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Acquiring A Victorian Diary

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  • Hello Keith, (if you're still in the shadows).

    I didn't wish to snub your question in Post #1861: why didn't Mike Barrett produced the receipt during his presentation at the Cloak and Dagger?

    I'm not certain why you wish to hear my answer, because it can't be anything other than pure speculation.

    Personally, I think Barrett may have been bluffing. Mike was a fabulist, and from my observations of his meandering conversations, he seemed to have lived by some strange credo of never giving a stranger (or a Londoner?) a straight story. He embellished even when it served no rational purpose. I suppose it goes back to his youth on the rough streets of Liverpool, the sort of bloke that might say "go ahead and work me over, but don't call the police."

    On the other hand, if Mike did have the receipt, perhaps he simply got "cold feet" and decided to hold on to it in case he later needed to apply "leverage" if the film deal went through. I have no idea.

    What I don't think Mike's bluff proves is that the diary isn't a modern hoax. I never received a response to my observations about Mike's interview on Radio Merseyside. You earlier cited Mike's rationale for confessing to Harold Brough as being motivated by not wanting his little daughter Caroline accused of being related to Jack the Ripper. Am I wrong in assuming that you were lending credence to this explanation? But, as I pointed out earlier, isn't the chronology wrong? Didn't Barrett first confess to Brough (and Harrison) in June 1994--that is, BEFORE Feldman attempted to link Anne Graham's genealogy to that of Florence Maybrick? If so, the "explanation" makes no sense.

    So we are left with Barrett sometimes telling whoppers (and wild ones!) when he is confessing, sometimes telling whoppers when he is retracting his confession, and sometimes telling whoppers when he is acting the innocent scrap metal dealer who knows utterly nothing about the Diary (for example, lying about when and why he purchased the word processor).

    As I say, Mike was a fabulist. He had the gift of the gab, and that is why I think Alan Gray did a service by trying to keep Mike to a coherent story in the weeks leading up to January 1995. It must have been a tedious and thankless task. Yes, a disgruntled Gray eventually threw his hands in the air and quite understandably gave up on Barrett, but, other than a few mistaken dates, it is my opinion that the January 1995 confession has never been disproven and represents the most likely explanation for the diary's creation.

    A final point, for I am planning on moving my Maybrick collection, not to Wales, but to the root cellar, burying it underneath old cans of paint and garden tools, never to be unearthed again before the year 2040.

    The scientists and document examiners who studied the Diary were not Ripperologists. They had no axe to grind. There is no reason to question their honesty. While we might argue about their interpretations (or, more probably, the interpretations that others gave to their work) I don't think we can question their observations. Their reports can't be anything other than honest descriptions of what they were observing.

    And what did they observe?

    For one, in July/August 1992 Dr. Baxendale observed that the Diary's ink was readily soluble (giving up color) when exposed to a solvent. This happened in "seconds" while his specimens of old ink all took much longer.

    In November 1994, you and Shirley Harrison brought the Diary to Leeds University, who found that the ink was NOT readily soluble when placed in a solvent.

    Judging by Harrison's repetition of these experiments in her book, the conclusion seems to be that Leeds disproved Baxendale's test.

    But is that a rational conclusion?

    Over time, ink integrates with the fibers of the paper. The bond becomes greater and greater --which is the whole point of a solubility test.

    Between Baxendale's honest observations around July 1992 and Leed's honest observations in November 1994, two years and 3 months (or two years and four months) had passed.

    Why wouldn't I simply conclude that the Diary's ink was of recent origin in the summer of 1992, and in the intervening two + years it further bonded to the paper, thus explaining Leeds results?

    What other explanation can there be?

    And since none of us can alter the laws of chemistry, this would seem to be conclusive proof that the diary was a recent creation when Barrett brought it to London in April 1992, which, of course, is supported by the advertisement that led to the purchase of the red diary, "one off," the Abberline obsession, the police inventory list, the use of secondary sources, etc.

    You disagree, of course, but, for the life of me, I can't understand why you disagree. I suppose it has a little to do with wanting to prove the doubters wrong, and little to do with McNeil's ion migration claims--which other scientists seemed to have dismissed on technical grounds. Perhaps that conversation is for another day, or another incarnation.

    Good wishes and good luck. RP
    Last edited by rjpalmer; 09-17-2019, 05:57 PM.


    • From Keith Skinner-

      Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post

      Years ago it was wondered if the Diary's phrase

      Sir Jim with his fancy cane

      may have been an inside joke and a triple entendre--a pun on Caine [from the miniseries] and Kane, the alleged penman.

      I’m still lurking about Roger – and thank you for your good wishes.

      Re the above post, as a rule I tend not to discuss the text of the diary because if it was created by Mike Barrett (as he says it was) then it’s a pointless exercise as far as I’m concerned. But 27 years ago when I first read the narrative, I did wonder if this might have been a reference to the Emma Smith murder and the injuries she sustained? And that is as far as I took my thought because I was aware the recorded historical evidence stood against that line of speculative interpretation – and Mike Barrett was never asked what he had in mind when he wrote the line. It may well have been everything you suggested Roger – or possibly it could have had something to do with Mike’s writers creativity and spotting an opportunity to have yet another laugh at those gullible and foolish enough to invest those words with their own meaning? Or perhaps we are both wrong Roger? But it is interesting that you raise the ghost of Gerard Kane fingered, I believe, by Melvin Harris as theperson who physically penned the diary – but not implicated by Mike Barrett in his sworn affidavit in which, correct me if I am wrong, in part you place great faith?

      I see you have left a long post for me to which I will respond but only where I can offer you something positive and constructive. What I think and believe – why I think and believe – is of little consequence or value. As I have said countless times Roger, I do not seek to try and persuade anybody over to my way of thinking.

      Best Wishes



      • Calgary Herald, 12 April 1911. The final moments of Bobo Maybrick.

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        With that melancholy thought in mind, I think I will go have a sandwich.


        • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
          Calgary Herald, 12 April 1911. The final moments of Bobo Maybrick.
          Poor Bobo. Being poisoned seems to have run in the family.
          Kind regards, Sam Flynn

          "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)


          • he couldn't have died from the poison, as he was found still clutching the casho.. uh sandwich in his hand.
            "Is all that we see or seem
            but a dream within a dream?"

            -Edgar Allan Poe

            "...the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn
            quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

            -Frederick G. Abberline