- Gef the talking mongoose
Creature_Name = Gef the talking mongoose
AKA = The Dalby Spook
Isle of Man
First_Reported = 1931
Status = Unconfirmed
Gef the talking
mongoosewas a talking animalthat was reported to inhabit a farmhouse known as Cashen's Gap near the hamlet of Dalby on the Isle of Man. Opinion is divided on whether Gef was a poltergeist, a strange animal or cryptidor a hoax.
In September 1931, the Irving family — James, Margaret, and daughter Voirrey (13), claimed to hear persistent scratching and rustling noises behind their farm house's wooden wall panels. At first they thought it was a rat, but then the unseen creature began making different sounds, sometimes spitting like a
ferret, growling like a dog, and gurgling like a baby.
The creature soon revealed an ability to speak and introduced itself as Gef, a mongoose, and claimed to have been born in
New Delhi, India, in 1852. According to Voirrey, who was the only person to see him properly, Gef was the size of a small rat with yellowish fur and a large bushy tail (the Indian mongoose is in reality much larger than a rat and does not have a bushy tail).
Gef variously claimed to be "an extra extra clever mongoose", an "earthbound spirit", "a ghost in the form of a weasel", and once said "I am a freak. I have hands and I have feet, and if you saw me you'd faint, you'd be petrified, mummified, turned into stone or a pillar of salt!"
He had many characteristics traditionally ascribed to
poltergeists in that he had an uneven temper, threw objects at people, and made exaggerated claims about his powers.
Gef remained friendly towards the Irvings, and joked around with them, though he supposedly went too far one time when he pretended to be
poisoned. Gef also supposedly bothered the Irvings' neighbors, spying on them and reporting back to the Irvings. Gef was also known as "The Dalby Spook". James Irving kept diaries about Gef between 1932 and 1935, these diaries, along with reports about the case, are in Harry Price's archives in Senate House Library [http://archives.ulrls.lon.ac.uk/dispatcher.aspx?action=search&database=ChoiceArchive&search=IN=HPC/3F archive catalogue entry for Gef and the Irvings] ] .
The story became popular in the
tabloidpress, and many journalists flocked to the Isle to catch a glimpse of the creature. ["Out of this World, Mysteries of Mind, Space and Time", 1989, page 419–420.]
Price and Lambert
In July 1935 the editor of "
The Listener", Richard S. "Rex" Lambert, and his friend, paranormal investigator Harry Price, went to the Isle of Man to investigate the case and produced the book "The Haunting of Cashen's Gap" (1936) which was described in its introduction as "an essay in the Veracious but Unaccountable" and was more light-hearted journalism than serious research. In the book they avoided saying that they believed the story but were careful to report it as though with an open mind, even when they recounted how a hair from the supposed mongoose was sent to Julian Huxleywho then sent it to F. Martin Duncan who identified it as a dog hair.cite book | last = Rachael | first = Low | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = History of British Film | publisher = Routledge | date = 1996 | location = | pages = pp. 193-194 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 0415156505]
Price asked Reginald Pocock of the
Natural History Museumto evaluate pawprints made by Gef in plasticenetogether with an impression of his teeth marks. Pocock could not match them to any known animal, though he conceded that one of them might have been "conceivably made by a dog". He said that none of them was made by a mongoose.cite web | last = Willett | first = Cliff | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = The Evidence for Gef: Pt 2 Gef's Pawprints | work = Gef: The Eighth Wonder of the World | publisher = | date = | url = http://dalbyspook.110mb.com/gefpawprints.html | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-09-03]
Records of Price's investigation are available in his archives, which are held by Senate House Library, University of London..
In 1937 Lambert brought an action for slander against Sir
Cecil Levita, after Levita suggested to a friend that Lambert was unfit to be on the board of the British Film Institute. Levita said that Lambert was "off his head" because he had believed in the talking mongoose and the evil eye. Lambert was pressured to abandon his action by Sir Stephen Tallents but persisted with it and won, receiving £7,600 in damages. The slander case became known as "The Mongoose Case". [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = The Mongoose Case 1936 | work = The BBC under Pressure | publisher = BBC | date = | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/heritage/in_depth/pressure/mongoose.shtml | format = | doi = | accessdate = ] [cite book | last = Lambert | first = Richard Stanton | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Ariel and All His Quality: An Impression of the BBC from Within | publisher = Victor Gollancz | date = 1940 | location = | pages = p. 216 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 0946976112]
Price was not the only psychic researcher to investigate Gef. Another was Nandor Fodor, Research Officer for the International Institute for Psychical Research. Fodor was influenced by
Sigmund Freud's theories, and later became a psychoanalyst. He pioneered the theory that poltergeists are external manifestations of conflicts within the subconscious mind rather than disembodied spirits.
Fodor stayed at the Irvings' house for a week without seeing or hearing Gef. He interviewed both the family and the locals, and left believing that the tales he had heard were true. He said of the Irvings that he found them "sincere, frank and simple" and that "deliberate deception on the part of the whole family cannot be entertained as a solution of the mystery". Fodor did not believe that Gef was a poltergeist because none of the family members were psychic; Gef showed no paranormal powers; Gef had been seen, photographed and touched and consistently appeared as a small animal. [cite book | last = Carrington| first = Hereward | authorlink = | coauthors = Nandor Fodor | title = Haunted People: The Story of the Poltergeist Down the Centuries | publisher = Lightning Source Inc. | date = 2006 | location = | pages = | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 142548106X]
The Irvings left their home in 1937, reportedly having to sell the farm at a loss because it had the reputation of being haunted. In 1946, Leslie Graham, the farmer who had bought their farm, claimed that he had shot and killed Gef. The animal was, however, black and white and much larger than the famous mongoose, and Voirrey Irving was certain that it was not Gef.
Theories and skepticism
The story was widespread throughout Britain in the early 1930's due to extensive press coverage, but apparently no one other than the Irvings ever claimed to have heard Gef speak, or even saw him (though some neighbors claimed to have heard "strange noises" outside their homes).
The only physical evidence cited in support of Gef's existence would appear to be a series of footprints, none of which were identified as those of a mongoose, while a single photo said to show Gef exists.
Voirrey Irving, who took Gef under her wing, is at the time of writing still alive and living in the South West of England.
* "The Haunting of Cashen's G
Harry Priceand R.S. Lambert, Methuen & Co. Ltd., hardback, 1936
*cite book | last = Fodor | first = Nandor | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Between Two Worlds | publisher = Parker Publishing Company | date = 1964 | location = | pages = | url = | doi = | id = | isbn =
*cite book | last = Graves | first = Robert | authorlink = Robert Graves | coauthors = Alan Hodge | title = The Long Week End: A Social History of Great Britain 1918-1939 | publisher = Macmillan | date = 1941 | location = | pages = p. 346 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn =
* Hoover the talking seal
* [http://archives.ulrls.lon.ac.uk/dispatcher.aspx?action=search&database=ChoiceArchive&search=IN=HPC/3F Records relating to Gef]
* [http://www.resologist.net/ryook005.htm The Talking Mongoose ]
* [http://paranormalnews.com/article.asp?ArticleID=1060 "Putting Together The Poltergeist Puzzle"]
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