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  • Lord Orsam

Let's Trip Over It Again

Warning: This blog post may contain nuts.

Having disposed of his "trip over" nonsense in Tripping Up Over The Diary, to which he didn't respond in the comments, I was hoping to be able to ignore the guy forever more but, unable to let his daft point lie, and unable to induce anyone into agreeing with him on Casebook, he returned with more of his nutty nonsense on JTR Forums:

"I would like to clarify the issue of the usage of "trip over" in the diary. It's a complicated one that seems to get misrepresented and gets people confused, even myself.

It's not that "tripping over something", meaning to make a mistake, is archaic or an anachronism for modern time. The use of "trip over" in the transitive has always been used for making a mistake. It's "trip up" in the intransitive that is relatively new in print (probably from around 1950).

That's irrelevant although. "Trip up" was not used. Some claim the two are interchangeable and it doesn't make a difference either way. I would agree but I have no doubt, if the Diary had used "trip up" that way, one of the Hoax Theorists would have cried "foul" and "anachronism". Excuse me if I am wrong. That's not the issue anyway.

The issue is that "trip over" in the intransitive is original. Not even archaic or anachronistic. It's original. So I'm saying it in a negative. It doesn't exist anywhere else. Of course, I can't prove a negative so I don't have to prove it although I am sticking my neck out for anyone who wants to prove it does exist.

I offered it, not as proof of anything. I offered it as a "ponderable" related to the main issue which is that of "originality of the author".

Barrett Believers say that Maybrick was not original enough to come up with original phrases that became popular. Presumably they also think Barrett, although a dabbler in magazine writing, would also not come up with original phrases anymore than Maybrick. That makes sense. But here, it appears we have an original phrase (trip over used, as Kattrup explained, in the intransitive)."

Apparently, people are "confused" by what he's saying, including himself (lol!), which isn't surprising because he is the person responsible for having wrongly claimed that "trip over" was a Victorian expression replaced in modern times by "trip up", so that Barrett's use of "trip over" was out of place.

Now that he accepts "trip over" is no more Victorian than "trip up", and that it has "always been used for making a mistake", his entire point has vanished into dust although he doesn't seem to understand why.

It's because he doesn't actually know what he's now saying.

In fact, what he's saying, if correct, actually provides more evidence pointing towards Mike Barrett as the forger of the diary and away from James Maybrick.

Here's the short point.

If "trip over" and "trip up" have always been used interchangeably to mean making a mistake, as Nuttikas now appears to accept (saying, "it doesn't make a difference"), and if, as Nuttikas now tells us for the first time without a shred of evidence or empirical support, "trip up" has only been used intransitively since about 1950, then the intransitive use of "trip over" in the diary would obviously be suggestive of the diary having been authored after 1950 and thus more likely by Barrett than Maybrick!

Nuttikas has tripped over himself again to produce the direct opposite result of the one he intended.

Personally I don't accept for one second that ""trip up" in the intransitive is relatively new in print" , and, like I say, not a single piece of empirical data has been produced to support this claim, but it really doesn't make any difference if it is or isn't. The idea that the intransitive use of "trip over" would have been in original or creative in 1888 would only make some kind of sense if the entire concept of using verbs or phrasal verbs intransitively was unknown in 1888. Clearly that's not the case which means that using any verb or phrasal verb intransitively in 1888, as much as in 1992, simply fitted with the known rules of the English language. It makes no difference if there are no known examples of a particular verb or phrasal verb being used intransitively, it doesn't make their use creative or original in any way.

There is simply no comparison with "one off instance", which is the comparison Nuttikas is trying to make, because "one off" didn't mean unique in 1888 and thus wouldn't have been used at all by Maybrick or anyone else at that time to convey that meaning.

We can see that our friend Nuttikas has misunderstood the argument against him as he writes:

"Barrett Believers say that Maybrick was not original enough to come up with original phrases that became popular."

I don't believe that anyone has ever said anything about whether Maybrick was original or not in his writing. We have no idea about whether the man was an original or creative person, although what our friend seems to be saying is that Maybrick had the almost psychic ability to invent phrases which would, one day in the future, by coincidence, become part of the English language. The point is simply that "a one off [anything]" to mean unique wasn't part of the English language at the time, hence he wouldn't have used it in that way, nor would anyone else have done so. The same is true of "bumbling [anything]".

Then we get a false assumption as Nuttikas has, once again, to attribute to his opponents things that they've never said:

"Presumably they also think Barrett, although a dabbler in magazine writing, would also not come up with original phrases anymore than Maybrick."

It was actually Nuttikas who claimed that Barrett wouldn't have come up with original phrases because he was known as "Bongo" but the fact that he was a "dabbler in magazine writing", as Nuttikas puts it, or professional freelance journalist, as was the reality, means that he would have been at least as likely as Maybrick to write something original.

But as "trip over", used in any way you like, wasn't an "original phrase" in any comprehensible sense of those two words, there is no problem in Mike Barrett using it whether he was a clown or a creative writer.

Yet, according to Nuttikas, "But here, it appears we have an original phrase". No, it does not appear that we have an original phrase at all. Even on his own daft terms he's bloody well already accepted that "trip up" had been around since 1950 and that "trip over" can be used interchangeably with "trip up", so where is the original phrase in 1992? The answer is that there would have been nothing original about Barrett using it at all.

And I repeat that in reality there would have been nothing original about Maybrick or anyone else in 1888 having written it because it followed the known rules of the English language.

Anyone can write a sentence that's never been written by anyone before. It doesn't make it original or creative.

Nuttikas' confusion about the whole issue can be seen in his claim that, had the diarist written, "He believes I will trip up", this would have been used to demonstrate that Maybrick couldn't have written the diary. Hence he says:

if the Diary had used "trip up" that way, one of the Hoax Theorists would have cried "foul" and "anachronism".

He adds "Excuse me if I am wrong" and of course he is wrong. I provided loads of examples of people using "trip up" to mean making a mistake during the nineteenth century, so I would never ever have called it an anachronism simply because of the way it had been used (intransitively or otherwise) within a poem. And I obviously need to repeat what I wrote in my previous blog post:

 Take the 1887 quote from the Pall Mall Gazette:

"How so very clever a man ever came to commit so excessively stupid a blunder as to allow himself to be tripped up over the defence of coaling stations, we cannot understand." 

That could easily have been written within the known rules of the English language as:

"We cannot understand how so very clever a man came to commit so excessively stupid a blunder over the defence of coaling stations as to allow himself to be tripped up."

That could easily have been written in 1887 or 1888. It wouldn't show any creativity or originality. It fits all the rules of English grammar. It's the way other verbs and phrasal verbs were being used. It is not strange or unusual.

So, no, no one would be so daft as to suggest that "He believes I will trip up" can only have been written in the twentieth century simply because one may not be able to find an intransitive use of that particular phrasal verb during the nineteenth century (and I've barely searched for one). The reason for that is that there is no reason for there not to be an example of it.


In response to Tripping Up Over The Diary being drawn to his attention on JTR Forums. Nuttikas replied:

"That guy's an English professor? I'm not going to bother reading it. It's probably full of "facts" which to me is an automatic sign of deception. A big red flag.

Does he deal with the actual issue which is "originality"?

He painted himself in a corner saying Maybrick can't be original, which is okay. He couldn't have made up a "popular" phrase from today. That's okay. But here we have an original phrase that's not poplar today or ever, from what I can tell. So is he saying that Mike Barrett can be original?

Maybe "I tripped over" will become more popular than "I tripped up" in 100 years! Then I guess we have to look for a modern 2124 forger."

This is typical diary defender behaviour, refusing to read anything (or pretending not to) which challenges their deeply held beliefs. And then claiming that their reason for not reading it is because it may be full of "facts". Incredible.

Does he deal with the actual issue which is "originality"?

Do I deal with originality? Yes I certainly did in my original blog post when I wrote:

"There is nothing creative or original about the line "He believes I will trip over" which is just bog standard English."

I repeat that now. It's very simple. It's not original. Simple.

And to repeat, despite Nuttikas claiming that:

"He painted himself in a corner saying Maybrick can't be original"

I've never said that Maybrick can't be original. What I've said is that some of the expressions used in the diary were not available to anyone in the English language in 1888. For that reason, they wouldn't have been used by someone writing in 1888. For that same reason they wouldn't have been used by Maybrick writing in 1888.

The idea that one is painted in a corner by noting the clear and obvious anachronisms in the diary which prove it to be a forgery is ridiculous.

The idea that the line "He believes I will trip over" tells us anything at all about the authorship or date of the diary is just as ridiculous.

And I'm not nor have I ever claimed to be a professor of English.


Failing to say anything sensible about "trip over", Nuttikas returned to his real target of "one off".


After having the meaning of "one off standpoint" explained to him by Chris Phillips,  Nuttikas said "I finally understand it".  LOL! It's only taken him EIGHT years so that's quite impressive.


He then asked: "But doesn’t that make this usage far beyond the scope of the relatively simple, by comparison, “one off instance”"?


Impossible to know what he means by this but it is all very simple.


As Michael Banks explained to him after he simply invented the usage by Garscadden of "a one off casting", the way that would have been put by pattern makers in the 19th century, if they ever said or wrote these words, was "casting one off".  They would also have said "casting two off", "casting three off" or "casting fifty off". In the example of "casting one off", "one off" is nothing more than a quantity and, indeed, they could have said "casting one".


For "one off" was synonymous with "one".  The "off" didn't really add anything but it had become part of the patternmaking lingo.


It was because "off" didn’t add anything to what was only a quantity that "one off" (as a quantity) was hardly ever likely to break through from technical use by patternmakers and engineers into general use in the English language.


The reason I've referred in the past to Garscadden's 1903 article as "the missing link" is because it used "one off" in a different way, not simply as a quantity, rather he used it to form part of a sentence.  He referred to making a pattern in "a one off way" and, as we know, spoke of making a pattern from a "one off standpoint".  Although not conveying in any way a meaning of uniqueness, he has nevertheless transformed "one off" from a mere number to an expression, of sorts.


It may well be that this changed the way pattern makers thought of "one off" so that instead of speaking of "casting one off" or of "a job done one off" they started to speak of a one off casting and a one off job, with such a job being regarded in a different way to all other jobs.


As we know, the first appearance in print of "one off job" was 1912.  But we shouldn't automatically assume that this carried the meaning of a unique, singular job.  For, as I've explained in the past, a one off job might have also carried the meaning of a rush job, an experimental job or a special job.  The latter conveys a meaning similar to a unique job but not quite the same.


That aside, it's clear that a "one off job" did certainly come to mean a unique, singular, unrepeated job but it wasn't initially an expression of much use to the general public.  It was only in manufacturing that "one off jobs" were done.  Normal people didn't do them, or, if they ever did, they didn't think of them as such.   It took time for the concept of a "one off job" to enter the English language.  While its use during the 1920s and 1930s was largely confined to technical literature, usually in respect of pattern making, we can see that during the 1930s there were advertisements in mainstream newspapers from employers looking for men experienced in one off jobs (which were, of course, done differently to large run jobs).  With the spread of radio and film, it may be that some mentions were made of one off jobs in industry, perhaps in public information films, so that people started to become familiar with the concept.


As I've set out in "One off article", the first known use of "one off" in a metaphorical sense of comparing a one off job to a unique person or event comes from 1946 in which the author, when describing a Scotsman with a unique personality, explained to his readers that this person resembled what engineers refer to as a one off job

This not only demonstrates the novelty of the metaphorical use which had to be explained to the reader but virtually proves that "one off" didn't exist within the English language to describe a person at this time, otherwise the author would have called the Scotsman a "one off". It's unarguable.


Clearly from around that time onwards (or at least within about a decade), "one off" started to be used metaphorically by normal English speakers but it took almost two decades to become popular and this can be seen most graphically by the earliest usage of the following expressions which I set out in "One Off Article" but repeat here because it is by far and away the best illustration of the insanity of the notion that Maybrick could have used it in 1888:


One off effort[s] - Tatler, 22 October 1958

One off event - Portsmouth Evening News, 6 May 1959 

One-off affair - Birmingham Daily Post, 20 February 1965 

One-off play - The Stage, 1 April 1965

One-off drama - The Stage, 1 April 1965 

One off show - Birmingham Weekly Mercury, 24 April 1966 

One-off individuality - Birmingham Daily Post, 3 July 1967 

One-off price - Birmingham Daily Post, 3 July 1967 

One-off programme - Birmingham Daily Post, 7 August 1967

One-off film - The Stage, 27 June 1968 

One-off character [of an item] - Middlesex County Times, 24 January 1969 

One-off opportunity - Liverpool Echo, 4 September 1969 (advert for an Industrial Engineer) 

One-off performance [s] - Birmingham Daily Post, 9 September 1969 

One-off hit - Coventry Evening Telegraph, 30 September 1969 

One-off payment - Illustrated London News, 6 June 1970

One-off success - Kensington News & West London Times, 30 January 1970 

One-off experience - Marylebone Mercury, 5 February 1971 

One-off situation - Birmingham Daily Post, 14 March 1972 

One-off example - Aberdeen Press and Journal, 1 June 1972  

One-off recording - Reading Evening Post, 16 June 1972  

One-off thing - Liverpool Echo, 10 November 1972 

One-off game - Birmingham Daily Post, 3 February 1973 

One off match - Sports Argus, 27 August 1973  

One-off result - Sports Argus, 29 September 1973 

One-off documentary - Belfast Telegraph, 19 January 1974 

One-off market - New Ross Standard, 8 March 1974 

One-off broadcasting - Daily Mirror, 11 September 1974

One-off occasion - Faversham News, 12 April 1974

One off mistake - Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 1 November 1974

One-off incident - Reading Evening Post, 17 June 1975 

One-off decision - Birmingham Daily Post, 18 June 1975 

One-off remark - Central Somerset Gazette, 30 October 1975 

One-off concept - Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 1 November 1975 

One-off musical - The Stage, 6 November 1975 

One-off moment [of madness] - Birmingham Daily Post, 16 December 1975 

One-off broadcast - Aberdeen Evening Express, 30 March 1976 

One-off interview - The Stage, 23 September 1976 

One-off individual [building] - Crewe Chronicle, 30 September 1976 

One-off occurrence - Diss Express, 25 March 1977

One-off character [describing a person] - Belfast Telegraph, 1 June 1977 

One-off triumph - Belfast Telegraph, 15 March 1978 

One-off episode - Coventry Evening Telegraph, 10 June 1978 

One-off murder - Reading Evening Post, 7 September 1978 

One-off achievement - Long Eaton Advertiser, 5 October 1978 

One-off idea - Coventry Evening Telegraph, 20 March 1979 

One-off song - Kent & Sussex Courier, 24 April 1981

One-off failure - Birmingham Weekly Mercury, 28 June 1981 

One-off marketing - Aberdeen Press & Journal, 7 June 1983 

One-off error - Grantham Journal, 16 September 1983 

One-off entry [fee] - Buckinghamshire Examiner, 30 December 1983 

One-off speech - Aberdeen Press and Journal, 17 January 1984

One-off proposal - Aberdeen Press and Journal, 8 December 1984 

One-off revue - Aldershot News, 1 November 1985 

One-off instance - Aldershot News, 15 November 1985

One-off adventure - Gloucester Citizen, 11 March 1986 

One-off romance - Wexford People, 21 December 1989

One-off debate - Daily Mirror, 19 November 1990 

One-off review - Birmingham News, 28 June 1991 

One-off announcement - Reading Evening Post, 3 July 1991 

One-off defeat - Newcastle Journal, 12 March 1992 

One-off statement - Southall Gazette, 9 June 1995 

One-off comment - Crawley News, 10 June 1998


If you are someone who has any doubts about what I am saying please just think about this for a moment.  There are no examples of any of the above expressions in any newspaper prior to 1958.  Zero.  Nada.  So how many do you think can be found in the nineteenth century?  Yes, that's correct.  None.  How do you even begin to explain it?


And the use of these expressions grew exponentially over time as the below demonstrates:

If you don't understand this perhaps you never will.  I can't make it any clearer.  You have to be wilfully blind not to see how impossible this makes it for James Maybrick, alone out of every living person in the nineteenth century, to have used an expression like "one off instance".  It's not even close to the hypothetical realms of possibility. 


When I embarked upon my research on "one off", I did it for myself because I wanted to know if the diary really was fake or not.  I had an open mind.  Once I realized that "one off instance" is a post-world war 2 expression, it finally cleared up that issue for me.  I wasn't even aware at the time of the impossibility of "bumbling buffoon" for which all credit should go to "The Baron" for spotting.


Following the feeble attempt by Nuttikas to push "one off instance" back to the Victorian Era, the Chief Diary Defender, Caroline Morris-Brown felt the need to step in to help him. She posted:

"That's a good way of describing this example, and it would make more sense to me now if it could be paraphrased: 'on a one off basis'. Do I have that right?"

Why the hell she felt the need to use different language to what Garscadden actually used I have no idea.  I can only think she was trying to change Garscadden's "from a one off standpoint" to "on a one off basis" to incrementally make it slightly closer to one off instance although I don't think she achieved even that.  What difference does it make?  Garscadden was writing in 1903, fifteen years after Maybrick is supposed to have written the diary.  In describing Garscadden's article as "the missing link" I have long accepted that he might well have initiated a subtle change in the "one off" language whereby he used it in a different way to the way that it had been previously used as a mere notation or number.  Clearly at some point between 1903 and 1912 the concept of "a one off job" definitely was introduced into the English language, albeit at that time only used by patternmakers.

But in her typical way she immediately changed the subject to discuss the hyphen:

"Should a 'one off' instance, or any other noun, such as 'job', have a hyphen these days? I realise that our diarist was no better or worse than many of the posters I have seen over the years at spelling, grammar and punctuation, but whoever chose to use those words - at some point prior to March 1992 - must have been familiar enough with the adjective 'one-off', and yet the lack of a hyphen does grate a little with me for some reason."

This is just her typical focus on irrelevance.  The phrase "one off" or "one-off" didn't even appear in a dictionary until 1973, so who even knew whether it should have a hyphen or not prior to this?    Sometimes people included a hyphen sometimes not.  Even today many people omit the hyphen. 

The fact of the matter is that had Anne consulted the 1989 edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, which was the edition in print as at 1992, she would have seen the entry for "one off" with no hyphen, as below:

It just says that it is frequently used with a hyphen, not that it must be.

In an entry in the same dictionary under "off" we find the same thing:

No hyphen!

In the past I've provided examples of modern use of "one off" with no hyphen and do so again.

This is the cover of a book published in 1953:

This is the cover of a book published in 1964:

This one is from the TV Times of 3 September 1969:

This is from the Times newspaper of 12 July 1983:

This is the cover of a book published in 1988:

From a 1996 book entitled The Text of Othello and Shakespearian Revision by E.A.J. Honigmann:

From a 1999 publication entitled Whistleblowing: The New Law by John Bowers, Jeremy Lewis and Jack Mitchell:

A contemporary example from a solicitors' website:

Here's one from YouTube:

Not a hyphen in sight!

The idea that there is a mystery about the absence of a hyphen in the diary is something that can only be said by someone who has no idea of how "one off" is used in the real world and also has no idea that it's not even always been included in dictionaries.

Why the hell should Anne Barrett, if she wrote the diary, be expected to have included a hyphen? 

The suggestion from Morris-Brown appears to be that the absence of an apostrophe somehow indicates that the diary wasn't written in 1992 but suggests a much earlier dating.  It is absolute nonsense.  Even if it's true that there should have been an apostrophe, which, as we've seen from the 1989 edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, there shouldn't, Anne's grammar was by no means perfect and there would be nothing surprising or noteworthy for her to have omitted one if she wrote the diary.

Then, in even more typical fashion, Caroline Morris-Brown changed the subject again to go completely off-topic, wishing to discuss the apostrophe in St James's and Anne Barrett's role in it.

What this has to do with whether the diary is a fake due to the inclusion of "one off instance" I have no idea.  It's just an obvious distraction attempt.

But I guess I need to make three points in response. 

Firstly, the secondary literature, including both Ryan and Morland, referred to St James's with an apostrophe. 

This is from Ryan's book:

And this is from Morland (which has "St." with a period, as in the diary should that be of any significance):

So any forger, including the Barretts, could simply have copied this. 

Secondly, it throws into focus that Anne's transcript somehow included the apostrophe even though Mike was supposedly dictating the text to her, while there is no other apostrophe in the transcript (just as there is no other apostrophe in the diary).  How did Anne know that no other apostrophes were used when she typed the diary at Mike's dictation? Was the St James's apostrophe included because the Barretts had taken it from a book and Anne thought there was a need to use it for a location, such as a church? 

Thirdly, Anne is known to have omitted apostrophes from her personal correspondence just like the diarist omitted apostrophes.

Within minutes of  changing the subject in the "one off" thread on JTR Forums, the Chief Diary Defender was also changing the subject in the "Trip Over" thread. Bored with the disastrous "Trip over" argument she now wanted to talk about "top myself".  Hence:


"What ever happened to the good old days, when one could confidently assert - and very often did - that nobody in 1888 could have thought to write 'top myself' to mean commit suicide by hanging? First ever record was said to be in 1958 until, well into the 21st century, a newspaper article from IIRC the late 1870s was found by Gary Barnett, which explained to its innocent readership that it was prison slang for hanging oneself. Not apparently seen in print again for another eighty years, but the idea that it originated with that one disaffected Victorian prisoner, and not a living soul reading that article at the time picked up on it or ever used it in conversation until its sudden re-emergence in the year of my own Mister Brown's birth [coincidence? hmmm] strikes me as somewhat unlikely."


I have no idea what happened in "the good old days" but the source of the criticism of "top myself" was Dr Kate Flint who did not say or imply that nobody in 1888 could have thought to write "top myself" to mean commit suicide. What the expert said was that the first recorded instance of "top myself" was not until 1958.  I don't know if anyone misunderstood that statement but they would have been wrong to say that nobody could have written "top myself" in 1888 considering that "top" was known to mean "hang" and "myself" was an existing English word, so putting the two together would have been simplicity itself.  But the Chief Diary Defender only enjoys responding to sloppy criticism of the diary. 

"Top myself" nevertheless remains a clear anachronism that one would not expect to find in a diary written in 1888 and, as such, is just more strong evidence that it is fake.


It's simply untrue, therefore, to say that Mike Barrett "dodged another thoroughly modern bullet". Assuming he was the forger, he made a mistake by including an anachronistic expression such as "top myself" in the diary.

But it's such an extraordinary statement considering that Mike Barrett, as the assumed forger, also included two impossible expressions, "one off instance" and "bumbling buffoon", which prove that the diary is a fake.  There was no bullet dodged here and it's just ludicrously wishful thinking on the Chief Diary Defender's part to believe that, even though frantic searches have been made for both of those expressions, or anything similar, during the nineteenth century, none have been found, perhaps one day they will be.  But they never will be.

In her pomp the Chief Diary Defender was knocking those diary language problems out of the park (at least in her mind).  These days she cuts a very sorry figure, reduced to summoning up and re-living past glories while adopting any batshit crazy notions that the online loonies can think up to try and neutralize the problems caused by "one off instance" and "bumbling buffoon" as part of her unstoppable propaganda campaign.  It's a sad story.


Nuttikas, who is obsessed with the "one off instance" problem because he must know that it proves the diary to be a fake, spent a few days arguing that this expression might have been used in 1888 to mean something unique, eventually threw in the towel after running into a hard brick wall and then fell back to where every diary defender seems to end up whereby they make the utterly hopeless claim that "one off instance" must have meant something other than an instance which would not be repeated. Even though that is the only possible meaning of the phrase, we've previously seen a brief flirtation with the batshit crazy notion that it meant the age of a horse but, on JTR Forums, Nuttikas ended up being attracted to Tom Mitchell's equally crazy notion that Maybrick was saying that him hitting his wife was "an off-instance" even though there has never been any such expression in the English language. Even if there were, it would certainly not have been expressed as "a one off-instance" which doesn't follow the known rules of the English language.

The amusing thing is that they always end up having to accept that "one off instance" did not exist as an expression meaning unique, singular or unrepeated in 1888 which obviously means (although they can't accept it) that James Maybrick could not have written it.

This means that the diary is a twentieth century fake. But we all knew that already.


7 May 2024

p.s. Don't worry, though, readers, Nuttikas was soon back to arguing that the "one off instance" in the diary is a unique instance after all, at least until the next summersault.


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May 09
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great as always!

The Baron

Lord Orsam
May 12
Replying to

This is true.

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