|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Russian Wikipedia. (January 2012)|
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|(The Talking Mongoose
The Dalby Spook)
|Country||Isle of Man|
Gef (pron.: // JEF), referred to as the Talking Mongoose or the Dalby Spook, was a talking mongoose reported to inhabit a farmhouse known as Cashen's Gap near the hamlet of Dalby on the Isle of Man. Gef has been variously interpreted as a poltergeist, a normal animal, a cryptid or a hoax.
By their own account on September 1931, the Irving family, consisting of James, Margaret and a 13 year-old daughter named Voirrey, heard persistent scratching and rustling noises behind their farmhouse's wooden wall panels. Initially they thought it was a rat, but then the unseen creature began making different sounds. At times it spat like a ferret, growled like a dog or gurgled like a baby.
The entity soon revealed an ability to speak and introduced itself as Gef, a mongoose. It claimed to have been born in New Delhi, India, in 1852. According to Voirrey, 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 claimed at times to be "an extra extra clever mongoose", an "Earthbound spirit" and "a ghost in the form of a mongoose". He 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 the time that he pretended to be poisoned. Gef also supposedly bothered the Irvings' neighbours, spied on them and reported back to the Irvings. 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 the Senate House Library, University of London.
Domestic responsibilities 
Gef, as told by the Irvings, did his best to be helpful around the house. He guarded the house, immediately informing the owners of the approach of guests or any unfamiliar dog. If someone had forgotten to put out the fire at night, he would go down and stop the stove. He would also wake people up when they overslept. Whenever mice got into the house, he assumed the role of the cat: although he preferred to scare them rather than kill them. As a reward, he was given biscuits, chocolates and bananas. Food was left for him in a saucer suspended from the ceiling, he picked his own food, and sometimes took it when he thought no one was watching. The mongoose also regularly accompanied the Irvings during their trips to the market, but always stayed on the other side of the hedges, even while and chatting incessantly.
Price and Lambert 
In July 1935 the editor of The Listener, Richard S. Lambert (known as "Rex"), 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 Huxley who then sent it to naturalist F. Martin Duncan who identified it as a dog hair.
Price asked Reginald Pocock of the Natural History Museum to evaluate pawprints made by Gef in plasticene together with an impression of his tooth 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 did state that none of the markings had been made by a mongoose.
Records of Price's investigation are available in his archives, which are also 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, then an exceptional figure for a slander case, awarded because Lambert's counsel managed to introduce a BBC memo which showed Lambert's career had been threatened if he persisted with the case. The case became known as "the Mongoose Case".
Price was not the only psychic researcher to have investigated Gef. Another was Nandor Fodor, Research Officer for the International Institute for Psychical Research. Fodor was influenced by Freudian theory and later became a psychoanalyst. He pioneered the theory that poltergeists are external manifestations of conflicts within the subconscious mind rather than autonomous entities with minds of their own.
Fodor stayed at the Irvings' house for a week without seeing or hearing Gef. However, 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 as none of the family members were psychic, Gef showed no paranormal powers and he had been seen, photographed and touched and consistently appeared as a small animal.
Margaret and Voirrey Irving left their home in 1945, after the death of James Irving. They reportedly had 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 body displayed by Graham was, however, black and white and much larger than the famous mongoose and Voirrey Irving was certain that it was not Gef. She died in 2005. In an interview published late in life, she maintained that Gef was not her creation.
Theories and scepticism 
The story was widespread throughout Britain in the early 1930s due to extensive press coverage, but whilst several other people, both locals and visitors, claimed to have heard Gef's voice, only two persons other than the Irvings themselves ever claimed to have seen the entity.
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, stains on the wall, supposed hair samples which were identified as having belonged to the Irving's sheepdog, and several photos which were claimed by the Irvings to depict Gef.
- Lemon Demon, Neil Cicierega's music group, wrote a song about Gef titled 'Eighth Wonder'.
- Harry Price: The Psychic Detective, by Richard Morris, published by Sutton 2006
- Gef is a recurring character in the web comic 'Semi-Charmed'
- The Jarvey, a magical talking ferret species from the Harry Potter series, may have been based on Gef.
- Brown Jenkin, the malevolent talking rat-like entity in H.P. Lovecraft's The Dreams in the Witch House, may have been inspired by Gef.
- Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011 film) is a film where a man, his girlfriend, and his daughter, respectively, moving into a 19th century Rhode Island mansion, where his withdrawn daughter begins to witness malevolent creatures that emerge from a sealed ash pit in the basement of the house. These creatures have similar characteristics to Gef; he is seen as an influence to the film.
- Mac Milli of the Nebraska based rap group Slyfuk Foursome references Gef in their song entitled "Do You Know The Ox?" In which Milli states "I'm a freak, I've got hands and feet, and if you see me you'll be petrified, mystified, now I'm Mac Millified."
See also 
- archive catalogue entry for Gef and the Irvings
- Out of this World, Mysteries of Mind, Space and Time, 1989, page 419–420.
- Rachael, Low (1996). History of British Film. Routledge. pp. 193–194. ISBN 0-415-15650-5.
- Willett, Cliff. "The Evidence for Gef: Pt 2 Gef's Pawprints". Gef: The Eighth Wonder of the World. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
- "The Mongoose Case 1936". The BBC under Pressure. BBC.
- Lambert, Richard Stanton (1940). Ariel and All His Quality: An Impression of the BBC from Within. Victor Gollancz. p. 216. ISBN 0-946976-11-2.
- Carrington, Hereward; Nandor Fodor (2006). Haunted People: The Story of the Poltergeist Down the Centuries. Lightning Source Inc. ISBN 1-4254-8106-X.
- McGraw, Walter. Gef - the Talking Mongoose...30 Years Later. Fate (magazine), 1970, pp.74-82.
- Josiffe, Christopher (December 2010). "Gef the Talking Mongoose". Fortean Times. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
- The Haunting of Cashen's Gap: A Modern "Miracle" Investigated by Harry Price and R.S. Lambert, Methuen & Co. Ltd., hardback, 1936
- Fodor, Nandor (1964). Between Two Worlds. Parker Publishing Company.
- Graves, Robert; Alan Hodge (1941). The Long Week End: A Social History of Great Britain 1918-1939. Macmillan. p. 346.