, second year it’s been a lot more difficult. C: It’s been a lot harder hasn’t it? The first year it was as if it was fate what happened, it did it to get us set up and established, where as this year it’s been kind of...we’ve had to chase people this year. But the first year it was the other way round, people were coming to us. M: It was a lot easier. This year it’s been a lot harder getting people here. Nobody backed out in that first year did they? Nobody. C: For the first year it had all three of us concentrating on the same thing. This second year we’ve got so many different directions... M: Taking on the magazine as well. C: There’s a lot more going on.
What were your main reasons for taking on a group investigator?
C: It was time wasn’t it, we just hadn’t got time for it. M: In between doing the website and looking at things we really hadn’t got time to go out and see anyone. C: We were having that many requests coming in from people to investigate things. M: “Can you come and see us, can you come and investigate this” “Well no we can’t” C: All we was relying on was people send us the reports and we just publish them, we hadn’t got time to follow it up or... M: That’s all we were doing was reporting sightings. Which is wrong, because we needed to get out there, or get somebody to get out there and do it.
What do you think of the members of the group so far?
C: I think we’ve got a good collection of people. M: Yeah people from all different backgrounds. C: Middle aged, older aged, professional people, students. Some people think people into this subject are all going to be anoraks, but we are the complete opposite. That was one thing that surprised us. There’s some really interesting people in the group.
What are your own highlights and lowlights of the first year and a half of BUFOG?
C: Lowlight was the small turnout to some of the lectures we did in the summer. Cause the amount of work you put into it, and then hardly anyone shows up... M: Yeah I think there was one lecture or film night where we only got 11 people, that was really a kick in the balls basically. Highlight was probably Mary Rodwell, or Ann Andrews, or both of them. Mary coming from Australia, and she wanted to do the lecture, she was lovely. C: Possibly another big highlight is just sitting down and seeing what we’ve achieved, what we’ve done. We’ve never had a chance to sit back and get big headed about it. M: No, we ain’t got the time.
How do you feel the Kerrang radio interview went?
C: I enjoyed that! M: Yeah. C: It was quite good. I expected it to be kind of a bit of the opposite, kind of ridiculing us but that never happened. M: I think I said one word right at the end, I said “Cheers!” C: I think it was good, because I think he had a lot of interest in it which was good. I suppose a lot of people who interview you aren’t really interested in the subject. M: To be fair we were a bit worried that they were going to ridicule us on air, and I think that was our big fear, but to be fair they didn’t.
How do you feel about having to cancel the planned UFO conference?
M: Ooooo you had to bring that up! C: Pull that knife from out of my back! (laughs) Errr....both ways with that. One it was gutting to get the line up we agreed, would have been a fantastic line up. M: I don’t think it was the right time. Even from the start I felt that possibly it wasn’t the right time. C: I think for the time it was possibly too big for us wasn’t it? M: Yeah, I think we were trying to do too much in such a short space of time. That first year we were all optimistic, we were like “Come on”. C: I suppose it was a big statement for us. M: We wanted to take on the world that first year. C: I think it possibly could have been our downfall. With speakers that big, if it went wrong it could have damaged our reputation. M: We want this to be a huge event, and it will be in the future, it will be the UK’s biggest, so that’s something for the future. C: It was getting harder and harder to sort it out, we were hitting more and more obstacles... M: Maybe it was a sign that it just wasn’t meant to be. C: I think everybody took it well. It’s something to look forward to when we do do it so... M: We still will.
What has been your favourite lecture so far and why?
M: For me it Mary Rodwell, for you it was... C: Mine was Ann Andrews. M: Yeah. I think you took more to Ann Andrews probably than I did. C: Well I got on with Ann Andrews really well. I was looking forward to Mary Rodwell’s as well but I spent so much time trying to get the computers working. I was concentrating more on making sure everything was working than actually the lecture. I think with Ann Andrews I actually got to sit back and enjoy the lecture. So Ann Andrews was the one for me. M: Mary Rodwell for me definitely. The information, research and the place that she came from, she’d come all the way from Australia, and such a lovely woman as well, she was really nice. C: I think one of the best and well received lectures was yours. Cause you’ve only been researching for a year and... M: You had the best turn out! C: I’ve got to say I thought it was absolutely fantastic. Brilliant lecture. M: It showed we were being a very professional group. C: It showed how good some of the cases have been and that some serious research had been done into them. M: I think before that people may have been thinking that we weren’t doing that much. After that lecture I think people realised exactly what we have been doing.
What do you feel are the advantages to running a group specifically for one city/area?
M: I think people want to know what’s going on in their area. If they’re interested in this subject, and there’s reports coming in from their area which we are providing, it’s an interesting insight into what’s going on out there. We’re from Birmingham, we’re looking into Birmingham sightings generally, it’s nice to know what’s going on in your area. C: I suppose one thing with it being Birmingham, what with it being Midland based, just think what we’ve got going on around us – airports, air force bases, we’re at a vantage point. The centre of England is Birmingham.
What are your plans for the future of the group?
C: Conquer the world! (laughs) M: Obviously the conference for the future, we’ll carry on with the meetings, writing the magazine which hopefully will go worldwide. C: Hopefully one day we’ll become much stronger, the central body for UFO reports in the UK, you never know maybe the central body for the world! The agency between them....and the earthlings.
Are you worried that you may attract the attention of individuals involved with the UFO cover up?
M: I think that’s part and parcel for the subject which we are in. C: I think we need to attract them.
If you met an alien face-to-face, what would be the first question you would ask it?
M: Where did you come from? It’s gotta be. C: I think I would say “Start from the beginning. Tell me all, I want to know everything.”
Copyright Dave Hodrien 2009