Doug and Dave, eh? What are we to make of these two? They're the chaps who lobbed up in 1991 and not only said that they'd invented crop circles but had in fact done them all. To be honest I can find no glaring holes in their story, at least not of the stand-up-in-court variety. But nor can I find anything that makes any sense either.
The story was that these two blokes, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, had been sitting in a pub one evening and, what with Doug having lived in Australia and being familiar with 'saucer nests' (that appeared in Tully, Queensland in the mid sixties), thought it would be rather jolly if they did something similar. And off they went.
It certainly must have been very, very jolly because they went on to do it hundreds of times for the next thirteen years. They did it right up to the point where they realised that there was money in the caper and that they weren't making any and how dare anyone else. That's why they went on the media and effectively announced their retirement. Curiously in spite of being driven to take credit for the whole thing on account of others making money, at no point did they ever try to make any themselves. No books, no t-shirts, no nothing.
Astoundingly the otherwise hard-bitten hacks of Fleet Street who reported the whole thing never so much as cocked an eyebrow at two jumped up Johnnies who were unambiguously declaring themselves as hoaxers. Madly, between the two possibilities of a hoax involving: a telephone call and five minute demonstration; and a hoax involving thirteen years of anonymous, unrecompensed labour for no clear purpose, the hacks gave no thought to the former.
Never mind me being surprised last week that no one on QI was interested in the question 'why', it seems that when it comes to crop circles this failure to ask obvious questions is as traditionally English as thrashing fags. Almost no one asked the question and those that did, did so in a very cursory fashion, which is to say, any answer would do.
Apparently Doug Bower was appointed main spokesman. Dave Chorley's gig it seems was to smoke cigarettes and glower (presumably at the stupidity of all the people who fell for their trick - but more on Dave later). This is pretty typical of Doug's answers to the unasked question of why did they do it:
"I said why don't we put a circular depression in this corn field the same as they had out in Australia. I said the UFO society out here, which was at its height at the time, Warminster especially, I said that they will probably think that it is a UFO that had landed."And I don't know... that's not so terrible is it? I'm prepared to buy it. It sort of reminds me of us as a bunch of uni students drunk at a party one time and coming up with the brilliant and very jolly idea of stealing the garden gnome from across the road. The only problem was that the owner of the gnome had somehow attached it to a square metre of concrete slab that was buried underground. So there we were drunk and gnomeless standing in the by now destroyed garden as various house lights came on. Run away! Run away!
But now that I think about it, I don't recall us doing that a dozen, two dozen, three dozen times a year, for thirteen years. Once is fair enough, maybe even two or three times, but beyond that you'd really have to wonder at someone wouldn't you?
Thankfully Dave Chorley, on one of the two occasions where he actually spoke, sort of addressed the 'why' in terms of doing it more than once (sensibly avoiding the phrase 'hundreds of times'):
"And when you get in one of these fields at midnight, or two in the morning, we would rather, I'd rather be out in one of these fields than a week away in the South of France or something. Anyone that's not been out in one at midnight in the English countryside with the moon up, and you're doing that, and a few beers and a couple of cheese rolls - Absolutely wonderful. Absolutely wonderful."It's poor of me I know but I think a perfectly reasonable reply to this assertion would be 'You're joking surely? You'd rather be crashing about in a field in the pitch dark than spending a week in the South of France?' Perhaps the journo he said it to was deterred by his somewhat aggressive if-you-haven't-done-it-you-can't-comment gambit? Who knows?
Yours truly falls asleep and dreams of a spiffing new game show...
"Okay Janet, you've already won a week in the South of France but how'd you like to trade up to A 2am walk through a field in Hampshire in the pitch dark with a pint and a cheese roll!!! "But our Dave wasn't mad. He was English! And proud of it. Why shouldn't a man love his country at two o'clock in the morning? And like the best sort of mad Englishmen nor were he and Doug to be deterred by a complete and utter lack of success for the first two years (or three, it depends on who's talking). Here's Dave again in a really curious telephone interview that he did with a Canadian radio station late in 1991:
"Gosh Simon, that does sound tempting... I, er... sorry, did you say 2am in a field in Hampshire? With a pint and cheese roll? Are you mad?"
"We did this for two years... and nothing came of it. So we decided then, that what we'll be doing, is putting them down in sites right under the view of the general public."Wow. Talk about undeterred! They did it for two years and no one noticed? Sorry, but wasn't that the point of the exercise? To trick UFO people? For over two years they went out week after week, with dozens of repetitions, before they realised that maybe they were doing it wrong?
Ha ha ha ha, never mind shake my head, I just have to laugh out loud. Here we have Doug and Dave as a magic act that never advertises and only performs in empty halls. Or something. Most people would be disheartened after the first, second, third, fourth, fifth effort - hell, pick a number - but not Doug and Dave. I doubt that there's anyone in the history of Mad Persistence in the Face of Constant Failure who could even come close to them. Except Charlie Brown perhaps, with the old snatch-the-football gag. Mind you he was six years old. And fictional.
In their TV appearances it's perfectly evident that neither of them are stupid, but to repeat an exercise dozens of times for two years for zero results speaks of what? Some kind of mental retardation? And Murdoch's hard bitten hacks bought this and thought nothing of it did they? Yeah right.
Mind you, Doug and Dave were 'artists'. And as we all know, artists do things for 'art's sake', which is to say 'the hell of it'. They care not a whit if anyone pays them any attention or not. Ha ha ha, good joke! But let's carry on. What kind of artists were these two? Water-colourists or so they say. Whilst I admit that this story predates the internet, in spite of a dozens of searches involving every possible permutation of their names +art +artwork +painting +water-colour +gallery +exhibition +catalogue I couldn't find a single thing apart from one painting that I suspect is by Doug Bower. It sold for £20 and it probably only got that on account of his fame for crop circles. Whatever, we'll declare them both amateurs.
I'll admit that the absence of their art is no killer blow argumentatively but I bring it up because both Doug and Dave mentioned it, and they did so in what I would declare a very curious fashion.
Doug - "we used to go out on Friday evenings, to have a drink in the pub and talk about paintings."I don't know if that's worth mentioning but I just can't help feeling that the constant superfluous mentions of what they talked about rings a false note. Would one ring the other and say, "Hey, let's go down the pub and talk about painting"? Why would you mention it? Keep in mind this wasn't a single event pivoting on a single germane topic - the topic wasn't painting, it was crop circles, and the event was a weekly Friday night usual. To me, these repeated mentions smell of rehearsal. It reminds me of those extraneous facts that bullshit artists throw into a story to make it more believable. Or so they imagine. But whatever! I just wanted to mention the art because it kicks in big time in the next piece.
Doug - "and we used to go and venture out on Friday evenings and have a chat about watercolours and things and have a pint of beer."
Dave - "So we were out one night and we discussed, whatever, about watercolor painting, and having a beer together."
But why don't I wrap up with another really curious exchange from Dave's Canadian interview:
Interviewer - "How do we know, Mr. Chorley, that your are not hoaxing us now about the hoax?"Is it just me, or does he sound exultant there? It's as if he knows he has one over the interviewer and he doesn't even need to bother with any window dressing. Safe in the knowledge that no one can disprove him, rather than protest his innocence, or declare that there are photos, or witnesses, or any other to-be-expected thing, he instead crows at the perforce ignorance of the mug at the other end. He reminds me of no one so much as a spook.
David Chorley - "You don't know, do you?"
Interview - "No I don't."
David Chorley: "You don't know."
Interviewer - (laughter)
David Chorley - "You don't know!"
* One last thing. In 1993, Doug Bower gave a talk at the Nafferton Hall in Marlborough so that he might put paid to the criticisms of crop circle believers. Never mind Dave Chorley's absence, nor the fact that it was run by a fellow named Ken Brown who did a very fine impression of a handler, the extraordinary thing is that it featured a display of never before seen photos of Doug and Dave actually making the crop circles. Apparently they were quite convincing. One wonders why they weren't produced the first time round. Still, they exist now but astoundingly (given the insane interest crop circles garner on the net) are nowhere to be found in google.
Or is this one? Are they making a crop circle? Where are they? Does it predate 1993? And who took the picture? And why wasn't this person offered as a witness as to their veracity? As Dave himself said, You don't know, do you?