the Maybrick Case was the subject of a 1970 BBC TV series called 'Wicked Women', which I remember quite well. As a result, I read a book about the Case, but can't remember which one! I'm surprised your Scouse friends had never heard of the case, but assume they must be of a generation of, er, more tender years compared with me.....
The pub landlord was probably only in his forties, but my old man's cousin and her husband are nearly 70.
Re: the Watch. I haven't read the books for a long time, so if I'm wrong here then by all means correct me. As I understand it, the Watch was bought by Albert Johnson from the Murphys in mid-1992, but it wasn't until nearly a year later he saw the scratches.
Yep, that's exactly right. Albert had admired it for the few weeks he had seen it in the shop window, finally having a win on the horses and buying it on 14th July 1992, to put away as an investment for his young grandchild. It was the following summer that he took it out again and the discovery was made.
Murphy said that he had bought the watch from his father-in-law Mr Stuart (?) about 2 years prior to selling it to Mr Johnson. Mr Stuart (?) as I recall said that he had had the Watch for maybe 15 years before selling it to his son-in-law. Could Mr Stuart (?) recall from whom he had obtained the Watch?
I don't think Murphy's father-in-law could be questioned because he was suffering from dementia at the time. IIRC the story of how a stranger had come in and sold the watch to him all those years previously was told by the Murphys.
Also, am I correct in believing that Barrett never mentioned the Watch at all until its existence was made public, and so can I assume that he didn't know about it?
Not a word from either Barrett about any watch. I can only imagine what their reaction was when they learned of its existence! When I saw Anne and the Johnsons in the green room, for the televised Trial of JtR, hosted by Michael Grade and featuring Angela Rippon and Stewart Evans among others, I asked Anne, in all innocence, what she thought of the watch and what she had asked Albert and Val about it [who were standing nearby but not quite in earshot]. I was fully expecting her to be as interested as I was in its origins, but she just looked rather uncomfortable and made some excuse to hurry off, as if she was worried I was going to engage the three of them in conversation about it. I was left thinking that something wasn't right, but didn't have a clue what it was.
I just wonder if the Watch had actually 'inspired' some previous owner to concoct the Diary, given that no-one thus far has been able to prove either the Battlecrease or Mike Barrett claimed provenances.
I have little doubt the two are - or were - linked, and my hunch is that you are not far off. I wonder if the diary was written by someone who knew about the markings inside the watch, and wanted to draw attention to them without coming forward himself to admit they were there. Was the plan for someone to find both items, so the faint markings inside the watch would stand the best chance of being discovered as a result?
I can't easily get past the coincidence of the diary emerging and being snapped up by a publisher, in pretty much the same time frame as the watch appearing in the shop window and being snapped up by Albert.
__________________ "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov