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1. What This Talk Is and What It Is Not

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  • 1. What This Talk Is and What It Is Not

    What this talk is and is not

    "You're not Mike Barrett!!"
    "Who am I then?"

    This was an exchange between Paul Feldman and Mike Barrett at one point in the tragicomedy that is the Diary story. I believe Martin Fido referred to this as the most insane piece of Ripper research ever....up until now that is.....

    There is no man alive today that knows the identity of the author of the Maybrick Diary. And by that statement I do not mean that Melvin Harris or Paul Feldman took the secret to their graves;far from it. I believe we have a better grip today on WHERE it came from, but HOW and WHY remain as much a mystery as the name of the Ripper himself. The key question is no longer whether it's a modern fake, but who wrote it circa 1888-1939, bearing in mind Keith Skinner's research which proves the Diary came "out of Battlecrease House". If it wasn't James Maybrick, then who?

    I dunno. I will hazard some guesses, as well as channel my inner Keith Skinner in an effort to seeif we can reverse engineer some of his comments. Plus if you hang around the bar at Conferences and read the Casebook CDR for old posts ya hear stuff....but more on that later.

    But I doubt this talk will convince any skeptics, filled as it is with conjecture. This is after all what Bill Beadle called "Ripperology's greatest debate." What you will hear is (hopefully) an informed layman's discussion of the pros and cons of some of the key tests performed on the Diary. What you should walk away with is an skeptical eye towards the Rendell "investigation" and contempt for the infamous AFI tests. Forget you ever heard about chloroacetamide or Diamine.

    We'll talk about the "Liverpool Library Miracle". We'll talk smack about a whole lot of people.But you are not going to hear a lot about the Barretts and their ever changing stories about the origins of the Diary. They've flipped from Tony Devereux giving the Diary to Mike Barrett to Mike writing it to it being in Anne's family all along back to Mike writing it and then morphing into Mike authoring it but Anne physically writing it back to Anne being a Maybrick. Whew, I think I just got whiplash.

    I think the Barretts' involvement stems from Mike Barrett buying the Diary
    in the Saddle Inn, Fountains Road, Anfield, Liverpool, where he and an electrician who worked for Portus and Rhodes were known to drink. They were the contractors for the 1989/1990 renovation of Battlecrease, right around the time Billy Graham claimed he gave the Diary to Anne Barrett....(Forget the Tony Devereux or Billy Graham red herrings....a lot of stories in this sad tale involve people who were dead (TD) dying (Billy Graham) or suffering from Alzheimer's (the father of the co-owner of the shop where Albert Johnson bought the Watch.)

    Don't expect this talk to present everything like a neatly wrapped torso under your Christmas tree....It was messy work in 1992 and it's messy work today. We don't have time to discuss in any depth the Watch, the so-called textual issues (we'll talk about a few; it's language appropriate to a man of commerce), the Casebook Hundred Years flame war, the Maybrick case itself which is at least as fascinating as the Diary story and features a cast of characters straight out of central casting. We'll get to a little of it as if the diary is not in Sir James' hand we must cast a wide net to find a possible author. We can't dwell on Paul Feldman's belief that the U.K. government gave all the illegitimate Maybrick descendants new identities in some effort to suppress the true story behind the Ripper. No question Feldy went on some wild rides to tie together a lot of old theories in an effort to link Maybrick to the Royal Conspiracy, Sickert, J.K. Stephens, the whole lot. (I have always wondered why the conspiracy buffs never seized on the supposed link back to the Royals through Michael Maybrick. After all John Netley (Gull's coach man) died in1903 , under the wheels of his own cart, at Clarence Gate, outside Michael Maybrick's front door. Conference talks have been delivered based on far I attempting to prove rightnow.)

    All I can attest is that neither Keith Skinner nor Caz Morris were harmed in the creation of this talk. I've never talked to Keith and Caz was unavailable for consultation. So no one has violated any confidentiality agreements and as a result I might be talking complete nonsense at times. Tempus Omnia Revelat as someone once said.....

    When we started putting this talk together Mark Ripper remarked to me that "It occurred to me that the diary story actually has a lot of narrative features which people enjoy in fictional books, television and film. James Maybrick's best scenes occur in the bedroom; Mike Barrett's best scenes occur in the pub; the Diary's best scenes occur in the laboratory; Anne Graham's best scenes occur in the dark undercurrents of her family history; Paul Feldman and Melvin Harris wrestling before the sitting-room fire like Birkin and Gerald in Women in Love. You couldn't make it up."

    No you couldn't, and you wouldn't, and you shouldn't, and with that let's take a peek at the Diary.