Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

** The Murder of Julia Wallace **

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #31
    Originally posted by ColdCaseJury View Post

    Thanks for your post. For my book, I researched the telephone aspect in depth. The phone is (almost) as you describe, but I'm sure there was no dial (as being able to dial a number). The receiver was on the left. Coins were inserted at the top. Button B was on the right and the return shute at the bottom. It was a manual exchange - so the caller had to go through the operator - this happened when the receiver was picked up. But you are absolutely correct about the scam. The call would not have been logged had the caller not made "a complaint" of not receiving a reply. There was no evidence of a fault, as you say, apart from a faulty overhead bulb.

    However, I must point out that Wallace probably did not know the call would be logged and hence might have used this phone box. But he was used to making calls. As I point out in my book, if he inadvertently pushed B (and the coins returned down the shute) he would have surely said something other than "Operator, I have pushed button A but I have not had my correspondent yet". I think we can rule out a fault that prevented the coins returning because (a) the second operator asked him to push B to return his coins and (b) the engineer never said he found a fault (apart from the light bulb).

    The upshot. Although not conclusive, it looks like someone was trying to scam a call. However, I do not think we can infer from a scam call (if it was) that it was a prank call. Rather, it tells us something about the person in the phone box. If I'm correct, I'm fairly sure the caller would not be Wallace. However, I'm equally sure others will take a different view.


    Antony, couldn’t the reason that he said that he’d pushed button A (when he’d actually pushed button B) have been because he didn’t realise that he’d pushed the wrong button? It was dark, as you mentioned about the bulb, and the caller might well have been nervous or distracted?

    We know that the engineer said that he couldn’t find a fault but can we take that as a certainty that there wasn’t one?

    Regards

    Herlock



    “All conspiracy theories are the product of the subconscious attempt of an ignorant yet creative mind to counteract the fear of the unknown with the tales of fantasy.” Abhijit Naskar.

    “Conspiracy theorists, she knew, were paranoid by definition, and usually with good reason - they were indeed being watched, largely because they were standing on an upturned bucket, haranguing the sheeple with their wingnut delusions.” Mick Herron.

    ”The most confused you will ever get is when you try to convince your heart and spirit of something your mind knows is a lie.” Shannon L. Alder.

    Comment


    • #32
      Originally posted by Gordon View Post

      Obviously the field covered by point (d) is rather broad. It didn’t have to be a chess club member; only someone who knew that Wallace played chess and where. Most likely someone who had seen Wallace that Monday and had learned, in casual conversation or by asking the right questions, that Wallace intended to play chess that evening, unlike the previous five evenings that he’d missed.

      Is there any significance to the point Herlock mentioned, that the phone call was only recorded because the caller had difficulty connecting to the café where the chess club met? What kind of “difficulty” exactly? As with the Ripper, there are always interesting historical details of this kind about the social and technological environment of the age. Though I could just be wrong, I’m guessing there were no rotary dial telephones in common use in Britain in 1931. You just picked up the receiver and waited for the operator to say “Number, please.”

      Did the caller not know the number of the café and have to ask the operator? Was that the problem? How widespread were telephone directories in public kiosks back then? Even if they were, that didn’t mean the caller had one to hand in that particular box. People did the most ghastly things to public telephone directories, ripping pages out and whatnot. I recall checking into a hotel on a business trip and picking up the Yellow Pages in my room to find a good place for dinner that evening, only to discover that some unmentionable SOB had torn out the entire section on Restaurants and taken it away!

      That immortal humorist of the 1950s era, Paul Jennings, wrote a hilarious essay titled Far Speaking on telephoning from public boxes. He opened with the words ”When we have pulled on three sides and at last found the one that opens,” and ended ”I should choose E to K, L to R, and S to Z to replace three of the four A to D’s that are always in my box.” If our mystery caller just didn’t have the café’s number to hand, does that suggest he was not a member of the chess club?

      If he wasn’t, no doubt the field could be narrowed down to Wallace’s known associates in other spheres, especially by way of business. A customer? Somebody at the Pru office? I’m afraid I’m a novice at this case, so I don’t know basic details like whether Wallace went into the office that Monday or whether he just worked from home. I think I’m right in saying it wouldn’t be Parry, because I understand Parry had left the Pru by that time, though it could of course be Parry for other reasons. But at least someone who had regular dealings with Wallace, inside or outside of chess, was more likely to have had some (as yet undefined) reason for doing the murder. And possibly the “chess connection” has been overemphasized.

      While I apologize because the following adds nothing whatsoever of substance to the discussion, I can’t resist quoting this passage from a celebrated novel published five years before the Wallace murder, because the thinking behind it seems relevant anyway and may be appreciated for that reason alone:

      “I will take you the way that I have travelled myself. Step by step you shall accompany me, and see for yourself that all the facts point indisputably to one person. Now, to begin with, there were two facts and a little discrepancy in time which especially attracted my attention. The first fact was the telephone call. [...]

      “I satisfied myself that the call could not have been sent by anyone in the house, yet I was convinced that it was amongst those present on the fatal evening that I had to look for my criminal. Therefore I concluded that the telephone call must have been sent by an accomplice. I was not quite pleased with that deduction, but I let it stand for the minute.

      “I next examined the motive for the call. That was difficult. I could only get at it by judging its result...”
      Hi Graham,

      That particular box operated through a manual exchange. The operator Louisa Alfreds took the call at 7.15. The caller asked for Bank 3581 which was the number of the club.

      Wallace didn’t work from an office. He collected money door to door in the Clubmoor area. He went to the main office once a week to pay in his takings.

      On your point about someone finding out that Wallace intended to go to chess via a conversation? The point that I’d make is that if that had happened surely Wallace would have mentioned it to the police as it would have provided another suspect for the phone call?
      Regards

      Herlock



      “All conspiracy theories are the product of the subconscious attempt of an ignorant yet creative mind to counteract the fear of the unknown with the tales of fantasy.” Abhijit Naskar.

      “Conspiracy theorists, she knew, were paranoid by definition, and usually with good reason - they were indeed being watched, largely because they were standing on an upturned bucket, haranguing the sheeple with their wingnut delusions.” Mick Herron.

      ”The most confused you will ever get is when you try to convince your heart and spirit of something your mind knows is a lie.” Shannon L. Alder.

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

        Antony, couldn’t the reason that he said that he’d pushed button A (when he’d actually pushed button B) have been because he didn’t realise that he’d pushed the wrong button? It was dark, as you mentioned about the bulb, and the caller might well have been nervous or distracted?

        We know that the engineer said that he couldn’t find a fault but can we take that as a certainty that there wasn’t one?
        Hi Herlock. My view is this:

        A) If Wallace pushed B and there was no fault then the coins would have been returned, hence he would have known he had pushed B not A.

        B) If Wallace pushed B and there was a fault with the coin return mechanism then the coins would not have been returned when the second operator asked him to push B to return his coins. Also, we would have expected the engineer to have found this fault.

        Nothing is certain, of course, but as I said in my book (Chapter 6) take a look at what was said and then reconcile it with all the possible scenarios of fault/no-fault.

        My view: it was a very odd thing for the caller to have said "I have pushed A but..." unless he was attempting a scam. But, as you know, I reserve all rights to be completely wrong on this point!

        Author of Cold Case Jury books: The Shark Arm Mystery (2020), Poisoned at the Priory (2020), Move to Murder (2018), Death of an Actress (2018), The Green Bicycle Mystery (2017) - "Armchair detectives will be delighted" - Publishers Weekly. And for something completely different - I'm the co-founder of Wow-Vinyl - celebrating the Golden Years of the British Single (1977-85)

        Comment


        • #34
          Originally posted by Dupin View Post
          @Gordon
          The public telephone box in 1931 would be the Giles Gilbert Scott variety: officially retired in 1936 but replaced by thousands of red boxes much like we used to see on the streets, and in some places they are still there.
          They did have dials. They had a large black box, still in use in the 50s as I recall. On the front was a large silver button, labelled A, with a large circle around it. On the right hand side was a button B. (When a child this was a source of amusement. You put in 4d and dialled your doctor. On an answer you pressed button B and got your pennies back for another go. No not often: it wears.) In the case of this caller, they dialled the operator (0 in those days) and said they had pressed A but not got through and there must be a fault. It later transpired there was no fault, and the caller must have pressed B and bluffed the operator. Of course, if a chess player wanted to have a record of a call being made this was a good ply. If a prankster, a good way of making a fool of someone at absolutely zero cost. But why Wallace would wish a record of the all important call being made not from Menlove anything but from a box yards from his home is imponderable. This is probably why James thought it a prankster, but which provided Wallace with a ready made scenario for an alibi.

          Personally I dont see Wallace as a violent, cold bloodied murderer. He himself later said if he wanted to kill Julia he would have poisoned her. He was an expert chemist. And to answer DJA'a question: nobody has put forward any reasonable motive for murder, including the prosecution. Among the suggestions:
          - he was gay and Julia was about to out him (no evidence apart from an off remark that he was sexually odd - more likely into whipping)
          - Julia was declining and becoming an embarrasment
          - he wanted to live with someone else (but when he could, he didnt)
          - he wanted freedom to grow roses (sorry that is his joke)

          And as an insurance salesman, he didnt have a large policy on Julia. Madness.

          I sit afence on this. If Wallace was involved it was with an accomplice. If he wasnt I would look at Parry, Cairns, or possibly the Johnsons.
          HTH
          Hi Dupin,

          Your correct of course that no motive has been proved but these things often remain hidden beneath the surface. There’s a general picture of a happy marriage but is that the full picture?

          Those that said that the Wallace’s appeared happy were in general friends of the couple. People often keep and issues hidden from friends and family; more so years ago when there was a fear of scandal and rumour; of being seen ‘washing your dirty linen in public.’ So it’s interesting to hear the opinions of those that saw the Wallace’s when their guards were down. Like Doctor Curwen and Florence Wilson who nursed William when he had pneumonia. I believe that she stayed with them for 3 weeks (though I’ll stand correcting of course if my memory is faulty)

          Dr Curwen said that the Wallace’s didn’t have the happy marriage that everyone assumed and that they were indifferent to each other’s illnesses.

          Wilson said that there relationship seemed strange and that they were a peculiar couple. She felt that Wallace seemed to be a man who had suffered disappointment in his life and she said that Julia was dirty (meaning unclean)

          Wallace’s former colleague of 12 years Alfred Mather described Wallace as “the most cool, calculating, despondent and soured man he’d ever met. He also said that some of his clients called him ‘a bad tempered devil.’

          In Checkmate Mark Russell says that his great Aunt and Grandfather knew Wallace. She called him ‘strange, taciturn and abrupt.’ He called him ‘aloof and conceited.’

          Also when Antony was writing his book a doctor contacted him about a former patient who knew the Wallace’s. I can’t find the details (Antony would have them) and one woman described Wallace as ‘Street angel/House devil I believe. Meaning different at home than he appeared to everyone else.

          .....

          This doesn’t prove a motive of course Dupin but it shows that there might have been more than met the eye about this couple. Wallace had had a kidney removed and was regularly ill. I think it’s reasonable to assume that Wallace might not have expected to have many more years left to him (he was correct of course) so, looking at his remaining years, he might just have seen life with a dull job, no promotion even after many years of loyal service and marriage to a woman who was actually old enough to have been his mother and who was almost constantly ailing. He was an intelligent man with cultured tastes and no real money worries. He might of thought about how much he could enjoy life without Julia to look after?
          Regards

          Herlock



          “All conspiracy theories are the product of the subconscious attempt of an ignorant yet creative mind to counteract the fear of the unknown with the tales of fantasy.” Abhijit Naskar.

          “Conspiracy theorists, she knew, were paranoid by definition, and usually with good reason - they were indeed being watched, largely because they were standing on an upturned bucket, haranguing the sheeple with their wingnut delusions.” Mick Herron.

          ”The most confused you will ever get is when you try to convince your heart and spirit of something your mind knows is a lie.” Shannon L. Alder.

          Comment


          • #35
            Originally posted by ColdCaseJury View Post

            Hi Herlock. My view is this:

            A) If Wallace pushed B and there was no fault then the coins would have been returned, hence he would have known he had pushed B not A.

            B) If Wallace pushed B and there was a fault with the coin return mechanism then the coins would not have been returned when the second operator asked him to push B to return his coins. Also, we would have expected the engineer to have found this fault.

            Nothing is certain, of course, but as I said in my book (Chapter 6) take a look at what was said and then reconcile it with all the possible scenarios of fault/no-fault.

            My view: it was a very odd thing for the caller to have said "I have pushed A but..." unless he was attempting a scam. But, as you know, I reserve all rights to be completely wrong on this point!
            Im useless with technical stuff. I can’t handle 2021 technology let alone tech from 34 years before I was born.

            In his book Mark mentions the possibility of a problem with the coin box? I don’t know. I think he might have been in contact via email with someone who might know something about them?

            To be honest Antony, although you know who I believe made the call, I couldn’t really dispute the issue with you. I know you researched it for your book (either that or you are much older than you look)
            Regards

            Herlock



            “All conspiracy theories are the product of the subconscious attempt of an ignorant yet creative mind to counteract the fear of the unknown with the tales of fantasy.” Abhijit Naskar.

            “Conspiracy theorists, she knew, were paranoid by definition, and usually with good reason - they were indeed being watched, largely because they were standing on an upturned bucket, haranguing the sheeple with their wingnut delusions.” Mick Herron.

            ”The most confused you will ever get is when you try to convince your heart and spirit of something your mind knows is a lie.” Shannon L. Alder.

            Comment


            • #36
              Herlock Sholmes you are correct (of course) about the character witness statements of Wallace and Mrs Wallace and their marriage.

              Looking at the transcripts I was struck by the following:

              Mather said Wallace detested his work and thought it beneath him to have become an insurance agent. ...Mr Jones, deceased, knew Wallace and his wife very well and said to him that Mrs Wallace was a proud and peculiar woman who thought she had lowered herself by marrying an insurance agent. She hated the business and would give no assistance to her husband. She would keep clients standing at the door when they called to see him on business, and she would not take in premiums which clients brought during her husband's absence.

              ...
              Annie Elizabeth Spencer, a client of Wallace's, says that after the murder Wallace called to collect her premiums. During a conversation he told her that some friend of his wife's had killed her because she never allowed a stranger over the doorstep. Spencer thought he meant it was a friend of both of them and asked it that was so. He replied, very excitedly, "No. A friend of my wife's".

              But one theory is that Mrs W did let in a strangler. It is possible that Wallace told her in no uncertain terms that since Qualtrough had asked for his address he might call while he was trying to visit him, and on this occasion unlike normally she must keep him until he returned. This would bolster an accomplice theory. If he did not say that, it was out of character for her to have allowed anyone in that she did not know (allegedly).

              Except, Wallace said she had friends who were not friends of them both. Now I remember life in the 50s, not 30s. If someone knocked on a neighbour's door there would be lace curtains a-twitching. I cannot imagine Julia having men friends while Wallace was out and no one knowing, or saying afterwards, you know, like Ena Sharples, "ooh her, she was no better than she ought to have been". But maybe this was an innocent Wallace still trying to work out why this tragedy had happened.

              No,still clueless here.

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by Gordon View Post

                Obviously the field covered by point (d) is rather broad. It didn’t have to be a chess club member; only someone who knew that Wallace played chess and where. Most likely someone who had seen Wallace that Monday and had learned, in casual conversation or by asking the right questions, that Wallace intended to play chess that evening, unlike the previous five evenings that he’d missed.
                Hi Gordon

                You are of course correct, d) is potentially quite wide, but a number on the list can be eliminated, for instance Samuel Beattie, his chess partner and those already at the club when the call was made (or arrived too soon after the call to have travelled to the club after making it).

                Originally posted by Gordon View Post
                Is there any significance to the point Herlock mentioned, that the phone call was only recorded because the caller had difficulty connecting to the café where the chess club met? What kind of “difficulty” exactly? As with the Ripper, there are always interesting historical details of this kind about the social and technological environment of the age. Though I could just be wrong, I’m guessing there were no rotary dial telephones in common use in Britain in 1931. You just picked up the receiver and waited for the operator to say “Number, please.”
                Potentially there is significance - if someone wanted the location of the call to be known (to point at Wallace as the caller for instance), and knew the system, then they might have deliberately perpetrated the 'scam' for that reason. Or, if in ignorance that the call location could be identified, it might just tell us something about the nature of the caller.

                Originally posted by Gordon View Post
                Did the caller not know the number of the café and have to ask the operator? Was that the problem? How widespread were telephone directories in public kiosks back then? Even if they were, that didn’t mean the caller had one to hand in that particular box. People did the most ghastly things to public telephone directories, ripping pages out and whatnot. I recall checking into a hotel on a business trip and picking up the Yellow Pages in my room to find a good place for dinner that evening, only to discover that some unmentionable SOB had torn out the entire section on Restaurants and taken it away!
                The caller asked for the number Bank 3581 (statements from the exchange witnesses), so knew it before making the call.

                Originally posted by Gordon View Post
                That immortal humorist of the 1950s era, Paul Jennings, wrote a hilarious essay titled Far Speaking on telephoning from public boxes. He opened with the words ”When we have pulled on three sides and at last found the one that opens,” and ended ”I should choose E to K, L to R, and S to Z to replace three of the four A to D’s that are always in my box.” If our mystery caller just didn’t have the café’s number to hand, does that suggest he was not a member of the chess club?

                If he wasn’t, no doubt the field could be narrowed down to Wallace’s known associates in other spheres, especially by way of business. A customer? Somebody at the Pru office? I’m afraid I’m a novice at this case, so I don’t know basic details like whether Wallace went into the office that Monday or whether he just worked from home. I think I’m right in saying it wouldn’t be Parry, because I understand Parry had left the Pru by that time, though it could of course be Parry for other reasons. But at least someone who had regular dealings with Wallace, inside or outside of chess, was more likely to have had some (as yet undefined) reason for doing the murder. And possibly the “chess connection” has been overemphasized.
                There was a notice at the cafe which had Wallace listed as due to attend for a match that night, though this doesn't mean for sure he would be there (Wallace's scheduled chess partner, Chandler, did not show). Parry was a known visitor to that cafe and could have seen the notice. If Parry, or someone else who expected Wallace to attend the club, wanted to be sure Wallace was going to the cafe, they could have watched for Wallace to leave home from close to the phone box and then made the call ensuring both he was on his way but had not yet arrived and also timed the call so that Wallace could possibly have made it..

                Originally posted by Gordon View Post
                While I apologize because the following adds nothing whatsoever of substance to the discussion, I can’t resist quoting this passage from a celebrated novel published five years before the Wallace murder, because the thinking behind it seems relevant anyway and may be appreciated for that reason alone:

                “I will take you the way that I have travelled myself. Step by step you shall accompany me, and see for yourself that all the facts point indisputably to one person. Now, to begin with, there were two facts and a little discrepancy in time which especially attracted my attention. The first fact was the telephone call. [...]

                “I satisfied myself that the call could not have been sent by anyone in the house, yet I was convinced that it was amongst those present on the fatal evening that I had to look for my criminal. Therefore I concluded that the telephone call must have been sent by an accomplice. I was not quite pleased with that deduction, but I let it stand for the minute.

                “I next examined the motive for the call. That was difficult. I could only get at it by judging its result...”
                Pertinent quote, though if these words are spoken by Hercule Poirot, the context was quite different.

                Comment


                • #38
                  Originally posted by ColdCaseJury View Post
                  The upshot. Although not conclusive, it looks like someone was trying to scam a call. However, I do not think we can infer from a scam call (if it was) that it was a prank call. Rather, it tells us something about the person in the phone box. If I'm correct, I'm fairly sure the caller would not be Wallace. However, I'm equally sure others will take a different view.
                  Hi ColdCaseJury

                  I tend to favour that it is more likely that Wallace murdered Julia than someone else and therefore was most likely the caller. Your quoted observation is one piece of evidence that throws doubt on Wallace being the caller and is difficult to reconcile. It may have been a mistake in the dark, but I find that suggestion a little weak as he would have heard the coins being returned.

                  Could it be, if it was Wallace, that he deliberately scammed to point towards someone like Parry? I'm not sure I'm convinced by that explanation either.

                  Could it be he wanted the time recorded to provide himself with an alibi? Possibly, but then Beattie would confirm the time of the call in any case, so it seems it is more about location of the originating call. Just possibly it was to back up Beattie's memory of the call time.
                  Last edited by etenguy; 01-25-2021, 12:27 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

                    Antony, couldn’t the reason that he said that he’d pushed button A (when he’d actually pushed button B) have been because he didn’t realise that he’d pushed the wrong button? It was dark, as you mentioned about the bulb, and the caller might well have been nervous or distracted?




                    Herlock, I can’t imagine anyone pushing the wrong button by mistake on this type of equipment, not even in the dark if the light bulb had blown. The buttons were in two quite different positions, with a big fat Button A protruding from the front of the box, and a narrower Button B protruding from the right-hand side of the box, lower down next to the coin return chute. You slotted in the money at the top of the box, as Dupin pointed out, and it made different sounds: “clunk” for a penny, “ting” for a sixpence, and a lower-pitched “tong” for a shilling, so the operator could hear the right money was being put in if it was for a long distance call. The coins dropped into some temporary receptacle inside. If you got a response and pressed button A on the front in order to be heard, typically with your thumb, the coins dropped immediately into a permanent cashbox where you couldn’t retrieve them. If you didn’t get connected and wanted your money back, you pressed button B on the side, usually with your right index finger, and the button came back out slowly with a ratchety “ticka-ticka-ticka” sound, giving enough time for the coins to be returned down the chute.

                    In short, there was a whole different feel and sound to operating the two buttons, besides their different positions, and I find it hard to imagine anyone mistaking one for the other. So whether the call itself was a prank or not, if a caller did tell the operator he’d pressed button A when he’d actually pressed button B, I can only conclude he intended to scam the GPO. Or possibly to get the operator to make a note of the call, if he knew she would do that. But I’m doubtful how many people knew that in the first place.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Dupin View Post
                      Herlock Sholmes you are correct (of course) about the character witness statements of Wallace and Mrs Wallace and their marriage.

                      Looking at the transcripts I was struck by the following:

                      Mather said Wallace detested his work and thought it beneath him to have become an insurance agent. ...Mr Jones, deceased, knew Wallace and his wife very well and said to him that Mrs Wallace was a proud and peculiar woman who thought she had lowered herself by marrying an insurance agent. She hated the business and would give no assistance to her husband. She would keep clients standing at the door when they called to see him on business, and she would not take in premiums which clients brought during her husband's absence.

                      ...
                      Annie Elizabeth Spencer, a client of Wallace's, says that after the murder Wallace called to collect her premiums. During a conversation he told her that some friend of his wife's had killed her because she never allowed a stranger over the doorstep. Spencer thought he meant it was a friend of both of them and asked it that was so. He replied, very excitedly, "No. A friend of my wife's".

                      But one theory is that Mrs W did let in a strangler. It is possible that Wallace told her in no uncertain terms that since Qualtrough had asked for his address he might call while he was trying to visit him, and on this occasion unlike normally she must keep him until he returned. This would bolster an accomplice theory. If he did not say that, it was out of character for her to have allowed anyone in that she did not know (allegedly).

                      Except, Wallace said she had friends who were not friends of them both. Now I remember life in the 50s, not 30s. If someone knocked on a neighbour's door there would be lace curtains a-twitching. I cannot imagine Julia having men friends while Wallace was out and no one knowing, or saying afterwards, you know, like Ena Sharples, "ooh her, she was no better than she ought to have been". But maybe this was an innocent Wallace still trying to work out why this tragedy had happened.

                      No,still clueless here.
                      Its certainly an infuriating case Dupin.

                      Julia could certainly have let in someone called Qualtrough if William had told her about him but, although we know that Wallace told Julia about his evenings business journey, we don’t know if he’d mentioned the name. William said specifically that Julia would have let someone in if she had known them personally so, as you say, had William had specifically mentioned Qualtrough she might have let him in but if not? She didn’t know a Qualtrough personally.

                      It’s also worth noting about how solid the plan was. There are so many ways that the plan to get William out of the house on that Tuesday night might have failed and Julia deciding not to let in a stranger is one of them. If William planned it of course there was no possibility of it failing. He was definitely going to the non-existent MGE.

                      Your Ena Sharples point is a good one (although a mystery to non-UK posters of course) Would Julia have let in a man after her husband had left? It might be said that perhaps the neighbours wouldn’t have known that she was alone in the house because William had left via the back door but, of course, they might have seen him return via the front door. We can also ask, if a ‘Mr Qualtrough’ turned up wasn't he taking a huge risk of being seen or heard or both. The Holme’s, Wallace’s neighbours at number 27, heard the milk boy knock the door of the Wallace’s house at around 6.35. This was possibly less than an hour before our ‘Qualtrough’ might have arrived. Qualtrough and Julia would have had a short explanatory conversation on the doorstep. Maybe 20 or 30 seconds. Yet no one saw or heard anything. It’s not impossible that this could have happened of course but it was a huge slice of luck for Mr Qualtrough.

                      Regards

                      Herlock



                      “All conspiracy theories are the product of the subconscious attempt of an ignorant yet creative mind to counteract the fear of the unknown with the tales of fantasy.” Abhijit Naskar.

                      “Conspiracy theorists, she knew, were paranoid by definition, and usually with good reason - they were indeed being watched, largely because they were standing on an upturned bucket, haranguing the sheeple with their wingnut delusions.” Mick Herron.

                      ”The most confused you will ever get is when you try to convince your heart and spirit of something your mind knows is a lie.” Shannon L. Alder.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Gordon View Post


                        Herlock, I can’t imagine anyone pushing the wrong button by mistake on this type of equipment, not even in the dark if the light bulb had blown. The buttons were in two quite different positions, with a big fat Button A protruding from the front of the box, and a narrower Button B protruding from the right-hand side of the box, lower down next to the coin return chute. You slotted in the money at the top of the box, as Dupin pointed out, and it made different sounds: “clunk” for a penny, “ting” for a sixpence, and a lower-pitched “tong” for a shilling, so the operator could hear the right money was being put in if it was for a long distance call. The coins dropped into some temporary receptacle inside. If you got a response and pressed button A on the front in order to be heard, typically with your thumb, the coins dropped immediately into a permanent cashbox where you couldn’t retrieve them. If you didn’t get connected and wanted your money back, you pressed button B on the side, usually with your right index finger, and the button came back out slowly with a ratchety “ticka-ticka-ticka” sound, giving enough time for the coins to be returned down the chute.

                        In short, there was a whole different feel and sound to operating the two buttons, besides their different positions, and I find it hard to imagine anyone mistaking one for the other. So whether the call itself was a prank or not, if a caller did tell the operator he’d pressed button A when he’d actually pressed button B, I can only conclude he intended to scam the GPO. Or possibly to get the operator to make a note of the call, if he knew she would do that. But I’m doubtful how many people knew that in the first place.
                        I certainly wouldn’t dispute the point Gordon. It would be good to hear Mark’s take on this because I get the impression that he might have been in touch with someone. Could there have been some kind of error that the engineer just didn’t detect when he checked? I’m sure that we’ve all heard an ‘expert’ say “I can’t find anything wrong with it,” even though you know that the “it” isn’t working properly?

                        Was Parry the type to scam a phone call..... certainly.

                        Was Wallace....far less likely of course but there is evidence that he might have been a little preoccupied with money. When talking about his happy marriage he points to shortage of cash (like thousands of others) being the only issue. The Wallace’s weren’t short of cash. He had a slightly better than average wage and money in the bank. Also, his diary, he mentions an argument with Julia about how many newspapers she ordered (and this from a man who spent around £80 on a microscope for himself - around 3+ months wages?)

                        On the whole though of course Wallace would appear less likely to scam a call (though not impossible IMO)
                        Regards

                        Herlock



                        “All conspiracy theories are the product of the subconscious attempt of an ignorant yet creative mind to counteract the fear of the unknown with the tales of fantasy.” Abhijit Naskar.

                        “Conspiracy theorists, she knew, were paranoid by definition, and usually with good reason - they were indeed being watched, largely because they were standing on an upturned bucket, haranguing the sheeple with their wingnut delusions.” Mick Herron.

                        ”The most confused you will ever get is when you try to convince your heart and spirit of something your mind knows is a lie.” Shannon L. Alder.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          In fairness I’d have to add that Wallace would have been under time pressure as he had to be at the club in time for his match. Would he have wanted to waste valuable time messing around in the phone box just to save 2d?
                          Regards

                          Herlock



                          “All conspiracy theories are the product of the subconscious attempt of an ignorant yet creative mind to counteract the fear of the unknown with the tales of fantasy.” Abhijit Naskar.

                          “Conspiracy theorists, she knew, were paranoid by definition, and usually with good reason - they were indeed being watched, largely because they were standing on an upturned bucket, haranguing the sheeple with their wingnut delusions.” Mick Herron.

                          ”The most confused you will ever get is when you try to convince your heart and spirit of something your mind knows is a lie.” Shannon L. Alder.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Im not claiming that this is at all relevant but apparently there were a few ways to scam calls.

                            Public phone box

                            “In the 1950s when I was a teenager - and possibly in the 1930s and 1940s too - it was well-known that public telephones could be made to give free calls. I knew fellow-teenagers who did it, and I knew how to do it, but I never dared do it myself. I thought that if I did, a police car would come roaring round the corner, sirens screaming and cart me off to a police station. As far as I know, though, on-one was ever caught.

                            The procedure was to mimic the clicks that came from regular dialling, ie one click for one, two clicks to two etc. The clicks were made by jogging the cradle up and down, but they had to be made rapidly at the same speed as dialling, which was easier said than done”

                            .........

                            Would a respectable gent like Wallace have scammed a call?

                            “When I worked for the Plessey company in Liverpool which made telephone exchanges, those in the know told me that the worst offenders for making free calls were the policemen on the beat. They were given an allowance of 2 pennies (tuppence) to make check in calls to the station, but they kept the money and tapped out the number on the creadle. They were experts at it.”



                            Regards

                            Herlock



                            “All conspiracy theories are the product of the subconscious attempt of an ignorant yet creative mind to counteract the fear of the unknown with the tales of fantasy.” Abhijit Naskar.

                            “Conspiracy theorists, she knew, were paranoid by definition, and usually with good reason - they were indeed being watched, largely because they were standing on an upturned bucket, haranguing the sheeple with their wingnut delusions.” Mick Herron.

                            ”The most confused you will ever get is when you try to convince your heart and spirit of something your mind knows is a lie.” Shannon L. Alder.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

                              Wallace had had a kidney removed and was regularly ill. I think it’s reasonable to assume that Wallace might not have expected to have many more years left to him (he was correct of course) so, looking at his remaining years, he might just have seen life with a dull job, no promotion even after many years of loyal service and marriage to a woman who was actually old enough to have been his mother and who was almost constantly ailing. He was an intelligent man with cultured tastes and no real money worries. He might of thought about how much he could enjoy life without Julia to look after?


                              Well, outsiders undoubtedly had different opinions of the Wallaces’ marriage. I gather that most who knew them believed they were happy together. I wonder how many authors, seeking to prove a pet theory, cherry-picked from a small minority like Dr. Curwen who saw the couple, not so much ‘when their guard was down,” but when they were in a foul mood because they were ill!

                              Anyway they both had their health problems, and my impression is that they generally looked after one another, and needed one another for that reason alone. Although “Julia was Peculia” and certainly neurotic, going by Wallace’s own diary the couple had virtually no quarrels, and Julia fussed over him spending time in his back room, not because he was neglecting her but because it was damp and cold compared with the other rooms and she was afraid it would worsen his health. He would call the doctor if Julia seemed particularly sick, so it’s hard to see how Curwen thought the two were indifferent to each other’s illnesses. Perhaps they took each other’s illnesses for granted to a certain extent because they were both used to them?

                              However, there’s another question I’m very curious about. I imagine it must have been discussed on some other Wallace thread, but I don’t know where. Namely, was Julia in fact “old enough to be his mother”?

                              I admit when I first came across this claim I wondered about their marriage, whether Wallace, reportedly with a certain shy reserve, was looking for a mother figure. But now I’m questioning it. This is from Wikipedia’s article on Wallace, not always renowned for being an unimpeachable source:

                              During his time in Harrogate, he met Julia Dennis (28 April 1861 – 20 January 1931), and they were married there in March 1914. All early sources suggested that Julia was approximately the same age as Wallace, but in 2001 James Murphy demonstrated from her original birth certificate that she was actually seventeen years older than he was. Julia's father was a ruined alcoholic farmer from near Northallerton.



                              If that’s true about her birth date, since Wallace was born on 29 August 1878, she would be seventeen years older: 69 when she died, against Wallace’s 52. But is it true?

                              I’ve no doubt Wikipedia’s statement is true as it stands! It seems to be true that “early sources” placed Julia’s age about the same as Wallace’s. For instance, Jonathan Goodman (revised edition 1987) states that Julia was 33 when Wallace met her in the summer of 1911. That puts her birth year the same as Wallace’s, or late the year before. But did James Murphy get it right?

                              Claims of Julia’s age are frustratingly variable. I’m sure I’ve read somewhere on the Web that her marriage certificate gave her age as 37. Since that was less than three years later, on 24 March 1914, that would put her birth date a year earlier than Goodman’s claim.

                              However, that’s only a slight discrepancy. Meanwhile I read in the Liverpool Echo that she was 60 when she was killed--which agrees with nobody, and is in flagrant contradiction to a photograph appearing in the very same article. (See below.) Well, maybe somebody hit the wrong key. The zero is next to the 9!

                              If she was really born in 1861, she would be 52 going on 53 when they married, against Wallace’s 35. If her marriage certificate really said she was 37, did she truly lie so outrageously to Wallace about her age? And did he believe it? Did he see no difference between a woman in her thirties and one in her fifties?--and presumably postmenopausal at that. I find that very hard to swallow.

                              And there are other sources of data. One was Professor MacFall, who performed the autopsy on her, and described her as a “woman of about 55 years of age.” Admittedly this was only an estimate, and MacFall was an incompetent bungler anyway. But I’m sure a skilled pathologist could have told the difference between a woman of 69 and one of 55. If she was 53 when she died, MacFall’s estimate would be close enough.

                              Meanwhile, a photograph of her gravestone states she was 52 when she died! This is from the same Liverpool Echo article I mentioned above:



                              That makes her the same age as Wallace. Did whatever family member was responsible for this memorial not know how old she was?

                              Most of all though, the claim that Julia was born in 1861 describes her father as a “ruined alcoholic farmer from near Northallerton.” Meanwhile, Goodman described her as “the daughter of William Dennis, a veterinary surgeon, and his French-born wife, Aimee.” These sound like totally different people. Julia was a cultured woman with a living sister Amy, and they owned a house together, which Julia lived in before her marriage, while Amy lived elsewhere. They don’t sound like the daughters of a “ruined alcoholic farmer.”

                              Anyway how many women called “Julia Dennis” could there be? More than one, I’ll bet. So taking all the evidence together, I seriously have to question whether James Murphy got the right Julia Dennis when he claimed she was born in 1861.
                              Last edited by Gordon; 01-25-2021, 01:21 PM.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post
                                Im not claiming that this is at all relevant but apparently there were a few ways to scam calls.

                                [...]

                                The procedure was to mimic the clicks that came from regular dialling, ie one click for one, two clicks to two etc. The clicks were made by jogging the cradle up and down, but they had to be made rapidly at the same speed as dialling, which was easier said than done”


                                Yes, it worked! It wasn’t too hard either to get the speed right. Naturally it would only work with an automatic exchange with rotary dials, so it wouldn’t have worked in Wallace’s day. I think that technique stopped working about the time they introduced the new equipment for STD in the 1960s. (“Subscriber Trunk Dialling,” not a nasty disease!) It seems that introduced a new and worse problem. Apparently the newerr coin boxes were easier to break into than the older, more robust ones. So they became a “soft target” for real vandals: not somebody who’d scam a single call, but a robber who’s smash the whole thing up and take all the cash.

                                Anyway I agree; I don’t think Wallace was the kind of guy to scam a call, while Perry was the kind of smartass who’d do it on principle.

                                Comment

                                Working...
                                X