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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


            • Originally posted by jmenges View Post

              The typescript certainly existed. Letters exchanged at the time among the participants in April/May 1992 make reference to it.

              There are few things more pleasant on Christmas Eve than sipping a glass of eggnog while poking at a fire in the grate. This year I used the dying embers to good advantage, burning my 'Maybrick' notes and papers.

              As I peeled the sheets onto the lapping flames, one print-out caught my eye, because it referred to a subject that Keith Skinner, Lord Orsam, and I were discussing before we went our separate ways earlier this year: the mysterious 'typescript' of the Diary, produced by the Barretts--a document often mentioned, but never released for public inspection. The papers I was destroying were several excepts taken from the old message boards, the first by Martin Fido, posted some 18 years ago:

              Author: Martin Fido

              Thursday, 12 April 2001 - 04:02 pm

              "For all those who may not know why Paul refers to '1992': when we started 'advising' we were sent transcripts of the diary first, and only subsequently
              photocopies of the pages as they appeared in the album. The transcripts included spelling mistakes which suggested a fair copy from the original, idiosyncratic
              misspellings and all, including the normal amount of typist's mistranscription and occasional difficulties in decyphering the writing. I assumed that this was a copy
              made professionally at the behest of Doreen Montgomery or Robert Smith. As I understand it, the Anne and Michael story has always been that one of them-Anne I think-made the copy on the machine for Mike's benefit some time before Mike thought of publishing/selling it and the document was shown to Doreen. I never heard that circulating print-outs to interested parties was part of the Barretts' intention. It was supposed to play some part in Mike's research for the book Anne wanted him to write from it, or to be somehow associated with or useful in his supposed attempts to find out who the unnamed husband of Florie and master of Battlecrease were.”

              Elsewhere, Martin writes:

              “...I have yet to learn for certain that the transcript I have seen is definitely a print-out from the Barretts' Amstrad version...” (!)

              I find it startling that 8 years after the Diary first surfaced, one of the original researchers, Martin F., was still uncertain whether this 'typescript' was the same document that was later found on the Barretts' Amstrad, and am even more amazed that 26+ years later, the answer is still unclear. But...whatever; it is a mystery unlikely ever to be answered. I have tried to unravel it, and have failed utterly.

              Anyway, it was shortly after Martin's post that Robert Smith, the Diary's owner, made a rare appearance on the boards and gave what may be the only detailed description of this strange and mysterious document, although, sadly, his description was very brief, if tantalizing.

              Robert Smith

              Tuesday, 08 May 2001 - 06:10 am

              “From time to time, I look at the boards and am surprised at the intensity of the debate on the Ripper diary some seven and a half years after publishing it. Usually I don’t think I can add much to the discussion, especially when the sound of axes being ground is often so deafening.

              “But for once I would like to offer a few thoughts on some of the bones of contention being picked over.

              1. The Transcript.

              “A theory has been put forward that the transcript produced by the Barretts may have appeared on Mike’s word processor prior to the diary being written. However, there is plenty of internal evidence, that the producers of the transcript copied from the diary manuscript, rather than the other way around. For instance, many words correctly spelt in the diary are misspelt in the transcript.

              “Take the very first line:

              “Manuscript: what they have in store for them they would stop this instant.

              Typescript: what I have in store for them they would stop this instance.

              “There is another early example where "business" in the manuscript becomes "bussiness" in they typescript. In contrast, there are no correct spellings in the transcript, which are misspelt in the diary manuscript. Of course, there are some misspellings in the diary, like "rondaveau" and "poste", but they make it across to the transcript, without further deviation.”

              Exit, Mr. Smith.

              At the very least, this confirms what Keith wrote elsewhere: there are substantial differences between the Diary manuscript and the typescript. Given that Anne worked as a secretary it is somewhat strange that there would be so many transcription errors (if that is what they are!) in just the first page alone, and one wonders what others might exist within the 29 page document.

              I'm also at a loss to understand why Fido and Smith were so certain the chicken came before egg, rather than the egg before the chicken, but I suppose that is another argument that will never be resolved. If it is self-evident that this is a genuine "fair copy," I am also at a loss as to why it has never been released. Yet another enigma is why there appears to have been two different and conflicting 'explanations' for this typescript having made the rounds: one, that it was created at the request of Crew; the second that it was made by Anne for Barrett's benefit, so he didn't need to lug the Diary around during his alleged "research." The explanation as to how a man could be researching a document that was underneath the floorboards of Mr. Dodd's house I will leave in the "capable hands of others."

              Anyway, I fetched these burning excerpts from the fire in case they would be of interested to Lord O. Tonight they will cremated in celebration of Boxing Night.

              Happy Holidays.
              Last edited by rjpalmer; 12-27-2019, 12:06 AM.


              • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
                Happy Holidays.
                Hi Roger,

                I hope you enjoyed the Christmas break and that your Boxing Day inferno damaged no more than that which you had decided had no further value to you.

                It is probably just as well that you have chosen (not for the first time this year) to distance yourself from the Maybrick drama as you are a born cynic (I don't mean this to be an insult - it's quacking away at me like a duck and I can't find an alternative, softer tone to convey my mistrust of your deeper intentions) and clearly nothing will ever sway you even slightly towards a positive view of the Victorian scrapbook. Neither a feather nor a hurricane, I venture.

                It just doesn't matter how many copies of the scrapbook transcript there were. There could have been a thousand. A useful menu option on the old Amstrads - called 'Print', I think it was - allowed the user to print (hence the name) fresh copies of their documents. Another useful feature was a thing called 'editing' (shame it didn't catch on) which - when coupled with the 'print' option - allowed the user to change what they had originally typed and print out another version. The two versions were different - how it must have confused people back then!

                Anyway, you could have a million versions. You could set a whole savanna of monkeys bashing away at a PCW 9512 for eternity and - as long as none of them bashed out a version of the Victorian scrapbook before it was written - it would matter not a statistical jot. Your challenge is not to show that there was a transcript, or even that there were two. Your challenge is to show that the transcript came before the scrapbook, and that neither you nor any other commentator has managed to achieve. Even Lord Orsam couldn't turn that square into a circle.

                I like you Rog, old boy. I like your stiff-upper-lip quintessential British, slightly bombastic, certainly not always rational forays into the world of what you imagine to be an imaginary James Maybrick. But liking you is not enough to ignore the quacking of a duck.

                I hope you stick around, by the way. You are like Lord O's lieutenant, and he clearly needs one now that he has resigned his commission. Cough cough.

                I hope your Hogmanay is a roaring success. Here's an idea - if you haven't already done it - try printing out a thousand versions of this post and burning them on the big night. If Scotland gets cold again in the next couple of days, I might just do the same. By the way, Hogmanay sees Mrs Iconoclast's 27th anniversary of her most splendid marriage to Mr Iconoclast. See that 1992? I just don't seem to get away from it whichever way I turn …


                Soldier of Fortune, Man of Peace, Destroyer of Images, Nice Guy, Genius


                • Hello Icon. Merry Christmas and season's greetings.

                  The ink was wet. No matter how many times you, Keith Skinner, and Caz Brown take to the boards, it won't counter the fact that Dr. David Baxendale, a document examiner with 20+ years experience, did a simple and foolproof test and found that the Diary's ink failed a solubility test. When he tested the Diary in 1992, the ink was not yet bonded with the paper. When Leeds repeated the test some 3 years later, it now "passed" the test. The only logical and commonsense explanation is that the diary's ink further "dried" over those issuing three years. Coupled with the various textual indications that the Diary is a modern fake, and the Barrett's attempt to purchase Victorian raw materials for a hoax, we have a modern forgery. The only real mystery left is whether Anne Graham was a willing participant in the scheme or whether she was badgered into helping Barrett with the hoax. I wish you a very happy and prosperous 2020. RP


                  • Hello again, Ike,

                    If my last post was cruelly blunt, I apologize, but the hour is late; the grains are nearly gone from the hourglass; the spring has lost its tension; the wick has grown short; the oil is gone from the bowl, and the flame is sputtering. It is time we are candid with each other. The earth itself is giving up the ghost. The polar icecaps are melting, the last of the elephants and giraffes are dying, the soil is eroding, mankind has overbred and over evolved and the tribalism that is now on the rise will only intensify as impoverished people continue to flood into Europe and North America. This is endgame. It’s been fun, but our mutual hobby doesn’t really matter one iota in the grand scheme of things and the future is not going to be a pleasant place. History is over. It is dead.

                    The few people scattered around the globe who still believe in the authenticity of the Maybrick Diary are not stupid. To the contrary, they are highly intelligent. Alas, intelligence often doesn’t help us and may even betray us. If you don’t believe me, read the following article when you have a slack moment.


                    Quite probably there was no more intellectually gifted student of the Whitechapel Murders case than Colin Wilson, yet Wilson believed in some of the most incredibly barmy notions, including Krafft-Ebing and the authenticity of the Maybrick Diary. I have come to suspect that the urge to believe is largely genetic, just as ‘skepticism’ is largely genetic. They both served an evolutionary purpose, and both have their downside. In short, we think we are rational, but we aren’t. From your point of view, the disbelievers of the Maybrick Diary are intelligent people with blinders on, who think they are far cleverer than they are; from the point of view of the skeptics, the roles are reversed. The sad part is that neither of us has much capacity of knowing who is right or wrong, as per Dr. Kahneman in the article above.

                    My advice? Take Anne Graham out, feed her a good dinner, buy her a pint, and ask her very nicely and politely and sympathetically to tell, for the first time, what actually happened. Quite probably she won’t tell you, because the answer is too embarrassing, but it’s worth a shot.

                    By the way, in case you are wondering who the Ripper was, let me tell you. You won’t believe me, but I will tell you anyway. Nearly all the experts were wrong, and most dismissed him as an utterly ridiculous suspect, even, I think, Lord Orsam, Melvin Harris, Stephen Ryder, Keith Skinner, Paul Begg, Sir Robert Anderson, Donald Swanson, John Douglas, David Radka, Kim Rossmo, Christer Holmgren, Tim Riordan, Phil Sugden, Trevor Marriott, and nearly every other intelligent observer of the case, etc etc ad infinitum. He was a middle-aged Irish conman named Frank Tumilty who had come to the end of his tether. There is no doubt about it whatsoever, but not for the reasons anyone thinks or has suggested in the past. If you want to know why, throw your Ripper books in the garbage, study anthropology and primatology, and start to think clearly and honestly and very very very carefully about why things are the way they are, and why humans act in the way they act, even in their most appalling and delusional moments. It has to do with something we can’t see, because we are all too busy swimming in it. Good Luck.

                    PS. We are in a bubble. If you’re in, divest.


                    • Addendum to the above. Actually, Swanson may have suspected the worse; Kosminski was probably just over-compensation. And my apologies for the misplace apostrophe in Post #1973. I, too, am stupid. Far more stupid than most.


                      • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
                        Addendum to the above. Actually, Swanson may have suspected the worse; Kosminski was probably just over-compensation. And my apologies for the misplace apostrophe in Post #1973. I, too, am stupid. Far more stupid than most.
                        Wow, Roger, you're supposed to be upbeat ahead of the New Year (unless you're a Newcastle United fan of course). I'm worried about you. Polar ice-caps? Global warming? The earth is giving up the ghost? You need a bit more eggnog and a brighter Christmas jumper, mate! Ho ho ho and all that, man.

                        Anyway, I thought your posts were very entertaining and insightful. I will most certainly Google the Irish fellow of which you speak. Hey you may be right - yes, the ice-caps are melting, the globe is getting warmer, and the earth is probably giving up the ghost. But James Maybrick wasn't Jack the Ripper? That's a step too far …

                        My most heartfelt good wishes for 2020 for you, Lord Lucifus Orsam, and all of my avid readers. Oh, and the other 99.9% of the Casebook, of course.

                        Soldier of Fortune, Man of Peace, Destroyer of Images, Nice Guy, Genius


                        • Happy New Year to you Ike and all in Diary Land.


                          "Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.”


                          • I didn't see a couple of middle fingers on those two icons, Herlock.