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  • Few have any interest in this topic, but it might be worthwhile for someone 'in the know' to post a concise, detailed, and conclusive description of Mike's copy of The Sphere History Volume II, because I'm not seeing it.

    I'm reading statements that there were 'pencil markings' in the book, and that some of the earlier pages are 'dog-eared.' I also see Melvin Harris describing it as a hardback edition and not paperback and he goes into detail about the defective binding. We hear from Robert Smith the difficulty of finding such a volume in second-hand bookstores.

    Harrison states Mike obtained the book in 1987, but the Hillsborough disaster wasn't until 1989, so something is amiss somewhere. Did Harrison mean this was the 1987 edition of the book?

    RP

    Comment


    • Originally posted by caz View Post
      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.
      Again, you might want to compare your 'memory' with the photo in Inside Story, showing the book isn't sitting with its "fellows." It's sitting with other books categorized by the author's last name.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
        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?
        No, of course I'm not suggesting that Mike sent that fax! What on earth makes Palmer think that?

        It's only evidence that Mike must have gone back to his Sphere volumes [wherever and whichever they were]; found that the quote was not in volume 6 as he had told Shirley; established that it was in volume 2; then gone back to her with the correct details so she could phone the library. The library was then able to confirm that they had this volume, and duly faxed through the page containing the quote. There is no suggestion that anything was said at the time about the book not being available to the public, but that would depend on whether the question came up.

        Palmer can't be sure that his information is sound, that there was no volume 2 on the shelves in late September 1994, or he wouldn't still be here arguing the toss about lesser issues.

        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.
        I thought Palmer claimed that volume 2 was in storage in late September 1994, when Mike claimed to be searching, and that it only reached the open shelves in later years, when the library space had expanded to accommodate more titles. So I'm not sure how it can be ascertained, from a photo taken of part of one shelf many years later, which of the Sphere volumes - if any - could have been immediately visible on the open shelves to visitors before that expansion. The undated photograph in Inside Story is from the Evans/Skinner Crime Archive and I would have to ask Keith if he can recall if it was taken when he went with Coral - whenever that was - or when Seth and I joined him on one of our visits to the city in late 2002 and early 2003.

        Coral, incidentally, is the 'wise' lady who initially said "no way", but when Keith showed her where the Sphere volumes were, she went to that shelf and the volume opened at the page with the Crashaw quote, just as it did for me. Coral was wise enough never to believe for one second that the Barretts created the diary, and believed it rightfully belonged to Paul Dodd.

        When I went back on my own in 2004, the shelf had one volume 2 and the books were similar, but not the same as they were on my previous visit, when IIRC there were three copies of volume 2, side by side, with only the first one I picked up opening at the page with the Crashaw quote. On both occasions I found the section on the History of Literature to be fairly small, clearly marked and user-friendly. So if some of these books had to be kept in storage back in 1994, due to lack of shelf space, the section would have been even smaller and more limited then, and easier to navigate. If anyone using the library had suggested this section to Mike as a starting point, he would have been drawn to any Sphere volumes he saw on the shelves if he had owned one or more of the same series himself - as Palmer accepts. It then becomes less of a miracle that he would pick one up due to its familiarity.

        Volume 6, by the way, was edited by Arthur Pollard, so if and when it was on the open shelves it would have been just a little to the left, or on the shelf immediately above, the Qs and Rs in that section, so I'm not sure how Palmer can tell from a photograph of part of the relevant shelf of the relevant section that volume 6 and volume 2 'weren't near each other'. And once again, I thought his claim was that back in late September 1994, volume 2 was in a different part of the library altogether, and not available to the public!

        It's worth repeating that Mike must have had the right volume in front of him on 30th September 1994 when talking to Martine on the phone, because he pointed out that the line begins with O in the poem, but Oh in the diary. [Hard to see how he could have screwed that up back in 1992, when sober, but noticed the difference straight away at the height of his drunken period.] Yet when he phoned Shirley he didn't even recall the correct volume number! The obvious implication, to me at least, is that he phoned Martine from the library, but phoned Shirley when he was back home minus the book or any notes about it.

        If Mike was referring to his own copy of volume 2 when speaking to Martine, perhaps Palmer has an explanation for how it could have appeared and disappeared between the two phone calls, and didn't materialise again until the December when Alan Gray finally took possession of it. Also, why would Mike have suggested to Martine that Sphere could be asked if they had donated the volumes he had brought home unsold, if they had been an assortment of well-thumbed student textbooks?

        If Mike did end up with the set of eight volumes that were available in 1989 - and guessed nine in 1999 - they would surely not have been in the same used condition as the book he handed over to Gray, so Palmer would still need an explanation for this. It just seems so obvious to me that volume 2 was not among the books at Jenny's so Mike was forced to track down a copy if he was going to use it to support his claims.
        Last edited by caz; 02-29-2024, 06:12 PM.
        "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


        Comment


        • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post

          Again, you might want to compare your 'memory' with the photo in Inside Story, showing the book isn't sitting with its "fellows." It's sitting with other books categorized by the author's last name.
          But the photo was not taken in 1994, and only shows a few Q and R titles. The Pollard volume would have been very close indeed, just out of shot.
          "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


          Comment


          • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
            Few have any interest in this topic, but it might be worthwhile for someone 'in the know' to post a concise, detailed, and conclusive description of Mike's copy of The Sphere History Volume II, because I'm not seeing it.

            I'm reading statements that there were 'pencil markings' in the book, and that some of the earlier pages are 'dog-eared.' I also see Melvin Harris describing it as a hardback edition and not paperback and he goes into detail about the defective binding. We hear from Robert Smith the difficulty of finding such a volume in second-hand bookstores.

            Harrison states Mike obtained the book in 1987, but the Hillsborough disaster wasn't until 1989, so something is amiss somewhere. Did Harrison mean this was the 1987 edition of the book?

            RP
            Robert Smith writes in his book that, on three separate occasions, while browsing in bookshops, he found copies 'from the same hardback edition' of volume 2 that Mike handed over to Alan Gray, but none of them had a binding defect or opened naturally at page 184. In 2006, a 'completely sober' Mike admitted to Robert that he had bought the book in a second-hand bookshop in Mount Pleasant.

            I suspect Shirley simply typed 1987 by mistake, because I doubt even Mike could have got the year of that awful tragedy wrong.

            I'm still not seeing when and where Shirley 'confirmed' that there was no volume 2 on the library shelves in late September 1994. Pretty crucial to have nailed down, I'd have thought. So I will assume for now that something is amiss somewhere, unless or until Palmer decides to elaborate.

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


            Comment


            • Originally posted by caz View Post
              Robert Smith writes in his book that, on three separate occasions, while browsing in bookshops, he found copies 'from the same hardback edition' of volume 2 that Mike handed over to Alan Gray, but none of them had a binding defect or opened naturally at page 184. In 2006, a 'completely sober' Mike admitted to Robert that he had bought the book in a second-hand bookshop in Mount Pleasant.
              Robert Smith reported something entirely different on this forum 20 years ago--saying that he failed to find any copies in used bookstores, despite looking.

              I read an old post by Karoline L., only a night or two ago, where she repeated Smith's admission. I'll chase it down again when I get the urge.

              What often happens with these less-than-popular titles is that they are purchased by libraries and interested parties, but when they become obsolete, they are removed and eventually end up in used bookstores.

              So, Smith finding these used copies in the intervening 20 years is not evidence that they were readily available in the 1990s--when Mike needed to find your strictly theoretical missing volume. And it's infinitely easier to find specific rare titles in the age of the internet than it was in 1994.

              Lord O has a theory about this used copy that is quite amusing. Maybe he'll share it with you, but I don't want to spoil the fun so mum is the word.

              Anyway, I still don't see how your strictly theoretical missing volume helps you, even if we set aside the lack of evidence.

              According Barrett's own family (as reported by Gray/Harris), they remembered seeing Barrett's volumes before the diary even emerged. Which would be before 1992. And then we have Jenny telling Shirley over the phone that she still had Mike's volumes---except the one he came to collect.

              If we pretend that Mike didn't have volume II (and that's all we are doing), you still have to swallow the remarkable coincidence that Mike had the other volumes in the same collection that spat forth the Crashaw quote, excised from a very rare poem indeed--a poem that Fido and Omlor failed to find in any other 17th Century anthology or even in some collected works of Crashaw.

              That's a bridge too far.

              As for the LCL, Harrison did seemingly confirm at one time that the volume was missing from the library (as was also told to Harris on at least two occasions) but having access to more information, this appears to have been a communication breakdown. So, in fairness, I'll withdraw that claim. Apparently one section of the library (consulted by Harris) didn't have it on the shelf, but other sections did. No one was lied to, nor lied; the librarians just sent along bad information. Score one small goal for Tom Mitchell, the great Sunderland fan that he is.
              Last edited by rjpalmer; 02-29-2024, 08:42 PM.

              Comment


              • What do you make of this, Caz. Shirley's own account--quoting Mike Barrett.

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                "You will find in the Sphere History of English Literature. Volume 2."

                Not a peep about Volume 6.

                Comment


                • I like this: "In 2006, a 'completely sober' Mike admitted to Robert that he had bought the book in a second-hand bookshop in Mount Pleasant."

                  And in 1992, a completely sober Mike admitted to Shirley and Doreen that he got the diary from Tony Devereux in 1991.

                  Was Barrett incapable of lying when he didn't have a pint or four in his belly?

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by caz View Post

                    But the photo was not taken in 1994, and only shows a few Q and R titles. The Pollard volume would have been very close indeed, just out of shot.
                    Hi Caz.

                    If you want to believe that Barrett found the five-word quote in the Liverpool Library in the way he claimed he did (and welcome to the Barrett Believers Club), I'll never convince you otherwise.

                    All I can do is explain to you why I (and others) remain unconvinced and assume the role of non-Barrett Believers.

                    What does the photo from Inside Story tell us?

                    It tells us that the LCL complex of libraries have a copy of the book (two copies) on the public shelves. It's a massive library so this is perhaps not too surprising.

                    And knowing this, how did you and your co-authors find the book?

                    Because Mike Barrett identified the title.

                    And because of that, it was an easy matter for you to locate it and photograph it.

                    But the real question still remains: how did Mike Barrett identify the title?

                    It's like taking a photograph of an unearthed chest, taken from a hole in the sand underneath an unidentified palm tree, showing that Mike Barrett found Captain Kidd's treasure just like he said he did.

                    But that still doesn't even begin to explain how Mike could have found the chest, underneath this particular palm tree, on this particular sand dune, on this particular island, in this particular archipelago of islands.

                    If your only explanation is because Barrett already owned that series of books back home...then aren't you back to square one?
                    Last edited by rjpalmer; 03-01-2024, 03:28 PM.

                    Comment


                    • What if Barrett thought the phrase 'O Costly Intercourse of Death' came from Shakespeare?

                      It's an entirely reasonable guess and a good place for Barrett to have started during his "serious week."

                      Let's do the math.

                      Shakespeare wrote 38 plays. These plays are made up of 118,406 individual lines. (Scholars have checked)

                      Barrett is going to need to scan these lines in order to try and identify the quote.

                      If he scans a line every half second, quickly running his finger down the line, and not taking any breaks, nor even pausing to flip the page as he goes through all 38 plays,

                      it will take him just under 16 and a half hours.

                      16.4 hours.

                      That's Mike's first two days--if he puts in 8 hours with no breaks and no eyestrain-- and he's failed. And he's robbed himself of lunch and any cigarette breaks over a 16-hour vigil, let alone a stop by the pub.

                      So now, let's pretend that Mike decides to skip the works of Marlowe and Jonson and Beaumont and Fletcher --for no good reason--decides to move on the Victorians. Maybrick was a Victorian.

                      Mike, having a plan, goes through the major stars in alphabetical order. He starts with Matthew Arnold.

                      I just checked. The LCL has a copy of the collected poems of Arnold (dated 1979, so it is likely to have been there in 1992). It's 723 pages in length.

                      If Mike spends only 15 seconds on each page, Mike can go through four pages in a minute.

                      723 divided by 4 is 180 minutes. It took Mike 3 hours to give Arnold a once-over.

                      Refusing to give up, Mike moves on to Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Selected poems, 330 pages).

                      Next, he moves on to Robert Browning. The LCL has a two-volume set. Dear Lord. Volume One is 1218 pages in length. Volume Two is 1156 pages.

                      I'm not going to do the math but it's already Wednesday afternoon, and Barrett isn't even in the correct section of the library yet.

                      So, Caz, this is why I, Melvin, Karoline Leech, John Omlor and others decided twenty years ago that Barrett's tale is complete malarky.

                      And the only source for it is Mike Barrett.

                      That's enough for March. Have fun with it.

                      Comment


                      • I find it rather bizarre that people insist on twisting the words of proven liar Mike Barrett to justify their arguments and interpretations.

                        Cherry-picking his lies to suit their own arguments, and ignoring the fact he lied every time he opened his mouth, is not a robust way to build a case. It's shaky at best.

                        Anyone who truly believes using the testimony of proven liar Mike Barrett helps us get anywhere in this discussion is, in my view, missing a few volumes themselves.
                        Author of 'Jack the Ripper: Threads' out now on Amazon > UK | USA | CA | AUS
                        JayHartley.com

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by erobitha View Post
                          Cherry-picking his lies to suit their own arguments, and ignoring the fact he lied every time he opened his mouth, is not a robust way to build a case. It's shaky at best.

                          Anyone who truly believes using the testimony of proven liar Mike Barrett helps us get anywhere in this discussion is, in my view, missing a few volumes themselves.

                          Why do I get the strong but familiar sense that Jay Hartley doesn't firmly grasp what is being discussed, let alone the implications of any of it?

                          When it comes to what is being discussed (the Crashaw quote), the people on this forum who are "cherry picking" Barrett's tall tales and "believe the testimony of a proven liar" are Carline Brown and Tom Mitchell.

                          So, unless you are referring to them, your above screed is entirely misplaced.

                          Calm your mind and think it through carefully and logically.

                          That Mike identified the author as Richard Crashaw and announced that the excerpt could be found in an essay in The Sphere History of Literature is not in dispute; he told this to Shirley Harrison during a phone call in the autumn of 1994, claiming he found it among the massive stacks in the Liverpool Library.

                          The trouble is, there is no evidence that this ever happened.

                          Shirley, by her own account, was shocked and deeply suspicious of Mike's claim.

                          And well she should have been; it's nonsense on stilts when considered rationally nor is there a jot of corroboration for it by a librarian or anyone else. When Feldman sent Graham and Emmas to the Library on the same task, they utterly failed--as of course they would have.

                          So, I agree with you Jay: why on earth believe Barrett?

                          Yet it is your colleagues---Caz and Tom (among others)--who choose to believe Mike's entirely uncorroborated fantasy.

                          Against Mike's unproven account, we have two independent witnesses that could confirm that Barrett had already owned the volume before he told Shirley of this mythical trip to the library.

                          Let that sink in.

                          "Mike's family" (meaning his sister) told Alan Gray that she had already seen the volume in Mike's possession before the Diary even emerged. That is, before 1992.

                          And Mike's brief (and ultimately estranged) girlfriend, Jenny Morrison, did too, as told to Shirley Harrison:

                          "Jenny still has Sphere volumes minus the relevant one which Mike took when he left + 70!"

                          (Jenny remembered Mike lending these volumes to her son that summer (Mike and Jenny were an item by June), and there is not any evidence to show that Shirley had asked Mike to go to the Liverpool Library before late September. So this can be taken as a corroboration of what Mike's sister told Alan Gray).

                          So sorry, Jay--you have it backwards. The ones "cherry picking" and accepting Barrett's uncorroborated blarney against the force of evidence and rational analysis and independent witnesses are those on your side of the aisle.

                          I invite you to dismiss Mike's version of events, and listen instead to Jenny Morrison and Lynne Richardson, who had no dog in the race.

                          What is interesting about Mike's lie about visiting the Liverpool Library is that it is a mirror image of Mike's lies about discovering the name of 'Battlecrease' while visiting a bookstore and accidently coming across RWE's Tales of Liverpool.

                          It's the same b.s. story, only the title has changed.

                          Once again, there is no source for this blarney other than Barrett (yet this is the version Caroline accepts) and against this we again have independent witnesses--the Devereux Sisters--one of whom had taken possession of Barrett's copy of Tales of Liverpool clear back in 1991 and another impeccable source (Martin Howells) who caught Barrett lying about this.

                          So, the choice is yours, Jay. Who are you going to believe--trustworthy people, or Michael John Barrett?

                          We also have Mike's bogus research notes implying that he spent hours of research in the Liverpool Library, yet David Barrat's careful study of those notes demonstrates that this was another one of Barrett's lies and they are nonsense he cribbed from Bernard Ryan and other sources already in his possession.

                          The picture being painted is obvious enough, Jay, if you'd only look dispassionately at the evidence. Barrett is repeating the same lies again and again--with minor variations on the same theme.

                          Why accept them in the face of far more compelling evidence?
                          Last edited by rjpalmer; 03-02-2024, 12:12 PM.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
                            As for the LCL, Harrison did seemingly confirm at one time that the volume was missing from the library (as was also told to Harris on at least two occasions) but having access to more information, this appears to have been a communication breakdown. So, in fairness, I'll withdraw that claim. Apparently one section of the library (consulted by Harris) didn't have it on the shelf, but other sections did. No one was lied to, nor lied; the librarians just sent along bad information. Score one small goal for Tom Mitchell, the great Sunderland fan that he is.
                            Good to see this, and I appreciate Palmer withdrawing the claim. I thought I was going slightly mad when I read that Shirley had ascertained that volume 2 was not on the library shelves in late September 1994. That would have been the closest Palmer had come so far to putting a spanner in the Battlecrease works.

                            One remaining mystery is why Mike would be telling Martine, Shirley and his solicitor that he had been to the library and found where 'o costly...' came from, at a time when he was trying to gather evidence to support his initial 'confession' to faking the diary himself. If all he had to do was to collect his volume 2 from Jenny and shove it under the noses of all the people he believed were conspiring against him, what on earth was the library story all about? At the very least he would presumably have checked that the right book was there to find, before giving people the relevant details, or it could well have proved to be yet another of his senseless lies.
                            "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
                              What do you make of this, Caz. Shirley's own account--quoting Mike Barrett.

                              Click image for larger version  Name:	page 267.jpg Views:	124 Size:	67.1 KB ID:	830413

                              "You will find in the Sphere History of English Literature. Volume 2."

                              Not a peep about Volume 6.
                              Yeah, I read that myself the other day. Published in 2003, nearly ten years later, Shirley did not include the full sequence of events in her latest diary book.

                              If anyone needs another reminder, this is Keith Skinner's note, dated Monday 3rd October 1994, of the phone message Shirley left for him:

                              'Mike seems to have found "Oh Costly Intercourse of Death" – quite by chance.
                              Is in the Sphere Companion To English Literature Vol 6 (MB thinks) – did not even make a note of it!'

                              Three days later, on the morning of Thursday 6th October 1994, the library faxed Shirley with the page from Vol 2 of the Sphere History of Literature containing the Crashaw lines.

                              Keith's notes made between 3rd and 12th October 1994 refer to his conversation with Shirley on the following Tuesday, 11th October 1994, in which she tells him that Mike was 'v. upset (w/b Sept 26th 1994) by remarks in p/back about him being alcoholic…determined to do something serious about this he spends week in Liverpool library trying to find source of O Costly Intercourse (p231 of Shirley's p/back)… Finds it but does not make a note of it. Phones Duocrave on Fri 30th Sept…
                              Mon Oct 3rd – MB phones Shirley – Shirley tells MB to go back to library and find the reference… By Oct 6th Shirley has reference'.

                              It's up to the readers if they would prefer to rely on Shirley's 2003 book on her American Connection theory, as quoted by Palmer, or the notes made by Keith Skinner back in October 1994, as the events were unfolding, but the two are not mutually exclusive in any case. The book merely omits the devil in the detail, while Shirley was concentrating on her devil supposedly committing murder on Palmer's side of the pond. I doubt Shirley was thinking about the potential significance of Mike getting the volume number wrong, then realising he has made a mistake and getting it right.
                              "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
                                I like this: "In 2006, a 'completely sober' Mike admitted to Robert that he had bought the book in a second-hand bookshop in Mount Pleasant."

                                And in 1992, a completely sober Mike admitted to Shirley and Doreen that he got the diary from Tony Devereux in 1991.

                                Was Barrett incapable of lying when he didn't have a pint or four in his belly?
                                A strange argument, when it was Palmer who once rightly pointed out, albeit needlessly, that even serial liars don't lie all the time about everything.

                                Mike had a good reason in March 1992 for claiming he got the diary from a dead man in 1991, who couldn't be asked any questions. That would apply whether he had faked his Battlecrease diary with Anne - with or without Tony's knowledge - or had acquired the old book from an electrician who had come from working in Battlecrease.

                                What did Mike stand to gain from telling Robert his second-hand book story in 2006 if it was just another lie? He still had writing ambitions and was hoping that Robert would finally recognise his talents in that direction. Honesty would have been the best policy - but I concede that was not one of his talents either.
                                "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


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