STRANGE DAYS part 2/2 – with author & broadcaster of the unexplained, Dan Green

In part one Dan talked about his experiences of investigating the unexplained. To dig deeper I asked him if he shared these experiences with anyone else ?

I often share experiences, investigations and findings are with like-minded persons or with well-known respected authors and writers, psychologists and physicists. We are all investigators at heart and it’s logical to pool ideas to seek out patterns.

I also discovered there is a tangible connection between Eastern Buddhist’s search for enlightenment and the unfolding and ongoing evolution of the autistic consciousness, as evidenced in the common aspiration of turning within, detachment and elaborate ritual.

My wife, who has Aspergers and Savant abilities, can ‘dip’ into her ‘Department’ and be presented with info she couldn’t possibly know. This is rather like people with a ’psychic’ ability who can access accurate info for people they shouldn’t have, although I think a lot of psychics unwittingly and innocently read the minds of others with an unconscious form of telepathy.

Where do you think these findings are leading us ?

People still don’t seem to know that the vast amount of evidence we have from all over the world clearly outline that there is much we do not understand about what we call ‘psychic experiences’ which encompass weird UFO, fairy, angelic episodes across the globe.

Neurology says they are but hallucinatory then walk away, but they don’t really know enough about what precipitates, and what a hallucination actually does or is.

It might even open the doorway to another realm through an altered state of consciousness and not just be a fiction of the brain. Physics currently haven’t found evidence of other dimensions, but if they are out there – and why not – it would be the answer to most of the unexplained.

There are lots of tireless and honest researchers out there, some who have dedicated their lives to searching, none of them are stupid people, but who made the decision that they didn’t want to be academically qualified.

So when they have compiled strong evidence they submit to the ‘experts’, the authorities, the heavily qualified, who by nature of where we stand right now, means they receive it as a sceptic. The unwritten rule is that only they can make discoveries, the very ones they don’t want to make.

Throughout all your experiences has there been one that stands out ?

I didn’t seek out the unexplained, but throughout my life it has this habit of tapping me on the shoulder. It was therefore natural that I would become my own investigator. Listening to other people’s stories is helpful but you can’t beat having your own.

All my encounters with strangeness culminated in a close encounter with a UFO (now called Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) in France in 1986 when strange ‘psychic’ events brought about a series of ‘arranged situations’. There were three other witnesses.

It was a game changer and is unlikely ever to be topped in the unexplained stakes. It certainly wasn’t a man-made object. Witnessing it got me into lots of official trouble and that’s about as much as I’m going to share on that one other than since the encounter, experiencing frequent Jungian synchronicities is a way of life. 

A thought image created by Ted Serios.

People talk of something strange happening out there, what is out there ?

There is no doubt that there is ‘something’ going on out there, a vast ‘something’  that certainly has an intelligence and can probably account for all aspects of the unexplained. Neurology and the brain is part of the mystery but for the experts in science that is where they close the door. They say when the brain dies, so do you. End of story.

I personally have had two experiences of so-called ‘dead’ people announcing they are still living in an alternate time and space, and both experiences defy the stock explanations of psychologist’s who would dismiss it as hallucinatory.

In 2020 I said jokingly to top psychologist Dr Susan Blackmore, ‘Well, why not believe in a life after death because if there isn’t one you won’t be around to look stupid’ She replied ‘I couldn’t kid myself even if I wanted to’. This is the sort of rigidity you come up against when pitted against the current findings from the world of science.

I do respect their research and opinions but if they are honest they have to allow for how new breakthroughs in neurology and physics could eventually one day change it all.

Newspaper report from The Shields Gazette.

Finally, what would you say to a sceptic reading this ?

There is still much we don’t know about hidden capacities of our planet  – ley line energies being one – and the hidden potential of the human condition. Without knowing those we don’t know nearly enough. It’s all about wanting to understand.

If you come to my house you’ll see bones here and there, all over the floor. That might look a bit disconcerting until you realise I have two pet puppy dogs.

Life itself is the one big mystery. Why we have it, and why we are here. If the experts are honest enough they will have to concede that we are still left in the main with guesswork. Why can’t my guess be as good as yours? Life, in its entirety, is one big profundity.

Read more from Dan Green here:

POLTERGEIST – Dan Green investigates Mysterious Tyneside | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

Interview by Gary Alikivi   March 2021.

STRANGE DAYS part 1/2 – with author & broadcaster of the unexplained, Dan Green

Stories of UFO’s, Poltergeists and fairies featured on this blog back in October 2019 and are worth checking out after you have read this latest interview with Dan Green. (links below)

To find out more about Green and his research into the unexplained I asked him, did you witness an incident when you were young ?

Weird stuff started happening to me once I hit 10, at the time in 1967 I was living in South Shields that had just received three credible and high profile unexplained UFO sightings over the Tyne Dock area of the town.

Newspaper article from The Shields Gazette.

At the time I was living in a house with a ‘presence’, and I experienced a ‘vanishing dart’. One night during a family game of darts – I pulled my arm back to throw the dart held in my hand and it just wasn’t there. My parents searched the room for about an hour.

I had incidents late at night with the bottom of my bed shaking violently when I was in it, and once when I was playing Subbuteo on the floor with a school friend, the entire bathroom shook, and he ran off. When in bed I experienced what is termed ‘night terrors’ or ‘sleep paralysis’ when a vision of some dead flowers resurrect in front of me into full bloom.

Psychologists would deem such an account as hallucinatory as they would my first Out Of Body Experience when I spontaneously left my body travelling at an incredible speed into space, everything in my peripheral vision blurring. Frightened, I suddenly arrived back in my body – and this was all before school ! Years later I began to have occasional OOBE’s.

My mother would take me to Beach Road Spiritualist Church for company. I couldn’t grasp that here I was witnessing ‘messages from the dead’ in a day when science said there was no such thing. It couldn’t be this easy could it ? Coming to a small church in amongst a lot of generally elderly people communicating with the dead so matter of fact. Succeeding where science failed?

Was it these experiences that led you to researching the subject ?

The best researchers begin as sceptics, rather like the ABC employed by the CID police  – ‘A’ Accept nothing, ‘B’ Believe nobody and ‘C’ Check everything. When you have your own direct experiences like I did, it gives you a head start and they become your personal knowledge, not a belief. But a knowledge of what?

When I was 25 I investigated an area at the back of South Shields Marine & Technical College fields. On old maps it had originally been called ‘Fair Fields’. One day I had some casual photos taken there in the flora and fauna, where you could discern what looked like classic folklore fairies.

These creatures have a habit of being seen in cultures all over the world but here I was seeing the classic European representation. I wondered if the place name had in time been corrupted from ‘Fairy field’?

More pic’s were taken and more entities showed up. Psychologist’s rightly point out the phenomena of pareidolia – where we can see shapes and faces in random patterns. But they seem to think that’s that, ruling out the possibility of both pareidolia and evidence of entities manifesting.

It’s a shame that with advances in technology and tools like Photoshop photographic evidence is less acceptable now as its so easy to fake stuff – You Tube is full of UFO fake footage. Why do humans enjoy being so deceptive?

Did you talk about this to friends ?

Some friends could see the figures others couldn’t. If people haven’t had an experience of their own they are usually sceptical but if they have, they are usually interested. It helps if they have some knowledge of psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience which is the natural investigative starting point of trying to rationalise. Most of my mates didn’t.

The much respected Dr Vernon Harrison, former President of the Royal Photography Society examined my fairy pic’s on behalf of the Association for the Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP), and could see the entities and declared the negatives untouched.

He was interested in coming up to Shields to take his own photos but the ASSAP wouldn’t fund the trip. In 1989 Joe Cooper, the fellow who eventually exposed the world famous ‘Cottingley Fairies’ hoax visited my home for advice. His book was at his Publishers supporting the Cottingley photos when he’d just found out they were fakes. He settled for the possibility that at least one was genuine – it wasn’t.

I laugh when people say ‘I don’t believe in ghosts’ or ‘I don’t believe in UFO’s’, acting like there’s no such things. Well, they are out there, it’s what they are we need to be knowing. I once spent some days in an alleged haunted derelict asylum and had my own experiences that defied the comfortable, framed paradigm of psychologists, and experienced my own knowledge of a ‘something’ unexplainable otherwise.

Does the unexplained cause sleepless nights where you are left wondering what it is you have just witnessed ?

In 1977 I started my life long association with deep profound Tibetan meditation under the patronage of lama teachers. It opened up whole new worlds of possibilities involving the nature of reality, perception and levels of consciousness, which appears to be the key to all things currently unexplained.

Science gives you its rigid, restrictive and dull explanations from the conclusions based on their current findings but in time they may find they hadn’t got it right. The mystery of the brain and its abilities are still beyond all of us.

I don’t lose sleep over anything, in fact sleep is a great place to start experimenting – trying to induce OOBE experiences, lucid dreaming, pursue mythological archetypes as outlined by Jung – I’ve met the Greek god figure Pan, and traverse the realms of the Unconscious Mind.

The only thing I do wonder about is whether the human race were genetically engineered by some other advanced beings that may have observed their handiwork for a while and then lost interest and left us to our own devices. Does that sound so crazy? No.

And if you look hard enough there appears to be traces of evidence across the globe left behind by our architects. Sadly though, it might also be possible that the human race is a failed experiment.

In the second part of this interview Dan talks about an experience he will never forget ‘It was a game changer and is unlikely ever to be topped in the unexplained stakes’.

And a puzzling event in which ‘I’ve had two experiences of so-called ‘dead’ people announcing they are still living in an alternate time and space’.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS ON TYNESIDE Dan Green investigates Mysterious Tyneside | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

Interview by Gary Alikivi   March 2020

HANG ON A MINUTE – New release from musician Barry Lamb – Miniatures 2020 

Musician Barry Lamb, a former South Shields resident – he still calls it his ‘spiritual home’, featured in an earlier blog

TON OF TUNES – musician Barry Lamb talks about his latest project, Miniatures 2020. | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

In March he released his latest work Miniatures 2020 and his confidant Thomas Thumb got in touch.

“Think of Mott The Hoople and you immediately think of the Bowie written All the Young Dudes. From the moment you hear that iconic guitar intro you know you’re in for an immortal anthemic treat. Not so instantly thought of might be the band’s keyboard player from 1973-76, Morgan Fisher.

In 1980 he came up with the unique idea of Miniatures; A sequence of 51 tiny masterpieces  and produced the 51 one minute tracks from invited guests such as The Damned, the Pretenders, XTC and contributions from the more bizarre worlds  of Ivor Cutler and The Residents. It became a cult classic. In 2000 came another, Miniatures 2 with 61 one minutes tracks.

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the original, Lamb has orchestrated bringing about Miniatures 2020  which was released on March 15th. In 1977 Barry co-founded the Essex based indie record label Falling A Records which also found time to distribute the very first copies of the VIZ Comic.  A trailer for the album is now on YouTube – Miniatures 2020 Now Available which includes the link for purchasing”.

There is a further South Shields connection. Mention the words ‘cult’ and ‘bizarre’ and it won’t be long before the name of Wavis O’Shave will crop up. Wavis was invited by Morgan to contribute to the original 1980 album but instead sent him someone else performing one of his songs, so it didn’t qualify. Natural universal karma has now sought to correct that and Wavis can be found on the new album with his palindrome song ‘Mr Owl ate my metal worm’.

Music journalist Dmitry M. Epstein, author of books about The Doors, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd and  Black Sabbath to name a few has this to say about the new album, ‘not the easiest, if surely absorbing, listening and a truly brilliant achievement – has all the chances to become one of the most interesting releases of 2021″.

Looks like another cult classic is on the way.

March 2021

LOOKING FOR LUCIFER – The continuing search for author & artist, Baron Avro Manhattan (1914-90)

Visiting Avro’s grave in Shotley Bridge, Durham 2016

Over a number of years I’ve researched the life of Avro Manhattan, and in 2018 produced a short documentary on what I’ve found out about his life so far.

SECRETS & LIES – documentary based on The Life of Baron Avro Manhattan. | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

Recently I received a message from Yorkshire based author, Howerd Haley. He told me when promoting his new book he mentioned Avro Manhattan. In the message Howerd also mentions Subud, a secret organisation he belongs too.

Subud started in the 1930s following an ascension by its founder, and spread to the West in 1957. Subud has been described as the content of religion, in that members of any religion can receive a supernatural experience, known in Christianity as the Holy Spirit and in other religions as the Great life force. In other words a believer’s faith in God is supplemented by a supernatural spiritual experience’.

Howerd explains…I’ve been a member for over forty years. The reason the organisation is semi-secret is that we have not been allowed to promote the organisation. But are allowed to write books on Subud and I’m promoting my latest book on various podcasts.

Howerds latest book is called ‘Ascension’ in it he talks about the three secrets of Fatima, which are ‘a series of apocalyptic visions and prophecies by the Virgin Mary given to three Portuguese shepherds in 1917’.

‘I told former Subud member, Rasjid Skinner, that I intended to reveal the Third secret of Fatima when promoting my book, when Rasjid told me about Baron Manhattan and what he had said when he met him in the early ‘70s in London. Manhattan talked about a conversation he had in a Vatican garden with a Cardinal, about the last secret of Fatima’.

‘And that the Cardinal said the Pope had opened ‘the box’, but was not able to reveal the full secret that a man, not of the Church, would come from the East, and would bring many people closer to God’.

Howerd added… ‘This was further confirmation for me, I decided to make it a central theme so when I recorded the podcast I briefly quoted corroboration by Baron Manhattan in it’.  

It’s interesting to hear Manhattan talked about nearly 50 year later. I asked Howerd what originally inspired you to write the book ?

‘The inspiration for the book was from an ascension image of the outside of the universe. I compared this to Hubble space photographs and have proved scientifically that the ascension image came before Hubble. Therefore ascensions are real’.

‘The person who provided the ascension image is the object of the undisclosed third secret. I felt an overwhelming inner urge to find this thing which was missing. Baron Manhattan had half the secret correct – I believe that I have the missing part’.

If you are interested in hearing more listen to the podcast on the Charlie Ward show and the book Ascension by Howerd Haley is available through Amazon.

If you have had any contact or information about Italian born artist & author Baron Avro Manhattan (1914-90), please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Gary Alikivi  March 2021.

TYNE & WEIRD – with author Rob Kilburn

Folklore, urban legends, strange happenings and eccentric characters from history are all brought to life in Tyne and Weird, Rob Kilburn’s first book.

I asked 27 year old Seaburn lad Rob, what inspired you to write this book ?

‘I feel it’s important to be aware of some of our own history and I think on a personal level it was about finding inspiring characters and stories from the North East’

‘I started Tyne and Weird on Facebook a couple of years ago with the aim of building up an audience. I started sharing stories from around the North East that I found interesting, exploring quirky, strange history and some darker themes’.

Did you come across any surprises when researching the stories ?

‘I think the sheer amount of history unique to the area was a bit of surprise. The more you dig into archives and connect with community you realise how much of the world is connected to our little part of England’.

Have you a favourite story in the book ?

‘One story I found particularly interesting was the two lads from Gateshead who allegedly captured the Loch Ness Monster on camera’.

Is there a story set in South Shields ?

‘Yes, there are stories from all over Tyne and Wear. South Shields has had a number of interesting visitors like Buffalo Bill, Houdini and Jimi Hendrix to name just a few’. 

Have you an idea for future projects ?

‘Yes, I am currently working on a sequel which will also look at areas in the North East outside of Tyne and Weird. There is a lot of weird out there and some of the stories in this one are fantastic’.

Where is the book available ?

The book is available on Amazon or you can get it directly from me here:
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/898847869/tyne-and-weird-the-book

Interview by Gary Alikivi   March 2021.

NO REGRETS – with Paul McCarte from Hartlepool band, demon summer

In a previous interview with Paul (link below), he talks about his former band Procession imploding after two albums, there was also a failed attempt at getting a record deal with ZTT. I got back in touch with Paul and asked if he sees it as an opportunity missed to step up in the music business.

We were all in our early twenties, young and headstrong, and we knew that ZTT had a reputation for totally changing the sound of a band a la Frankie Goes to Hollywood. We were definitely not up for that, so we were hoping they liked us for what we were.

Their A&R guy saw the potential but seemed more interested in me than the band, and that was never going to fly with me, despite everyone in the band thinking I should go for it. I would have ended up like Seal just adding my face and voice to big ZTT produced tracks.

We were sure something else would present itself – because as one door closes another one opens. I’ve always been in it for the music rather than any kind of fame. Being creative is the whole point and we’ve made some wonderful music together since our time in Sarm West studio/ZTT.

It was their loss as we created two albums in the immediate aftermath, armed with no money in tiny studios with 100% passion and belief. The songs still sound marvellous and don’t seem to have aged.

I’ve tracked down three of the Sarm West/ZTT recordings on tape and am intending to release them on our Bandcamp when we have cleaned them up and remastered them.

After Procession called it a day, McCarte dusted himself down, and along with Nick Crozier (guitar) and Ken Napper (bass) started working on a new project together.

demon summer was born out of a desire to continue making music together. To begin with Ken Napper was just pitching in but like a moth was attracted to the bright light of what me and Nick Crozier were creating and just kept turning up and slinging his bass on.

This was fine with us as we’re all lifelong friends but at that point Ken had no desire to develop things toward a new band, although that is where me and Nick were headed.

Where did the band name originally come from ?

In 1999 we wrote some new songs as a four piece with former Procession drummer Mark Lloyd, recording them at Polaris studio in Hartlepool and this three track session saw the first use of the name demon summer.

I had a dream just before the recording session where we went to see New Order playing and got to meet them afterwards. The singer asked me if I was in a band and when I said yes he asked the name, to which my reply was demon summer. I wrote it down when I woke up, Nick liked the name so we used it on the Polaris session tracks.

After the session Mark Lloyd left to drum on his project (NEEB). Me and Nick Crozier realised changes need to happen in order to move on so I hatched a plan to get Ken Napper motivated again.

We needed a bass player and drummer so I asked a friend, Eddie Rees – who was playing bass in a local punk band if he wanted to join. He was very interested, so that part was sorted. We arranged a meeting with Ken Napper and told him we had replaced him on bass but what we really needed was a drummer.

Ken had always been able to play drums but never had the chance so he jumped at it and committed fully to the project buying himself a drum kit. We rehearsed with the full line up of myself, Nick, Eddie and Ken, at that point we became demon summer.

Roadhouse, London advert for 15.02.04

Where were your first gigs and what venues did you play after that ?

Our first gig was on 12 December 2001 at The Studio in Hartlepool and it was sold out as it had been a long time since we played. We had released the one EP earlier in the year so locally everyone knew about us and our second gig was supporting Icelandic band Leaves at The Cornerhouse in Middlesbrough.

We’ve played over a hundred gigs and festivals with a lot of famous venues among them such as The Cavern in Liverpool, London venues The Borderline, Roadhouse, The Garage, Underworld, plus Carling Academy Liverpool, The Cluny Newcastle and a few Universities but probably our favourite venue has been The Empire in Middlesbrough.

Did you support any name bands ?

We played gigs with Doves, Echo & the Bunnymen, Longview, Bloc Party, The Boxer Rebellion, The Ordinary Boys, Maximo Park and toured extensively from 2002 to the end of 2005. After that we mostly played in the local area. An odd little thing that demon summer were involved with is providing all of the music for the Morrissey documentary The Jewel in the Crown.

Are there any gigs that stand out ?

Playing The Empire was always fantastic. We were the opening band at Middlesbrough Music Live in 2004 and it was packed to the gills, also in 2005 when we played there during the tour for the single burn, it was a special night. The Borderline in London was really full and we got a great reception.

Also great memories of playing at the Tall Ships festival with Doves and Echo and the Bunnymen.

Did you record any of your material ?

We built our own studio called PulseArt on the top floor of my house which is where the one EP, debut album Sideshow and singles empty heart and burn were all recorded between 2001 and 2004.

Between March 12th and 17th 2004 we recorded in Liverpool’s Parr Street Studio laying down four new songs, three of which – founder, mary celeste and created were released last year as the Parr Street Session. The session was engineered and mixed by the renowned Liverpool sound engineer Michael Hunter who has worked with some of the biggest bands out there such as Supergrass, Marillion and The Charlatans.

In 2005 we recorded the follow up single to burn which was a re-imagined poppier version of empty heart along with a song called you draw the line, all recorded at Tower Street Studio in Hartlepool.

But our record company Waterside Records folded just afterwards so we never released it. We remastered the songs and released them last year as the single empty heart two.

Between 2011 and 2015 we recorded the second demon summer album in PulseArt and this will be released later in the year preceded by the first single it’s a trap.

When did the band call it a day and why ?

Technically demon summer have not disbanded. Mark and Andy wanted to return to NEEB to work on an album so we agreed to put gigging on hold and just record the album which myself and Nick would produce with a very loose ‘We’ll talk about what to do next when it’s finished’.

What are you doing now ?

We all work on various projects. Mark and Andy have alongside their band NEEB been working under the moniker ATM and also Subliminal Vineyards with Tony Waite, Mark Hand and Mark Folland. Andy Wain (keys) also works under the alias Pixelate. Myself, Nick and Eddie have been working on a new project since 2015 which we would have played live by now but for the pandemic.

Check the demon summer back catalogue:

www.demonsummer.bandcamp.com

Link to the first interview with Paul McCarte:

DEAL OR NO DEAL – for North East musician Paul McCarte | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

Interview by Gary Alikivi  March 2021.

FROM NEWCASTLE WITH LOVE – part one of an interview with actor & musician Brian Rapkin.

Life in the North East started in 1973 in a basement flat in Leazes Terrace near St James Park, Newcastle. Waking up each morning to a kitchen sink full of slugs was not ideal, so I moved to Fenham sharing a flat with fellow-teacher Ged Grimes, guitarist in Hedgehog Pie.

I was teaching at John Marley Upper School where I entertained Bob Smeaton (former vocalist with Newcastle band White Heat, now music TV director, link below) and his class by reading chapters from The Exorcist.

Later in the ’70s came the North East punk scene, when I was living in Brighton Grove, Newcastle singing and writing songs as Brian Bond with Punishment of Luxury. We had a single out on Small Wonder records then got a major deal with United Artists – an album Laughing Academy and three singles – and toured UK and Europe. EMI dropped us in 1980 and I left soon after to form Punching Holes.

In part two Brian will be talking more about his music, this post will focus on his acting career. I asked him when did you start acting ?

My brother, sister and I used to put on short plays for mum and dad when I was small living in Staines near London where I was brought up. That thrill of performing to an audience had begun. There was no school drama even though I tried to get my English teacher to organise it. All that remained was sport, and boxing was mine.

My dad trained me and I won two cups in school, read books about it and loved Henry Cooper, Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston and Mohammed Ali. I was obsessed. At 13 I won a bronze medal and made the school boxing team.

Training was dire in the bad winter of ‘63 – endless gym circuits, cross-country runs in the snow wearing boots and heavy backpack. I got flu and they dropped me from the team after two matches. I lost them both, along with my killer instinct. Sometimes an illness jerks you into making changes. This one dragged me out of a rut into acting.

I was in an all-male school, so at 14 my acting debut was in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, along with Stephen Milligan, the Tory MP who died naked with an orange in his mouth and a plastic bag over his head.

The first paid acting job was at 20 working for Bowie’s mentor Lindsay Kemp at York Arts Centre. This was soon followed by a role in the 1970 Edinburgh Festival as the virgin Sir Galahad in Mort d’Arthur. I trained method-style for the part by remaining chaste until 21.

1971 involved acting in a different role. I found an ad in The Stage and applied to be a clown in Cottle & Austen’s Circus. The first performance in Surrey was adrenalin-packed but they didn’t like my ‘grotesque’ make-up so they toned me down and made me an auguste, a tramp clown. It lasted three days, the ringmaster went into a sulk after I spurned his advances, so he refused to give me the training he’d promised.

Brian as a young clown in 1967 at Warwick University.

When did you sign professionally?

I signed up as an Equity actor in 1975 whilst as a variety performer singing and playing guitar and keyboards in Mad Bongo theatre group, based in the North East. As a stage actor, the best roles were in a production about the trial of Oscar Wilde. We toured it around North arts centres and colleges. It was a disastrous opening night in Kendal but then we pulled it all together and it was much praised.

The first speaking part in film acting was in BBC’s Machine Gunners (1982) as a Polish officer.  I didn’t have to audition but chatted to Colin Cant, the director, a lovely man who gave me the part after I told him of my Polish ancestry, which was almost true.

In 1995 Brian appeared in Tyne Tees TV programme Stranger than Fiction, associate producer was Vin Arthey who features in an earlier blog. (link below)

How did you get the part ?

Dave Holly was my agent and they liked my Russian accent, the role as a 1920s Soviet intelligence officer was a dream. In a sense it was like going back centuries to revisit my family’s Russian roots as a Rapkin.

The scene involved interviewing William Fisher, the Geordie Russian spy born in Benwell, and decide his suitability as a Soviet agent. I thought smoking a cigarette would help the atmosphere and it probably did, but as a lifelong non-smoker it was hard to do.

The location of the scene was the main assembly hall in Heaton Manor School, where ten years previously I’d been a teacher. My son was about to enrol at this school and the location was ideal – dark, polished wood everywhere, and a floor where footsteps could echo, perfect for a top-secret meeting between a spy and his handler.

What other roles did you have on TV ?

Byker Grove allegedly cost £1000 a minute to shoot, and this may be why most of my role as a sadistic supervisor – in black clothing, brandishing a long stick – ended up on the cutting-room floor.  I was overseeing a group of youths doing community service and had to shout at them. We did the scene twice.

Take 1: The sound meter leapt into red and distorted, so had to be done again.

Take 2: One of my lines was marred by a slight fluff. Mathew Robinson the director said ‘Next scene!’

I asked if we could do it again. No was the answer, we gotta move on. The only line of mine that survived was ‘Oy! Back to work!

Ant, Dec, and Jill Halfpenny, were just kids. I was watching the filming at one point and they were performing a scene. Mathew said ‘Cut! Let’s do it again but speak more slowly this time.’  Jill said ‘But that’s how real Geordies speak!’ and he said ‘Yes, but this is being networked all around the UK, from Cornwall to Scotland. Everyone in the country’s got to understand everything that you’re saying. OK? One more time. Action!’

I was a cockney detective in Spender in 1990. I was in the opening scene with Jimmy Nail and Amanda Redman in a train carriage. Nervy, with the crew squeezed into the aisle between the seats, Mr Nail chivvied the crew along.  ‘Come on everyone, the actors are on tenterhooks here.’ That helped my nerves. I was the new boy on the block.

During a move from one location to another, I missed the coach for Less Important Actors and had to share a trailer with Jimmy and Amanda. They chatted about past experiences. She mentioned that she’d toured with the Rocky Horror Show. I tried to join in the conversation ‘I love that show. What part did you play?’  She turned towards me, stared at an empty space and forcing a smile, said ‘I’m sorry?’  There was an awkward pause.

I repeated it, this time less confidently. Jimmy Nail waded in with a put-down reply ‘What part did you play?’… ‘The lead, of course!’. End of conversation. Cue to look out of the trailer window. Tumbleweed floats by.

Playing a Maitre D in ‘The Round Tower’ by Catherine Cookson 1998.

Have you any stand out memories from filming ?

One day as an extra for a TV drama I had to get costumed up at 7am in the Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay. I wasn’t used in a scene until 4pm, so the best thing was to watch the filming and chat to others involved. One of these was Jimmy Garbutt, a leading actor in When the Boat Comes In and one of the elders in the Superman film with Christopher Reeve and Marlon Brando.

He regaled us with tales from Superman. On the first day of filming Brando was shaking each actor’s hand saying ‘Hi, I’m Marlon Brando’ – as if they didn’t know. When it came to shooting a scene, one of the other elders was Trevor Howard, who’d been with Brando in Mutiny on the Bounty. Howard was furious because Brando hadn’t bothered learning any of his lines, and he’s had them written out in large letters, sellotaped to their set.

Doing a couple of Catherine Cookson films, The Round Tower and The Man who Cried, was challenging, and it was enjoyable to dress up and play Sir Walter Raleigh to Charlie Hardwick’s Queen Elizabeth I in CITV’s Kappatoo, elegantly laying a cloak on the puddle for her majesty to step on.

Once I was an extra in Supergran in a crowded pub scene. We had to drink from pint mugs and our glasses were filled with shandy. One of the extras, a stocky Geordie actor from Walker, took a look at his glass and barked at the Production Assistant ‘Ah’m not drinkin’ that!’  

The PA – a slim, well-groomed man from the South East of England – bellowed in a high-pitched voice: ‘Remove this man from the set, please! Take his costume, thank you!’ Great days.

What are you doing now ?

I stopped acting for a living at 35 – too precarious, always touring in vans, no money, nowhere decent to live. I got married, started a family, taught in Cairo for a while then went back to Newcastle to teach and do whatever film or TV work came along.

From 1985 I taught drama in schools for 5 years, then post-16 students in a college for 30 years. Last year I took voluntary redundancy and now there are possibilities of work linked to the acting world.

In part two soon read about Brian’s alternative career as a musician in the bands Punishment of Luxury and Punching Holes.

Interview by Gary Alikivi  March 2021.

Interview with Bob Smeaton:

THE BOY FROM BENWELL – with Film & TV Director, Bob Smeaton | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

Interview with Vin Arthey:

RUSSIA’S GEORDIE SPY with author Vin Arthey | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

GLASTONBURY TOR – More than just a Hill by author, Dan Green

Mysteries of the world are fascinating subjects and we rely on scientists, archaeologists and storytellers to bring them out of the dark.

Former South Shields resident Dan Green, British author, broadcaster and researcher has already shared some of his experiences on this blog including poltergeists, UFO’s and fairies. He recently got in touch about some more unpredictable events that he has experienced.

Of all the apparent mysteries I have investigated and had to leave unsolved, this is certainly high up on my list. Even higher is Glastonbury Tor, a 158 metres high conical shaped hill in Somerset. Placed on a ley line, it has the reputation of being a fairy hill, with alleged strange properties with an entrance to Fairyland, no less, somewhere on its eastern slope.

I’ve visited the Tor at all times of the year both with people and on my own. I can vouch for my own strange experiences such as the first time I ascended to the summit at about 11.30pm and almost immediately there was a brief silent silver flash only feet above my head. Nice welcome.

Minutes later on the left hand slope I watched a 5 seconds silent bombardment of what I described at the time of grey ping pong balls. Obviously they weren’t physical but without being a psychic I saw them clearly. Years later I learned that other people have also watched this ping pong phenomenon. What could they have been? And how can they produce themselves?

More strangeness awaited me starting in 2005 and lasting the next five years. I was ascending the Tor on a July afternoon like I’d done umpteen times when suddenly I became overpowered with a great fear, so much so that I had to crouch down to the grass, unable to progress any further.

My body was awash with what I can only imagine a panic attack must feel like. I had no idea what was happening to me and was so fearful – unlike me – I had to retreat back down the pathway.

I wrote the experience off as it just being one of those weird things and had put it to the back of my mind when I visited next, the following July. Proving that lightning can strike twice, the same thing happened to me again at exactly the same point. For the following five years I experienced the same intense trepidation at the same point, unable to go any further.

On the last occasion two surprised family members watched me scale down the slope to crawl further along and then come up on the path again, when past the troublesome spot. They thought I was playing some sort of game.

In 2010 everything returned to normal for me and I happily skipped over the spot, going backwards and forwards just to be sure. What on earth (or maybe under earth) had all that been about?

Dazzling white ‘something’ at the base of the Tor.

In 2008 I went to Glastonbury to investigate the experience of local man Mike Chenery. On February 2007 at 4.33pm on a bright day he was walking up Orchard Lane at the foot of the Tor when he noticed all the singing birds had suddenly stopped their throng. It’s the sort of thing that happens at times of a solar eclipse.

He was at the vantage point of one of the un-arched sides of the Tower at the top of the Tor and as he glanced up at the deserted summit he saw a dazzling white something that he told me glided a short distance from within the tower. At first it showed itself as linear, long and very narrow, moving its perspective to face his direction and then widening.

Mike always carries his digital camera with him and quickly took a pic before the apparition popped off. When I met him he still had the pic saved on his camera. What had he photographed? Not a camera glitch, for a close up shows definite contours, neither an optical effect.

Interviewing Mike I have no reason to doubt his story or integrity. Could this be the most amazing photo ever taken on the famous Fairy hill?

I was once told by an ex-mayor of Glastonbury who preferred anonymity of how one night he witnessed what he described as a spaceship when he saw a reddish orange light appear above the Tor before sinking into the summit. He reassured me that he ‘Wasn’t on anything’.

As well as speaking with a good few other individuals with their own drug and alcohol free experiences, I’ve had further Tor experiences of my own, but they are so personal and likely unbelievable to a listener that I prefer keeping them to myself.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, and as much as I would like to say that Glastonbury Tor is nothing more than simply a hill, my own experiences clearly won’t allow me. Would it you?

Dan Green 2021

Read more Dan Green investigations:

HIDDEN TREASURE on Tyneside with investigator Dan Green | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

MIND GAMES ? Dan Green investigates Mysterious Tyneside | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

Edited by Gary Alikivi  February 2021.

WEY AYE BROADWAY – with singer, songwriter & actress Jan Graveson

Durham born Jan Graveson created a momentum from a very early age taking her from stage, TV and onto film. She has multiple TV credits for popular series and dramas including Eastenders, A Touch of Frost, Byker Grove, Heartbeat, and Casualty.

Jan, under her first stage name of Shainey Khan, also appeared alongside Jimmy Nail, Tim Healy, Timothy Spall and Kevin Whatley in Hasta La Vista, an episode of the second series of Auf Weidersehen, Pet.

‘That’s where I played my first speaking role as Wendy, Oz’s birra fluff. I got recognised in Newcastle straight after the show was broadcast’.

The scene was shot in the fictional club Cannibals, which actress Lesley Saint John talks about in her February 2020 interview (link). Lesley played shadey businessman Ally Frasers girlfriend.

TALKING PICTURES in conversation with actress Lesley Saint John | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

Reverting back to her own name, Jan also completed live stage work in theatre and musicals leading to Broadway.

‘After the last show in Toronto the producer Bill Kenwright came up to me and said ‘Yer going to New York kid’.

I got in touch with Jan and asked if she would like to tell a few stories about her life as a singer and actress.

I’m really busy out here shooting in Bollywood. I was always singing in bands, I was in a ton of bands when I was living in the UK and going to London and playing regularly. Singing was always part of my life. Now I’m singing in Bollywood, India, I’m also in a band in Goa.

I hate this lockdown were going through, it’s like they’re blocking out the music. But hey Gary, the Durham pit yackers are in Bombay now (laughs).

Between her busy work schedule Jan was able to highlight her career so far. First I asked where did it all begin and are you from a musical family?

Music was just something I was tuned into, it was part of my life. I was brought up in a house with a piano and music going on till 2am. My dad was a pitman and used to sing in the working men’s clubs. Our neighbour Aunty Katie used to come to our house and play the piano in the sitting room when he was practicing for the next show. I was always staying up late listening in.

I started playing piano when I was around 3 year old and my mother said I sang before I talked. It was all by ear until I was 7 and my Dad’s money from singing in the clubs helped pay for real piano lessons and tap dance sessions.

My Dads father was also a singer, he used to sing down the mining club at Hordon Colliery and my mother’s mother was also a singer. She was Welsh and had a beautiful voice.

‘Wendy with Moxy in Cannibals’ a scene from AWP during the episode Hasta La Vista.

Acting was another discipline you got into, how did you start on TV?

When I was young I got a hunger for working on TV and acting. My Dad was a member of the acting union Equity. I joined when I was 12 and got a provisional card after doing 52 weeks singing in the clubs. I went up for acting jobs by sending hand written letters to Tyne Tees TV.

I started to get a few small walk on rolls and then Auf Wiedersehen Pet was my first real role. I loved doing that it was a hoot from start to finish, it was really good fun. We shot it all in Nottingham. I played Oz’s ‘birra fluff’. I was recognised in Newcastle after the show went out.

I stayed in touch with Tim Healy (who played Dennis Patterson, in AWP). Tim was one of the founding members of Live Theatre in Newcastle and that is where I learnt all my theatre skills. That was with the likes of Robson Green and the amazing director Max Roberts.

I performed around four or five plays there and have to say they were some of the best years of my career and life. Learning acting and comedy skills, and just rehearsing plays at the theatre was amazing. Max Roberts, Tim Healy, Val McClaine, Davey Whitaker – God bless him – used to pop in and watch us and give us notes on our sessions.

That took me onto the BBC soap Eastenders, where I played a lead role.

Working with an agent, Jan landed a dream role in Britain’s number one TV soap. She became a household name and was awarded winner of Best Newcomer to British TV Soap by BBC.

When I left I was looking at forming a career with Warner Brothers as a singer/actress but they just saw me as a soap opera actress, it all went pear shaped really.

After that bump in the road, live stage work and big, bright lights of musicals were in your sights. How did you end up on Broadway ?

I went into my first musical in 1991 called Blood Brothers by Willy Russell. It’s a working class story set in Liverpool with songs and music in it, not your typical huge stage set of glitz and glamour. My audition for that was with Gem (former Oasis guitarist). He came into the Albury Theatre in St Martins Lane, London. I sang Will You by Hazel O’Connor and I didn’t use the pianist for that I took Gem along on guitar. I got the part and was in the West End show.

I left after one year and in 1992 Bill Kenwright asked me back to do the tour to Liverpool and Toronto, Canada. After I did that Bill was looking at New York but it wasn’t certain that he could get the five visas needed.

After the last show in Toronto Bill came up to me and said ‘Yer going to New York kid’. It was a total Wow moment. That’s how I ended up on Broadway, was nominated for a TONY award and my whole life went on its head out there.

Multiple roles on touring musicals have glittered Jan’s career including Cabaret, Rocky Horror Picture Show, 42nd Street, Copa Cabana and All That Jazz.

What advice would you give to anyone looking for a career in show business ?

It can be done if you work hard enough. I’m constantly busy, I fly through life. I tell everyone I’ve never had a singing or acting lesson, I’ve never been to an acting school or institution.

I followed my dad when I was little, I watched and learnt everything from him. There was no acting school in London for me. I did my stagecraft at Newcastle’s Live Theatre.

In the early ‘90s I played Catherine Cookson at The Customs House in South Shields, it was a fantastic gig. I had to age all through that play right up to 75 year old. It was a wonderful cast and we had a lot of fun doing it. I’m a big fan of John Miles, he wrote the music for it, it was a pleasure to work with him – and having a few knee’s up’s at his house on Tyneside (laughs).

But playing that part was a challenge which is what you have to keep doing. It’s hard work and not been easy but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

What are you doing now and have you got anything planned ?

Now I’m writing a web series which is a musical set in Mumbai and based on my life, featuring the North East in the ‘70s. I’m writing the music for it now. It’s really exciting.

I’m also a mentor here in Mumbai and Goa and running workshops in acting, singing and tap dancing. In April I’m starting gigs in a prominent venue in Bombay. I love music, singing, song writing, actors, musicians, I love it all.

Interview by Gary Alikivi   March 2021.

GUARDIAN RECORDING STUDIO #6 Ghost in the Machines

Guardian Sound Studios were based in a small village called Pity Me in County Durham, North East UK. There are various theories on the origin of the unusual name of the village – a desolate area, exposed and difficult to cultivate or a place where monks sang ‘Pity me o God’ as they were chased by the Vikings.

Whatever is behind the name it was what happened in two terraced houses over 30 years ago that is the focus of this blog – they were home to a well-known recording studio.

From 1978 some of the bands who recorded in Guardian were: Neon, Deep Freeze and Mike Mason & the Little People. A year later The Pirahna Brothers recorded a 7”. 1979 saw an E.P from Mythra and releases in 1980 from Hollow Ground, Hellanbach and a compilation album, Roksnax.

From 1982 to 85 bands including Red Alert, Toy Dolls, Prefab Sprout, Satan, Battleaxe and Spartan Warrior made singles or albums. On this blog there is a number of musicians who have memories of recording in Guardian and there has also been stories of a ghost of a young girl who was knocked down outside the studio.

Dave Wilkinson (Spartan Warrior): We recorded at Guardian Studio in ‘83/’84. My abiding memory of recording there is that the studio was said to be haunted. There were occasions when although we’d been booked into the studio during the day time, the producer Terry Gavaghan, would often have us recording throughout the evening and into the early hours of the following morning.

Terry would tell us about various sightings of the ghost of a little girl and there had been occasions when peoples headphones had inexplicably flown off across the room during a take.

On one occasion we were recording a track called Witchfinder for the Steel n’ Chains album and Terry thought that it would be cool for the five of us to record a satanic chant at the opening of the track.

The control room had a large glass window next to the mixing desk and from there you could see into the room in which the band was set up to record. It was quite dark in that room and I think it was only dimly lit with a red light. 

So after a lot of the usual ghostly tales we all went around the vocal microphone while Terry remained in the control room with a lad who was helping him in the studio. We had a few runs through this chant and it was an unrehearsed shambles, but he called us back in to the control room to have a listen.

Terry set the analogue recordings running and we listened back. Then the tape machine just ground to a halt and he pointed at the digital clock which measured the length of the track and it came up as six minutes and sixty six seconds… 666.

Terry looked really worried and said you can’t have a clock showing 666 seconds and he was telling us something sinister was at work probably brought on by the satanic chant.

He said that we ought to abandon the idea before anything horrendous happened. He said the chant could bring about terrible things if blood was spilled. I think he actually said ‘all you need is blood’. 

Then the lad helping Terry got up to go into the kitchen to make us all a cup of tea and he banged his head off one of the monitors and split his head open. That was it – blood was spilled and we were all terrified.

It was almost certainly a wind up. I’m pretty sure Terry could have done something to make the clock show 666 but the lad did actually split his head open. The chant never made the album.

Read the full interview with Dave Wilkinson here:

Guardian Recording Studio stories #2 with Sunderland metal band, Spartan Warrior | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

Glenn Coates (Hollow Ground): When we were recording the tracks for a compilation album, Roksnax. We stayed overnight but if I knew what was there I wouldn’t of stayed.

One night the lads were in the kitchen making coffee and Terry Gavaghan and myself were sitting at the mixing desk in the control room of the studio. We looked through the glass partition and seen a sort of electric blue figure that came right up to the glass in front of me, its face didn’t have any features, no face, no mouth, nothing. Then it moved back and turned to the side revealing its shape of an old woman with a stooped shoulders and back.

I felt pretty calm watching this go on in front of us, then suddenly it floated across the room and stopped at the wall. Then it turned back and floated back across the room and through the drum booth and finally disappearing through the wall. Terry looked at me and said ‘Did you see that’ my hair just stood on end. The whole episode lasted about a minute.

Terry has been known to set up a few pranks for other bands but how could you set that up ? I know what I saw. I’ve heard that the ghost was an old woman who tried to help the young girl that was knocked over. I don’t know if you believe things like that but I certainly saw it.

Read the full interview with Glenn Coates here:

ROCK OF AGES | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

Read more Guardian stories here:

Guardian Recording Studio stories #4 Metal on Tyne with Mythra, Saracen & Hollow Ground | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

If anyone has any information about Guardian or recorded in the studios get in touch.

Interviews by Gary Alikivi.