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Wednesday 2 March 2011

Nick Pope at the MOD

My other claim to fame (besides once having worked with Seth Shostak) is that I spent three years working in the Ministry of Defence building in Whitehall while Nick Pope was there. By that time (1996-98), Nick had moved on from his stint on the "UFO desk", but he had already become a major celebrity within UK ufology.

My own job in MOD was concerned with advanced air vehicle research (a subject totally unconnected with UFOs, of course), so I never had any professional dealings with Nick... although I did chat with him in the corridor on a few occasions. Before I met him in person, however, I did acquire a couple of flimsy Nick Pope anecdotes. The first dates from circa 1992, when I was working at the research site in Farnborough. Forteana was already one of my hobbies at the time, so I was interested to read an article in the MOD house journal in which a young desk officer described his work dealing with UFO reports from the public. The author, of course, was Nick Pope -- and I bet that historic little article was his first appearance in print (needless to say, I've lost the clipping... although I definitely remember cutting it out at the time).

A striking thing about that early article by Nick Pope is that he said he knew nothing about UFOs when he started the job, and had no strong opinions about them one way or the other. That brings me on to my second (even flimsier) anecdote, which dates from 1997 when I attended a course in London called "An A-to-Z of British Government". One of the other participants had, in a previous posting, worked on the Air Staff 2b desk... right next to Nick Pope, who was Air Staff 2a. Ex-AS2b told me (and I'm quoting from a note I made at the time) that right from Nick's first day in the office he was an avid believer in UFOs, and that he habitually overstated his involvement with them (according to my source, UFO reports only accounted for about a tenth of Nick's workload). Not sure that I really believe this... I suspect the truth lies somewhere between Nick Pope's version and his ex-colleague's version!

The DVD pictured on the left (Nick Pope: the Man Who Left the MOD) retails at £27.49 from Amazon UK, although I got my own copy of it for nothing -- it was part of the reward (it would be ungrateful to say punishment) for winning the Fortean Times "Brain of Ufology" competition!

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