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By Jupiter, are UFOs really here?
On Monday the National Archive is unveiling on its website hitherto “secret” files pertaining to suspected UFO sightings between 1981 and 1996.
If you visit in a couple of days the website, which is available at national archives.gov.uk/ufos/, then you’ll be able to trawl through hundreds of pages of sightings of weird things in the sky reported during that period.
As a member of Her Majesty’s Press and a card-carrying member of the Warlord Club I have been granted exclusive access to the site a few days ahead of ordinary plebs.
It makes for fascinating reading. Unfortunately, though, I can’t tell you what it says, due to a visit I had from two men in sunglasses and black suits who warned me not to spill the beans or I’d be transported to Rigel 5 and something unpleasant would occur involving a long metal probe.
I do find it all fascinating, though. You get the obvious nutters, of course, who are so desperate to believe in something that they report the slightest speck of dust on the window and embellish the description with talk of flashing lights, anti-matter rays and sombre men with 1950s haircuts and tinfoil suits promising to unlock the Age of Aquarius.
Most of the sightings, though, are by ordinary, sane, not-drunk people who have nothing to gain by claiming to have seen what might possibly be travelers from another world – in fact, they often have everything to lose.
It also struck me that the 15-year-period covered by the reports does take in at least two times of severe economic downturn, and that got me wondering... are we more likely to see lights in the sky during a recession?
Not because opportunist land-grabbers from Jupiter are buying up cheap property at the bottom of the housing slump, but because life around us can seem so unremittingly grim and bleak that we unconsciously take solace in the fact that we are living on just one small, insignificant rock in a multitude teeming with stars and planets, and perhaps out there in the vast, trackless wastes of space there might be something of an intergalactic party going on with a rainbow parade of stunningly weird creatures grooving along to the music of the spheres, all of which renders our petty concerns about the economy pretty redundant.
Then again, maybe we just see more strange things in the sky because when times are tough we are more likely to raise our eyes to the heavens at the latest piece of bad news and mutter: “Oh no, not again.”