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Acquiring A Victorian Diary

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  • #31
    Unless I've missed it, no one has mentioned that Maurice Chittenden has just come out with his memoirs: Exclusive!The Last Days of Fleet Street. What an odd coincidence that the electrician story should be re-aired after all these years in two different books coming out at virtually the same time. Lightening strikes twice.

    It looks like a damn good read, and a few pages are devoted to l'affaire Maybrick. Chittenden spent three weeks on the story and twice traveled to Liverpool to personally question Mike Barrett. A thoroughly professional journalist, it sure looks like he made all the rounds. It's interesting therefore, that he writes:

    "Meanwhile, the boss of the building firm that did the rewiring at Battlecrease, Maybrick's former home, had had the time to quiz his workforce. To a man they denied finding anything under the floorboards, but two said they went drinking in the Saddle, where they might have talked about their work in a house famous for its murderous history."

    It's very curious. Very curious.

    I suppose this cuts 'both ways.' On one hand, a sensible person might conclude (textual difficulties aside) that this is more direct evidence that the journal didn't come out of Battlecrease; on the other, the possibility that a certain blood-and-bone fixture at the Saddle might have overheard the electricians mentioning their renovations can't be entirely dismissed. But if the electricians didn't find anything what was Barrett supposed to have overheard? The difficulty of tearing up floorboards with a crow bar? Every electrician I have ever known, and I've know quite a few, wouldn't be caught dead tearing up floorboards. They usually bring in the "grunt" to do the hard work, and then they show up, two days later than usually planned, to start stringing the wiring. I dunno. Obviously I wasn't there and have no idea what the arrangements were.

    Very curious.

    Then, if you look at the Diary itself, almost the last line reads:

    "My thoughts will remain in tact [sic], for a reminder to all how love does destroy. I place this now in a place where it shall be found."

    But, according to Smith's new provenance it WASN'T FOUND. Not for a 103 years, anyway, but the text obviously raises the possibility that it WILL be found. Which seems a bit of a superfluous thing to write, since if it wasn't found, no one would be reading it in the first place. A false note. [Aside: A few years back, the company I worked for was having email trouble. To the test the system, a new and youngish secretary sent out the following message: "This is a test. Let me know if you don't receive this email." Uh…okay…my dear…thanks! I think!]

    Anyway, the date 3 May 1889 (the last line of the Diary) can't be a coincidence. The writer is obviously aware that this was the last day that James Maybrick left the house, went into work in the Knowsley Buildings as per usual, and, later that night, had a dip and an arsenic snort at the Turkish Baths. Afterwards he went home to Battlecrease and, like Jim Morrison once sang, "never made it out alive."

    So the writer, to my mind, is either hinting in the text that the provenance lies outside of Battlecrease or is deliberately distancing herself/himself from any potential Battlecrease provenance that is threatening to derail the pet project. Idle speculation, of course. I don't know if one can really draw any conclusions whatsoever from this; it's just me indulging in the futile task of trying to read A.N. Other's mind.

    Although I've always agreed with Melvin Harris's view that the Diary's text suggests a very modern creation (post 1988) I admit that I no longer see the Devereux/Kane "solution" as very probable. Devereux is the standard forger's "I got it from a dead guy" provenance that deliberately defies examination. (Mark Hoffman used this on occasion). Yet Barrett is still looking for a blank diary many many months after Devereux's demise, so, unless there is a more direct connection between Barrett and Citizen Kane (the alleged Special K penman), then this wouldn't hold much water. Curious.

    Comment


    • #32
      Hi Caz. One other small but important point. I haven't actually read Robert Smith's book yet (I eventually will) and am withholding judgment, so sorry for the rather impertinent question, but did anyone actually confirm at which "Saddle" pub the electricians downed a few pints? I'm looking at a map of Liverpool. There are two Saddle Inns in that fair city. As you know, the better known one is at 13 Dale Street, which is a lot closer to the Battlecrease work site than Mike's very pleasant looking hole-in-the-wall near the Everton football grounds. Maybe it was a mix-up and the contractor assumed that Barrett's Saddle was the one in Dale Street? I genuinely do not know; just asking. I recall back in the early days of the GDD (great Diary debate) there was always some poor bloke coming along and assuming it was the Dale Street pub, when in fact it wasn't. I wonder what was the address of the contractor's headquarters? All the best, RP
      Last edited by rjpalmer; 10-25-2017, 08:21 AM.

      Comment


      • #33
        Of course, David's post is irrelevant, assuming Mike was prepared, well before any of the stories broke in the papers, for the electrician(s) who 'liberated' the diary from his house, if not Paul Dodd, to resent it the moment they first got wind of the fact that Mike was likely to make an awful lot of money out of its publication. With the physical diary in Robert's care, and only £1 having changed hands, Mike couldn't be accused by anyone else in the know, at that early stage, of having sold it on for a small fortune. We don't know what exactly was going on behind the scenes in the run up to that first Battlecrease speculation in the local press, but it didn't come out of thin air and Mike was at the heart of it.

        On 26 April 1993, just three days after the Liverpool Daily Post article revealed that a researcher was claiming that 'new material' about the ripper case had been found during renovation work at Battlecrease House, Mike suddenly decided to swear an affidavit to the effect that he had received the diary straight from Tony Devereux, just as he had been claiming for a year or more. Here he was, being offered a perfect provenance for his diary, and his reaction says it was the very last thing on earth he wanted or needed.

        Given that very few people today appear to believe that this particular affidavit of Mike's reflects the truth, should it not be acknowledged that this man could have made subsequent affidavits every bit as lightly? At the very least, it can hardly be argued that claims made this way by this source carry more weight.

        Love,

        Caz
        X
        "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


        Comment


        • #34
          Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
          Hi Caz. One other small but important point. I haven't actually read Robert Smith's book yet (I eventually will) and am withholding judgment, so sorry for the rather impertinent question, but did anyone actually confirm at which "Saddle" pub the electricians downed a few pints? I'm looking at a map of Liverpool. There are two Saddle Inns in that fair city. As you know, the better known one is at 13 Dale Street, which is a lot closer to the Battlecrease work site than Mike's very pleasant looking hole-in-the-wall near the Everton football grounds. Maybe it was a mix-up and the contractor assumed that Barrett's Saddle was the one in Dale Street? I genuinely do not know; just asking. I recall back in the early days of the GDD (great Diary debate) there was always some poor bloke coming along and assuming it was the Dale Street pub, when in fact it wasn't. I wonder what was the address of the contractor's headquarters? All the best, RP
          Hi rj,

          It was definitely Mike's Saddle, near his home in Goldie Street, where at least one of the Battlecrease electricians also drank. In fact, the one I'm thinking of lived on Fountains Road [as had Tony Devereux].

          Love,

          Caz
          X
          "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


          Comment


          • #35
            Originally posted by caz View Post
            In fact, the one I'm thinking of lived on Fountains Road [as had Tony Devereux].
            Thanks for that clarification, Caz. I think. That's certainly fodder for the conspiracy theorists; kind of like finding out that Zapruder developed his famous film in the photo shop next to Lee Harvey Oswald's laundromat.

            Comment


            • #36
              Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
              Although I've always agreed with Melvin Harris's view that the Diary's text suggests a very modern creation (post 1988) I admit that I no longer see the Devereux/Kane "solution" as very probable. Devereux is the standard forger's "I got it from a dead guy" provenance that deliberately defies examination. (Mark Hoffman used this on occasion). Yet Barrett is still looking for a blank diary many many months after Devereux's demise, so, unless there is a more direct connection between Barrett and Citizen Kane (the alleged Special K penman), then this wouldn't hold much water. Curious.
              One thing to bear in mind is that when Mike first "confessed" to forging the diary he told reporter Harold Brough that he had worked on it for five years (Liverpool Daily Post, 27 June 1994). In his affidavit of 5 January 1995, the chronology is very vague but he says his wife wrote it "from my typed notes and on occasions at my dictation". So, given the reference to "typed notes", it's possible that the text had been substantially drafted and typed up prior to 1992.

              It goes without saying that if Mike was involved in forging the diary he might, on principle, not have wanted to give away any of his royalties to a third party on the basis of a false story about the diary having come from Battlecrease and, in any case, he might have thought that a fake provenance was not really much use to him.

              Comment


              • #37
                I do love the fact that we are expressly told that at the time Mike transferred the ownership of the Diary to Robert Smith the newspapers were speculating that the Diary came out of Maybrick's house (the implication being that this affected Mike's decision to agree to the transfer). Then, the very next day, after this is shown to be factually incorrect, it suddenly becomes irrelevant!!

                No-one can say that Diary Defenders are not flexible in their approach to the case.
                Last edited by David Orsam; 10-25-2017, 02:01 PM.

                Comment


                • #38
                  Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
                  Hi Caz. One other small but important point. I haven't actually read Robert Smith's book yet (I eventually will) and am withholding judgment, so sorry for the rather impertinent question, but did anyone actually confirm at which "Saddle" pub the electricians downed a few pints? I'm looking at a map of Liverpool. There are two Saddle Inns in that fair city. As you know, the better known one is at 13 Dale Street, which is a lot closer to the Battlecrease work site than Mike's very pleasant looking hole-in-the-wall near the Everton football grounds. Maybe it was a mix-up and the contractor assumed that Barrett's Saddle was the one in Dale Street? I genuinely do not know; just asking. I recall back in the early days of the GDD (great Diary debate) there was always some poor bloke coming along and assuming it was the Dale Street pub, when in fact it wasn't. I wonder what was the address of the contractor's headquarters? All the best, RP
                  Hello Roger

                  Caz is correct. The Saddle pub in question is definitely the one in Anfield, Liverpool not the one downtown on Dale Street.

                  Christopher T. George
                  Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conference
                  just held in Baltimore, April 7-8, 2018.
                  For information about RipperCon, go to http://rippercon.com/
                  RipperCon 2018 talks can now be heard at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Thanks, Chris, much appreciated, but that's not really my point. Sorry if I wasn't entirely clear. I believe it is well established that this lovely brick building was, as you say, Barrett's pub. Across from his daughter's school. (Love it. Obviously different zoning laws in the UK. In the U.S. we create red-light slums by relegating the pubs to their own neighborhoods far far away from the schools). Anyway, what I was really asking is whether it is 100% certain that this was also the same Saddle frequented by the electricians who were apparently working at Battlecrease on or around the same date that Barrett first came forward. I do accept Caz's point, but something tells me Melvin would have wanted a sample of the electrician's handwriting once he found out he was Devereux's neighbor!

                    Sorry to be a stickler for boring details, but Harrison writes (2nd edition, p. 4):

                    "In recent years Mike was forced by illness to stop working. So instead he cared for the couple's daughter… Mike recalled that on his way to collect [the daughter] from school, he would often drop by the Saddle…"

                    So what time did he drop in? 1 pm? 2pm? School's then out, and he takes the kiddo home, at least according to Harrison/Barrett. I make no value judgements on the wisdom of getting buzzed-up before day-care.

                    Meanwhile, according to Chittenden's source, the electricians hit the pub after finishing the work-day at Battlecrease. So what time? 5 pm? 6 pm? Are they really at the same place at the same time? Plausible or no?

                    Meanwhile again, here's the problem I am having...

                    I do realize the futility of analyzing Barrett's mental machinery, but if something untoward DID happen down at The Saddle, and I don't care what it was--the complicity of Devereux, the ripping off of the electricians, etc etc-- why on earth would Mike have used that same location as an element in his provenance? Do you see what I am saying? Isn't that a bit crazy? It would be totally reckless, practically leading any would-be investigator to the "scene of the crime." And yet, from day one, Barrett makes no secret of the pub and even uses it as an element in the story he tells Shirley Harrison. Personally, if I had stolen/created/helped create a Tulouse-Lautrec down at the Blue Boar, the last place on earth that I would ever mention after going public would be The Blue Boar. So, to me, the pub might as well be renamed "The Herring Rouge." But that's just me. Enjoy your day.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
                      And yet, from day one, Barrett makes no secret of the pub and even uses it as an element in the story he tells Shirley Harrison. Personally, if I had stolen/created/helped create a Tulouse-Lautrec down at the Blue Boar, the last place on earth that I would ever mention after going public would be The Blue Boar. So, to me, the pub might as well be renamed "The Herring Rouge." But that's just me. Enjoy your day.
                      So it becomes a question of working out why Barrett would've felt he had nothing Toulouse by including the pub in his narrative...

                      Oh jeez. I'm sorry.... so sorry.....

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
                        It goes without saying that...
                        Isn't that a bit like people who say they are "speechless" before going on to list all the reasons why?

                        ...if Mike was involved in forging the diary he might, on principle, not have wanted to give away any of his royalties to a third party on the basis of a false story about the diary having come from Battlecrease and, in any case, he might have thought that a fake provenance was not really much use to him.
                        Except that his "dead pal" provenance was fake, wasn't it? And he presumably came up with the idea because he hoped it would be really useful to him.

                        And his royalties were going to come from being Shirley's co-author on a book about the diary, which had come into his possession and which he passed on to Robert for the princely sum of £1. Nobody was going to snatch any of those author royalties from him on the basis of a false story of how he really came by that same diary, which they'd have to prove first and, by definition of being false, never could.

                        Equally, he could have sold the physical diary to the highest bidder before the book was even published, and to hell with everyone, if nobody could have put the screws on him because he knew the Battlecrease rumours were every bit as false as his own "dead pal" story.

                        Not quite so easy when you know or suspect you have received stolen property and stand to gain an awful lot of money at the direct expense of whoever passed it on to you and whoever had it in their house to begin with. You'd then have every reason to watch your back and deny getting it this way, if and when anyone started blabbing. Which is precisely how Mike played it. The true provenance was no earthly use to him at all, and he knew it.

                        Love,

                        Caz
                        X
                        "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                        Comment


                        • #42
                          It goes without saying that the Diary has never had any provenance at all, in the generally accepted meaning of the word (and still doesn't). Mike's story about getting it from Devereux was just a story of how it came into his hands, it was never a provenance of the Diary. As Christopher T. George said in an online post dated 29 September 2005:

                          "The Diary also has no provenance..."

                          http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/to...ames-maybrick/

                          At least Mike knew that his story about getting it from Tony could never be disproved, what with Tony being dead, whereas who knew what would happen if he accepted what he would have known to have been a fake provenance of the Diary being found by the electricians in Battlecrease (assuming, of course, that he was involved in forging it)?

                          According to Feldman, the offer put to Mike by Paul Dodd was that "he requested five per cent of whatever you receive in order not to contest the ownership of the document." (p.136, 1997 edition). That was the price Mike would have to pay for accepting the Battlecrease provenance. Five percent of whatever he received. One can easily imagine that he wouldn't have wanted to give up five percent on a point of principle if he had forged the Diary.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Worth noting that what Feldman said to Mike in 1993 was this (underlining added):

                            "Mike, an electrician's prepared to confirm that he took the diary from Battlecrease in 1989. I've spoken to Paul Dodd and he requested five per cent of whatever you receive in order not to contest ownership of the document. Can I tell him he has a deal."

                            Given that we are now being told that the Diary was definitely taken from Battlecrease in 1992, not 1989, it goes without saying that what Mike was being offered here was a totally fake provenance for the Diary!

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              And Barrett's reply to the above deal was to employ that Anglo Saxon expletive used the world over to express displeasure. The audacity of such a suggestion was obviously too much for Mr Barrett. Seriously, Barrett knew it did not come from Battlecrease.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                "I place this now in a place where it shall be found."
                                The word "shall" is less used now than once it was. I was always taught that (poetry aside) "shall" was only ever to be used in the first person; therefore "I shall" and "we shall" are correct, but "you shall", "he, she or it shall" and "they shall" are not. We're not hot on grammar now (more's the pity perhaps) but the Victorians were. How well educated was James Maybrick?
                                "It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins twisting facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (as Sherlock Holmes).

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