The advent of the CFZ bloggo has not just had far reaching effects upon our publishing schedule, it has changed the human map of the CFZ. There are people who have now become part of the CFZ family, who at the beginning of the year were total strangers; Emma Biddle, Gavin Lloyd Wilson, Glen Vaudrey, Liz Clancy, Naomi and Ritchie West, and Derek Grebner, for example, and there are people whom we have known for ages like Tim Matthews and Jan Edwards who are reaching new levels of importance within the CFZ family.
Because the CFZ really is a family with all the joys, and all the sorrows that this involves.
There have been a whole spate of illnesses recently, with Marjorie Braund (my adopted mum, and Dave and Ross’s grandmother), our next-door neighbour Stuart Rickard (who some of you will remember from last year’s Weird Weekend) and our very own Emma Biddle being taken seriously ill and having spells in hospital.
It is too early for any realistic prognoses, but one can only hope (and pray) that the outcomes will be favourable.
With the Weird Weekend approaching I always find it heartwarming how nice and unselfish some of the members of the CFZ family can be. Take Davey and Joanne Curtis for example.
They, for the second year running, are travelling down from the north of England at their own expense, with their daughter Rosie and a car load of craft materials (also paid for at their own expense) to do monster model making and picture drawing workshops for the younger generation at this year’s event.
It is this, I think, which makes the Weird Weekend such a unique event. After last year’s conference I came in for a fair amount of criticism, some of it from people who really should have known better, for allowing children in to a “scientific symposium”.
The Weird Weekend isn’t a scientific symposium. Nor is it a Fortean conference. Nor is it a village fete. Nor is it a hippy-type festival. Nor is it a traditional community event. It is none of these things, and it is all of these things and more. It is the Weird Weekend and it is completely unlike anything else that I have ever heard of.
But it works, and one of the reasons that it works is because it IS a family event. And one of the reasons why I believe that the CFZ is rapidly becoming a very important organisation over and above its position within the rarefied little world of the global cryptozoological community, is because it has something to offer for all ages.
And for as long as I have anything to do with running the organisation this is the way that it will stay.
And as I don’t intend to retire any time soon, please accept the fact that the child-friendly atmosphere, the surreal silliness, the comedy and the music and theatre will stay. Because in their own little way they are as important as the publishing, the research and the expeditions that are our bread and butter.
One of the things that I think is most important about the Weird Weekend is that it is - as far as I am aware - the only even slightly Fortean conference in the world which is not just aimed at the true believers or the Fortean faithful. The general public are welcome, and they can (and do) attend.
But we don’t insult them by dumbing down the talks to make them entry-level. Our speakers are all experts in their own particular field, but they are all aware that their audience are not necessarily experts, so they tailor their talks accordingly, but they do not treat the audience – whatever age they are – as if they are stupid. And the audience - of all ages - appreciates that!
The Weird Weekend is, as I have always said, a place to see old friends and make new ones; a place where friendships and even marriages are made, where alliances forged, and working relationships formed. A place where papers are written and presented, where beer is drunk, where jokes are made and expeditions planned.
But the thing I am looking forward to most about this year’s event, which is only a few months away now, is that I am going to get to meet some of my new friends who have become such important parts of the CFZ without us ever having met in the flesh.
And that is going to be a great privelige indeed.
Weird Weekend Tickets are available for £20 for the whole weekend (advance booking price) and can be bought online via paypal or by post from us here at the CFZ. Please make your cheques payable to `CFZ Trust`.