After only a few days on the job, one of the Civic trust staff â a 38 year old man called Frank Crumley â disappeared without a trace.
In 1969, a bearded man claiming to be Crumley was found wandering through Homerton in a disheveled state. In an interview with the police he made a series of startling claims.
* Heâd been abducted by aliens while taking photographs of the old lea river.
* The creatures â described as âbig hipped humanoids with tentaclesâ â told him that theyâd sent shape-shifters to infiltrate Hackney Council and help set up the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.
* Their purpose was to ensure the area of Walthamstow and Hackney marshes was preserved as a disc of greenbelt large enough for a spaceship to land.
* The aliens were time travellers and knew that life on earth was going to end in 2014.
* They viewed Londonâs marshes as a human being filter system which extracted an eclectic sample of archetypes from the city.
* The marshes were to serve as a kind of Noahâs Ark for humanity, and when the time was right the aliens would descend on this giant green petri dish and take their sample into outer space for âbreeding, entertainment and dancingâ. They referred to this as âPlan 9â˛.
When challenged that a film called Plan 9 From Outer Space had been made in 1959, Crumley retorted that the aliens were well aware of this. They were big earthling film buffs. And whatâs more, they were obsessive collectors of human music.Â During his captivity heâd been made to dance to strange electronic rock ânâ roll which the aliens assured him was from the decade ahead and created by humans in many parts of the world.
It was assumed that Crumley had succumbed to mental illness, possibly brought on a by a love of jazz and marijuana. He was promptly sectioned.
Nothing more was said about Crumley or his claims.
Then, early one summer evening, the spaceship came to the lower Lea Valley.
An orange beam fell upon the young mums, Jamaicans, potheads, Turks, drunks, skiving teenagers, Africans, homeless wanderers, Persians, prostitutes, film-makers, cockneys, dogwalkers, Hassidic Jews and psychogeographers who were scattered across the marshes at the time.
Within minutes they were all in the belly of the ship.
The aliens approached, clad in Lycra and denim, their tentacles looped around giant Martinis. They were jigging to a strangely familiar beat.
This is what our humans heardâŚ