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Sunday, 3 October 2010

Pandora's Box?

I spent the entire afternoon with Simon in a very different setting from yesterday. The pub where we met yesterday was in Gunwharf Quays, a new modern, steel and glass shopping precinct (are they still called that?) with a busy young clientele. Today we met in a traditional Portsmouth pub, you know the type, when they have a pub quiz the first question is generally; ‘What are you looking at?.’ But there were few patrons and it was easy to find a table and indeed a large alcove all to ourselves and to Simon’s obvious relief, away from prying ears. My previous recorded suspicions were foremost in my mind when I walked into the pub, I must admit when the taxi pulled up outside I had second thoughts about going through with this second meeting. Seeing Simon huddled in an alcove hunched over a half empty pint of lager made me realise that there was no way he could be faking this. Well, his feelings at least.

He appeared genuinely pleased to see me and for a few minutes I saw signs of the man I’d known in the navy all those years ago. We reminisced about old comrades and swapped a couple of stories of old ships and ports visited. All of sudden he stopped and it was as though a dark cloud settled over him. I asked him about this and he shrugged it off as nothing. We sat in silence, just drinking for a while until I finally asked him about the files and the remote viewing evidence. He was reluctant to reveal much but after half an hour or so talking about his sub-contracting work that finally led him to work on this sensitive project the flood gates opened and the full story emerged. I had come prepared this time and asked him if I could use the voice recorder, he declined but admitted I should take notes. Thankfully I had the foresight to bring a notebook with me and as such I think I can reproduce his story accurately.

Just after I had last seen Simon, around 2001, he had managed to secure a short-term sub-contract with a well known defence contracting organisation (he did tell me but I won’t reproduce it here, it’s obvious if you know anything about the industry in the UK though). For the first year or so he was working on the validation and test of a satellite communications system and the delivery to operational units. After a while he was co-opted onto Project ‘Flowers-Barrow’. This was the natural progression of the remote viewing research and had come about when one of the subjects, a psychic medium, suggested using ‘The Ghost Box’. The thing about defence research is that it always has a reasonably good budget, this was able to transform the specification of the ghost box into something quite serious. I am a telecommunications engineer and in the Navy I was a communications system maintainer so I understood much of what Simon relayed to me next.

The ghost box is basically an AM (Amplitude Modulation) receiver scanning a set of frequencies and hopefully managing to find something in the background noise. The limitations of this system were obvious, a limited frequency range and a single demodulation capability. Combining the idea with the techniques used in the new satellite communications system a more capable, versatile unit was designed and constructed. The premise was of a broadband frequency sweep, from ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) all the way up to EHF (yes you guessed it, Extremely High Frequency) using multiple modulation schemes. This combined with the ability to lock on to very, very low signals, sometimes well below the level of the noise, enabled the unit to reproduce results consistently, another shortfall of the original unit.

When it became evident that there were signals, voices, in the noise the project was ring-fenced and named ‘Project Flowers-Barrow’. Simon was kept on as one of the engineers and the whole research unit moved to an underground unit inside Portsdown Hill.

Simon began to clam up at this point and rather than allow his evidently neurotic tendencies to emerge I decided to let it slip and changed the subject, well slightly anyway. I asked him about ‘Them’.

Simon was convinced that his mobile phone, land-line and email were being monitored. As such he was sure that yesterday’s meeting was known about, due to the email I had sent through the Forces Reunited website. But, as it was a short meeting, it would have appeared to be old Navy buddies having a quick drink. He was pretty sure he had not been followed to the pub today and as we had arranged the meeting verbally was pretty confident that we were off the radar, so to speak.

He changed the subject back to our Navy days and I took this as a sign that the discussion on ‘Project Flowers-Barrow’, for the time being at least, was over.

When we parted company, an hour or so later, he appeared a bit more cheerful and in better spirits. We agreed to meet up again on Tuesday night, at Simon’s insistence at a different venue.

No more alcohol for me today I need to try and begin making sense of this, but I get the impression that Simon wants me for more than just a sympathetic ear.

More later.

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