Down in Dyfed

Randall Jones Pugh and F. W. Holiday. The Dyfed Enigma: UFOs in West Wales. Faber and Faber, 1979

The Welsh UFO wave which peaked in 1977 seems to have given British ufologists their long-awaited counterpart to the great American flaps of the 1950s and 60's. Certainly, in terms of published books the Welsh wave is unprecedented in this country; the present book is the second to come out, and others are in the pipeline, or promised

It is interesting and revealing to read the Pugh-Holiday book in conjunction with the Clive Harold paperback reviewed in the last MUFOB. This book is a more general view of the complex series of events. It is written for the most part in a sober, rather dry, 'UFO report' style, that fits into the traditional idea of a serious 'UFO book'. Much of the reportage of individual experiences is in the form of transcribed conversations between Pugh and the percipient.

A substantial part of the book is given over to speculation on possible links between lay-lines and the prevalence of UF'O reports in this part of Wales, and a look at comparisons between aspects of the wave, and traditional Welsh legends and folklore. This is presumably the work of co-author Ten Holiday. Much of this material is quite fascinating, and leaves ond hoping that someone is ready to take over the fields of research that Holiday was moving into before his recent sad death. However, in many ways, these two aspects of the book fit badly together, and provoke the feeling that two separate books have been stitched together.

I read this book immediately after the Harold book, and was struck by some of the differences in emphasis. Although Pugh-Holiday deal at some length with the Ripperston Farm experiences, the picture that emerges is nowhere near as dramatic or traumatic as in The Uninvited. It is rather amusing, when one realises that the two sets of investigators must have been almost falling over each other at Ripperston at times, yet neither gives even a passing reference to the other in their respective books!

This inevitably leaves one to speculate on which account is 'truer' about the Coombs family. I think conventional UFO wisdom would say that Pugh-Holiday presents the most accurate , objective account of the individual events , and also gives us some sort. of comparison with other events in the area at the time. But I am tempted to wonder whether an objective attitude is the right one to adopt when trying to understand the intense personal and subjective responses that a series of high strangeness UFO events can arouse in percipients. Certainly, Harold' s book gives us much more of the apparently 'irrelevant' personal details of the Coombs family, its internal relationships and its outward aspects, which ufologists are beginning to realise are of vital importance when attempting to make sense of the intense subjective responses to the UFO experience.

Even with two full-length books going into great detail about events in a very small area over a comparatively short period of time, we are in no position to make any definite statement on what actually 'happened ' in Dyfed in 1977. So much less able are we, therefore, to make any sort of rational deduction from the rather hit-and-miss accounts that make up most of the UFO reports we have to study.
 
The wealth of detail serves only to emphasise how little we can comprehend the picture. Nevertheless, this book recorfdsan important part of that picture. -- John Rimmer, Magonia 1, Autumn 1979


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