WELL, Christmas lights took on new meaning in Cardiff a couple of weeks ago.
Nope, they weren’t decorating trees. They were – pause for ominous Dr Who chords – skimming through the skies. Yes, our old flying saucer friends are back.
Come to think of it they’ve never really been away.
But when two South Wales sightings a week are reported by phlegmatic airline pilots it seems that there may be intelligent life Out There after all. Maybe one day we’ll find intelligent life Down Here as well.
But given these sightings let us today mark a famous anniversary: true believers, maintain that 60 years ago this week aliens claimed their first known earthly victim, and this time they can’t all be dismissed as the usual nutters.
Flying saucer fans say that in January, 1948, our cousins from somewhere beyond Sirius arrived mob-handed.
But conspiracy theorists disagreed.
They insisted the “aliens” were actually US airmen piloting something called a Kugelblitz, the “Ball Lightning Fighter” invented by Nazi scientists just too late to win the war but taken over, like the rocket scientists themselves, by the US military.
Whatever, in that distant January the Kentucky police were deluged with calls from hundreds of frightened citizens who reckoned they’d seen a huge metallic saucer at least 300 feet in diameter hovering above woods in a place called Maysville.
Remember, this was at the height of the great Flying Saucer Panic.
Six months earlier businessman Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine “brilliant wingless discs” flashing over the Rockies at more than 1,000mph – “like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water”.
So the words “flying saucer” entered the language and in no time at all thousands saw them, hundreds insisted they’d been abducted by spacemen, a few said they actually were aliens and found plenty of innocents dimwitted enough to believe them.
But this Kentucky incident triggered so many calls that the police asked the US Air Force to investigate.
World War II ace, Captain Thomas Mantell, was sent up.
He was followed by two trainee pilots who had to drop out at 15,000 feet (luckily, it turned out) because their jets didn’t have the necessary oxygen equipment.
Mantell kept going, radioing that he had a huge metallic craft in his sights but couldn’t get close as it kept a constant, teasing distance between them.
“I’m going up to 20,000 feet. If I’m no closer I’ll abandon chase.”
Then his plane exploded. The official explanation – he’d passed out through oxygen starvation, nose-dived and crashed.
But no answers when the USAF was asked exactly what Mantell had been chasing.
No answers, either, to the sightings over Cardiff.
Maybe curious spacemen are paying a return visit, to see how we’ve progressed.
A return visit? Why not, when on January 17, 1913, no less a personage than Captain Lionel Lindsay, Chief Constable of Glamorganshire, saw a strange object passing over Cardiff.
No, he insisted, it didn’t belong to our own pioneering Ernest Willows: “It was much bigger and much faster than his airship.”
Plenty of witnesses backed his story but for infinitely more mysterious visitations we only have to go back to 1977 when West Wales was overwhelmed by alien visitors – not only the obligatory lights in the sky but silver-suited entities stalking across fields, herds of cattle allegedly teleported from one place to another, discs seen flying into rocks then vanishing inside when sliding doors opened, Thunderbirds style.
Then 15 children swore they’d seen a UFO land in a field next to Broad Haven Primary School overlooking St Bride’s Bay.
Out of it stepped “a silver man with spiked ears” and in the next six months 45 similar sightings were reported, giant humanoids, car-chasing UFOs. You name it, they had it.
There were even suggestions that the aliens had set up a flying saucer base beneath the Stack Rocks in the bay. Alien invaders? Or mass delusion?
Anyway, four years ago the Royal Astronomical Society suggested there could be 10 billion other “earths” in our own galaxy, the Universe could be teeming with alien civilisations.
So if they’re trying to tell us something, why don’t they land on the White House lawn with their message instead of flying over Cardiff?
And maybe take George W Bush back with them.