Caroline Morris-Brown does love her pointless hypothetical questions, the latest of which, asked on 23rd January 2024, was:
'What is the story if it's not Anne's handwriting in the diary? Has anyone even thought how they might move their human chess pieces round the board to accommodate such an unsettling possibility?'
I assume the "they" in her second sentence is a reference to those who think that the Barretts forged the diary, but specifically myself and RJ Palmer.
The question is somewhat ridiculous. How are we ever going to find out for sure if it's Anne's handwriting in the diary? Realistically, it's just never going to happen. But if there's no certainty and we are relying an what Anne tells us, one could equally reverse the question:
What's the story if Anne were ever to admit to it being her handwriting in the diary? Has anyone even thought how they might move the human chess pieces around to accommodate such an unsettling possibility?
What would Caroline Morris-Brown say in such a situation? Would she accept without question Anne's admission? Would she immediately abandon her 100% belief that the diary came up from under the floorboards of Battlecrease? Or would she assume that Anne was lying?
As for her own silly hypothetical, the interesting thing about it is that until April 2018 I personally didn't think it was Anne's handwriting in the diary. Before that month, even though I'd become convinced over the previous two years that Mike must have been involved in the forgery, the only example of Anne's handwriting I'd seen (other than her signature on her wedding certificate) was the sample she'd given Keith Skinner in 1995, which looked nothing like the diary's handwriting.
Although I hadn't seen any examples of Mike's handwriting, from the descriptions of it that we had been told about, I didn't think it was likely that he had the ability to have written the manuscript.
Thus, I could only conclude that an unknown third person had been asked to write out the text and that Mike had lied in his affidavit when he said he had dictated the diary's text to Anne in their home in Goldie Street.
The other thing about my state of knowledge until April 2018 is that I wasn't aware of all the occasions that Mike had firmly and loudly insisted that Anne had written it out herself. At that time, the recording of the Cloak & Dagger club hadn't been released (and it wasn't to be made available until late 2019) nor, of course, did we have the Alan Gray recordings. I had also not seen Mike's written statements, other than his affidavit, in which he said that Anne wrote it out.
On the very day that I obtained copies of Anne's correspondence in her handwriting, I immediately spotted that some characters were similar to the way the diarist had written those same characters, although I needed the high quality copy of the diary's text in Robert Smith's book, not available to researchers in the 1990s, to be able to see this. I believe that it is now unchallenged that these similarities exist. Within a very short time I had prepared the below document (or, rather, I had my assistant prepare it who seemed to misunderstand the exercise and foolishly wrote "DB Comments" on it rather than "LO Comments"):
More comparisons have since been found. It's worth repeating what was published on the old website in 'Lord Orsam Says...Part 8' on 6 June 2020:
This is Anne writing the word 'for'. Note that the 'f' looks like a 'b'....
This is also Anne writing the word 'for' in another document:
It's similar right? But note how the 'or' part of the word is here squashed up into one squiggle.
Now here is the diary author writing the same word, 'for', in the first line of the diary:
Tell me that's not similar. It's an 'f' which looks like a 'b' followed by a bit of a squiggle for the 'or' part. Yes, there's a different slant but this could either indicate that she changed her slope (another very common form of disguise of handwriting) or she was writing with her other hand for the purpose of disguise, another common way of doing it for those who are ambidextrous, e.g. per Questioned Document Examiner Phil Kellingley: 'the easiest way to disguise one's handwriting is to shift the writing implement to the other hand'.
One obvious feature of the diary author's handwriting is the variation throughout, as the same letters, or even complete words, are written differently in different parts of the document. The same is true for Anne herself. Here is a third example of the word 'for' written by Anne:
We can see she adds a loop on this occasion and the 'f' no longer looks like a 'b'.
I just want to show you now another example of the diary author writing a word with a lowercase 'f' at the start. This is 'fact'. I only illustrate this because on most occasions the 'f' has a loop at the top, but not in this instance.
Now here is Anne writing the word 'friends':
Compare that to the diary, while replacing, in your mind, the looped 'f' used in the diary with the 'f' from 'fact'.
What I particularly want you to focus on is the way the 's' rolls out of the 'd' to create a little 'u' and the end of the word. Just another uncanny similarity.
In the context of these similarities, combined with Mike's repeated statements over many years that Anne wrote the diary manuscript, I now believe there is a good case to be made out that Anne was, indeed, responsible. But, as I didn’t think it was an essential part of the theory between August 2016, when I first became interested in the diary, and April 2018, it wouldn't cause enormous difficulty if it wasn't Anne but, let's say, her father who wrote it, so that the similarity between her handwriting and the diary handwriting is because her father had a similar handwriting to her. As I have said time and time again, I've never relied on anything Mike said.
On the next day, Caroline had some further thoughts which she thought it appropriate to share with the rest of the human population as follows:
'Following on from yesterday's post, I do feel it's high time that someone - anyone - whose arguments on these boards have been based on Anne Graham's handwriting being in the diary, would actually attempt to contact her directly, so she knows what has been said about her and is given the opportunity to comment if she wishes to do so.
You never know, she might even be relieved to admit, after all these years, that it all started out innocently enough on her part, but just got out of hand when Mike insisted on doing things his own way.
She might be willing to confirm or refute some of the arguments we have made about the typescript, for example. After all, she was there and we were not.
If it's a "no comment", at least she would have been treated fairly by having a chance to defend herself.
It's not much to ask, is it, of any Barrett hoax believer who is serious about trying to get at the truth while their prime suspect is still with us?
What's the worst that could happen? Making Anne laugh out loud about the subject for the first time in years?'
It's funny how it has to be someone else who asks Anne this question about the handwriting and, moreover, someone who isn't a diary defender.
I can't speak for anyone else but, as for myself, I will not be contacting Anne Graham for the following reasons:
I do not have any contact details for Anne Graham and thus have no way of asking her the question (or questions) that Caroline Morris-Brown thinks that I and others should ask her.
As I understand the position, Anne Graham has made it very clear that she doesn't want to discuss any diary matters, and has a history of becoming upset at being accused of lying, so that any such contact by me (or anyone else) would surely be regarded as intrusive and unwelcome and, indeed, to the extent that she is being asked about an allegation that she was involved in a criminal forgery plot, very rude. It is strange that Caroline Morris-Brown feels that it is appropriate to publicly encourage online an unlimited number of unknown people to make such an intrusive inquiry of this nature, and her suggestion strikes me as utterly reckless.
Regardless of 1 and 2 above, I would personally never, under any circumstances, make unsolicited contact with someone out of the blue to put an accusation to them, or ask them a question or questions of the type suggested by Caroline Morris, for what would appear to be the sole purpose of resolving an internet debate or satisfying my personal curiosity, or the curiosity of someone else, such as Caroline Morris-Brown.
To the extent that Caroline Morris-Brown thinks that Anne should be given the chance of responding to an accusation that she is the person who wrote the text of the diary, Anne was fully aware of this accusation from as early as at least January 1995 when she received a copy her husband's affidavit sworn in that month but, despite having had every opportunity, has chosen never to comment about it either publicly or, as far as I am aware, in private to any of her good friends like Keith Skinner.
Further, Caroline Morris-Brown, having sat through Mike Barrett's entire interview with Keith Skinner in April 1999, in which he made it crystal clear to the audience that the handwriting in the diary was Anne's, and having been aware of the contents of Mike's 1995 affidavit, could have asked Anne this very question when she, as one of the authors of 'Inside Story', interviewed her for the book in 2002, as detailed on pages 264-7 of that book. While it seems that Anne was given the opportunity to freely tell her story of how she slipped the diary to Tony Devereux to pass on to Mike in 1991, having supposedly kept it hidden for years lodged behind a heavy dresser in 12 Goldie Street, there is no indication that she was asked about Mike's public claim that he dictated the text of the diary to her and that she wrote it down. Strange that Caroline Morris-Brown didn't want to give Anne the chance to respond to Mike's public accusation that she wrote the diary. But if Caroline is now suggesting accusations that should be put to Anne to allow her to defend herself against publicly made allegations, perhaps she should be asking Anne to respond to the allegation that she spewed out one lie after another to her face, and to the face of Keith Skinner, on that day, which is what Caroline must believe happened bearing in mind that she is, as she has told us,100% certain that the diary was secretly hidden under the floorboards of Battlecrease, only to be found by an electrician on 9th March 1992.
Whether it is me who asks Anne the question or Caroline Morris-Brown, I find it hard to see what will be gained if she blandly says, "No, it's not my handwriting" in circumstances where she is believed by Caroline Morris-Brown herself to have lied about her role in the diary story. For this reason, I doubt that Caroline Morris-Brown would accept for one second the truth of a response whereby Anne said, "Yes, it is my handwriting". We would be told that she was lying, just as her husband lied, or that she was pranking me and having a laugh, or whatever. As for a "no comment" response, of the type a suspect or arrested person might give to the police during a PACE interview, the idea that this would be in any way satisfactory either for Anne Graham herself or anyone else is laughable.
While I would be more than happy to interview Anne Graham, if she was freely willing to speak to me, I would set the same conditions as Melvin Harris did (unsuccessfully) in that I would need to see all the documents relating to the stories she has told in the past, and have access to all recordings of interviews with her, otherwise such an interview would be pointless. For I would assume that her story would be the same "in the family" story that she's been telling since 1994 and I would need to understand the full background to this story in order to be able to question her sensibly about it. Martin Fido, for example, has said that her story about this changed yet I don't know the full details of this change of position. That's because all the material hasn't been publicly released. Just because Keith Skinner and Caroline Morris-Brown may not understand why it's important to be fully briefed before interviewing someone to enable intelligent questions to be asked, and to be able to respond in an informed way to their answers, that doesn't mean that I should be so disadvantaged.
As Caroline Morris-Brown loves her hypotheticals so much, let me leave with this one. What would her view be if, in response to an accusation that she only first saw the diary on 9 March 1992 when Mike brought it home, Anne laughed out loud about the subject of the diary for the first time in years? Would Caroline Morris- Brown think that this laugh destroyed the idea of a Battlecrease discovery and accept that the diary must have been in Anne's possession on 8th March 1992 and for many months and years before this? Or would she think that Anne's laugh was covering up a lie? Perhaps if she answers THIS hypothetical it might help her understand the value of her own.
13 February 2024