Posted on: April 4, 2017

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Hot Chocolate, fronted by the gorgeous Errol Brown, were a very successful soul band who had a string of hits in the late 1970s/early 1980s, with songs like So You Win Again, Everyone’s A Winner, and It Started With A Kiss.  In May 1980 they seemed to take a departure from their normal output with a track called No Doubt About It, which is about a man witnessing a UFO sighting.  The catchy song became another hit for the group, peaking at No.2 here in the UK.

I remember at the time thinking it was a bit of an unusual track for them, but perhaps not so.  During this era UFOs had very much gripped the public imagination, largely thanks to the massive success of the film Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, which had been released in 1977.  At around the same time The Carpenters had had a hit with the song Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft.  It would seem nobody could get enough of UFOs.  Incidentally, 1977 was a bit of a seminal year in UFO folklore.  It was also the year of the Wow! signal, the Broad Haven Triangle, and the Colares UFO flap, sometimes known as the Brazilian Roswell.

Here in Britain we saw the release of the TV docu-drama Alternative 3, about a secret government plan to evacuate an elite few from Earth due to impending disastrous climatic changes, and relocate them to Mars.   The film was intended to be an April Fools joke, but due to a technicians’ strike, it didn’t get aired until 3 months later.  It had an Orson Welles/War Of The Worlds effect, with many people believing it was all true.  Because of the Climate Change theme it covers, it now has a prophetic feel to it.   1977 also saw the Southern Television Broadcast Interruption, when an alleged alien voice interrupted a teatime news broadcast on Southern TV, to warn humanity to get rid of all its evil weapons before it was too late [fat chance].  Although the broadcast is largely regarded as a hoax, no one has ever come forward to claim responsibility.

In the following year, 1978, punk singer Poly Styrene of the band X-Ray Spex claimed to see a UFO after leaving a gig in Doncaster.  It had a profound effect on her at the time.  She felt objects crackling when she touched them, and believed she was hallucinating.  Her mother sought medical help, and Poly was subsequently diagnosed with schizophrenia and sectioned.  Poly said later that being removed from the public eye was a good thing.  In an interview with the Independent newspaper in 2008 she described what she had seen as “a bright ball of luminous pink, made of energy – like a fireball”.   She described it as the moment that changed her forever.   Sadly Poly passed away in 2011 at the age of 53.

Very recently I was browsing through Albert Rosales’ book Humanoid Encounters 1970-1974, where he records being told a fascinating story which occurred in North London.  Valli Kemp was a stunningly attractive Australian model, actress and artist, who had arrived in Britain in the early 1970s to appear as a contestant in the Miss World competition.   She would go on to star alongside Vincent Price as his beautiful assistant in the cult British horror film Dr Phibes Rises Again!  

Valli stayed in London for the rest of the 1970s, living in a cottage in Totteridge Lane, in the borough of Barnet, North London.  She would move back to Australia in the early 1980s, citing the deplorable state of the British film industry at the time (it had reached its nadir then), and tempted home by the burgeoning Australian movie scene.

Anyway, she told Rosales that she had seen flashing lights and a cigar-shaped craft several nights in a row in the sky over her house in 1974.   She invited several of her friends to come and see, but many did not want to know.   Valli also claimed she had encountered a tall man-like figure with blond hair, pale skin, wearing a black uniform, complete with a black skull cap.  He carried a device under his arm which seemed to be a breathing apparatus.   A friend who also saw the figure collapsed in shock.

The spaceman told Valli that she must tell King Hussein of Jordan (whom she knew apparently) to try and forge peace in the Middle East.   Hot Chocolate visited Valli in 1979, and also saw a spaceship over her cottage.  Presumably this is what became the inspiration for No Doubt About It, released the following year.   The video accompanying the song, which you can find on YouTube, has a very Close Encounters feel to it, with stony-faced alien women and people standing motionless in front of a bright light.

Totteridge Lane has another dubious claim to fame when it comes to UFOs though.  Dr John E Mack was a highly respected and prominent Ufologist and author.   He was a Harvard professor who was famed for his researches into the alien abduction phenomenon.   On 27 September 2004 Dr Mack was visiting Britain to attend a symposium on T E Lawrence.  After attending the symposium dinner he decided to walk back to the house where he was staying.   It was late at night.  As he stepped off a curb near Totteridge Lane he was knocked down by a bloody fool of a drunk driver.   He died very shortly after.

Actress and New Age author Shirley Maclaine caused some controversy in recent years by claiming that Dr Mack had been deliberately murdered, saying that another man called John Mack had also been knocked down by a drunk driver in another part of London at the same time.  Some cite Dr Mack’s death as another on the list of UFO investigators who have met untimely ends.  Others say it’s all a lot of nonsense, and it’s very likely Dr Mack simply had the sheer rotten bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.   We all of us hang on the delicate thread of Fate.



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