Reg Presley, legendary lead singer of British rock group The Troggs, who died this week, was an avid researcher into mysterious phenomenon. DARREN CHADWICK-HUSSEIN once met him and discovered Presley’s passion for crop circles.
Picture the scene, it is 1993 in the spring. The last year has seen an abundance of crop circle appearances, creating the sort of overexcited media buzz usually reserved for alien abductions. And there I was, stuck on a slip road out of Bristol after a spectacularly disastrous date, unaware of exactly what fate had in store for me.
Hitchhiking in England was a dying art, too many urban myths about dolly birds getting in to HGV cabs never to be seen again. “I’m OK, I’m a guy,” I thought, “Nobody is going to want to keep my torso lying around as a table decoration.” It didn’t stop me from writing the registration numbers of the cars that picked me up on my arm, just in case they did discover a body part in a ditch six months later.
Desperate to get back to London, I was all smiles when a rather shoddy estate car that had seen better days pulled up. “Where you going?” the driver asked in a broad Hampshire accent. “London,” was my response. “Ge’rr’in.”
He was caked in dried mud and all the seats had dirty wellies and shovels littered across them. “Excuse the mess, I’ve been busy,” he reassured me. Busy doing what? Had I just got in to a car with a serial killer who buries his victims in peat bogs?
Luckily, he was a chatty old soul who soon opened up to me. We passed fields that had recently seen the sort of paranormal activity that excited him. “I’ve been taking photos of those that have had visitations this weekend,” he beamed. Visitations? “Crop circles. I’ve been videoing them too. I’m gonna watch it back tonight to see if the camera picked anything up.”
At this point, something heavy clicked in my head. “I know this is going to sound stupid,” I hesitated, “but I recognise your voice.” A big smile crossed his face, “I was a singer in this band,” seemingly happy to be recognised by a gangly acned nineteen year old who wasn’t even alive back then. “The Troggs.” My desire to scream Wild Thing at the top of my lungs had to be bitten back. And here he was giving me a lift back to London, two years before their renaissance thanks to THAT movie.
But he wasn’t interested in the ‘Then,’ Reg Presley was interested in The Now, as he discussed at length how he spent his time investigating the paranormal, specifically crop circles. “All shapes and sizes, and each one has a different message.” Have any been decoded? “Not yet, their minds are superior to ours.” Though I was sceptic, I found his enthusiasm to be catching until I mentioned that some had been debunked recently, found to be the work of farmhands with a little too much Scrumpy Jack lying around.
“That’s what they want you to believe,” he told me. And then his eyes went wide; “Do you want to hear the truth?” Indeed I did. “It’s the aliens. The aliens have approached the locals to do their work for them. Wouldn’t you get someone to do the dirty work? What the aliens do, is they make this special drink the farmers love. They pay the farmers this drink for the work done.” “You mean like moonshine?” I asked. He nodded, “Alien Moonshine.”
For the next 90 minutes he enthralled me with this concept of Intergalactic outsourcing. As he dropped me off I felt a changed person, enlightened by the 25th Century ideas of this man before his time.
So this is my dedication to the life of Reg Presley, who succumbed to cancer this week at the age of 71, who not only entertained generations with his music and spent his latter years proudly developing his love for all things that make these Isles so Spooky: Thanks.
Wherever Reg is, I hope it has that moonshine on tap.
DARREN CHADWICK-HUSSEIN is the writer/producer of The Bloody Mary Show, a British online horror comedy.