…Must Be Funny
Money, money, money. Regular readers of RACCF, CCPMT and their ilk will know the stance these pages take on this aspect of the crop circle subject, though it’s less a stance and more an obsession. To them, croppiedom is brimming with sinister shysters who are only in it for the dosh, who will lie and distort to fleece you of every penny. Steve Alexander, flying and photographing circles, producing photo-books and running conferences? He’s only doing it to make money. Monique Klinkenbergh and her Crop Circle Access scheme? Your Wallet Access scheme, more like. Charles Mallett and Silent Circle? He’s just after your hard-earned, too. Circlemakers.org? The greatest sinners of all; they make crop circles for profit!
Part of the problem here is that RAPMT (as I will now collectively call them) cannot comprehend that others view the subject differently to them, and find it difficult to understand why people would want anything to do with it if there wasn’t a profit motive. Therefore it can only be the case that these people are hiding the truth from you in order to rob you blind. This says a lot more about RAPMT than it does about those it criticises. Whether it was RAPMT’s intention to profit from the subject themselves at one point or another in the past is also worth bearing in mind, though not the subject of this article.
Let’s look at this calmly, taking each of the criticised individuals named above in turn.
Steve Alexander does what he does because he loves crop circles and wants to document them. He has a passion for the subject, and wants to share that passion with others. Why does he use helicopters and not drones or microlights? Because the quality of the images acquired is far superior to images obtained using the latter. He’s a very skilled photographer who knows what he’s doing. And with all respect to the drone flyers (or droners, as I sometimes like to call them), Steve’s photos are far better than yours. Do the yearbooks and conferences make money? Perhaps a little, once all the costs are taken into account, not to mention the expenditure of time, but I’d imagine any profit goes into funding helicopter hire, which is far from cheap.
Regular readers of my posts will know that Monique Klinkenbergh has been criticised in some quarters since the very inception of her Crop Circle Access Pass scheme, which has degenerated to the level of bullying and harassment on the part of RAPMT. So why does she do it? Monique’s intentions are right, in my opinion. The situation in Wiltshire was a dire mess, with angry farmers cutting circles as soon as they appeared or were reported. Monique was not the reason circles were being cut. I’ve also covered this before. But to RAPMT, it’s always somebody else’s fault. Blame Monique. Blame Steve Alexander. Blame Team K Hole. Blame Charles Mallett. No. Blame yourself. Take some responsibility for once.
I applaud Monique’s efforts at building bridges with farmers. The Access Scheme, however, is unworkable in practice and doomed to fail in my opinion. Is she doing it for the money? No, she’s doing it because the situation in Wiltshire is in dire straits and somebody needs to save it. Does she make any money? I’d expect that once you take out her time and expenses any profit is non-existent. In fact I’d be very surprised if the access scheme hasn’t cost her far more personally than she’s made or is likely to make.
Charles Mallett and Silent Circle? Money-making scam? In what universe has that ever been remotely true? With apologies to Mr Mallett, let’s look at the Silent Circle’s history. Those of us who’ve been on the scene a long time remember when the Silent Circle began as a cafe along the side of the A4. We remember its constant closing, reopening, relocating from venue to venue. How could it ever be a profitable venture? Its target clientèle are only around for a few months of the year, and there aren’t exactly a great deal of them. It always functioned more as an information service and ‘drop-in centre’ anyway. Does anybody honestly imagine selling cups of tea and slices of cake and the occasional book or postcard could be a profit-making business? Try taking that one on Dragon’s Den; you’d be laughed out of the building. And each year Silent Circle got smaller, from dedicated venue to pub room to Yatesbury Village Hall to Barge Inn portacabin to Yatesbury Airfield. It wouldn’t surprise me if this year Charles is running it out of a deckchair in his front garden. So why do it? Because Charles is fascinated with crop circles. An information centre showing locations and images of the season’s circles is something Wiltshire has had for two decades, and a good thing for visitors, not all of whom check the internet every five minutes for the latest circular arrivals. Silent Circle and Monique, along with the Henge Shop in Avebury, are the only people currently providing this. Note also that Charles is often very critical of UK crop circles, especially those in Wiltshire, dismissing them as man-made. He’d hardly say that if he was trying to make money from the gullible, would he?
Circlemakers.org? These guys have been making circles commercially since the 1990s. And what of it? Anybody could have done what they’ve done. Anybody can present themselves as a commercial circle maker for hire. If you have the skill. That’s the thing. These gentlemen have formidable circle making ability. It’s too easy to sit on the sidelines grumbling, rather like musicians whose band never got anywhere while a similarly styled outfit had great success. If you can do it, do it. If you can’t, shut up.
Having written all that, I can’t help but feel a resounding “so what?”
Two reasons – first off, if someone makes a profit from the subject, good luck to them. There are many others who have done so, past and present, who I notice are not the subject of RAPMT’s ire. Colin Andrews, for example, oft boasts of how many copies Circular Evidence sold, which no doubt netted him a decent sum. The Crop Circle Connector charge a fee to access their archives, sell DVDs, and are one of the most advert-heavy websites I’ve ever visited. That’s how things go. Some farmers have profited from circles on their land, too, and nobody has a quibble with that. I especially applaud those farmers who donate profits recieved from circles visitors to charitable causes.
Second reason – this is crop circles we’re talking about. A rather minor interest subject, with far fewer dedicated followers than most and certainly compared to 20 or 25 years ago. There simply isn’t a large enough audience there for somebody to make stacks of wonga.
“The circle makers aren’t making any money”, Matt Williams has previously carped (with the exception of the .org chaps, of course). Well why the hell should they? What they do is illegal. They choose to do it, for their own reasons, and once they leave the field at the end of a night’s work that circle doesn’t belong to them any more. It’s out in the world, for all to see and visit and do as they wish with and have their own opinions on. “It’s yours because it’s free”, the Diggers famously said. And that is how it should be with crop circles.
So there you go. Money doesn’t come in to it, except in the case of a handful of individuals who are obsessed with the subject. More to the point, are disgruntled that they never made any. Whether they lacked the ideas, or the nous, or the skills, it never happened. And that makes them bitter. They see profit everywhere. Especially where there isn’t any.