1977, August 9: The Officer and the Dancers

        According to the Hull Daily Mail of August 10, 1977, Police Constable David Swift had a very strange experience while patroling late at night in Kingston-upon-Hull, a town in Yorkshire, England.

        It was around 1:30 AM on Tuesday, August 9, when Swift saw a thick fog on a playing field near Stonebridge Avenue and parked his patrol car to go investigate, in case it was smoke, not fog. As he approached the spot, he could see three people dancing as if around a non-existent maypole, each with one arm raised into the air... likely drunk, he suspected. One of them was a man wearing a sleeveless herkin and tight-fitting trousers, and the other two were women wearing bonnets, shawls, and white dresses.

        When Swift was just about 50 feet away from them, the scene vanished. The people were gone. The mist or smoke was gone. Swift was standing alone in a dark playing field.

        Shocked and confused, Swift ran back to his patrol car, and drove up and down the street some before he was calm enough to contact his sergeant at the station, and explain what happened.

        The article described Swift as "a former army man ... not easily shaken." But Swift was quoted as saying: "I just couldn't believe my eyes. I saw something which I can't accept. that sort of thing does not happen but it was there and I have no explanation for it." He also added that the experience had "frightened him to death."

Notes and Theories

        I will point out that the report and Swift's statements imply that the "fog" he saw was localized to a small area of the playing field; it was not a foggy night in general, rather there was a stand-alone patch of fog in the field which is why he might suspect it was smoke. Swift's statements also imply that this fog/smoke vanished from sight at the same time as the three dancers.

        When the Hull Daily Mail touched upon this story again in 1997 as part of a '1977 Flashback,' the reporter tried to imply there was a connection to the British actor Arthur Luken, who was well known for playing the comedic role of "Old Mother Riley" in a number of movies... the reporter vaguely claimed that the description of the women were similar to Luken dressed as the old lady. I suspect this idea was only put forward to justify showing a picture of Luken's grave as an illustration for the story.

        1997 is also when Janet Bord's book Fairies: Real Encounters with Little People was published, in which Bord presented this event as a modern encounter with fairy folk.

        These are just guesses, of course.

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