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  • I just noticed another minor difference between the typed and handwritten versions:

    Oh costly intercourse of death [all on a single line in the typescript]

    Oh costly intercourse
    of death
    [two lines in the diary]

    My paperback edition of the Sphere volume 2, which Mike claimed was his source for the quotation in the diary, gives me:

    O costly intercourse
    Of deaths, & worse,


    Let's imagine, for the sake of argument, that it was Mike who chose to use Crashaw's words in the diary and, Mike being Mike, he managed to type them somewhat inaccurately onto the word processor.

    And now let's imagine it was Anne who then transferred the words by hand from the word processor into the scrapbook, either to Mike's dictation or by checking the typed document for herself.

    How did Anne know to write the last two selected words on a separate line, just as they appear in the Sphere book? If she had referred back to check Mike's source, she'd have found that the first word was O and not Oh, and the fifth word was deaths and not death.

    So what's the explanation?

    Love,

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


    Comment


    • Originally posted by caz View Post
      I just noticed another minor difference between the typed and handwritten versions:

      Oh costly intercourse of death [all on a single line in the typescript]

      Oh costly intercourse
      of death
      [two lines in the diary]

      My paperback edition of the Sphere volume 2, which Mike claimed was his source for the quotation in the diary, gives me:

      O costly intercourse
      Of deaths, & worse,


      Let's imagine, for the sake of argument, that it was Mike who chose to use Crashaw's words in the diary and, Mike being Mike, he managed to type them somewhat inaccurately onto the word processor.

      And now let's imagine it was Anne who then transferred the words by hand from the word processor into the scrapbook, either to Mike's dictation or by checking the typed document for herself.

      How did Anne know to write the last two selected words on a separate line, just as they appear in the Sphere book? If she had referred back to check Mike's source, she'd have found that the first word was O and not Oh, and the fifth word was deaths and not death.

      So what's the explanation?

      Love,

      Caz
      X
      I think this is an excellent observation, Caz. The typescript throws a spanner in the works, as the diary matches the source material to break the phrase up over two lines at the point of 'of death(s)'.

      It strongly suggests the writer of the diary either remembered the poem that way or they were mimicking the source material formatting. The typescript does not acknowledge it all.
      Author of 'Jack the Ripper: Threads' out now on Amazon > UK | USA | CA | AUS
      JayHartley.com

      Comment


      • But surely it works both ways. If the diary was genuine and the Barrett’s created a typescript from it, why not acknowledge and format that quote as it appears in the diary?

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Yabs View Post
          But surely it works both ways. If the diary was genuine and the Barrett’s created a typescript from it, why not acknowledge and format that quote as it appears in the diary?
          I think you might need to re-work your thought process on this one Yabs.

          If the typescript came first, as suggested by the pro Barrett hoaxer camp, then why is this anomaly not reflected in the typescript? Why is the line break reflected in the poem and the diary but not in this document supposedly dictated to Anne by Mike?

          Are you claiming Mike deliberately remembered whilst dictating to Anne where the line break was, despite it being absent in the typescript? If his memory is so good, why is the poem in the diary wrong versus the original source?

          This suggests the writer was copying from the source material and deliberately made the mistakes with the wording, but still copied the line break anyway.

          Or, the most likely in my view, the author misremembered the exact words but remembered the structure of the poem.

          The least likely scenario in my view is Mike suddenly remembering the line break whilst dictating the typescript.
          Author of 'Jack the Ripper: Threads' out now on Amazon > UK | USA | CA | AUS
          JayHartley.com

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Yabs View Post
            But surely it works both ways. If the diary was genuine and the Barrett’s created a typescript from it, why not acknowledge and format that quote as it appears in the diary?
            Hi Yabs,

            I'm not coming at this from a Barrett or genuine angle, but am merely curious as to how one would explain the difference between the typescript and the diary if they believe Mike used the quotation when creating the former, and Anne transferred the words into the scrapbook.

            Your response takes us down a different avenue, which is fair enough, but it doesn't offer an explanation if the Barretts created both documents.

            At the Cloak & Dagger meeting in April 1999, Mike blames Anne for making a foolish mistake in the diary by writing 'Oh' [costly intercourse...] after he had correctly typed 'O' on the word processor. Keith Skinner exposes this as untrue by pointing out that the word is 'Oh' in both the diary and the typescript.

            It's another crack in Mike's story, and you may as well ask why he typed 'Oh' if he was copying those five words beginning 'O' straight from the Sphere book. Why not format the whole quotation as it appears in the actual poem?

            The words are not obviously from a published poem, and could have been a random thought in the surrounding prose. If Anne was typing to 'lazy' Mike's dictation she would quite naturally have typed all five words on the same line - unless he had expressly told her to type three on one line and two on the next. But why would he have made an exception in this case? If you look at the typescript alongside the facsimile you will quickly see [from line 2 in fact] that there is no attempt to format individual lines exactly as they appear in the diary itself - apart from when 'Sir Jim' is clearly practising his dodgy doggerel.

            Incidentally, when Mike is lying in 1999 about having copied the 'O' from his Sphere volume 2, he lets slip that he was only sent nine of the twelve-volume set in 1989, and that three were "missing". He doesn't say which volumes were missing, but I'll take a wild guess on one of them being volume 2, which he then had to hunt down in a second-hand book shop so he had something to hand over to Alan Gray in December 1994 when he needed to support his claims to inside knowledge.

            Love,

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


            Comment


            • Originally posted by caz View Post
              Incidentally, when Mike is lying in 1999 about having copied the 'O' from his Sphere volume 2, he lets slip that he was only sent nine of the twelve-volume set in 1989, and that three were "missing". He doesn't say which volumes were missing, but I'll take a wild guess on one of them being volume 2, which he then had to hunt down in a second-hand book shop so he had something to hand over to Alan Gray in December 1994 when he needed to support his claims to inside knowledge.
              Hi Caz.

              I have little desire to return to this toxic 'debate,' but unfortunately, I feel obliged to point out, as David Barrat chronicles in his latest article, that you have entirely misunderstood this exchange and have drawn the wrong conclusion.

              As it so happens, Keith simply misremembered that The Sphere History of Literature was 12 volumes in length, and Barrett corrected him and said it was 9.

              That's all that happened. It was hardly a matter of Barrett "letting slip" that 3 volumes were missing.

              In reality, The Sphere History of Literature only ever had 10 volumes to begin with, so it was simply a matter of neither man getting it quite right.

              It was not an admission of missing volumes.

              Even so, I have some sympathy for Keith's skepticism, because as I understand it, the volume that Barrett produced appears to be used and (if I recall) has markings in the margins and perhaps highlights, etc. It doesn't have the appearance of something a publisher would have sent along as part of a set of 10 to a charity event.

              So don't faint---I agree with Keith on this point. I understand his suspicion.

              Still, if he thinks Barrett pulled a 'fast one,' and simply chased down a used copy at a bookstore after locating the right volume at the Liverpool Central Library, I'm afraid that I don't agree.

              Barrett was the sort of bloke who could walk across the street to buy a newspaper and come back with eight different versions of how he came to have it.

              Barrett was also a hard-boiled alcoholic and a 'confabulator'---a man who made up stories to fill the gaps in his memory--not altogether different from someone with Alzheimer's.

              That Barrett had a box of textbooks (apparently the leftovers of a charity drive for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster) isn't in doubt. His sister confirmed this to Gray/Harris, and his girlfriend Jenny remembered it as well when he tried to loan this box of books to her son.

              The box of books is real--and they were even described as 'advanced' textbooks. We don't need to rely on Barrett. That's the important part--how Barrett got them in the first place isn't. Also, I did find an advertisement in the Liverpool papers announcing that there would be a rummage sale in support of the Hillsborough victims, held only a mile or a mile-and-a-half from where Barrett was living on Goldie Street. The ad specifically mentions books.

              Having been to about a zillion charity books sales in my life, a used copy of The Sphere History, complete with highlights and marginalia, is precisely what one finds at these sales. It is also very commonly what people donate to these sales.

              It's the old story of a graduate student moving away and leaving the box of books in his or her parent's house, well-thumbed textbooks for Mom and Dad to trip over in the garage, until they finally give them away to charity. Or the student donates them herself, having no further interest in them. These rummage sales are filled with books of this sort. Advanced books about Organic Chemistry, the history of the Swing Riots, etc. etc.

              So, I personally think Barrett's story of getting all 10 volumes from a publisher is probably one of his "confabulations." But he actually did have a box of old textbooks as confirmed by independent witnesses, so while I share Keith's skepticism, I don't share his conclusions.

              Of course, if there is any confirmation that Barrett's box of books contained other volumes of The Sphere History, then I would revise my theory.

              As for the "miracle at the Liverpool Central Library," which is central to your beliefs, your colleague might recollect an old post he made twenty years ago, where he describes going to the Central Library to see for himself, accompanied with a lady friend named Coral who, looking at the maze of shelves, blurted out that there was "no way!" that Barrett would have traced down the quote of five words. A wise lady. There is indeed no way.

              You will also find on these message boards an uninformed post by Tom Mitchell, who quotes Melvin Harris's statement that he twice called the library in 1995 and was told that The Sphere History, Vol II was not on the shelf. It was missing. The library no longer had it, so it was simply impossible for Barrett to have found it the way he claimed. It was just another one of Barrett's wild, unconfirmed tall tales.

              To this Mitchell announced that Melvin was wrong because the book "had been there all along"--as proven when Keith found it and photographed it when he and Coral went there sometime around 2001 or whatever year it was.

              However, this is not the whole story.

              What Tom Mitchell doesn't know is that Shirley Harrison (hardly a confederate of Melvin's) confirmed Harris's account--the volume was indeed missing from the shelves. She was told this even though a different librarian photocopied the page in question.

              Shirley even wrote to the library and a librarian (whose name I have) confirmed that the Sphere History Vol. 2 was located in a storage area off-limits to the public. There was also some screw-up about two different sets of catalogues. The volume wasn't listed in the catalogue available to the public but was in a more comprehensive catalogue that contained volumes in storage or in overflow stacks.

              Let that sink in.

              In other words, Barrett couldn't have found it by the hunt-and-peck method, nor would a super librarian have been able to trace it to the middle of an essay about George Herbet only found in overflow storage stacks. This malarky is traceable only to Barrett--a known pathological liar who you constantly warn us not to trust.

              What I think happen--but haven't been able to completely unravel it--is that the library expanded and added an annex between 1995 and when Keith visited there in the early 2000s, and many of the books in storage were now returned to shelves available to the public. I suspect that that would explain these varying accounts. Either way, both Harris and Harrison confirmed that the book was not on the shelf--not that Barrett's account was the least bit probable anyway.

              For me, the 'miracle' in the Liverpool Central Library was just another one of Barrett's yarns made during those many episodic misgivings when he was trying to walk-back his self-destructive confession.

              Ciao.

              Last edited by rjpalmer; 02-24-2024, 01:30 PM.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post

                Hi Caz.

                I have little desire to return to this toxic 'debate,' but unfortunately, I feel obliged to point out, as David Barrat chronicles in his latest article, that you have entirely misunderstood this exchange and have drawn the wrong conclusion.

                As it so happens, Keith simply misremembered that The Sphere History of Literature was 12 volumes in length, and Barrett corrected him and said it was 9.

                That's all that happened. It was hardly a matter of Barrett "letting slip" that 3 volumes were missing.

                In reality, The Sphere History of Literature only ever had 10 volumes to begin with, so it was simply a matter of neither man getting it quite right.

                It was not an admission of missing volumes.
                I don't recognise this discussion as having been a 'toxic' one, but I sympathise with Palmer if that's how he sees it.

                It was Mike who referred to "three" volumes being "missing" [his words], and my own Sphere paperback editions of vol 2 and 6, both published in 1970, list 12 volumes, with an asterisk by vols 1, 2, 6 and 7, to indicate the titles already published by that date, with the remainder - vols 3-5 and 8-12 - described as being 'in preparation'. I can only assume that two of the titles never materialised if there have only ever been ten in reality. That would still leave Mike's arithmetic and memory a bit screwed up if he was sent all ten but claimed to have only nine.

                Even so, I have some sympathy for Keith's skepticism, because as I understand it, the volume that Barrett produced appears to be used and (if I recall) has markings in the margins and perhaps highlights, etc. It doesn't have the appearance of something a publisher would have sent along as part of a set of 10 to a charity event.

                So don't faint---I agree with Keith on this point. I understand his suspicion.
                I would put it a tad stronger than 'suspicion', given the context and timing of events, between Mike reading Shirley's less than complimentary paperback and finally handing over a used vol 2 to Alan Gray in December 1994. But for now 'tis enough, 'twill serve. Just one "missing" volume would account for Mike's quandary.

                Still, if he thinks Barrett pulled a 'fast one,' and simply chased down a used copy at a bookstore after locating the right volume at the Liverpool Central Library, I'm afraid that I don't agree.
                Why is Palmer 'afraid' that he doesn't agree? I doubt that Keith is either afraid or surprised.

                Barrett was the sort of bloke who could walk across the street to buy a newspaper and come back with eight different versions of how he came to have it.
                Indeed he was. That's precisely why his actual movements and various revelations during 1994 need such careful scrutiny to see which, if any, coincide.

                Barrett was also a hard-boiled alcoholic and a 'confabulator'---a man who made up stories to fill the gaps in his memory--not altogether different from someone with Alzheimer's.
                If Palmer says so. I don't have that kind of specialised knowledge or insight into Mike's state of mind from January 1994 onwards, but I can at least contrast the reality, according to the historical record, with Mike's occasionally hysterical version of it, and conclude whether one matches the other, even vaguely.

                That Barrett had a box of textbooks (apparently the leftovers of a charity drive for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster) isn't in doubt. His sister confirmed this to Gray/Harris, and his girlfriend Jenny remembered it as well when he tried to loan this box of books to her son.

                The box of books is real--and they were even described as 'advanced' textbooks. We don't need to rely on Barrett. That's the important part--how Barrett got them in the first place isn't. Also, I did find an advertisement in the Liverpool papers announcing that there would be a rummage sale in support of the Hillsborough victims, held only a mile or a mile-and-a-half from where Barrett was living on Goldie Street. The ad specifically mentions books.

                Having been to about a zillion charity books sales in my life, a used copy of The Sphere History, complete with highlights and marginalia, is precisely what one finds at these sales. It is also very commonly what people donate to these sales.
                I was with Palmer right up until the final part, when he appeared to speculate that this 'box of textbooks' did not consist of a set, or even a part set, of the Sphere volumes, donated by Sphere for the Hillsborough Appeal, but were a random mix of one student's old textbooks, well-thumbed and forgotten once the exams were over, and which happened to include the one featuring the two Crashaw lines, so poorly reproduced in the diary.

                It's the old story of a graduate student moving away and leaving the box of books in his or her parent's house, well-thumbed textbooks for Mom and Dad to trip over in the garage, until they finally give them away to charity. Or the student donates them herself, having no further interest in them. These rummage sales are filled with books of this sort. Advanced books about Organic Chemistry, the history of the Swing Riots, etc. etc.
                How likely is it that any UK student in the 1980s would have needed a box of advanced books on several different subject matters? I'd have expected to find several textbooks specialising in just the two or three subjects they had been studying for A level before going on to university.

                So, I personally think Barrett's story of getting all 10 volumes from a publisher is probably one of his "confabulations." But he actually did have a box of old textbooks as confirmed by independent witnesses, so while I share Keith's skepticism, I don't share his conclusions.

                Of course, if there is any confirmation that Barrett's box of books contained other volumes of The Sphere History, then I would revise my theory.
                Well, Mike did tell Shirley over the phone that he'd found the diary quotation - in the library - in Sphere volume 6, which is The Victorians. It would have been an understandable mistake to make when he was back indoors, with the box of books still with Jenny, if he had actually found it in volume 2, as a result of recognising the books on the library shelf in front of him, because they were from the same set he had acquired back in 1989. That would not have applied if the only Sphere book in the box had been a used copy of volume 2, which he eventually handed over to Alan Gray, too late to prove how long he had owned it.

                As for the "miracle at the Liverpool Central Library," which is central to your beliefs, your colleague might recollect an old post he made twenty years ago, where he describes going to the Central Library to see for himself, accompanied with a lady friend named Coral who, looking at the maze of shelves, blurted out that there was "no way!" that Barrett would have traced down the quote of five words. A wise lady. There is indeed no way.

                You will also find on these message boards an uninformed post by Tom Mitchell, who quotes Melvin Harris's statement that he twice called the library in 1995 and was told that The Sphere History, Vol II was not on the shelf. It was missing. The library no longer had it, so it was simply impossible for Barrett to have found it the way he claimed. It was just another one of Barrett's wild, unconfirmed tall tales.

                To this Mitchell announced that Melvin was wrong because the book "had been there all along"--as proven when Keith found it and photographed it when he and Coral went there sometime around 2001 or whatever year it was.

                However, this is not the whole story.
                It doesn't match my own memory either, of going with Keith and Seth to the library, while preparing Inside Story, and seeing volume 2 on the shelf right at my eye level, sitting with its fellows and opening obligingly at the right page. I don't imagine that Mike engineered that minor miracle, but it happened anyway.

                What Tom Mitchell doesn't know is that Shirley Harrison (hardly a confederate of Melvin's) confirmed Harris's account--the volume was indeed missing from the shelves. She was told this even though a different librarian photocopied the page in question.

                Shirley even wrote to the library and a librarian (whose name I have) confirmed that the Sphere History Vol. 2 was located in a storage area off-limits to the public. There was also some screw-up about two different sets of catalogues. The volume wasn't listed in the catalogue available to the public but was in a more comprehensive catalogue that contained volumes in storage or in overflow stacks.

                Let that sink in.

                In other words, Barrett couldn't have found it by the hunt-and-peck method, nor would a super librarian have been able to trace it to the middle of an essay about George Herbet only found in overflow storage stacks. This malarky is traceable only to Barrett--a known pathological liar who you constantly warn us not to trust.

                What I think happen--but haven't been able to completely unravel it--is that the library expanded and added an annex between 1995 and when Keith visited there in the early 2000s, and many of the books in storage were now returned to shelves available to the public. I suspect that that would explain these varying accounts. Either way, both Harris and Harrison confirmed that the book was not on the shelf--not that Barrett's account was the least bit probable anyway.

                For me, the 'miracle' in the Liverpool Central Library was just another one of Barrett's yarns made during those many episodic misgivings when he was trying to walk-back his self-destructive confession.

                Ciao.
                This would be interesting if Palmer could indicate where and when Shirley confirmed that when she contacted the library as a direct result of Mike's claim, she was told that volume 2 was 'indeed missing' from the shelves when Mike was supposedly searching.

                When Shirley asked Mike to go back to the library and get the page number etc, both she and Mike were under the mistaken impression that it was in volume 6.

                So perhaps Palmer would explain how Mike would have realised this was a mistake, and was quickly able to get back to Shirley with the correct volume and page number, which Shirley was then able to confirm on phoning the library. If he checked with Jenny, he'd have been able to give the right volume straight to Alan Gray.

                Something still doesn't quite add up. If Shirley had come back to Mike and told him that volume 2 wasn't on the library shelves, I wonder what lie he would have come up with next to explain this?
                "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                Comment


                • Originally posted by caz View Post
                  It was Mike who referred to "three" volumes being "missing" [his words]
                  Really? Mike's words--and in quotation marks no less?

                  Here's the 1999 exchange:

                  Keith : What actually happened was that Mike was sent the 12 volumes of Sphere’s English Literature.

                  Mike: What they done - it wasn’t 12 volumes.

                  KS: However many volumes.

                  MB: 9 volumes.


                  Because you believed a full set was comprised of 12, you seem to have interpreted this as an admission that Mike received a less-than-complete set, but nowhere does Mike refer to "missing" volumes, let alone three missing volumes.

                  That's merely your interpretation and "missing" is your word, not his.

                  Keith seems to have remembered there being 12 in a complete set (and, to be pedantic, the actual title was The Sphere History of Literature), while Mike corrects him to 9.

                  And if Keith innocently got the number wrong, why couldn't Mike--of all people--have also done so?

                  I think it is rather fanciful to interpret this as an admission of missing volumes.
                  ​​
                  [QUOTE=caz;n830285] How likely is it that any UK student in the 1980s would have needed a box of advanced books on several different subject matters? I'd have expected to find several textbooks specialising in just the two or three subjects they had been studying for A level before going on to university.

                  Rather a pointless question to ask, since in my scenario we have no idea who donated the books. It could have come from a college dormitory filled with students. Or a household with several students, etc. Who knows?

                  And what is meant by "advanced."? The witness who described the books as "too advanced" was Mike's girlfriend Jenny, referring to her teenaged son. All I'm saying is that, having been to many such book sales, this description is compatible with the boxes of old college books that one sees at these types of sales.

                  It is true that when Melvin reported that Mike's sister confirmed Mike's prior ownership of the Sphere volume she did refer "and other volumes"--I just wonder how much scrutiny she gave them.

                  Could she have merely meant other books? I don't know-I wasn't there, and neither was anyone else commenting on this topic.

                  Basically, I just don't think this volume being used really matters. Barrett came up with the quote when no one else could, and two witnesses remembered his books.

                  One thing I do know with absolute certainty: there is utterly no reason to believe Mike's story of a "serious week" in the Liverpool Central Library. The only source for this malarky is Barrett and it's beyond ridiculous. It's no more believable than Mike being visited by the descendant of Mrs. Hammersmith.

                  Nice round number: "a serious week." What happened, Mike found the quote on Sunday--the seventh day---just before closing time?

                  No; Mike didn't have it in him. He would have spent all of twenty minutes looking for the quote, gave up, and then left to find a pint of bitter.

                  I can't really blame him. The effort would have been hopeless--as Anne and Carol found out when Feldman sent them to the library to try for themselves.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by caz View Post
                    I can only assume that two of the titles never materialised if there have only ever been ten in reality. That would still leave Mike's arithmetic and memory a bit screwed up if he was sent all ten but claimed to have only nine.
                    This whole theory about Mike being sent all the volumes by Sphere--except the volume with the Crashaw quote--is really quite astounding.

                    Step back and think what it means. I'm not sure how it helps you.

                    Mike Barrett--of all people--is the first person to come up with a citation for the ultra-obscure Richard Crashaw five-word snippet.

                    And he does so--not in a book of poetry by Crashaw, or in an anthology of 17th Century poetry (which would almost certainly not contain this poem, anyway) --but in the middle of a critical essay in a 10-volume set of Literary history.

                    And lo, by a weird coincidence, Barrett was sent this same series of volumes by Sphere at the time of the Hillsborough disaster, except for the very volume that he later produced (No. II)

                    The weirdness of this alleged coincidence still remains. If Barrett is telling the truth, which your theory seems to accept, he still has all the other volumes, which is weird as heck.

                    Cheers.

                    P.S.

                    And by the way, doesn't the correct line spacing in the diary suggest that whoever added it to Maybrick's journal had the poem in front of them?

                    I can readily imagine a person quoting from memory “a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage" but is the person going to correctly remember that the line breaks after "player" without referring to the original verse in print?

                    Highly doubtful—especially when it's blank verse and not rhyming verse, so there's no hint at where the line breaks.

                    No; I don't think this suggests someone going from memory. It's someone who had the poem in print--yet still screwed it up slightly by "Oh instead of O."

                    To me, Mike Barrett's fingerprints are all over it.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by caz View Post
                      But for now 'tis enough, 'twill serve. Just one "missing" volume would account for Mike's quandary.
                      Mike's "quandary" doesn't appear to exist.

                      I realize that you hesitate to do so, but you might want to bite the bullet and read the blog at Orsam Books (posted yesterday) where he goes into the publishing chronology of The Sphere History of Literature at considerable length. From what he has found, it appears that only 8 volumes were available in 1989, ie., at the time of the Hillsborough disaster. The full ten volume set only appeared later when published by Penguin.

                      Unless you dispute this and can prove otherwise, Mike's reference to 9 volumes was just a mistake and not an admission of missing volumes. Nor, if Barrett's account is true, does it make a heck of a lot of sense that a publisher would be so miserly to send an incomplete set to a charity event.

                      It appears that in your eagerness to 'prove' that Barrett didn't own this volume, you've read far too much into a brief, muddled exchange in 1999--a full decade after the Hillsborough disaster.

                      Not many people would put this much trust in Mike's memory.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post

                        Really? Mike's words--and in quotation marks no less?

                        Here's the 1999 exchange:

                        Keith : What actually happened was that Mike was sent the 12 volumes of Sphere’s English Literature.

                        Mike: What they done - it wasn’t 12 volumes.

                        KS: However many volumes.

                        MB: 9 volumes.


                        Because you believed a full set was comprised of 12, you seem to have interpreted this as an admission that Mike received a less-than-complete set, but nowhere does Mike refer to "missing" volumes, let alone three missing volumes.

                        That's merely your interpretation and "missing" is your word, not his.

                        Keith seems to have remembered there being 12 in a complete set (and, to be pedantic, the actual title was The Sphere History of Literature), while Mike corrects him to 9.

                        And if Keith innocently got the number wrong, why couldn't Mike--of all people--have also done so?

                        I think it is rather fanciful to interpret this as an admission of missing volumes.
                        I don't use speech marks lightly. I was there for the entire April 1999 exchange, but I don't need perfect recall to know what was said and by whom. I don't know Palmer's source, or why he stopped short of posting the very next words, but here is the relevant part of the exchange:

                        KS: - so, what actually happened was that Mike got sent the twelve volumes of Sphere’s -
                        MB: - yeah -
                        KS: - [inaudible] -
                        MB: - so, what they done, they wouldn't send me twelve volumes –
                        KS: -well, whatever it was –
                        MB: - nine volumes -
                        KS: - nine volumes, and then you say, "No-one's going to buy this" -
                        MB: - three missing, three missing -
                        KS: - no-one's going to buy, up they go into the attic, you forget about them, you remembered it when you were creating the diary -
                        MB: - quite right -
                        KS: - why?
                        MB: - because I read them, and I enjoyed reading them -
                        KS: - right -
                        MB: - and I totally enjoyed reading them, they were good -
                        KS: - yes -
                        MB: - gave me an awful lot of knowledge -
                        KS: - yes -
                        MB: - right, and then I found this, "O sweet intercourse"...



                        I won't hold my breath for the apology.

                        As I said previously, the volumes are listed from 1 to 12 by their titles at the start of both my Sphere paperback editions from 1970, which would explain where the twelve came from. Even if only ten of those twelve titles eventually materialised, that would still leave Mike without a full set by his own admission. Since he was claiming to have used volume 2 for creating the diary text, it's a mystery why he would have admitted to his audience in 1999 to any of the volumes being "missing".

                        One thing I do know with absolute certainty: there is utterly no reason to believe Mike's story of a "serious week" in the Liverpool Central Library. The only source for this malarky is Barrett and it's beyond ridiculous. It's no more believable than Mike being visited by the descendant of Mrs. Hammersmith.
                        A strange observation if Palmer has just discovered sound evidence that volume 2 was not even on the open shelves of the library with the other volumes, between Robert sending Mike his advance copies of Shirley's paperback edition on Thursday 15th September 1994, and Friday 30th September, when Mike gets on the blower to Feldman's office and tells Martine he has discovered the source of 'O costly...' He claims to have the book in front of him, referring to the fact that the line begins with 'O' and not 'Oh' as in the diary. He goes on to talk about volumes, not a book, saying he had a load of volumes, which no one else wanted so he brought them home. They had been in his loft since Hillsborough. When Martine speaks again to Mike a few days later, he suggests someone ring Sphere Books and ask if they donated them.

                        Heroically attempting to keep this on topic, we know that the first word is also 'Oh' in the typescript, but in 1999, Mike tries to pull the wool over the eyes of his audience by claiming that Anne stupidly got the spelling wrong in the diary, when he was dictating from the typescript. He is discombobulated to find that Keith has a copy of it with him and points out the problem, that the word in the typescript, which Mike is claiming to have taken straight from the Sphere book, is 'Oh', just as it is in the diary, and not 'O' as in the poem itself.

                        A quick reminder here is that nobody has yet explained that other little problem, where the diary has the first three words on one line and the last two on the next, just as in the original poem, while the typescript has all five words on the one line. How does that work if Mike copied the five words - the first and last inaccurately - onto the word processor from his Sphere volume 2, and if Anne then copied Mike's words from the word processor into the guard book? If she had no reason to question the spelling in this instance, how would she have known to correct the format, from one line to two?
                        Last edited by caz; 02-28-2024, 04:27 PM.
                        "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


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                        • Hi Caz,

                          as it so happens, "Palmer" has dropped by to read Christer Holmgren's latest musings about Alfred Crow, among other things, so I can quickly switch gears and give you an immediate reply.

                          Originally posted by caz View Post
                          Even if only ten of those twelve titles eventually materialised, that would still leave Mike without a full set by his own admission. Since he was claiming to have used volume 2 for creating the diary text, it's a mystery why he would have admitted to his audience in 1999 to any of the volumes being "missing".
                          ha

                          But there weren't 10 volumes in 1989--there were only 8. Immediately Barrett's off-the-cuff comments can't be accurate. Bear that in mind

                          While I do appreciate your reference to Mike stating there were three 'missing' volumes (thanks!) all that shows is that what we have, to quote Cool Hand Luke, "a failure to communicate."

                          You believe that Barrett has "let slip" that either (A) he either never received a complete set of volumes from Sphere, or (B) that somehow, somewhere three volumes went missing.

                          As already mentioned, I think you are misreading the exchange.

                          Keith's reference to 12 volumes has brought to Barrett's drunken mind that there weren't that many, so he disputes this.

                          Barrett then, inaccurately, refers to 9 volumes--which is an impossibility, because in 1987-1989 there were only 8 volumes in total.

                          (It's important to realize why--more on that in a moment).

                          Then, using simple arithmetic, Barrett subtracts his 9 from Keith's 12 and concludes there were 3 'missing volumes.'

                          But Barrett's memory, already flawed, again is wide of the mark. Yes, there were 'missing' volumes--but it was only two. And they weren't 'missing' in the sense that you have assumed.

                          The 1987 table of context of The Sphere History of Literature lists 10 volumes, but a note explains that 2 of the volumes hadn't yet appeared:

                          Click image for larger version

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                          According to our mutual friend Lord Orsam, there is no evidence these other 2 volumes, supposedly in the works, were actually published in 1988--they would only appear when Penguin later took up the project a few years later.

                          As I see it, all that appears to be going on in this muddled exchange is that Barrett is perceptively acknowledging that there were 'missing volumes'--not in the sense that he didn't have a full set and thus didn't have the all-important Volume II--but because two volumes hadn't yet been printed at the time of the Hillsborough disaster.

                          Having studied Orsam's commentary and your own, I believe that's all Barrett's drunken mind was really recalling; he certainly wasn't admitting to not playing with a full deck, if I might use that analogy.

                          You might want to latch on the fact that Barrett mentioned 3 missing volumes instead of 2, but bear in mind that he also mentioned 9 volumes when there were only 8.

                          I hope that (finally) explains it. I still think you're reading too much into it.

                          Cheers.

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                          • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post

                            This whole theory about Mike being sent all the volumes by Sphere--except the volume with the Crashaw quote--is really quite astounding.

                            Step back and think what it means. I'm not sure how it helps you.
                            I suppose it depends on what documentation Palmer has to support his claim that volume 2 just happened to be in a storage area when Mike phoned Shirley to say he had found the source 'quite by chance' [Shirley's words in a phone message, which Keith picked up on Monday 3rd October 1994]. He said he thought it was in Volume 6 of the Sphere Companion to English Literature, but did not make a note of it.

                            He could not have had either volume with him at the time, so where did he get the idea that the poem was in Volume 6, which would have made it Victorian in origin?

                            Shirley sent Mike back to the library [but did he nip round to Jenny's instead?] to get the details, and on Thursday 6th October 1994, at ten past ten in the morning, a fax was sent to her from the library, with page 184 from volume 2 of the Sphere History of Literature. So between the Monday and the Wednesday Mike must have realised he had given Shirley the wrong volume number, found the right one and given her the information she needed. If he didn't bother checking with the library and simply got it from Jenny, he was even more of a clot than I thought. I suppose it didn't occur to Shirley or the library to check if the books were actually on the open shelves for Mike to have seen and consulted. If only Palmer had been around to ask all the right questions, if not necessarily in the right order. Hindsight and all that...

                            So could Mike have seen volume 6 in the library, with other volumes in the same series, or were they all in storage, keeping volume 2 company? I'd hate to think of it sitting there all lonely and neglected, so perhaps Palmer can enlighten us. It would be quite astounding if it was the only volume in solitary confinement. One thing puzzles me, though, if Mike's reference to volume 6 came about in connection with its subject matter, and was not just a random guess. While I can fully grasp the concept of him coming away from the library with no notes, and later thinking he had seen those magic words in the volume on Victorian literature, I can't quite get my head round the idea that he found them prior to 1992, while his nose was stuck into the volume on poetry and prose from 1540 - 1674, but by September 1994 could have thought the poem was of Victorian origin.

                            What seems to be clear, however, is that Mike knew there were at least six volumes in the series, or that number would not have entered his head when telling Shirley about his incredible 'find'. Incredible indeed, if the books were not even there to be found.

                            Keith interviewed Mike at the library in April 1994, so he may well recall how and when it expanded.

                            And by the way, doesn't the correct line spacing in the diary suggest that whoever added it to Maybrick's journal had the poem in front of them?

                            I can readily imagine a person quoting from memory “a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage" but is the person going to correctly remember that the line breaks after "player" without referring to the original verse in print?

                            Highly doubtful—especially when it's blank verse and not rhyming verse, so there's no hint at where the line breaks.

                            No; I don't think this suggests someone going from memory. It's someone who had the poem in print--yet still screwed it up slightly by "Oh instead of O."

                            To me, Mike Barrett's fingerprints are all over it.
                            Is Palmer saying here that before Anne transferred those five words into the guard book to Mike's dictation, she had the brainwave to check in his Sphere book, where she found the line break and applied it correctly, but then messed up the actual words in two places?
                            Last edited by caz; 02-28-2024, 06:06 PM.
                            "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
                              It appears that in your eagerness to 'prove' that Barrett didn't own this volume, you've read far too much into a brief, muddled exchange in 1999--a full decade after the Hillsborough disaster.
                              It's not up to me to prove that Mike didn't own a volume 2 prior to December 1994. It's up to Palmer to prove he owned one prior to 1992 and used it to introduce Crashaw to the diary via his word processor.

                              How is that going?

                              If Sphere Books did send Mike a complete set of eight titles in 1989, there is still the mystery of why he didn't hand volume 2 over to Alan Gray months sooner, or at least lodge it with his solicitor, and why it was in the condition it was.

                              Mike had also phoned his solicitor's office on Thursday 13th October 1994, to report the good news that he had found the phrase: 'O sweet [sic] intercourse of death' in the library, on page 184 of Volume 2. He said it came from Santa [sic] Maria 1643-1652. This is the only reference to the Sphere book found on file in January 2003.

                              Had the solicitor, or Shirley, checked straight away and found that the book was in storage, Mike would have been caught lying for the last time, and I would not have been present for his whole, unmissable interview in 1999, to 'read' far too much into what he was claiming - most of it total garbage.

                              Edited to add...

                              If Mike could have seen ten hardback volumes in the library in September 1994, but only had the eight that were published by 1989, might that have led to his assumption about "missing" volumes?
                              Last edited by caz; 02-28-2024, 06:49 PM.
                              "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by caz View Post
                                Shirley sent Mike back to the library [but did he nip round to Jenny's instead?] to get the details, and on Thursday 6th October 1994, at ten past ten in the morning, a fax was sent to her from the library, with page 184 from volume 2 of the Sphere History of Literature. ?
                                Are you suggesting that Mike Barrett sent this fax from the library? Wasn't it sent to Shirley Harrison by a librarian at her request? Are you suggesting that this Oct 6 fax is evidence that Barrett visited the library on that date?

                                Originally posted by caz View Post
                                So could Mike have seen volume 6 in the library, with other volumes in the same series, or were they all in storage, keeping volume 2 company? I'd hate to think of it sitting there all lonely and neglected, so perhaps Palmer can enlighten us.
                                I humbly suggest that you find a magnifying glass and take a look for yourself.

                                The photograph in your own book (between pgs 152 and 153) taken by Keith Skinner in the Liverpool Central Library doesn't show Vol. II "with the other volumes in the series."

                                It shows another Vol. II and an earlier editon also edited by Christopher Ricks. No Volume 6 anywhere in sight. Close on the shelf is a booked called "Sexual Heretics" by Reade and "Essays & Opinions" by Rickwood and "Science and Modern Verse" by Allan Rodway.

                                Notice anything? All those Rs?

                                This is clearly a section of LITERARY CRITICISM, arranged by author. If Barrett claimed he couldn't remember if it was 2 or 6 he was lying if operating from the Liverpool Central Library, because the books weren't near each other.

                                To me, the idea that Barrett found five words of a poem by randomly going through volumes of literary criticism and then misremembering it as Vol. 6 in a complete set is nonsensical.

                                What is does show is that he at least appreciated there was such a set--as is hardly surprising since he claimed to own one.

                                If Barrett assume 'Maybrick' was quoting a Victorian poet (which granted, would be more logical than a C or E cotton broker and a Freemason quoting Roman Catholic poetry from the 17th Century) why he would be mucking around in a random literary criticism section?
                                Last edited by rjpalmer; 02-28-2024, 07:11 PM.

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