Sunday 6 May 2012

Another Loopy Conspiracy Theory

It seems the world is full of lunatics and many of them collect portable antiquities. There are special magazines for these people, run by people who do not seem terribly good at controlling the nature and quality of the material they publish there. I got sent this entertaining piece of text earlier on (spelling and punctuation corrected, a further page of random threats and accusations omitted):
Steve Taylor has left a new comment on your post "Recreational Use of Metal Detectors Banned at Fort...": Looks like you have been outted in the Searcher Magazine ‘Laup Drofrab’. Just another one of your split personalities like Candice Jarman, shame they didn’t cut your penis off for that one. Well at least everyone knows you’re a fanny now. I even manage to get a bit of a mention, about a detectorist forcing you to close down your blog for a month, and Nigel Swift coming to your rescue, very touching. I really ought to put our story in there Paul, it would make fascinating reading. [...] Have a nice day.
I am Steve, a very nice day - though I hear its not really metal detecting weather where you are today, is it? Anyway, my genitalia are intact and in full working order, thank you.

Firstly "Candice Jarman" is the alter ego of another metal detectorist, and his internet tracks can be traced and they were not coming from anywhere within a thousand kilometres from Warsaw. But this "Drofrab" fellow is a different matter.

From what I have been able to ascertain from somebody else's copies of the "Searcher magazine" (which I stopped getting over a year ago as it was getting repetitive), there was an article by Dot Boughton (note dullard semi-literate tekkies the real spelling of her surname) on the Silverdale Hoard in which she must have said something which was not quite as pat-on-the-head-pandering as the comments we usually hear from the PAS. That would be the Feb number, which has already been used under a cat litter tray back in England, so I've not seen it - and that is a shame, it might have done a little to restore my faith in the PAS.

Anyway, the next month it seems "The Searcher" published a letter by somebody signing the text using the unlikely name Laup Drofrab. Now, most reputable publications have a policy of not publishing anonymous or pseudonymous comments without having the author's real contact details on file. That sorts out any legal issues later on should there be any comeback. So I presume the "Searcher" magazine has this person's address on file. Certainly I would not imagine any normal person would think that "Laup" is anybody's Christian name, and it sounds neither Hebrew, Arabian nor Hindi or Sikh to me. Likewise, I doubt that there is anywhere in the world a surname "Drofrab". The chances that a malicious parent, even if very, very drunk, would christen their unwanted son Laup Drofrab strike me as pretty remote.

But, not it seems if you are a metal detectorist. Oh no. The two metal detectorists who have so far replied to the Searcher and had their replies published obviously had to struggle a great deal before they worked out that read backwards...  and what of our Cheltenham friend, who reckons that it was only by extreme luck and tekkie mental effort that "I" was "outed" (one 't' please Mr Taylor). Leonardo da Vinci he is not.

So these intellectual high-fliers in the tekking world who replied to the "Drofrab" letter are a bloke called Ian Hughes ("Silverdale Response" Searcher May 2012, number 321, pages 58-9) and one Alan Maidment ("Laup Drofrab" Searcher, June 2012 no. 322 p. 56). The latter warns the editors of the magazine that they might have allowed their monthly to be used as a "medium for the anti-detectorists lobby" ooo-er, eh? OR, he says, there may be something more sinister behind all this, that the post may have been a smokescreen to “serve another agenda”. World domination no doubt.

I have no idea what this pseudonymous writer wrote (it is probably under the cat litter tray by now too), but it must have been good, because the replies suggest that such "bitterness does not bode well" for the hobby. There then follow all sorts of accusations, which I am not going to repeat for the simple reason that when they were read to me over the phone, they made absolutely no sense at all, something about two Paul Barfords and in some way Nigel Swift ("I've discovered they are in the same boat") is involved. The intellect of UK detectorists... what more can one say, or expect?

Most insulting of all, one of the people replying alleged that I had "disappeared" from the Internet three years ago, never to be heard of again. Somebody send these folk (Ian Hughes and Alan Maidment) a link to this blog. They probably will understand nothing of what they read here, but just so they know, there's me, I'm real and really quite active these days too on the internet. 

So to put the record straight, I have never sent any letter about Dot Boughton or anything else to "Searcher" magazine. Should I in future decide to do so, it would not be under the ridiculous name of "Laup Drofrab" or "Slartibartfast" or anything like that, I really do not see the need for it. And if I did, I would expect an editor with a modicum of intelligence to realise that it was a wind-up and reject the letter. Perhaps though the fact it was published indicates that the Searcher sees no need to employ such editors, or the editors themselves think it might boost sales to have some "controversial" material on their pages for tekkies to chortle over.

In the unlikely event that the "Searcher" really is interested in sharing with their readers the real Paul Barford's views on metal detecting and this month's Treasure scandal, and they are prepared to offer a fee which I consider acceptable, then I would be only too happy to oblige. That would get the letters flooding in. 

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