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Skinner Talks Transcript

We are very lucky people!  Two statements in two consecutive days from Keith Skinner.  This time using Jonathan Menges as his channel to communicate with us mortals.  

 

The issue he was responding to today was the question of what his somewhat illegible annotation on page 2 of his copy of the Barretts' transcript relating to the word "persuers" (according to the Barretts) says.

 

His statement isn't very well drafted but, if I read him correctly, he tells us that his attention was drawn to this word in the transcript by the wrong spelling (of "pursuers") but he wondered if it said "powers" so that his manuscript annotation on the transcript reads "powers?"

 

As to that, he said this:

 

'he author of the diary had not yet begun his campaign so why would JM anticipate people being in pusuit (sic!) of him after despatching a whore? "Powers" seemed to me a more obvious word given the context? Those who are far more erudite than myself will be very quick to point out that I simply do not understand what I was reading. Very likely they are correct but in my mind I was equating the word "persuers" with being actively chased after committing a murder. So I wondered whether the word might be "powers" - and then forgot all about it for 32 years!

 

So what he seems to be saying there is that because "powers" seemed to him to be a "more obvious word" given the context, and because he wondered whether the word might be "powers", his annotation on the transcript reads "powers?"


Let's just look at his logic about the context.  Powers, he says, seemed to him to be a more obvious word.  Really?


What does "nothing shall lead the powers back to me" actually mean, then?  It's not proper English.  What, or who, are "the powers"?   There's just no such thing in the English language.   It's not impossible that Maybrick meant to write about "the powers that be".  But that's clearly not what is written.  Would Maybrick have made such an error?   Possibly, but I can't see how the context indicates powers over pursuers.

 

As we've seen, Keith asks: "The author of the diary had not yet begun his campaign so why would JM anticipate people being in pusuit (sic!) of him after despatching a whore?"  Surely the very same question applies to "the powers".  Why would the diarist anticipate the powers (whatever he meant by that) being in pursuit of him after despatching a whore, before having begun his campaign?   After all, if Keith is right, the diarist is talking about his fear of his diary leading the powers back to him, which indicates some kind of pursuit does it not? So Keith's logic makes no sense whatsoever.

 

And the answer to his question about pursuers is perfectly obvious.   The diarist is talking about a hypothetical situation as to what would happen "if I am to down a whore".   In that hypothetical situation, if he were to murder a prostitute, the police would obviously be in pursuit of the murderer.


In that circumstance, he is saying that he doesn't want to lead those pursuers back to him by writing about his crimes on paper (although he does, of course, do so). 


Further, he's already talking about his "campaign", even before he has committed a single murder, because he writes in the next sentence: "If Smith should find this I am done before my campaign begins".  So he's already worried about someone finding his private written thoughts about carrying out murders.  If he were to go ahead and commit a murder, he doesn't want his inevitable pursuers to find him.  Isn't it obvious? And isn't the meaning exactly the same if he's talking about the powers that be?  If he was worried that the powers that be might be led back to him, one could ask why he was anticipating this before his campaign had begun.  But the answer is obviously that he's thinking ahead.  So I can't understand (a) what Keith finds puzzling but, if he does find it puzzling, (b) why he thinks "powers" (which is meaningless in any case) is a better option than "pursuers" in the context of the diary's text.

 

The most hilarious aspect of this entire "persuers" issue, however, is Tom Mitchell suddenly having a lightbulb moment and saying, "I think the best we can hope to conclude there is that James Maybrick intended the word to be 'powers'" and that "powers" is "far and away the most likely interpretation".   We don't need to take any notice of this because we all know that if the Barretts had transcribed the word as "powers", Mitchell would be telling us that it's obviously "pursuers" (or "persuers").


There can be no doubt that "pursuers" is what the diarist intended to write. Indeed, Paul Begg, Shirley Harrison and Robert Smith all concluded that it was pursuers in one spelling guise or another. Begg thought it was "pursuers" (although he noted that "powers" was possible), Harrison has "persuers" in her transcript (exactly as the Barretts transcribed it) while Smith, the diary's owner, having had 25 years think about it, plumped in his 2017 book for "porsuers" followed by "[sic]" so certain was he that it isn't "powers".   Were they all so badly wrong?  Has Tom Mitchell managed to do better than them? Unlikely, I think.

 

Having decided to his own satisfaction, if not to the satisfaction of anyone else, that the word is "powers", Mitchell now tells us, from the very depths of his latest diary defending fantasy:


"And if the original were 'powers', what a jolly old problem it causes Lord O and RJ P to explain how the heck the Barretts got their own word wrong in their typescript which was knocked-up so very soon after (or before?) the scrapbook text was written by Anne." 


Well, if you like, but, the reverse is true in that if the word is "persuers", with that same wrong spelling, which seems much more likely, it's rather incriminating that the Barretts not only had no apparent difficulty in deciphering the word but also spelt it wrongly, just like the diarist, is it not?

 

Anyway, in circumstances where it is impossible to be 100% certain what the word says, the point I was making in my blog was that "persuers" was an example of the Barretts apparently having had no difficulty in transcribing a word that is difficult to read.  When I said that the word looks like "powers" (which it does) I didn't mean for one second that I thought the word is powers, only that it's a word that requires some thought to decipher correctly by using the context of the sentence.  I happen to think that the correct word is "persuers" intended to be "pursuers".  I can't think of anything else that fits – "powers" certainly doesn't.

 

Indeed, this is one of the great ironies of the Barretts' transcript.  They seem to have managed to successfully decipher many words which require some consideration of the context to work out what they are.   Those who are following the discussion on Casebook will recall that RJ Palmer posted some examples of words which, without context, are virtually impossible to decipher.  I happen to agree with Caroline Morris-Brown (a rarity!) that those examples can be deciphered once one takes the surrounding context of the text into account but it requires a certain amount of astuteness and sharpness to be able to do it.  If Mike was the person reading the diary manuscript aloud to Anne (as Anne said was the process), Mike must have been the smart and astute one, working out all these difficult-to-decipher words in order to dictate them to Anne.  I thought he was supposed to be as thick as a plank. How do the diary defenders explain it?

 

Finally, I need to comment on the perpetual state of confusion Tom Mitchell must be in to have written that I, Lord Orsam, "definitely suggested" that the word in question was "peelers".  Needless to say, I had never made any such suggestion.  Nor did I suggest that the word "could be" powers.  I simply said it looks like "powers" due to the way it's been written, not that it actually is powers or that I think it might be.   I'm fairly sure I don't misrepresent Mitchell's opinion on a daily basis or even an annual basis or, frankly, ever, to the best of my knowledge.  So why does he misrepresent my opinions on a daily basis?    Is he permanently befuddled?  Interestingly, his knowledge of a mention of the word "peelers", which was by RJ Palmer in the comments section of this website only, shows that Tom is reading the posts on this website (and the comments) including my post about the Barrretts' transcript (The Finest Transcript).  With this in mind, funny, ain't it, how Tom has now gone very silent about "Christmas soul", despite this supposed dreadful error having been his big talking point about the transcript prior to it's release which was supposed to show that the Barretts couldn't have done the forgery?


LORD ORSAM 18 January 2024

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