It’s taken twenty-four years, but at last I’ve found an explanation for the strangest UFO I’ve ever seen.
In 1986 I went to London to see The Residents. We missed the show (it was at Hammersmith Palais and we went to Hammersmith Odeon by mistake) so we (the late, lamented Matt Kinnison and I) wandered about, got bored and played I Spy on Chelsea embankment. Searching for something to see in the dark that wasn’t a bridge or a lamppost or the road in front of us, I saw a funny thing. a strange, flickering light, hovering in midair, maintaining a distance of a few metres from a large building, but moving up and down – obviously not attached to the building in any way. So I said “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with UFO” “UFO? where?” said the last hippy in Blackheath, so I pointed it out and we both puzzled over it.
I don’t know about Matt, but I continued to puzzle over it for the next twenty-odd years. All through my ups, downs and sidewayses,, that flickering, hovering light pestered at my mind in quiet moments… What am I? what am I? It seemed to taunt me with its refusal to relate to anything I could throw at it. The only thing I could think of was that it was a spotlight shining on a bird… but the only hovering bird in London is the kestrel, which doesn’t fly at night, and not for more than a minute or two at any time. Pigeons are white (some of them anyway), but they don’t hover. I just couldn’t get my head round it. My other UFOs were all solved. That star that started moving by itself? A satellite combined with the odd phenomenon of saccadic chronostasis. That red glowing orb just over the night-time horizon? A mirage of the sun.
Fast forward twenty-four years, and farting around with StumbleUpon just now, I came across this: birds caught in the spotlights of the twin towers memorial. So it can happen. Birds get caught in spotlight beams, get disorientated and can’t escape. It must have happened to a single pigeon, long ago and south of the river, one October as The Residents did their thirteenth anniversary show. No UFO, no aliens, and at last, no pestering, flickering light going What am I? What am I?