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LAPIS 2011 Conference Review

Updated: Jun 24, 2019

Early on the morning of Saturday 11th June 2011 I and my friend Chris set off from Birmingham on our journey to Blackpool for the yearly LAPIS paranormal conference. It was a fantastic sunny day and the roads were nice and clear. This year the conference took place at the Carousel Hotel right on the seafront, just a short distance along the main promenade from Blackpool Pleasure Beach. As we arrived around 9.30am, both Blackpool Tower and “The Big One” rollercoaster were in plain sight.

The conference took place inside the main bar room of the hotel. This was really nicely furnished and well lit, a comfortable location for two days of lectures. There was also another side room where a number of merchandise stalls had been laid out.

We almost immediately bumped into Paul Vella, who was billed to speak first at the conference, and a friend of mine, Mike Rutter from Rapport contactee support group and magazine. After socialising a while with them over a coffee, we then caught up with some of the other speakers including Malcolm Robinson (who had spoken at BUFOG only two weeks before), Mike Hallowell and Rob Whitehead. Prior to kick off I also had a good look round the merchandise room, where I was pleased to once again meet up with contactee Mike Oram, who was also on the speaker line up.

After claiming some nice comfy seats towards the back of the room, we settled down to listen to Paul Vella, who gave a fascinating first talk on the “Minnesota Ice Man”. This was a sideshow attraction which was put on display around the USA in the late 1960s, and appeared to be a caveman/bigfoot like creature encased in a block of ice. Many people believed it was real and was the missing link. Over the years various people claimed to have been involved with the discovery or death of the ice man, and Paul went over their claims in detail. He personally believed it to be a clever hoax made by a special effects studio rather than an actual creature, however scientists were never given the chance to thaw it out, and then it mysteriously vanished without trace, so we will probably never know for certain either way.

After Paul’s lecture there was then a break for lunch. We decided to explore the local area and find a shop to buy some food. It wasn’t long before we discovered a number of art sculptures on the promenade including a giant mirror ball which was brightly reflecting the suns rays. This was begging out for some photo opportunities, some of which are displayed below!

The afternoon began with a talk from Jon Ronson, investigative journalist and author of numerous books including The Men Who Stared At Goats, which has since been made into an excellent comedy film starring Ewan McGregor and George Clooney. Rob has looked into numerous unusual fringe subjects including remote viewing and the Bohemian Grove ceremony (Which he managed to sneak into with Alex Jones) However his lecture mostly focused on psychopaths, the subject of his latest book. He covered the various officially recognised signs of madness, and explained how some of these signs were quite ridiculous and could be attributed to most people in one way or another. His talk was both interesting and amusing, though I can’t help but feel that someone so openly sceptical of the paranormal was a little out of place.

Next Mike Hallowell took to the stage. He warned at the start of his lecture that it was not really suitable for children and that he would be discussing some quite disturbing things, and he wasn’t joking either! Mike’s talk was about an ongoing case of a family who were being plagued by poltergeist-like activity that clearly had malicious intent and was far from friendly. However Mike put the activity down to a demonic entity from folklore know as a Brag, as some of the activity fitted in with this. This activity unexplained sounds and footsteps, laughing and voices heard over the telephone or actually in the household, fires which had burst out of nowhere, and a cloud like mist which was witnessed in the hallway that actually rained urine all over the floor and stairs, before hoof like markings appeared walking up the stairs one step at a time. The entity appeared to be linked to the family rather than their home, as it had also followed them out of the house on numerous occasions. The most disturbing incident of all was where one of the family had been beaten around the face by an invisible assailant while Mike was speaking to another family member over the phone. He played the unpleasant audio recording of this conversation, as well as a number of EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) recordings. One of the most impressive aspects of the case was the fact that the police had got involved and had not only witnessed some of this activity first hand, but had allowed for their identities to be revealed. This certainly aided in backing up the validity of the case.

The final speaker of the day was Malcolm Robinson from Strange Phenomena Investigations (SPI). Malcolm is an accomplished and well versed speaker with many years experience in the field, and his lectures are always a joy to listen to. His lecture was entitled “The Weird And The Wonderful”, and covered many varied experiences and incidents. These included his own UFO sightings and efforts to find the Loch Ness monster. He then covered the curse of American actor James Dean’s car. James lost his life in the car during a fatal accident. However after his demise there were many other accidents and fatalities linked to the car in various ways, leading people to believe that it was cursed. Malcolm also covered a terrifying séance he had personally been involved in where lots had taken place he could not explain, and a photograph from Chile which claims to show a live ET being walking across a road. He then went on to talk of other UFO cases including a silver disc that was seen from the window of an aircraft, and another saucer-shaped craft that was seen by the crew of a ship out at sea. He ended his talk by covering a case where a woman’s car had seemingly collided with an invisible force of some kind which had crumpled the side of the car without causing any damage to the paintwork – very bizarre! Malcolm’s lecture was pretty much identical to the one he had given at BUFOG a fortnight before, but it was great hearing it a second time.

And so ended the first day of lectures, but the fun was far from over! We headed outside a while for some drinks in the early evening sunlight, and a chat with Malcolm, Mike and Paul. I also met the presidents of the Scarborough UFO Society (SUFOS).

After a short while, the merchandise room had been cleverly transformed into a “Meet the speakers” buffet room. The food was really good, and after dinner and drinks it was time for a thoroughly enjoyable paranormal themed quiz. With Malcolm Robinson on our team we came a respectable second place, and were only one point away from being declared the winners. We were just pipped to the post by Mike Hallowell and Oll Lewis, who won a load of skywatch related equipment.

In actual fact, the prize would surely have come in handy, as after a few more drinks I, Chris, Malcolm and Mike Rutter decided to head on out to some nearby sand dunes and end the night with a short skywatch. It was quite a mild evening with a relatively clear sky, ideal skywatching conditions! It took about 10 minutes to walk to our destination. After the facing the perils of numerous sand covered pathways while under the influence of alcohol, we ended up at the highest point of the dunes, which gave a great view of the surroundings and also out over the sea. There were some other people close by next to a fire but we decided not to approach them. In the distance we could see numerous ships lights.