WARD 20 is set to become Scotland's Area 51 after a UFO was seen mucking about in the vicinity of a passenger plane.
Area 51, as esoteric readers will know, is a conspiracy-haunted US Air Force base in Nevada. Ward 20, as only the returning officer for Glasgow City Council knows, is the mysterious area known as Baillieston.
The situation is as follows. The Airbus A320 was flying into Glasgow Airport when, 3500ft above Ward 20, the cockpit crew reported seeing a large "blue, yellow and silver" object ahead of them. The object then flew underneath the jet but, when the concerned pilot reported it, he was told there were no other aircraft in the area. Weather balloons, gliders, hang-gliders, para-gliders, para-motors and parascenders were also pooh-poohed as possible explanations.
And so the story hit an excited world: "UFO!" Oh no, not again. Why is it always Scotland? We've had more than our fair share of these over the years, with the unlikely hamlet of Bonnybridge, near Falkirk, becoming a world hotspot.
Then there was one of the most famous incidents, at Dechmont Law, near Livingston, when a man's troosers were attacked by two spikey spheres trundling forth from an alien craft. The breeks were torn and everything, and have since been sent round the world for examination.
Now Baillieston. As a top investigator, I decided to probe what might attract the alien fiends to this agreeable suburb, and came across the website The Only Way is Baillieston. Here, there was a dutiful reference to the UFO story, but, perhaps extending the mystery concept a little too widely, a reader's comment underneath the item read: "Whoever p***** in ma ma's slippers last night, own up."
Hmm, good luck with that inquiry. But nothing much for me to go on. Never having been much of a Mulder, and decidedly not a Scully, I concluded that further investigation was a waste of time and resolved to deploy the journalist's second most trusted tool: undiluted alcohol.
Ten hours later, I decided to deploy the journalist's third most trusted tool: uninformed speculation. Maybe the aliens had approached an inebriated Glaswegian and said, "Take us to your leader", only to be told, with characteristic humour and practicality: "Aye, that'll be Michelle McManus. Fae Baillieston. That's where Ah'm headed. Any chance o' a lift in yir saucer?"
Of course, the UFO may just have been passing through Baillieston's airspace. It may even have been going furth of Scotia, to see if there were any other interesting parts of the planet Earth.
A few years ago, sinister stories emerged about aliens in Shropshire making holes in sheep's heids and extracting their brains. An animal pathologist in the area said the technology used was "built by technology and intelligence that's not from here". Unsurprisingly, suspicions turned towards nearby Llandudno.
Then there was the time aliens tried to capture Michael Howard, the former Tory Minister with something of the night about him. Three people saw a large triangular object and strange lights above his hoose in Kent. But he wisnae in, so they went hame.
It's all very mysterious. Or – den-den! – is it? Yesterday, it emerged that the Baillieston UFO was probably a helium shark. Yes, I thought it would be that. It was a toy belonging to a boy. It didn't come from Alpha Centauri. It came from Argos.
Ah Jeez, what a disappointment. No wonder organisations like the Northern Anomalies Research Organisation, British Flying Saucer Bureau, and Northern UFO Network are in the doldrums or defunct.
YouTube should have been a boon for sightings but has instead proved that the only things out there are peculiar illuminations. On one occasion, when an illustration of a possible alien was posted, somebody offered the frivolous remark: "Aye, that's him! That's the one who probed me!"
No-one's taking it seriously. It's the aliens' own fault. There's a feeling abroad that they ought to put up or shut up. Stop alarming the ratepayers in Baillieston and come down and say "Hellay".
No need to talk that posh, mind, unless they land in Edinburgh, where they'll be greeted with: "Aye, you'll have had your slime."
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