With the latest installment of 'Lord Orsam Says...' already being so long, and with Caroline Morris still posting her unique brand of nonsense all over the forums, I thought I needed a special emergency page to respond to her posts alone, or at least those not already dealt with in 'Lord Orsam Says...'. The problem here is that she is either not reading my articles or pretending not to read them so I have to keep repeating what I've already said elsewhere.
I've also noted a new and worrying tendency for her, in what appears to be her desperation in fighting a losing battle, to post totally unsourced hearsay anecdotal and, in some cases, highly speculative information, such as in respect of the value of photograph albums, of Outhwaite & Litherland's cataloguing practice, of what Martin Earl is supposed to have said to Mike Barrett and perhaps, worst of all, what the current views of Alec Voller are with respect to the Diary such as 'I only heard recently that Alec Voller is of the same opinion'. Who did she hear this from? What exactly did Voller say? How does Voller reconcile such a view with his written opinion that Nick Warren recreated the look of the Diary with modern ink? There is enough inaccurate disinformation online regarding the Diary at the moment that such vague and unsourced rumour should not be posted. In fact, it's utterly disgraceful that she is doing this. I see that one poster (Graham) has already used such a comment as a source in itself!! And thus potentially inaccurate information is being promulgated without any control or checks.
It's obviously not possible to respond in any kind of sensible way to unsourced hearsay claims which make informed debate almost impossible - I mean, I could invent anything in response and attribute it to unnamed sources couldn't I?, then where would we be? - but I'll do my best.
THE ISSUE OF THE RECEIPT
Let's start with the receipt. On JTR Forums, Caroline Morris draws attention to Mike Barrett's comment as reported in the Liverpool Echo of September 12 1998, following his acquittal of threatening to kill his wife, that all he cared about was to protect his daughter's name by proving that his daughter was 'not related to Jack the Ripper'. She also draws attention to his drunken threat to his wife that if she labelled Caroline 'a Maybrick' he would blow her head off. All Mike had to do, she says, was produce his receipt of a scrapbook from Outhwaite & Litherland and all his problems would have been solved. Thus (in thread 'Mike Barrett Cleared of Death Threat to Ex-Wife', #2):
'Would it not have been one hell of a lot quicker and simpler if he had produced his auction ticket for the old scrapbook used for the forgery? He said in 1999 that he still had it. How would a written threat to kill his ex-wife have achieved anything, apart from the very real possibility of a long stretch behind bars?'
As Caroline Morris seems confused about it (see her post referring to me in the 'Problem of Logic' thread, #335), I want to make clear that my long held position, as set out in 'Man in a Pub', is that the likelihood is that Mike had destroyed the receipt in 1992. I just can't think why he would have kept it. At the same time, however, the fact of the matter is that Keith Skinner foolishly mentioned to him at the Cloak & Dagger club in April 1999 that someone who used to be a policeman was involved in investigating the case, and was, in fact, sitting in the audience. It's also undeniable, in my opinion, that Mike seemed unsettled by this. This means that if he did have the receipt in his possession there was a good reason why he didn't produce it (and he is on tape stating that this is why he changed his mind). The main point I wanted to make in my 'Man in a Pub' article, however, was that Keith's obvious faux pas wasn't mentioned in any of the summaries of the Cloak & Dagger meeting written prior to the release of the recording, so that the portrayal of Mike's failure to produce the receipt wasn't a fair one. No-one was told about Mike being rattled by the mention of Stewart Evans. While my position remains that it is likely that the receipt had long since been destroyed, I don't know this for certain and let's assume for moment that it wasn't. In which case, there are a number of possible explanations for Mike's actions.
The first is the obvious one. The receipt was somewhere in Mike's house all along but he didn't know where it was and he didn't find it until 1999. He then brought it to London but changed his mind after thinking that the plan was for him to be arrested at the Cloak & Dagger club. That's all quite simple and straightforward.
The second explanation is that the receipt would have proved nothing and Mike knew this. Let's not forget that Mike's story is that the scrapbook was purchased in a job lot with a brass compass. Kevin Whay of Outhwaite & Litherland stated that this lot would probably have been described as 'miscellaneous'. So it's likely that the very best that Mike would have been able to have done would have been to produce a receipt from Outhwaite & Litherland dated 31 March 1992 showing the purchase of some 'miscellaneous' items for £50. How would that have satisfied anyone? How would it have disproved Anne's story that the diary had been in her family for generations? After all, we know for a fact that Mike was hunting for a Victorian diary from Martin Earl in March 1992. Diary Believers don't seem to bat an eyelid at that. Why could he not have gone to O&L hunting another Victorian diary (but not the scrapbook) during the same month, thus explaining a purchase at an auction in March? And why could the O&L receipt not have been dismissed as insufficiently probative?
I do want to stress that the production in 1997, 1998 or 1999 of a receipt purporting to record a purchase from Outhwaite & Litherland would NOT have ended the debate or proved 'at a stroke', as Caroline Morris claims (#5), that the Diary was a fake. How could anyone have known, without further investigation, that the receipt was not a forgery? The idea that by flourishing a piece of paper, an alleged forger could have proved the diary was genuine by itself is a fantasy. I've seen it said that the meeting at the Cloak & Dagger club would have been cut immediately short if Mike had produced such a piece of paper. What a lot of nonsense! The talk would then have been about whether the receipt was genuine or not.
To prove it, here is the receipt!
No, of course it isn't. It's a fake. Not a particularly good one but I think I've just proved that simply producing a receipt doesn't end this story. It doesn't, by itself, prove that the Diary was a modern fake created by Mike Barrett.
But the main point I want to make in this section is that Caroline Morris' argument is entirely based on an assumption that Mike would have done anything in his power, including producing the receipt, had it been in his possession, to clear his daughter's name from any connection with Maybrick and Jack the Ripper, yet her own argument relies on Mike NOT doing everything in his power. I mean, if Mike was so determined to disprove Anne's argument that the Diary had been in her family for generations, and had been given by her to Tony Devereux, why didn't he reveal that the Diary actually came to him from Eddie Lyons? That's what Caroline Morris believes after all. Sure, it would have meant admitting that the Diary was stolen property (and, by 1997, Mike had surely worked out, had it been the case, that Eddie must have got the Diary from Maybrick's old residence) but the point is that Caroline Morris clearly believes that there were limits to Mike's desire to prove his daughter's innocence, otherwise she would have to accept that the Diary came from Anne. Given that, on Ms Morris' own account, Mike held back from revealing the truth, why could he not have done the same thing with the receipt? Perhaps he wanted to prove his daughter wasn't related to Maybrick while at the same time keeping the secret of his receipt. Perhaps he was happy to keep the world guessing, liked the ambiguity, and didn't want to provide the final proof that the Diary was a forgery because that would mean that no-one would have wanted or needed to speak to him any more. He would no longer have been the centre of attention. Perhaps he enjoyed the game of teasing the la di da Ripperologists.
Perhaps Mike also enjoyed threatening his wife and making her feel scared. Perhaps the threat wasn't really about his daughter's relationship to Maybrick but about his own power. Given that he was obviously very drunk when he threatened to blow his wife's head off, it's strange that Caroline Morris wants to argue that Mike must have been having a logical thought process that if he produced the receipt he would no longer need to threaten to blow his wife's head off. Frankly, I don't think it works like that. You can't bring logic into the equation when someone is so drunk that they are putting into writing a threat to murder someone.
One thing that Caroline Morris doesn't explain is what Mike meant when he said to the reporter from the Liverpool Echo, 'it's come out in court that my daughter is not related to Jack the Ripper'. She doesn't seem particularly interested in that statement. Had it, in fact, come out in court that his daughter wasn't related to Maybrick? If so, how? Or was this a fantasy on Mike's part? In which case, one can hardly take him seriously when he expressed his desire to ensure the connection was never made.
The short point I am making is that Caroline Morris doesn't seem to consider whether Mike's expressed desire to protect his daughter from the taint of being related to the Ripper or to Florence Maybrick was a false one, being merely a weapon to be used against his wife. Caroline Morris tells us over and over not to believe a word Mike Barrett says yet when he says 'All I wanted was to protect my daughter's name' she believes him!! Or at least, she doesn't question it in the way she questions his other statements.
Let's not forget that Caroline Morris' echo, Paul Butler, chipped in with this (#3):
'Time and time again he was asked to produce the proof he said he had in his possession that he had faked the diary, and time and time again, he couldn't.'
I look forward for Paul Butler to list the many occasions when Mike Barrett was asked to produce the proof that he had faked the diary. I guess that Alan Gray might have asked him but I've yet to see the evidence and we know that he was asked at the Cloak & Dagger club (but was then unsettled by the mention of a policeman being in the audience). When were all these other times?
THAT MAN IN A PUBResponding to another of R.J. Palmer's posts, Caroline Morris wrote this in #331:
'At the risk of boring everyone else stupid by repeating myself, Mike had claimed back in January 1995 that Anne had purchased the red diary in early 1990, while Tony Devereux was alive, followed by the scrapbook, putting both purchases, and the eleven-day creation of the diary itself, two whole bloody years before he first contacted Doreen. So yes, just as you wrote above, Keith was 'behaving as if he has caught Barrett in a lie--as if he has caught Barrett with his pants down', for very good reason. Mike had claimed the red diary was bought two whole bloody years before contacting Doreen, so of course Anne's cheque stub disproved this. It wasn't bought until 1992. At the time, Keith didn't know whether Mike had actually taken delivery of it before or after his meeting with Doreen on April 13th, which he also makes clear in his letter. So you could say Anne had effectively incriminated herself by admitting to Keith that she thought Mike had 'bought' it, or at least ordered it, "pre-Doreen", as well as confirming his claim that she had paid £25 for it. But nobody at that time had any reason to think that a Victorian diary acquired as late as 1992, whether in March, April or May, could have been the intended recipient of the Maybrick diary. '
Caroline Morris is hopelessly confused. At the Cloak and Dagger meeting in April 1999, which is what she is discussing here, Mike was claiming to have purchased the red diary in March 1992. The 1990 date from the affidavit was thus irrelevant and was being ignored. Keith Skinner understood what Mike was saying perfectly well, as can be seen by this exchange:
MB: So we come to the red diary. Thank you. So I say to myself I’m going to write the diary of Jack the Ripper. Are you with me?
KS: Absolutely. March 1992. Just to get this date absolutely in the front of people’s minds. I’ll say it again. Mike has conned Doreen Montgomery beautifully over the telephone. He said "I have got the diary of Jack the Ripper". Doreen has said, "Incredible. Bring it on down". We are in March 1992. Mike is now faced with the situation where he has got to create the diary which he has sold to Doreen Montgomery.
Right, so Keith knew that Mike was saying that the red diary was acquired in March 1992, after having spoken to Doreen on the telephone earlier in the month but before going to see her in London on 13 April. He confirmed this by saying that he had found a cheque stub for £25 paid by Anne for the diary. Thus, said Keith:
'And that absolutely supports your story that in March 1992 you went and got this red diary'
So there is literally no doubt that Keith understood that Mike was saying that the red diary was acquired in March 1992. He also understood that this supported the notion that the Maybrick diary was a fake created in March or April 1992 (because he said 'Christ knows' why Anne sent him the cheque stub, because 'it just incriminates her').
However, Keith then said that there was 'a complication' here which he wanted Mike to clarify. The complication was explained by Keith thus:
'What I don’t understand is that the statement that Anne sent me which backs your story beautifully is dated May 1992. May 1992 by which time you’ve been to see Doreen Montgomery with the Diary.'
This is what R.J. Palmer was referring to when he said that Keith was 'behaving as if he has caught Barrett with his pants down'. Keith was suggesting that Mike's story about acquiring the red diary before 13 April 1992, which he must have done if he then went to Outhwaite & Litherland to acquire the scrapbook before seeing Doreen in London, can't be true if the red diary wasn't acquired until May 1992.
It's really really simple but, as usual, Caroline Morris doesn't seem to understand it and wants to over-complicate and throw dust into the eyes of her readers. The lie that Keith thought Mike was telling had nothing to do with his 1995 affidavit and nothing to do with an assumed January 1990 purchase of the red diary.
But, as I've said before, it's the very fact that Mike's affidavit appeared to place the purchase of the red diary in January 1990 which actually tells us that the affidavit, which was almost certainly drafted by Alan Gray who, as Ms Morris herself admits (in #467 of the 'Problem of Logic thread'), typed the entire thing, was confused as to dates. Once it is realized that the red diary was, in fact, purchased in March 1992 then the rest of the affidavit needs to be adjusted around that date. What is perfectly clear from the story told in the affidavit is that the red diary was acquired BEFORE the acquisition of the scrapbook from Outhwaite & Litherland.
Therefore, what Mike Barrett was actually saying through Alan Gray in his 1995 affidavit was that he bought the scrapbook from Outhwaite & Litherland after he acquired the red diary in March 1992.
I think you have to be really perverse and have your own agenda to deny this. Naturally, Caroline Morris, who misleadingly claims that the date of 31 March 1992 is 'never even hinted at' in the affidavit (#5171 of the 'Incontrovertible' thread), even though it is clearly stated that the scrapbook was purchased from O&L after the red diary was received, will continue until the end of time to focus on the date of January 1990 in the affidavit while ignoring both the fact that Mike Barrett could never actually have written the contents of the affidavit himself and that the obvious conclusion to be drawn from the red diary story is that the events being described occurred in March and April 1992.
That, by itself, doesn't mean that the affidavit is true but, by refusing to accept this plain fact, Caroline Morris can simply avoid confronting the the difficult problem for her that Mike was actually telling a consistent story between 1994 and 1999 about when the Maybrick Diary was created.
As for the issue between Keith and Mike at the Cloak & Dagger club, it hadn't registered with Keith at that time that the red diary had been received by Mike shortly after 26 March 1992. As we now know, he didn't find this out until June 1999. When he wrote his letter to Ripperologist on 27 April 1999, following the Cloak & Dagger meeting, he noted that the cheque had been written by Anne on 18 May 1992 and passed through her account on 22 May 1992 which, he said, 'was a month AFTER the journal containing 'The Diary of Jack the Ripper' had been examined by Doreen Montgomery'. Thus, he added in his letter:
'It therefore raises the question as to why Mike should have bought a Victorian diary at a time when publishers were being lined up to bid for the rights to the journal.'
The fact of the matter is that it raises no such question. Keith had been misled and he did acknowledge that possibility in his next sentence when he said, 'Of course, the Victorian diary could have been acquired prior to the "black ledger" and paid for a few months later.' Knowing that this was possible, it's strange that Keith decided to write that the cheque stub raised the question as to why Mike bought a Victorian diary in May 1992, after he had given a copy of the Maybrick Diary to Doreen Montgomery. To my mind, it reveals a bias on Keith's part whereby he assumed that the most likely explanation was that Mike was lying about having acquired the red diary in March 1992.
One of Caroline Morris' favourite points which she keeps banging on about is why Anne was so co-operative with Keith about the red diary to the extent of providing the cheque stub.
R.J. Palmer has suggested that Anne might have been trying to mislead Keith into thinking that the red diary wasn't purchased until May but I really don't think we need to go into such a convoluted theory.
The fact of the matter is that the purchase of the red diary by itself was not harmful and posed no danger to Anne (to the extent that Anne was involved in the conspiracy). The explanation for the purchase was very simple. Mike just wanted to know what a Victorian diary looked like.
This was, indeed, the very explanation that Anne provided to Keith Skinner when he asked her about it in 1999.
The danger was purely in the fact that Mike had specifically been on the hunt for a Victorian diary with blank pages.
It is essential to bear this in mind.
I suspect that Anne didn't know that Mike had asked Martin Earl for a Victorian diary with blank pages. I am sure she was totally unaware that Earl had placed an advertisement on Mike's behalf seeking a Victorian diary with blank pages.
It is the advertisement which is the key evidence here, NOT the red diary.
I can't stress this enough.
The red diary proves nothing. Although a bit of a stretch, Barrett could, in theory, have been interested in seeing what a real Victorian diary, written by a real Victorian person, looked like. But a Victorian diary with blank pages (or, indeed, a completely blank one) is another matter entirely.
What should be obvious to everyone, therefore, is that, assuming Anne was in on the conspiracy, there would have been, in her mind, nothing for her to lose by co-operating fully with Keith Skinner. What was he going to be able to find out? That Mike bought a Victorian diary for £25 in March 1992 and she paid for it in May 1992. Big deal!
It literally took Keith Skinner years (until 2004, I think) to locate the advertisement and discover that Mike was after more than just seeing what a Victorian diary looked like. He wanted some blank pages in that diary!!!
Unfortunately, by the time he found this out, he was far more interested, nay obsessed, with the discovery that some electricians had done some electrical work in Battlecrease on 9 and 10 March 1992 (although he wasn't interested in the work done on 10 March). This, in my opinion, led him down the garden path, chasing a wild goose, and ensured that he gave much less credence to his discovery of the advertisement than he should have done
It was the same for the rest of the world of Ripperology. Shirley Harrison had managed to convince most people in 2003 that Mike hadn't acquired the red diary until May 1992, so that it couldn't possibly have had anything to do with the Maybrick Diary which he had brought to London a month earlier.
By the time the advertisement was known about, Melvin Harris was dead. Everyone interested in the Maybrick Diary was obsessing over Keith Skinner's secret Battlecrease discovery - initially lauded as providing proof that would satisfy a court of law that the Diary came out of Battlecrease - which remained secret for years, so that no kind of sensible or informed discussion about the origins of the diary was possible.
Now that we have all the information, and we know that Keith Skinner himself accepts that his Battlecrease discovery proves nothing about the origins of the Diary (see Every One's A Skinner), we need to consider the question sensibly.
Why did Mike Barrett go to such lengths to acquire a Victorian diary with an absolute minimum of 20 blank pages (but hoping for more blank pages) in March 1992?
THOSE 20 PAGES
Caroline Morris has had yet another crack at trying to explain Mike's acquisition of a Victorian diary in March 1992 ('Problem in Logic' thread, #347). When talking to Doreen Montgomery on 9 March 1992 (in a fictional conversation created in her imagination) she thinks Mike might have said that 'there's about 20 blank pages not filled in' (there were in fact 17 blank pages not filled in) and that he then started to think that he'd never seen a real Victorian diary before. This is her explanation as to why he immediately gets on the phone to Martin Earl for him to get a real Victorian diary, so that he can do a comparison. Presumably, for some reason, which isn't explained, he wanted to see another Victorian diary with 'about 20 blank pages not filled in'.
Unfortunately for Ms Morris she has yet again, apparently, forgotten the wording of the advertisement placed in Bookseller on behalf of Mike which renders this explanation useless.
The primary request in the advertisement was for a completely blank diary!!!! Hence the advert stated (my underlining):
'Unused or partly used diary dating from 1880-1890'
THAT is what Mike was after.
The advert then added a caveat that it 'must have at least 20 blank pages'.
So the 20 blank pages was NOT the primary request here. If it had contained 80 blank pages it would have suited the purpose. If it had contained ONLY blank pages, with no writing (thus being completely different to the scrapbook) it would have suited the purpose.
Unfortunately, Caroline Morris cannot get out of her head the fact that the scrapbook containing the Maybrick Diary had these 17 blank pages at the back and she has somehow convinced herself that there must be a connection with the request for a MINIMUM of 20 blank pages in the advertisement.
Logic and common sense tell us that there is absolutely no connection between the two. Mike was after a totally blank diary (if possible). Or, if not, a partly used one but he didn't want one with LESS than 20 blank pages. He was self-evidently NOT trying to replicate the contents of the scrapbook.
What was he trying to do?
Um, gosh, let me think. It's so darn hard. We have a diary purportedly from 1888/9 containing an expression not in use in the English language until after the Second World War which was never seen by anyone in the world (outside of the Barrett family) prior to April 1992. What could Mike Barrett possibly have been doing in seeking to acquire a Victorian diary with blank pages in March 1992?
MAKING UP EVIDENCE
Caroline Morris casually throws into one of her postings some new evidence which I don't ever recall ever having heard before. This is that Martin Earl talked through items with his customers 'as a matter of course' in order 'to get their agreement before purchasing it from his supplier' ('Problem of Logic' thread, #437). While I've always assumed this to be the case and, indeed, said so (see my post #3062 of the 'Incontrovertible' thread dated 25 Jan 2017) - because I can't see how Earl could have operated his business otherwise - it's something I'm fairly sure we've never been told before and strikes me as a reflection of the panic in the Diary Defender camp that they've been reviewing all the evidence relating to the red diary acquisition in the hope they can find something which undermines the idea that Mike was after a Victorian diary with blank pages in order to forge the Maybrick Diary.
Anyway, what is so offensive here, is that Caroline Morris then goes on to invent (one could say fabricate) what she thinks Earl would have said to Barrett about the red diary, something which, in reality, she clearly has no idea about. She claims that Earl would have told Mike that
'It’s a small diary for the year 1891, Mr Barrett, X by Y inches, with the dates printed on every page. Are you happy for me to go ahead and order it for you?'
But how does she know that Earl had been informed by his supplier that the dates were printed on every page? Or that he had been informed of the diary's size? Was he actually asked by Keith Skinner what he knew about the Diary and what he had told Mike about it in 1992? This is an important question but she just skips over that issue as if what she can do instead is simply make up the extent of Earl's knowledge of the item!
After all, would Earl or his supplier have considered it significant that the dates were printed on every page in the Diary? Neither of them is likely to have known that Mike wanted a Victorian diary in order to forge a diary from 1888!!!! Isn't Earl (based on what his supplier told him) far more likely to have just told Mike that it was a BLANK or UNUSED 1891 diary? (i.e. exactly what the primary request in the advert had been). In other words, a diary which had no entries. And wouldn't THAT possibility have excited Mike, which explains why he agreed to go ahead with the purchase?
I also can't see an issue with the size. If, as we are told in #616 of the thread, there were 'printed dates three to a page' this means there must have been at least 122 pages in the diary to cover the whole year meaning that Mike would have believed that the proposed text would have been able to have fitted in regardless of how small it was. That assumes, of course, that the exact size of the diary was even mentioned to Mike about which we have no information and may not have been, bearing in mind that size wasn't mentioned in the advertisement. He might have just been told it was a small diary from 1891 containing 122 blank or unused pages.
Basically, what we need here is actual evidence from Martin Earl as to what he said (or even would have said) to Mike in March 1992, not Caroline Morris' creative imagination filling in the blanks. In fact, what we actually need is to see the full notes of what Earl told Keith Skinner about this. We shouldn't just have vague assertions, such as Earl talked items through with his customers as a matter of course, thrown out into the open air without those assertions being backed up by the primary source, presumably Keith Skinner's notes. It's just a wrong way of going about it as I've complained many times before.
And - ha ha ha ! - having already written the above, it's no surprise to me whatsoever to find that Caroline Morris' speculation as to what she thinks Martin Earl would have said to Mike about the red diary, in advance of sending it to him on 26 March 1992, has now magically transmorgrified into absolute certainty, so that in #5171 of the 'Incontrovertible' thread she feels able to write of 'Mike's awareness of precisely what he was about to receive'. I mean, ROFL!!! The idea that Mike was told 'precisely' what he was about to receive exists in her imagination only. As I've mentioned, I strongly suspect that he was told by Martin Earl, when he 'talked through' the item with him, that he was about to receive a small blank, unused or empty diary from 1891 which he agreed to accept on that basis. If Caroline Morris has actual evidence to refute this, she needs to produce it or stand down. Even as I update this article she still expands even more upon her invention, now saying (#5175 of the 'Incontrovertible' thread) that 'we now know from Martin Earl himself that Mike was told what his enquiry had produced'. But we know absolutely no such thing. Where is the evidence for it? What did Martin Earl himself tell us he said to Mike? I've never seen it. No such quote from Earl has ever been produced, either from back in the period 1999-2004 when Keith Skinner was investigating or since 2016 when I first raised the issue. And I happen to think she's making it up. So put up or shut up Ms Morris.
What I find particularly amusing about Caroline Morris's sudden appreciation, if not revelation, that Martin Earl would have explained to Mike the nature of the red diary before Mike confirmed the purchase is that one of her many theories as to why Mike wanted that diary was because he particularly wanted a diary containing handwriting entries with an additional 20 blank pages to match the scrapbook (with 17 blank pages) that Fat Eddie had shown him in the pub. Do you remember that one? A completely bonkers notion that didn't match the wording of the advertisement but that's what she seemed to think might have been the case. But if Caroline Morris was always aware that Earl would have told Mike precisely what he was buying, namely that ALL the pages in the red diary were blank, so that the 1891 diary did NOT match Fat Eddie's scrapbook, why did Mike then go ahead with the purchase? So she's even arguing against herself with this new 'evidence'! It shows the importance of establishing what Earl ACTUALLY told Mike back in March 1992, not making it up as you go along in 2020.
SHOCK FAKE (?) NEWS
An incredible revelation on the Casebook Censorship Forum on 23 April 2020 (Problem of Logic thread, #337). Caroline Morris writes to R.J. Palmer:
'you are assuming that Keith [Skinner] knew about Mike’s sworn affidavit of January 5th 1995 by August 22nd 1995. He didn't. Mike sent a copy of this affidavit to Shirley on January 22nd 1997 and Shirley then gave Keith pages one and two the following day. This was the first Keith knew about its existence. He thinks it’s possible it had been put on the internet by someone in 1996. But in short, he had no knowledge of it, or the content, back in 1995.'
This is quite incredible, for when we look at Keith Skinner's own book, the 2003 'Inside Story', we find this reference to a meeting with Mike Barrett on 18 January 1995 (p.170), thirteen days after Mike's sworn statement:
'Barrett had assented to a meeting at his house with Keith Skinner, Shirley Harrison, Sally Evemy...to discuss his sworn statement'.
How could Keith Skinner have attended in January 1995 a meeting to discuss with Mike Barrett a sworn statement the existence of which he wasn't aware of until two years later?
Then we find that it is stated in the book that:
'It was clear from the outset that Barrett had no intention of defending his latest claim'.
That latest claim being the one that Keith Skinner, so he now tells us, knew nothing about! So how was it 'clear from the outset' to the attendees that Barrett had no intention of defending his latest claim if they didn't actually know anything about his latest claim?
It's a puzzler indeed.
THE ROLE OF ALAN GRAY
In her faux attempt to reconstruct a possible sequence of events if Mike Barrett had forged the Diary ('Problem of Logic' thread, #437), Caroline Morris, as one would expect from a broken record, repeats that it was stated in Mike's January 1995 affidavit that the scrapbook was purchased in January 1990. Thus, she tells us:
'He [MB] remembers it was about 11.30 in the morning when he went there [to O&L], although he feels sure this was the end of January 1990 – so he is only out by 2 years and 2 months'.
Except that, as she well knows, Mike's affidavit would have been composed by Alan Gray (and she herself now admits that he typed out the whole thing) so the date of January 1990 was obviously Gray's understanding of the chronology of events, pieced together from what Mike had told him.
I say 'as she well knows' because it was actually Caroline Morris who first made this point about Mike's affidavit (when it suited her purpose) on the Casebook Forum a few years ago when I was posting on the Forum. She was perfectly content then to state that Gray had a role in the drafting of Mike's affidavit, but now doesn't like the consequence of that being that it explains the wrong dating in the affidavit.
It's true that on both sides of the argument there is a common interest in perpetuating the myth that Mike wrote his affidavit himself, in his own words. On the modern fake side, if this was the case, it shows what a creative writer he was. Thus, it is said, if he could come up with such an imaginative (but false) story about the origins of the Diary it actually shows he was capable of forging the Diary. I would agree with this, if I thought he wrote it, but it's become clear to me now, largely from the examples of his writing that I've seen, that the affidavit was entirely written by Alan Gray. He might have read it out loud to Mike for his approval before Mike signed it but whether Mike was listening and/or sober is another matter. Consequently, the fact that the affidavit states that the scrapbook was purchased in January 1990 cannot be regarded as definitely and definitively having come from Mike Barrett.
As I've stated many times, the story told in the affidavit is that the scrapbook was purchased after the receipt of the red Victorian diary which we now know for a fact (but Alan Gray did not know) was circa 26 March 1992. That being so, the date of January 1990 (which itself was an obvious typo, because it was clearly supposed to have been January 1991) doesn't fit in with the story told in the affidavit which in turn suggests that, had Mike been sober and concentrating, and if he had had documents available, he would have placed the purchase of the scrapbook after 26 March 1992, exactly as he did when he spoke directly to Ripperologists over two days in April 1999, which was the first time he had told the story in his own words.
Caroline Morris knows all this, and she knows that Mike is highly unlikely to have drafted his affidavit himself, yet she persists in saying that Mike said that the purchase of the scrapbook took place in January 1990 when we don't have him saying this in his own words. What's worse is that she then tries to give the impression that Alan Gray would have checked with O&L as to whether Mike purchased the scrapbook in 1992. Thus, she says:
'Meanwhile Mike has left the indefatigable Alan Gray to check and worry the life out of O&L, checking this date and that date – nothing'.
Yet, she MUST surely understand that Alan Gray believed that the diary was purchased O&L in 1991 (or 1990 if she prefers). I've no idea where the expression 'worry the life' comes from but to the extent that Gray checked the position with O&L - and she actually offers no evidence that he did (and a recent posting of one of Gray's letters by Keith Skinner via Iconoclast tells us that Gray 'did not find the auctioneers very helpful') - he would surely have been looking in the wrong time frame. She then says:
'It’s not clear what years Gray has covered by this point, but he has been given so many different dates that his frustration is showing.'
Again, I assume she wants to give the impression that Gray might have covered 1992 with O&L but there's no reason to think he would have done so, if he covered anything at all (and indeed no evidence is provided to support her claim that Gray was able to check anything at O&L).
I might add that the fact that Alan Gray wrote and typed Mike's affidavit is a classic example of how Mike COULD tell a story with the help of a collaborator. We are also told that Mike's wife helped him 'tidy up' his articles which were published in Celebrity. That's another classic example of Mike's use of a collaborator to make his work sound polished. With the help of someone who could write the Diary script - alleged by Mike to have been his wife - there is no conceivable reason why it could not have been possible for him to have dictated the contents of the Diary to a third party with that person also acting as an editor and sense checker.
One other thing I will say about the approach of Caroline Morris in #437, as elsewhere, is that it is predicated on the assumption that, had he wanted to prove his authorship of the Diary, Mike Barrett would have had no problem doing so. In this, she assumes that Mike was a normal person, just like the members of the forums, with the ability to argue a case, almost like a lawyer. Despite her clearly knowing about Mike's psychological issues, she persists in this approach with her reconstructions. Yet the thing that stood out for me when listening to Mike's performance at the Cloak & Dagger club was how difficult he evidently found it to put forward a cogent argument EVEN WHEN HE WAS TELLING THE TRUTH. I just don't think he had the brain skills to do it.
Yet, like I say, it is a fundamental assumption of the way Caroline Morris approaches this case that he did have such skills and that he could have proved that he forged the Diary at the click of his fingers, no problem. Me, I just don't think that Mike had the ability to understand how other people think when it came to rational argument and, therefore, he was never able to express himself intelligently and coherently. Not understanding what other people were, or might have been, thinking always led him to go down the wrong road when trying to convince them of something genuine. That's not to say that he wasn't as cunning as a fox when it came to trying to con someone. He knew how to do a con perfectly well when dealing with someone gullible. But despite that, or maybe even because of it, he had difficulty in proving something that was actually true to a sceptical audience. Like I say, that's not just a theoretical guess on my part, I heard it happening at the Cloak & Dagger club. As I said in 'Man in a Pub', he had moments of clarity when questioning those who challenged him, when he turned into Marshall Hall, but when trying to explain problematic issues in cases where he was telling the truth he so obviously couldn't do it. He didn't have the ability to construct a case in a convincing fashion even when the facts and the truth were on his side.
THE USUAL EVASION
I noticed that R.J. asked Caroline Morris some questions about Mike Barrett's knowledge of the Ryan book, 'The Poisoned Life', in #342 of the 'Problem of Logic' thread. In her reply (#347), Caroline Morris completely avoided answering them, going back to her usual mantra of 'Why are you still talking about the Diary if you think Mike created it?' never appreciating that exactly the same applies to her in reverse if she is so certain it came from Battlecrease.
Anyway, I noted that RJ said this in #342:
'You’ve asked me a couple of times to provide evidence that Mike Barrett had once referred to Bernard Ryan’s “The Poisoned Life of Mrs. Maybrick” as a source in the creation of the diary.'
I wasn't aware of this challenge that he'd been set but he might be interested to know (if he hasn't already picked up on it) that, at the Cloak & Dagger club in April 1999, Mike was asked to identify the three books that he had used to forge the diary and he said:
'Richard Whittington Egan. Okay. Murder, Mystery and Mayhem. That’s number one...And if he’s here today I’m sorry but I’ve used your words. Robin Odell…. Two. And The poisoned life of Florence Maybrick. '
So the there it is in his own words that Ryan was a key source for the Diary.
I love the fact that Caroline Morris, using another one of Keith Skinner's miraculously produced notes, quotes Mike as telling Skinner in October 1995 that he'd never heard of Ryan's book before Shirley Harrison mentioned it to him, with the added comment, 'was it the truth for once?'. This is the person who tells us that EVERYTHING Mike says must be regarded as a lie....but hold on, when he says something she likes, then maybe, just maybe, it's the truth!!! I daren't even think of the scorn that would be heaped upon me from that quarter were I ever to claim that Mike might have been telling the truth about something!
CRASHING INTO CRASHAW
One of the big difficulties for the Diary Defenders, such as Caroline Morris, is to explain how Mike Barrett managed to locate the source of the line of the Diary which says 'Oh costly intercourse of death'. Somehow Barrett was able to reveal it came from an obscure poem by Richard Crashaw which had been reproduced in a copy of the Sphere History of Literature (vol 2).
There doesn't seem to be any good reason to doubt that Barrett owned a copy of the Sphere History of Literature (vol 2). The existence of the book in Barrett's possession was, we are told, confirmed to the authors of 'Inside Story' by Jenny Morrison who 'corroborated' Mike's story (p.145). Despite this, one of the authors of 'Inside Story' (amazingly) posted on the Censorship Forum (#501 in the 'Problem of Logic' thread) that, 'there is still no evidence that Mike ever had a volume 2 until he managed to find the used copy he handed to Alan Gray in the December'. That same person, however, who is, of course, Caroline Morris, had already posted at #473 of the 'Problem of Logic' thread Shirley Harrison's 1996 note of Jenny Morrison telling her that she 'still has the volumes minus the relevant one which Mike took when he left' . Her attempt to suggest that this might have been Mike, not Jenny, speaking to Shirley is absurd and has, I think, been disproved by R.J. Palmer who noted that Jenny was also saying that Mike had taken £70 from her as well. But the standard story told by Diary Defenders is that Mike was tasked by Shirley Harrison to identify the source of the line and managed to locate the Crashaw poem in a copy of the Sphere History of Literature (vol 2) at the Liverpool Central Library by 'badgering staff' (or someone) and it was pure coincidence that he already had a copy of the very same Sphere book in his possession (albeit that Robert Smith, for one, denies that he did).
In 'Not True: Funny How It Seems' here I set out in some detail the origins of this story and how the notion that Mike had been tasked by Shirley Harrison to find the source of the quote in the library doesn't seem to fit with the contemporary evidence. The first time Mike told anyone about this discovery, over the telephone on 30 September 1994, he said he was sitting with a copy of the Sphere book in front of him.This is how Caroline Morris tells it (#374 of the 'Problem of Logic' thread):
'My own understanding is that it was Shirley who first suggested to Mike that he could do something useful, following his first unsupported forgery claim in June 1994, and try to find the quote in the library. It wasn't Mike who identified it as a quote, or even suggested it could be one. He was simply packed off to look for it. But instead of turning round to Shirley and saying: "Even better than that! I can tell you right now where it comes from, how I found it and why I put it in the diary, and I'm getting straight on the blower to tell that bastard Feldman too", he went off like a good boy and finally came up with the goods for Shirley, giving her the information she needed to confirm with the library that they had the volume Mike described to her. No wonder he called Feldy, to taunt him with his 'inside' knowledge!'
We can see that Caroline Morris' entire argument, and cause for scepticism, is based on her 'understanding' that it was Shirley Harrison who 'packed off' Mike to the Liverpool library. We can see that she doesn't say where her understanding of this comes from nor does she provide any evidence for it (and the documentary evidence she does provide, of Shirley Harrison saying to Keith Skinner on 3 October 1994, 'Mike seems to have found 'Oh Costly Intercourse of Death - quite by chance' , as well as Shirley telling Keith on 11 October 1994 that Mike had been 'determined' to find the source of the quote after being 'upset' by remarks about him in her book, entirely contradicts her understanding, being inconsistent with it) but everything else she says follows from that single premise.
[After I wrote the above paragraph, Caroline Morris, having been challenged by R.J. Palmer, who noted that Shirley's contemporary note states that Mike had found the source of the quote 'by chance' , then, in classic Dizzy Miss Lizzy fashion, seemed to dramatically change her position, stating in #503 that, well, perhaps Shirley had only suggested to Mike some considerable time earlier - perhaps as much as three months earlier - that he should 'do something constructive', such as look for the source of the 'Oh costly...' quote, and Mike then presumably obliged in late September. That Shirley ever said such a thing to Mike seems to be based entirely on what Shirley told Keith Skinner in September 1995 (as per information CM posted for the first time in #519) which means that Caroline Morris' caution in #435 of the 'Problem of Logic' thread about how important it is to avoid relying on 'what anyone may have been telling Keith Skinner from memory' seems to have rather gone out of the window. Either that or her standards have slipped since the writing of 'Inside Story'. But even if Shirley did say such a thing to Mike between June and September, this could hardly be properly interpreted as Shirley having packed Mike off to the library in September. As R.J. Palmer has said, it would appear that, when discussing the events of September 1994 many months later, Shirley confused and misremembered her request for Mike to provide her with the correct volume and page reference for the quote, which only occurred after he told her had found it in a Sphere book of poetry, getting it mixed up in her head with the notion that she had tasked him to find the source of the quote in the first place. This is really important because it changes the focus from Mike having been instructed to find the source of the quote, to him doing it very much on his own initiative. I think it's worth quoting R.J. Palmer here because I agree with him entirely when he says, 'No way did Barrett dig through nearly 1,000 meters of bookshelves to find a five-word-phrase.' Feldman fully appreciated this, which is why he tried to push a story that Barrett been helped by someone to find it. The problem is that no-one has been able to identify the person who helped him and the researchers don't seem to have been able to find a single librarian at the Liverpool Library who was asked by Mike to assist with the task. Given that there is actual evidence that Mike owned the Sphere volume in question, the overwhelming likelihood is that he found the source of the quote because he already knew, or had a good idea, where it had been taken from.]
Even that story (i.e. of Harrison being responsible for Barrett finding the source of the quote), if it were true, would be pretty miraculous. Harrison sends off Barrett to the library to do some needle-in-a-haystack research for her in September 1994 (even though he's stunned her in June by claiming that HE forged the diary!!!) and lo and behold he comes back with an amazingly accurate result. Wasn't Barrett supposed to be an idiot?
But, as I explained in 'Not True: Funny How It Seems', there is some reason to doubt this story. It's not even entirely certain that Mike found it at Liverpool Library. He might have located the copy of the Sphere book in his house.
As to that, I just want to say that on many occasions I've recalled something I've read or seen and, even though I know I have a copy of the book or document in question, I sometimes can't recall the exact source or, if I can, I can't always recall where it is. I might sometimes not even be certain if it was something I saw in a library or archive or if it's something I have in my possession. And I've got quite a good memory!!! And I'm not an alcoholic!!! And I'm not Mike Barrett!!!!
I would have no difficulty in Mike having seen the 'costly intercourse' line in a poem, remembered it or noted it down and used it when it came to drafting the text of the Diary but, years later, forgetting exactly where it came from. The Sphere book could, in my opinion, quite easily have become lost, only to have been discovered by Mike in his house, at which time he finally located the poem. Or perhaps he couldn't find the Sphere book in his house at all so went to Liverpool Library and found it that way.
Just imagine if you are the forger of the Diary and you happened to see that 'costly intercourse' line in a poetry book and used it in the forgery but, naturally, hadn't made a written note of which book it had come from. Now, two years later you really want to be able to produce that book to prove that you did the forgery but - I think understandably - you can't recall exactly which book it was and a search of your house hasn't been able to find it. Perhaps you lent the book to someone. Or it got thrown out. You're not entirely sure. You have a few possibilities in you mind as to which book it was and you need to go to the library to check it out. I personally think that would be entirely possible, which is why it wouldn't surprise me at all if Mike found the Sphere book in the library (if he already knew what he was looking for) nor would it even surprise me if he bought a copy at a second hand bookshop. Imagine just how annoying it would be as the forger to discover you no longer owned the book in question. You would probably want to buy it again to put yourself in the position you felt you should have been in.
Nevertheless, having said all that, one of the most ridiculous arguments that is made over and over again is that the Sphere book which Mike gave to Alan Gray in December 1994 which was sold to Keith Skinner, couldn't have been the same book Mike received in pristine condition from the publisher in 1989 because it was 'used','battered' and 'jacket-less' in 1995. Someone, some day, is going to have to explain to me why a new book can't become used and battered in six years. The Sphere book in question was only published in 1986 so it MUST have been in pristine condition at that time, regardless of who subsequently owned it. For some reason, people can easily accept that a book can be battered or dog-eared when bought from a second hand bookshop but not when one person has had it in their possession for at least five whole years. If Mike had sold a copy of any new book he had acquired in 1989 to a second hand bookshop in 1995, and someone had bought it from that bookshop, can it be said with any degree of certainty that it must have been in pristine condition when acquired? Of course not!
And a book bought brand new with a jacket on day one can become jacket-less on day two if the owner simply removes the jacket!
Sometimes the things Caroline Morris says are so breathtakingly in conflict with the evidence that I have to double take that I've read her correctly. In her post #435 in the 'Problem of Logic' thread, she says to R.J. Palmer that it's not known whether Mike first informed Paul Feldman (via Rooney) or Shirley Harrison of his discovery of the source of the 'costly intercourse' quotation because he would 'probably' have called them both around the same time, on the same day, hence (underlining added):
Well, if Mike could have spent a week looking for the Crashaw quote before finally finding it at some point on Friday, September 30th, when he immediately called Feldman to gloat about it, I imagine he’d have been equally keen to let Shirley know, so both calls were probably made around the same time, although we can’t know for certain which one he made first. The weekend came and went and on the Monday, Keith picked up a message on his phone from Shirley, so she was hardly delaying things ‘a good while’, unless you know more about her working practices than I do.
Yet (and excuse my capital letters) IN THE VERY SAME POST, she posted the key evidence (based on what Shirley told Keith Skinner on 11 October) which reveals that Mike called Feldman (Rooney) on the Friday with the news and only spoke to Shirley on the Monday!!! Thus:
'...w/b Sept 26th 1994...[MB] Finds it but does not make a note of it. Phones Duocrave [i.e. Feldman] on Fri 30th Sept...Mon Oct 3rd - MB phones Shirley...'
Had Shirley spoken to Mike on Friday 30th, it's inconceivable that she would have left this out of her account of events when speaking to Keith Skinner on 11 October.
Does Caroline Morris not even read what she posts on the forums before posting it?
Even worse is that, since I wrote the above, Caroline Morris has decided to argue with herself and now claims the direct opposite of what she said in #435 about both calls from Mike having probably been made at the same time, on 30 September. Thus, in the ludicrously long and rambling #581 of the same thread, she writes:
'There is no source for Mike having revealed his ‘find’ directly to Shirley before 3rd October 1994'
That is correct but it's not what she said in #435, as we've seen. Yet she doesn't correct or apologise for her error. Presumably she wishes to whitewash it from history and gaslight us into pretending she never said it.
Incredibly, she even chides R.J. Palmer for saying that the call on 3 October was Shirley's second call with Mike even though that is precisely what she had been suggesting herself earlier in the thread by claiming that Shirley had spoken to Mike on 30 September, which was presumably why R.J. had been under the impression that there had been two calls!!
And then we have the question of the missing evidence. Caroline Morris in #435 lists the entries in her timeline relating to Keith's investigation into Mike's discovery about the source of the 'costly intercourse' quote. But there is no mention of Keith's interview with Feldman's assistant, Martine Rooney, to whom Mike revealed the news of his discovery on 30 September 1994. According to 'Inside Story', p. 143, Keith interviewed Rooney within a few weeks of Mike's call to her, yet the notes of this interview are suspiciously absent from Caroline Morris' timeline of events. Why? (Since writing this, in response to a specific request from R.J. Palmer, a SUMMARY of those notes has been provided, in Caroline Morris' words, in contrast to the normal verbatim reproduction of Keith's notes. Why?)
A recent point made by Caroline Morris, which she seems to regard as important, is the fact that a note made by Keith Skinner of an answerphone message from Shirley Harrison on 3 October 1994, in which Shirley Harrison reported that Mike had found the the source of the 'Oh costly' line quite by chance, said that, 'It is in the Sphere Companion to English Literature Vol 6 (MB thinks)' adding that Mike didn't make a note of it.
Now for some reason, Caroline Morris has become obsessed with the mention of volume 6. I'm not sure why. It has to be remembered that, on the Friday, Mike had phoned Ms Rooney and told her he had the book in front of him. That, of course, may or may not have been true but it was three days later when he called Shirley so, at that time, he might simply not have had the book to hand, while he was at the telephone, and was speaking from memory. It might not be any more complicated that this. That Mike apparently told Shirley it was in volume 6 doesn't seem to have stuck in her memory because when writing about the discovery for her 2003 book, 'The American Connection' she wrote (underlining added):
'He badgered the staff there for help and sure enough he rang me within a few days and told me, 'You will find it in the Sphere History of English Literature, Volume 2. it is by Richard Crashaw.' He was right'.
We might even go further and suggest that Mike DID tell her it was in volume 2 and that her message to Keith Skinner later that day was the failure of her memory. Perhaps she realized this subsequently and included the correct information in her 2003 book. We just don't know. All we know is that in 1994 she said Mike told her it was volume 6 while in 2003 she said he told her it was volume 2. While Caroline Morris builds an entire hypothesis around the fact that volume 6 dealt with the Victorian era, this doesn't seem terribly important bearing in mind that Mike had obviously identified the correct volume 2 at some point, presumably on 30 September 1994, when he spoke to Martine Rooney. So the fact that he was confused on the Monday doesn't, I feel, take us a great deal further.
Morris also seems to see some importance in the fact that Melvin Harris once said in a 2002 internet post that Mike 'never claimed that Volume 2 had been lent to Jenny or was ever seen by her' (#473). As usual she speculates furiously, wondering if Melvin found it 'hard to believe' that Mike would have let volume 2 slip out of his hands or, even more speculatively (and optimistically from her point of view), that he might even have spoken to Jenny who told him that volume 2 wasn't amongst the books that Mike had lent her son. I think, however, that she has entirely misunderstood what Melvin was saying here.
To fully understand what Melvin Harris was saying we need to see the post he was replying to (and we're going to look at that in a moment) but, just from the face of it, it seems fairly obvious that someone else had posted that Mike had said that he lent Volume 2 to Jenny. What it seems to me that Melvin was doing was ensuring that Mike's words were being accurately summarized. He thus stated that Mike had never said that he lent Volume 2 to Jenny and then pointed out that Mike 'simply stated that Jenny and other people could testify that he owned a NUMBER of the Sphere volumes'. In doing this, I don't understand Melvin to have been verifying the accuracy or otherwise of Mike's statement nor was he saying that Mike DID NOT in fact lend Volume 2 to Jenny, only that he never actually said that he had.
For that reason I can't see how Melvin 'appears to shoot himself in the foot' as Caroline Morris claims. I'm not aware of Mike ever having said in terms that he lent Volume 2 to Jenny. If he didn't say this then Melvin was perfectly correct. If, on the other hand, Mike did say it, it only means that Melvin was in error and not acquainted with all the facts. However, as Caroline Morris doesn't quote Mike as ever having said that he lent Volume 2 to Jenny it would appear that Melvin is vindicated.
On the other hand, Caroline Morris is revealed as a confused person. She appears to think that Melvin must be wrong because Jenny herself said that she had been lent the Sphere book by Mike but that's not what Melvin was directing his attention to. He was only focused on what Mike had said (and apparently on what someone else was claiming that Mike had said). To repeat. If Mike didn't say that he'd lent the book to Jenny then Melvin was correct, regardless of whether Mike did in fact lend the book to Jenny.
So when Caroline Morris returns to Melvin's comment in her #519 of the 'Problem of Logic' thread to ask 'what point was Melvin trying to make here?' she would seem to be asking the wrong question. Melvin wasn't making a point, simply attempting to correct the record. Yet from this internet post of Melvin's, Caroline Morris somehow develops a complicated theory which, as I understand her (and to be perfectly honest I don't) seems to involve Mike owning Volume 6 which he lent to Jenny but not Volume 2. If that's not a correct summary of what she's saying I really don't care, I can't read over all her nonsense again.
But the actual context of Melvin's 2002 post is rather interesting and amusing and, therefore, worth spending a few moments on. For, having re-read the thread in question in the archives section of Casebook, it looks to me like Melvin was actually replying to something that Caroline Morris had herself said! Thus, on 3 January 2002, Caroline Morris posted:
'On 12th October he [Mike] phoned Shirley to say that he had now got his own copy back from Jenny'
Three days later on 6 January 2002, she posted (underlining added):
'...if we are to believe his story that he lent the volumes to Jenny around the end of May 1994 in case her son could use them in his studies. If he knew the significance of what appeared before the eyes whenever vol.2 was opened...'
So Caroline Morris appears to be saying that Mike's own story was that he lent Volume 2 to Jenny.
But the following day, Paul Begg asked this question:
'Caz, is it certain that the Sphere book was among the books Mike lent to his girlfriend's son? My memory is that we don't know whether it was or not and that all we know for certain was that Mike lent the son some books which he thought might be helpful in the boy's studies. We speculated, I think, that if it was among those books then Mike may have discovered the Crashaw quote at that time.'
Caroline Morris replied the same day, saying:
'You asked about the books Mike lent to Jenny's son. No, I don't think it's known for certain that volume 2 was among them, although I was under the impression that it was just the set of Sphere History Lit volumes that Mike decided the lad might find useful.'
So no-one in this discussion was quoting Mike as having said that he lent Jenny (or her son) Volume 2 even though Caroline Morris has referred to believing Mike's story 'that he lent the volumes to Jenny' . Indeed, Caroline Morris was now saying that it's not known for certain if Mike lent Volume 2 to Jenny.
But then Paul Begg found Keith's note of what he had been told by Shirley Harrison who was recounting what she had been told by Jenny, dated 12 October 1994, in which it is stated that Jenny confirmed that Mike had lent her some books for her to help her son studying for his O Levels and that, when Mike found the 'O Costly...' reference, he later recalled that he owned these particular books (sic) which books 'were the ones he had loaned to James'. So, assuming Jenny was faithfully reporting what Mike had told her to Shirley, and Shirley was faithfully reporting what Jenny had told her, it would have seemed to Keith that Mike was, indeed, saying that he had lent Volume 2 to Jenny, as Caroline Morris had claimed in her post of 12 October.
Anyway, bearing in mind that Melvin wasn't connected to the internet so that it probably took him some time do read posts that others had sent him in hard copy and then send them out typed-up replies for them to post on his behalf, that is what Melvin appears to have been replying to when, on 17 April 2002, he wrote that Mike 'never claimed that Volume 2 had been lent to Jenny or was seen by her'. In the absence of any kind of quote from Mike that he did claim this, there is no real argument, and the whole discussion introduced by Caroline Morris in the 'Problem of Logic' thread about Melvin's words seems completely pointless.
To the extent that it was important to Melvin that Mike never said that he had lent Volume 2 to Jenny, or that she had seen it, I'm not fully versed in all the arguments from 18 years ago but it may be that Melvin's position was that Volume 2 at all times remained in Mike's home until Mike supposedly lodged it with his solicitor (which Melvin appears at one time to have believed happened prior to June 1994). According to Caroline Morris on 14 January 2002: 'Now obviously Melvin's account, derived from Alan Gray's information is in direct conflict with Jenny's evidence' . I assume that she means by this that Melvin's account is somehow in conflict with Jenny's evidence that Mike lent her Volume 2. That may or may not be the case. I haven't investigated further as to exactly what Melvin Harris was claiming at the time. But it really doesn't matter. Melvin's account in 2002 of the history of the Sphere volume, derived at second hand from Alan Gray, could easily have been wrong. The point is that here we are in 2020 and Caroline Morris appears to be using Melvin's quote as some kind of evidence in support of the notion that Mike never lent Volume 2 to Jenny. That is quite incorrect and she has basically got the wrong end of the stick (as usual).
There is one thing about Melvin Harris' 2002 post that Caroline Morris omits to mention. Here is the full quote of Melvin's (underlining added):
So we have a potential explanation from Mike as to why he didn't mention the Sphere book until September 1994 totally unmentioned by Caroline Morris. While this comes from Mike himself and thus needs to be treated with caution, and it's not my preferred theory as to what happened, it can't just be ignored. It would certainly explain everything. I don't personally rely on Alan Gray's claim that he was told about the book by Mike Barrett in August 1994 (not because I think he was lying but because his memory might have been wrong) but that is consistent with Mike's claim that he had the Sphere book in mind at all times and deliberately didn't mention it to the Liverpool Daily Post because he thought it might be in his financial interest to withhold evidence which proved his forgery. It's certainly a rational thought. Harris himself points out that Mike was right because the Sunday Times and an American TV station were interested in the story and had been asking for supporting evidence. If Barrett felt he should keep a few things in his back pocket for that reason it could explain a lot.
'Further to that, he never claimed that Volume 2 had been lent to Jenny or was ever seen by her. He simply stated that Jenny and other people could testify that he owned a NUMBER of the Sphere volumes. And he did not mention it to the Liverpool Post because he held it in reserve as a possible money spinner. He had some contempt for the local rag but thought he could use it to get noticed by wealthy national papers or television companies.'
There are two further arguments that Caroline Morris makes about Richard Crashaw. The first is a beauty.
In a classic case of confirmation bias, she has seen that one of Crashaw's poems in his Complete Works published in 1858 has a line in it which says '...'tis love alone which melts two hearts..'. So now, in her mind, she thinks she's found the source of the line in the Diary which says, ''Tis love that spurned me so'. It must, she believes, have been inspired by Crashaw (because how else could have the forger have included the expression 'Tis love'?), yet it must also have come from the 1858 Complete Works because it isn't in the Sphere book.
This is, of course, pure wishful thinking. Back in 2007 she claimed she was only aware of four examples of anyone in the history of the world using the expression 'Tis love', two of whom were Crashaw himself (JTR Forums thread 'Let's Discuss the Liverpool Library Miracle', #27). She made fun of Chris George for saying it appears in 'countless poems'. Hilariously she was then immediately schooled by Chris George who posted a string of examples of 'Tis love' in poetry, including from a number of poems by Shakespeare ('Let's Discuss the Liverpool Library Miracle, #35). As usual, when she's been humiliated, she didn't respond at all to this post (dropping the entire 'Tis love' point like a hot potato). No doubt she put that unhelpful post out of sight and out of mind, hence she's back thirteen years later repeating the same daft claim that the Diary author couldn't have written the "'Tis love that spurned me so" line unless he had access to Crashaw's 1858 works!!! It's absolutely ridiculous.
She has another point about the 'Oh costly intercourse of death' line from the Diary which is equally ridiculous.
Her point is basically this. The Sphere book only contains a short extract from the Crashaw poem. It's just this:
'O costly intercourse
Of deaths, & worse,
Divided loves. While son & mother
Discourse alternate wounds to one another;'
So that's enough, you might think, for the forger to have written in the Diary:
'Oh costly intercourse
Not for Caroline Morris. Because she thinks there is something significant in the fact that the 1858 volume, which contains the entire poem, reproduces the line as
'O, costly intercourse
Of death's, & worse,
Divided loves. While son & mother
Discourse alternate wounds to one another!'
Her point is about the punctuation. The Crashaw poem from the 1858 book (which I will refer to here as the original poem) seems to be referring to the costly intercourse of death's divided loves, using the singular possessive whereas the mention of 'deaths' in the Sphere book is in the plural, indicating many deaths.
According to Caroline Morris, this, for some reason, indicates that the forger (because she does think the author of the Diary was a forger!) must have been using the 1858 book. Her argument seems to be that, because Crashaw used the singular possessive, and the forger wrongly used the singular, that must mean the 1858 book was the source. To me, that doesn't make sense. If Crashaw was referring to the costly intercourse of 'death's divided loves' I can't see how the forger referring to the 'costly intercourse of death' gets us closer to the original poem than if Crashaw was referring to the costly intercourse of deaths. Either way, it's not an accurate reproduction of the quote and, if it was simply a mistake by the forger (something which would not be surprising given the amount of errors in the Diary), you can't draw any conclusions either way.
It's rather like if the Crashaw poem had referred to the costly intercourse of Fred's wife and a forger then referred to the costly intercourse of Fred. There's no similarity there because Fred's wife and Fred are two completely different things (or, in this case, two completely different people). Continuing this example, had the Sphere book transcribed the line as the costly intercourse of Freds, as opposed to Fred's wife, I would suggest it would actually be more similar to refer to the costly intercourse of Fred.
The approach of Caroline Morris is ridiculous. I mean, it would be very much like me arguing that because there is no comma in the Diary between the 'O' and 'costly intercourse' the forger must have been using the Sphere book as his source. For we can see that in the 1858 version of the Crashaw poem it was 'O, costly intercourse' while in the Sphere book it's 'O costly intercourse' while the Diary has 'Oh costly intercourse'. The Sphere book is closer here to the Diary than the Crashaw Works! But given the mistake with the 'O' becoming 'Oh', can we really draw any conclusions from the missing comma? I'd say no. I would never make such a ridiculous argument but it's basically the same argument that Caroline Morris is trying to make from the use of the word 'death' in the Diary. As if, by being a bit closer to 'death's' than 'deaths' (which isn't even the case!) it helps us to decide which version the forger was using.
In #380 of the 'Problem of Logic' thread, Caroline Morris also suggests that there is something in the context of the line 'Oh costly intercourse of death' in the Diary which links it to the 1858 Complete Works of Crashaw and which shows that the forger of the Diary was using Crashaw's original poem.
I'm afraid I don't see any of the connections she is trying to make and it's just her imagination seeing what she wants to see.
For example, hidden away in Crashaw's poem (unconnected to the costly intercourse line and appearing five stanzas later) is the line 'Nor grudge your younger brother'. Apparently, Morris sees something significant in the fact that, after writing 'Oh costly intercourse of death', the forger then wrote 'Banish the thoughts banish them ha ha ha, look towards the sensible brother'. Not 'younger brother', but 'sensible brother'. No mention there of a grudge towards the brother. I have difficulty seeing any connection in the mention of the Maybrick's sensible brother to the Crashaw poem.
Caroline Morris tries to find the grudge in a completely separate entry on a different page, after a dividing line, where the Diary forger says he cannot 'blame' Michael for writing a merry tune. Well, I mean, perhaps if the forger had used the word 'grudge' one could, perhaps, fancy a link with the Crashaw poem, but the reality is that no-one in their right mind would make such a link. One only has to look at the entry in which the forger writes about not blaming Michael for writing a merry tune. That entry begins, 'I cannot bring myself to look back, all I have written scares me so'. Hence, we've started afresh. There isn't going to be a cryptic link to a fragment of a line of poetry in the previous entry. Why would a forger possibly do such a thing? It's utterly absurd.
Finally, we have the claim that the entirety of Crashaw's poem fits the 'context' of the Diary at this point ('Problem of Logic', #380) although I frankly don't know how. If the forger had just quoted one other line from Crashaw, or been directly inspired by another Crashaw line, she might have a point, but there's nothing. While the forger is certainly writing about the death of Mary Jane Kelly, the word 'death' in the Crashaw poem is a bit of a giveaway as to why that particular line was used by the forger and there doesn't appear to be anything else in Crashaw's poem which directly relates to anything written by the forger about Kelly's death.
At the same time, the Diary author could have written 'Her eyes bleed tears' or 'his wounds weep blood'. He could quite easily have asked 'What kind of marble then is that cold man?'. There could have been something about 'Give me to my tears'. He could have included a mention of 'noble sorrow's company'. He could have said, 'His nails write swords in her'. We could have had a reference to 'wounded bosoms' or been told about 'alms of grief'. Even a mention of 'sorrow's mother' would have been enough. Let's face it, if the forger had been a lover of Crashaw's Sancta Maria Dolorum there was incredibly fertile ground to be harvested there when writing the Diary.
And the truth is that Caroline Morris must have ploughed through the entire poem - all eleven stanzas of it - trying to find connections with the Diary and all she could come up with was 'younger brother' where the forger wrote 'sensible brother'!!! The forger talks of his brother throughout the Diary so there's nothing surprising about that. It's just desperate stuff.
I would have thought that if one looks hard enough in the entire works of Crashaw, one could probably find all manner of words used by the forger of the Diary although, equally, one imagines that Caroline Morris has already done this but failed to find anything!
So she falls back on the vague notion that there is something about Sancta Maria Dolorum that beautifully fits the context of the Diary but the reality is she is just seeing what she wants to see.
Mike Barrett's own explanation that he just liked the sound of 'costly intercourse of deaths' which could be found in a book for which there is corroborating evidence was in his possession prior to 1992 and then wrongly remembered or transcribed it as 'costly intercourse of death' sounds perfectly plausible to me and nothing Caroline Morris has said about the Crashaw poem is even remotely convincing.
In addition, some new evidence from a letter written by Alan Gray to Keith Skinner on 20 January 2003 (mentioned above) was posted by Iconoclast on the Censorship Forum on 30 May 2020. In that letter, with reference to 'oh costly intercourse', Gray tells Keith that Mike had noted the line 'because it was about intercourse and death' which is consistent what Mike told the members of the Cloak and Dagger club in April 1999. But there is another part of what Gray told Keith in 2003 that is interesting. Here is the full quote (underlining added):
'[Mike] told Mr Harris that he had found it by accident and had mentioned it to Devereux, because it was about intercourse and death, just like the murders.'
Now I appreciate that this was Mike speaking and he said many different things at different times but I can't help feeling this one was the truth. Mike saw the line in one of the Sphere books he owned and mentioned it to Tony Devereux. This MUST have been before August 1991 because Devereux died then. It was Devereux who added it into the original draft text of the diary and it remained there until Mike dictated it to someone (perhaps his wife, as has claimed) in March 1992 to be included in the final version. By then Mike had long forgotten which book he had seen the quote in which explains his uncertainty in 1994. But he had a huge head start on everyone else which is why he did manage to find it when he looked. He also probably had no idea in 1992 that the quote was a rare one; for all he knew between 1992 and 1994 it was very well known to anyone well versed in English literature, so that it was no big deal that it came from one of his Sphere books. He probably thought it could have been taken from thousands of books of poetry. It was only when Shirley told him that no-one had been able to find it that he even thought that it could be important and so it was only then that he applied his mind to finding it (and revealing it). Which, of course, he did!
In her post #470 of the 'Problem of Logic' thread, Caroline Morris posts Keith Skinner's notes of meeting with Mike Barrett on 18 January 1995 (as already set out in 'Inside Story') in which Mike appears to retract his confession from 1994 that the Diary was a forgery (although he didn't, apparently, mention to the attendees of the meeting that he had sworn an affidavit thirteen days earlier setting out the details of that forgery and, we are now told, Keith Skinner had no knowledge of that affidavit at the time of the meeting). Unfortunately, Ms Morris doesn't mention that five days after the 18 January meeting, Mike repudiated everything he said in that meeting in a signed statement.
A copy of his signed statement is below (although I've redacted an allegation of an attack on him by a relative):
So we can see that Mike was stating clearly on 23 January 1995 that the Diary was a forgery and that, 'The truth of the matter is I have already informed the Police it is a Forgery...' . He explained that he was 'frightened' at the meeting because he didn't 'really know what they were about or if I was likely to be prosecuted or something like that'. He had some reason to think this because the 'independent adviser' who attended the meeting was, in fact, a former police officer of the Merseyside Police.
I would just add at this point that Iconoclast asks in #477 of the 'Logic' thread what 'the Good Lord Orsam and his acolytes' would make of the notes of Keith Skinner that Caroline Morris has published. Well I can't speak of my millions of acolytes - due to the huge number of them, and the fact that they are scattered all over the world, it usually takes me at least two years to receive, compile and analyse their responses to any questions I ask them - but, for myself, they don't make very much difference to anything bearing in mind that those very notes were used as the basis for the 2003 book 'Inside Story' and everything that is relevant in them was included (and often quoted) in that book.
IGNORING THE EXPERTS
I've already written in 'Lord Orsam Says...' about Caroline Morris' strange relationship with experts but we find her saying this odd thing in #582 of the 'Problem of Logic' thread:
'Unfortunately, Baxendale wasn't able to say: "Crikey, I'd say this was written within the last 2 or 3 months", or: "it was written at least 2 years ago", either of which would have been a good deal more useful to those seeking to finger the Barretts or eliminate them.'
The irony of this is that Baxendale was reported by the Sunday Times as having said almost exactly that! Thus, from the Sunday Times of 19 September 1993 (underlining added):
'One test, used commonly to date documents such as this, is the solubility test. A solvent is dropped on to the ink: the older the ink, the longer it takes to dissolve, since the passage of years causes ink and paper to integrate. For a document purportedly more than 100 years, Baxendale would have expected the ink to take several minutes to dissolve. In this case, says Baxendale, "It began to dissolve in just a few seconds". Baxendale concluded it had probably been written recently, in the past two or three years.'
From what Baxendale said about the ink dissolving in 'just a few seconds' it's hard to conceive of it dissolving any faster than this. The newspaper's report that Baxendale concluded that the Diary had probably been written recently, in the past two or three years, was never disputed by Baxendale and there is no reason to doubt it. Caroline Morris knows all about this yet she prefers to stick her head in the sand and pretend the evidence of the ink dissolving in a few seconds - something that comes directly from Dr Baxendale's own mouth - doesn't exist.
THE BATTLECREASE DISCOVERY MIRACLE
In #476 of the 'Problem of Logic' thread, Caroline Morris sets out four options for the origins of the Diary, supposedly along with their 'unanswered questions'. The final one - the Battlecrease discovery - is of the most interest, but let's first look at how she deals with the modern (Barrett) hoax theory. She says this:
'A modern hoax, as stated by Mike Barrett in his affidavit of January 5th 1995, taking the events back to whenever the idea first came to the three amigos, Tony Devereux, Anne and Mike. When did Mike first meet Tony, for instance? And how long before they became chummy enough to discuss forging Jack the Ripper's diary?'
Funnily enough, although the premise of the post is to set out the 'unanswered questions', she only asks questions in respect of the modern hoax. Those two questions are hardly the most important ones in the case but, had she read 'Man in a Pub', she would have known that Mike stated in a 1993 interview that he struck a 'three year acquaintance' with Tony prior to him breaking his hip in 1990, which means he had known him since 1987 and, says Mike, 'we became very good, good, good, mates'. There doesn't appear to be any good reason to disbelieve what Mike was saying here. By 1990, then, when Tony suddenly had a lot of time on his hands due to his injury, he was very good mates with Mike. Surely that answers the question sufficiently. It's hardly an unanswered question. It's pretty much answered!
Then we have this:
'We could leave it there really, because where there are inconsistencies in his affidavit, as well as all around it, we have always been able to rely on some kind soul to help Mike out and come to his rescue with a detail which he never even hinted at himself, such as the very specific O&L auction held on March 31st 1992, and then make everything else fit round it.'
This is so far from the truth as to be remarkable. Mike's affidavit makes crystal clear that his purchase of the scrapbook from O&L came after he received the red diary. It is known for a fact that the red diary was sent to him on 26 March 1992 and that he would have received it a day or two after that. As a matter of historical fact, the first O&L auction after 26 March 1992 was held on 31 March 1992. Mike said that it took 11 days for the text of the Diary to be written in the scrapbook. The first time the Diary is known to have seen by anyone outside the Barrett household was on 13 April 1992. Therefore, the story being told in Mike's affidavit is that the scrapbook was purchased from O&L on 31 March 1992!!! It's not anyone trying to make anything fit in with the affidavit. It is, in essence, what the affidavit actually says.
And as an added bonus, it's exactly what Mike said in his own words, over two days, to Ripperologists in April 1999 (i.e. that he went to O&L after the red diary proved useless) although they all seemed to have disbelieved him!
Then, as if to demonstrate her inability to say anything sensible, she writes this extraordinary non-sequitur:
'If it can't be shown that Mike didn't attend that auction, or that an album containing some 125 highly collectible WWI photographs, worth in excess of £100 at the time, would not have been included in one of their regular weekly auctions in any case, people can go on believing.'
Can I please ask any sensible person to read and fully digest that sentence. In the first place, it makes no sense and is utterly meaningless. Secondly, there is absolutely no evidence as to whether Mike did or did not attend the auction on 31 March 1992 (largely because neither Shirley Harrison nor Keith Skinner ever asked that question of O&L) nor is there any evidence as to the contents of that auction.
I must say that I find her mention of the supposed value of the album of £100 and the mention of '125 highly collectible WWI photographs' to be quite bizarre. No source is provided for the £100 valuation, which appears to have been plucked out of the air, but she's obviously trying to (desperately) cast doubt on the notion that Mike could have bought that album (and compass) for £50. Anyone who knows anything about auctions, however, knows that the value of an item at an auction does not necessarily bear any relation to its value in the open market, or its retail value, but is valued at whatever anyone is prepared to pay for it AT THAT AUCTION subject to any reserve price placed upon it. I mean, that's one big reason why people go to auctions. To pick up bargains. As an attempt to undermine Mike's story it's pathetic. So, yes, Ms Morris, I imagine people will 'go on believing'!
Then we have another pointless sentence:
'Worst case would be having to conjure up a completely different scenario to make Mike's claims, and the conjurer's dreams, come true again. It's a bit too much like digging oneself into a corner for my liking. But where there's a will, I suppose there will always be a way out of one corner - and into another.'
What's the purpose of saying something like that other than to be aggravating?
The second theory mentioned is that Mike was given the Diary by Devereux in 1991 and the third is Anne's story that she gave the Diary to Mike. Having apparently forgotten the purpose of her post was to set out the unanswered questions, she doesn't ask any unanswered questions in respect of these theories.
Finally, she gives us her own theory in this way:
'Or it was found and removed from the house on Riversdale Road, by an electrician who used the same pub as Mike [and lived on the same road as Tony had, up until his death], on the same day Mike phoned Doreen, using a false name, to tell her he had Jack the Ripper's diary. It can still be a modern hoax, if nobody knows where the old book was the day before.'
For me, it's the last sentence which is of interest here. It can still be a modern hoax, she tells us, even if found by an electrician in Battlecrease on 9 March 1992 because it might have been put there on 8 March 1992.
Let's just think about the ramifications of that. The Diary is put under a floorboard in Battlecrease on 8 March 1992 and found the next day by an electrician who used the same pub as Mike and lived in the same road as Tony Devereux. So doesn't that put Mike Barrett right back in the frame as the possible author of the Diary???!!! Doesn't it suggest that it was placed under the floorboards in order to be found very quickly? I mean, it would be highly odd if it had been placed there in say 1978 or even on 1 or 2 January 1992. Why would anyone creating a modern hoax do such a thing for one second? In fact, if it was a modern hoax which was found under the floorboards on 9 March 1992 it had probably been put there earlier on 9 March 1992 rather than the day before! It was a fake discovery in other words.
Now, I don't go along with this for one second because it doesn't explain why Mike instructed Martin Earl to obtain a Victorian diary on his behalf (which can only have been to create forged Victorian diary) but the point I'm making here is that, if it was a modern hoax placed recently under the floorboards, it puts Mike Barrett and the deceased Tony Devereux right back in the frame as the creators of the Diary due to their apparent connection with Eddie Lyons. What better creation of provenance for a forger than to have it dug up from the floorboards of Maybrick's house! Then perhaps it was realized that the plan wasn't going to work because it would mean that the Diary would be viewed as stolen property.
Like I say, this doesn't make sense of the acquisition of the red diary, albeit that Caroline Morris completely ignores the red diary in her account of the four theories. But surely, surely, surely, shirley, THAT is the biggest unanswered question there is. Why did Mike attempt to acquire, and did acquire, an unused (or partly used) Victorian diary with blank pages? How can that elephant in the room have been ignored? More importantly, how can it be explained?
But at least her acceptance that even the floorboards theory could point to a modern hoax may reflect that she can't answer the question as to why no example of the expression 'one off instance', or anything even remotely similar, whereby 'one off' has the meaning of something unique or unrepeated, has ever been found in the nineteenth century or even for many years after the nineteenth century. Perhaps it is finally sinking in that it is literally impossible for that Diary to have been written any time in the Victorian period so that it must, repeat must, be a modern hoax.
6 June 2020