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Everyone reckons they’ve seen a flying saucer -- and not just when the cat’s thrown one at you because she’s ran out of milk...

It was big. It was small. It glowed. It was shiny black. Round; cigar shaped; silent; made a whirring noise.

It seems that despite technological advancement beyond our ken -- and I’m not talking about my cousin who built his own radio out of a comb and two lemons -- aliens can’t agree on the optimum design for space travel.

Unless space somehow changes, UFOs should all be the same, and they’d be built by robots, because no-one would need to work on their perfect world. Unless of course some alien garage owner specialises in custom built “star-thrusters”. So, if some space captain wanted faster stripes painted down the near-side wing, then it would mean that their world isn’t perfect after all. You can imagine all the captains arguing over who got the flashy sleek machines and who ended up with the bog standard equivalent of a starship Trabant -- no wonder they’re so angry when they get here that they keep shoving metal tubes up our bums.

And despite the advances they’ve made in space travel, like making it across zillions of miles and not dying before they get to where they’re going, they’ve yet to crack the concept of a steering wheel.

You see, what often constitutes a UFO sighting is the ship’s ability to traverse the sky at phenomenal speed and suddenly do a ninety-degree turn or stop dead. Now, pick me up on this if you want, but if I was working on a Kinobean planet cruiser, hurtling across the universe, dodging satellites, meteors, and comets, I’d be a bit disturbed if the captain suddenly got lost on his way across Lincolnshire and starting driving erratically around the sky, throwing everyone out of their seats and making the crew spill their duty-frees. Course, if he had a steering wheel, then cornering would be much smoother, unless it was one of those square ones out of an Austin Allegro, then you’d still be all over the place.

Then you’ve got the lights. They’ve been guided across the great void of space by some wonderfully advanced equipment, only to appear above our planet looking like a cheap travelling fairground. Assuming space is not overly crowded and the nearest vehicle is a galaxy away, rendering navigation lights unnecessary, then you have to suppose that aliens have poor eyesight -- hence the dodgy driving. And that’s strange because they’ve got big, huge eyes, but if you look closely they don’t have a nose, which makes it very difficult to wear glasses.

So if they can’t see properly, it’s a bit irresponsible of them to go driving about country lanes at night without dipped headlights. It’s a wonder there aren’t more accidents.

Then there are the experiments. Consider our medical teams -- and I think we have three in Britain, unfortunately they all work for the Discovery Channel making non-stop documentaries about liver transplants. Nonetheless, if they were ever to actually work on a real patient, I am confident that each of them would name painless surgery as one of their goals. Here the aliens fall down a bit. They have mastered gravity and time, conquered the great wastes of space and the inevitable boredom that comes with interstellar travel, unless one of them remembered to pack Travel Connect Four, and yet the concept of painless medicine being preferable to an excruciating examination on a stainless steel bench has escaped them. You may think that seeing abductees squealing pitifully would suggest that a touch of chloroform might make the proceedings run more smoothly, but no. They keep running those tubes up your backside like an enthusiastic apprentice from Dyno-Rod trying to impress the boss. Then comes the eye probe. Any sign of drops to facilitate the easy passage of a needle through the iris? Not a jot. They keep comforting you through some telepathic communication that everything will be alright. Coming down on their side, it may be that pain has been eradicated on their world and they are a) experimenting with this unusual human characteristic or b) unaware of it -- in which case they should sack their earth-based market researcher. On the more sinister side, they may simply not care, like a dentist whose patient has refused to sign up to Denplan. Now that is a worry. Where are the omnipotent beings now? Where is the benevolence? Collecting the footage for their own Discovery Channel, that’s where. Out there is the alien equivalent of that gimp Steve Irwin who runs around Australia throwing himself on crocodiles while telling us not to do it; or bothering some poor snake having a sun bathe by picking him up by the tale and saying “Look, he looks really annoyed. I’ll just put him down again”. That is the greatest humiliation, those abductees chosen not as intermediaries between two great races but as some segment on a game show back home on a planet just left of Alpha Centauri. No doubt the alien equivalent of Dale Winton is gushing with hysterics as some bug-eyed contestant gets the question wrong, and the micro camera inside the fun-tube gets pushed another six inches up your rectum. The first earthling to pass out loses and the alien leaves the studio clutching a stick of rock with the word EARTH written through it and a copy of your operation as a consolation.

Not all aliens are callous bottom-botherers. Some pass on knowledge: a wisdom more ancient and far in advance of our own. They call this knowledge… drawing. Many abductees have recorded how, when they arrived on the space ship, they were capable of only the most rudimentary scribblings. Then, following the aforementioned and extremely dubious examination -- surely there is only so much information an arse can provide -- they release the human to “spread the word” by exhibiting some pretty neat pictures, usually involving them in front of the space ship. Call me sceptical if you like, but if I wanted to make a splash for the human race I’d like to cure cancer, AIDS or at least assassinate that animal-worrying Aussie git. That is doing something for the world -- not insisting everyone pay ten quid to see your scrawl at the local museum. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that as important as art is -- and I do believe it is important -- the Nobel committee has not yet got around to awarding a prize for drawing, no matter how good the space ship is coloured in.

But let us not deny the facts. Aliens are among us, or at least they have been. The pyramids of Egypt and South America, The Baghdad Battery, and the statues of Easter Island all reek of extraterrestrial intervention. And the Millennium Dome, The River of Fire, and the Blade of Light Bridge all suggest they have gotten pissed off with us and buggered off. But I don’t know. Governments have been talking to aliens for years, which is a pity when life would be a lot better if they talked to us. They’re preparing us for their arrival, so we won’t be scared and run around screaming. Never mind bills, taxes, terminal disease, famine, or the constant threat of nuclear war. They think we’d all crack up if a race landed that was so advanced the only thing left for them is driving about the galaxy extracting fluid samples from humans. Well, our own governments have been taking the piss out of us for years, so the way I see it, little will change.

Governments could be keeping it all secret while they exchange knowledge, a sort of intellectual mind melt between our greatest thinkers and theirs. They’d tell us how to overcome gravity and control the weather; we’d give them platform trainers and the steering wheel.

That is why we are survivors. If we suddenly let slip that we’ve got something worth having, then the skies will be full of battleships from Pleiades trying to nick it. That’s why our government’s alien-flight control room keeps directing them to Norfolk -- because there is sod all there. And that is why they keep marking certain individuals down for abduction -- because they know that the aliens are not going to be threatened by a bunch of people so dull, they can’t find Cornwall in the daytime and spend the entire night driving around country lanes and “losing” hours. They also know that it’s cheaper to get them abducted than to send them to art college to learn how to draw. So who is fooling whom? I’d like to think it’s us tricking them, if only because we invented the steering wheel before they did -- and then made a square one just to confuse everyone.

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