In 1991, Magonia magazine, under its editor John Rimmer, ran a competition to see what the Next Big Thing would be after the crop circle craze. I was very pleased to win, my prize being a magnificent Led Zeppelin poster featuring – what else? – crop circles. My entry was printed in Issue No. 39, April 1991, p.24. I can safely say that I am no futurologist.
Magonia Competition 1991
After the demise of corn circles, what will the next craze be? A strong contender will be provided by the mysterious appearance of small footprints on panes of glass. These will become known as the 'smallfoot' phenomenon. The prints will bear traces of mud and will appear overnight, often in places well out of reach of the ground. It will be quite apparent that they were not there before, but had just not been noticed. They will tend to be seen in the winter due to ice highlighting the mud outline, but will not cluster in particular areas of the country.
After numerous sightings, increasing dramatically in frequency, a vigorous debate will ensue between a number of factions. They will put forward competing theories of the prints' causation as the definitive explanation, each less plausible than the last. The situation will be confused by the possibility of hoaxing, though this will never be proved, and it will be pointed out that some of the prints would have been difficult to fake due to their inaccessibility. Many small children will have their feet scrutinised carefully. A spin-off of smallfoot will be the partial rehabilitation of Conan Doyle.
Alas, after much press speculation, the setting up of specialist journals and conferences (and the unearthing of smallfoot reports going back almost to the invention of glass), the subject will go the way of the circles, and give way to yet another enthusiasm, possibly involving the prehistoric use of petroleum products.