doug skinner’s uncon06 memories

Not too long ago, I mentioned that our friend, Mr. Doug Skinner, was off to London to deliver a lecture on evolution and pop culture at the 2006 “Fortean Times” UnConvention. At that time, I mentioned that I’d like to, when Doug returned, ask him to recount the details of his trip and the presentation for his fellow readers. Well, what follow (with his permission) are excerpts from the letters I recently received in response to my inquiry.

I had nice chats with Ben Radford (editor of “Skeptical Inquirer”), Mervyn Heard (authority on the magic lantern), Paul Sieveking (FT editor), his wife Val Stevenson (of Nth Position), and Bob Rickard (“Fortean Times” founder). I had a pint and discussed ventriloquism with cult writer and punk theorist Stewart Home, inventor of the necrophilia donor card. I saw the giant elephant puppet, Greenwich Meridian, and the Rudolf Steiner House; and explored abandoned buildings along the Thames with Mark Pilkington. I contributed some of my index card pictures to the Pestival. I heard a concert on the Glass Harmonica in which the instrument malfunctioned and sounded like a windshield wiper. I sat on Herbert Spencer’s grave at Highgate Cemetery and stared at Karl Marx’s grave. I saw a fox run through the street at midnight, on his way back to the Heath. And, of course, took in lots of museums, junk shops, and bookstores. The dollar is pretty much worthless there now, but I had fun anyway…

A couple of cultural notes: Ian Simmons (who gave a lecture on Intelligent Design to complement my talk on the cultural history of Darwinism) recommends the Genomic Dub Collective, who put out a dub version of “The Origin of Species.” I also saw a delightful Lovecraft movie: “The Call of Cthulhu,” a low-budget silent movie by the “H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. I’m not a big Lovecraft fan, but it’s creepy, smart, and stylish. I also spent an odd evening with Paul Sieveking and Val Stevenson drinking wine and taking in British TV (their fave shows are “QI” and “The Green Wing.”)

I haven’t typed out my talk yet; I can send it to you when I do, if you like. I didn’t use many images: some slides of the Scopes trial, and of dinosaur and caveman cartoons from the 1890s to the present.

I can give you the outline, though:

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  1. mark
    Posted May 12, 2006 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    To clarify, I was not chasing her in a small, electric Barbie car. She was in the car, and I was on-foot, chasing her.

  2. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted May 12, 2006 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Any chance we could persuade Doug to perform “There’s a Little Bit of Monkey in Us All” for

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