"They are laughing at you," Terry Wogan told a noticeably trimmer David Icke back in 1991, "not with you." The former goalkeeper turned sports presenter had not long given up his broadcasting career and pronounced himself the new messiah. And, yes, people laughed; a lot.
Well, yesterday they weren't. Yesterday, they – the 6,000 Icke-ites who had come from all corners of the globe to hear the seer – were laughing at me. Or specifically, the idea that I could distil the wisdom of their messiah into an article without enduring the full 11 hours of lecturing that the rest of the room had travelled so far to hear.
"We have just had a visit from The Independent on Sunday. They turn up two and a half hours after we've started. I mean what chance does she have? I mean, bloody hell, no wonder people are turning to alternative news outlets," the 60-year-old told a sold-out, one-off gathering at Wembley Arena to gales of laughter and raucous applause. Icke singled me out after being told by a minder that I had arrived. The minder said: "You aren't going to write something nasty about him, are you? The press think he is a loony."
To make matters worse I, as a newspaper reporter, am a member of exactly the sort of crazed humanoid reptilian elite that David Icke is convinced is running the world to the detriment of the human race, along with, and in no particular order, Barack Obama, the Queen, Alan Greenspan, Mick Jagger and Tony Blair. That much I gleaned from the two hours I watched Icke, his trademark grey hair flapping round his collar in a mullet, spouting his theories about, again in no particular order: Archons, jinns, interbreeding reptiles, shape-shifters, invisible light, mind parasites and heartless bankers.
I had entered the room knowing that Icke thought he was the son of God and that humanoid reptiles were the incarnation of evil, but not a lot more. I'd love to say I gained an insight, listening to him preach, without notes, laser pen in hand and an incomprehensible presentation beamed on to the wall behind him. I'm afraid I can't. He claims people mock him for leaving school at 15, when I – with my university degree – was left flummoxed because, try as I might, I couldn't understand what he was saying.
Not so his acolytes. The thousands who paid between £39 and £62 for entry to his biggest gathering to date, at the north London venue, are a mixed crowd. They hung on his every word, afterwards discussing it over a cigarette outside. Mona Samar 44, who had flown from Saudi Arabia to hear Icke speak, freely admits she changed her "reality" after getting into the lad from Leicester. The former MS sufferer says: "I was sick myself. But when I changed my reality I changed my health." She stopped her injections seven years ago and is now better. "Pain is controlled by the brain," her friend Diana Marin, 43, from London adds.
Robbie Peake, 26, who travelled from his home in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty to hear Icke speak, and then decided to use it as a mainstay of a three-month trip to Europe, admitted Icke's theories can "sound pretty fruity" but he adds: "Someone is controlling us. It runs right up to the top." When pressed by your confused reporter to reveal who was doing the controlling, he explains: "Reptilian aliens. You see it with TV. They are zoning you out, trying to make you into dumbos while the elite sits on their thrones and run the world. But people are starting to wake up to what is happening."
If by wake up he means buy into Icke's views, then yes, they've bought more than 140,000 copies of his books and shelled out £30 a pop on his DVDs. They've even stopped getting vaccinations. "Apparently in those injections there is something to block the brain," Alan Daw, 50, from the "south of England" tells me. "Vaccinating people could be weakening the human race."
Ben Potter, stage name Clint Delicious, 25, catches me later and, pint in hand, admits the full 11 hours is a bit much. "I get the idea that people on LSD would understand what he says," he tells me, swaying on his feet.
It is all – largely – entertaining stuff, and clearly highly believable to many. Not least those like Mr Potter's friend, punk rocker Jonny Wahwah, 43, who points out that Icke accurately nailed Jimmy Savile to a paedophile mast years ago, but I cannot help feeling it would take an awful lot longer than even the full 11 hours of posturing before I could join his flock. Do, please, feel free to laugh at me.
Wisdom of David Icke
"A group of reptilian humanoids, called the Babylonian Brotherhood, control humanity... I wish I didn't have to introduce the following information [on reptilian shape-shifting] because it complicates the story and opens me up to mass ridicule. but I'm not afraid to go where information leads me... Humanity is mind controlled and only slightly more conscious than your average zombie."
The Biggest Secret book published 1999
"Come on, Ted Heath! Sue me if you've got nothing to hide! Come on, George Bush! I'm ready! Sue me! I'm naming names! Come on, Jon? Why are they refusing to sue me?"
The Guardian, 2001
"I once had an extraordinary experience with former prime minister Ted Heath. Both of his eyes, including the whites, turned jet black and I seemed to be looking into two black holes."
The Guardian, 2006
"Child kidnapping by the state is now an epidemic and many are ending up in the satanic and paedophile rings that control the social service criminal cabals."
- More about: