S&C was recently contacted by a Portsmouth resident who claims to have captured a clear image of Batman flying over Southsea. A self-proclaimed ‘honorary’ boy scout, thirty-five-year-old Ivan Lavender-Braithwaite not only believes that the photo clearly shows Batman on his way to defeat his notorious enemy the Penguin, but he also asserts that the famous superhero has guarded Portsmouth from evil for many years. Gavin Dollery reports on this remarkable series of events.
For ordinary Pompey folk, Batman Returns is a 1992 film about a crazed man-penguin who lived in the Gotham City sewer system and made powerful allies on land to try and topple the Batman.
However, for Scout Ivan Lavender-Braithwaite the film isn’t fictional; its plot is unfolding right now, although in Portsmouth rather than Gotham City.
Ivan is convinced that Batman has protected the city since the year 2000 when the Millennium Tower (as it was known at the time) suffered a series of set-backs that saw the project come in over budget and delayed by almost six years.
‘The people of Portsmouth were conned,’ said Ivan. ‘The tower was meant to open in 1999 with no cost to residents, but it wasn’t ready until 2005 and taxpayers had to fork out millions of pounds. I like the Spinnaker Tower, don’t get me wrong, but I think Batman must have started to take notice of our situation around that time. Like Gotham before it, Portsmouth became a city in need of someone to help the masses fight against corporate greed.
‘What’s more, I don’t believe that the Penguin actually died at the end of Batman Returns, and when I think about all the issues we’ve had with the tower – including the Council changing its colours to red and white in 2015 – I knew this was the villainous workings of the Penguin. He is operating from the Portsmouth sewers and is working with the greedy corporates to cause mayhem in our city. He simply must be stopped!’
Despite being kicked out of the scouts at the age of twenty-three for possessing marijuana, Ivan continues to arrange ‘unofficial’ events on behalf of the organisation and frequently wears his full scout uniform around Portsmouth. Ivan was in Southsea with a friend when he captured the startling image.
‘It was a standard “reccy” mission on Southsea Seafront where me and my apprentice were attempting to find a suitable location for a scouting fête. Arriving at 13:00 sharp we enjoyed a Mr. Whippy ice cream before proceeding on to Castle Field at approximately 13:30. We then carried out a series of painstaking ruler measurements that lasted until 15:54 and it was at that time exactly we saw the Batman. He was travelling at an alarming speed in a northerly direction; quite possibly at the speed of light.
‘Thinking about it now, I don’t think it could have been as fast as the speed of light as I had enough time to get the phone out of my bum bag and take the photo itself. It was bloody quick though, I’m telling you!
At this stage, Ivan didn’t know exactly where Batman and the Penguin would be doing battle with one another, but Batman’s flight path seemed to suggest somewhere in the city centre. As the only alert person in this situation, Ivan then used his initiative to try and rally others around him to help the Batman in his fight against evil.
‘There were a few lads playing football when it happened, but they were all completely unaware of who had just whizzed over their heads. So with my apprentice distracting one of the goalkeepers with a flamenco dance, I was able to steal the ball and gain their undivided attention. It was there on the freshly-cut grass that I delivered an instinctive and compelling speech:
“Comrades, today a great nemesis has risen from the underground, and unless we inform the authorities of the events unfolding, our lives will be in great peril. Follow me to the police station!”
‘I felt like my carefully selected words had instantly struck a chord with the men and I could sense that they were prepared to go into battle alongside me. After sprinting the first 100 metres, I turned round to see all twenty or so men running behind me in what I can only describe as the best moment of my life to date. We soon manoeuvred across Clarence Esplanade and onto Southsea Common.’
However, tragedy struck the scout when one of the lads soon caught up with Ivan and ripped the ball from his hands.
‘I couldn’t believe the ignorance. Not only did he snatch the ball back but he pushed me to the floor and I got grass stains all over my uniform. As soon as he reclaimed the ball they all went back to the field and started playing football again. I’m still baffled to this day as to why they failed to see the gravity of the situation.’
S&C was able to track down one of the men playing football when the incident happened. He provides a somewhat different perspective on what happened that day.
‘I remember looking up and seeing a goose or something flying over us. Well, it was definitely a large bird at least. And then that scout bloke stole our ball and started running around like a maniac. He was shouting:
“Ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner, ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner, BATMAN!”
‘At one point, he was so hyper that he stole a kite from a little girl and let it just fly off. A few of us tried to chase after it but the wind just took it. The girl was inconsolable after that. I’m sure his scout group wouldn’t approve of that sort of behaviour.’
Despite skepticism from residents, scouts and nature experts alike, Ivan remains determined to do whatever he can to support Batman and is even prepared to step into his shoes in the near future.
‘I would be happy to take on the role of Batman full-time if someone were to offer me the job. At present I have not yet been approached, but should the Batman soon need a replacement then I offer the below list of attributes:
• I know the Portsmouth area inside out
• I already have my own costume
• I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Batman franchise
• My apprentice is fully-prepared to become the new Robin
• My pet cat Gloria can slot into the role of Catwoman (if required)
Editor’s note: S&C and Hampshire Constabulary can confirm that there were no reported sightings of Batman or the Penguin on the date in question.