The subject for the July interim meeting was Montague Druitt, but as people gathered at the table, different subjects were bounced about a fair bit. These included; the terror attack in Borough (which took place as some members left the June meeting.) and Chic at Glastonbury, which led to speculation that it might have been good if Liam Gallagher was joined by his brother at the Ariana Grande One Love Manchester benefit concert. This mysteriously led to how loud the people in the other bar were while they watched the Champions League Final during Tony Miller’s talk. Even more mystifyingly, this led to bottles of Fullers beer. On a serious note, there were also remarks relating to Herman Webster Mudgett, aka HH Holmes, and how close the Grenfell tower block was to 10 Rillington Place.
The intermingling of conversation between members arriving, and others starting to discuss the topic of the evening, was truly amazing, in fact there must be a scientific word for it. But on to good ol’ Druitt. There is nothing like a healthy debate where individuals lock horns and get very animated in the defense of their philosophies and this indeed was nothing like that. Within minutes it became brutally apparent that all assembled felt that there was no case for Monty as Jack the Ripper. Was that the end of the debate?
Was our subject matter dead in the water? It was not. I suspected the Druitt story had intrigues way beyond the murders of 1888, so I threw into the ring the following questions; why and how did he die? If he did commit suicide why? And if he didn’t, then how did he die? And if he was murdered â€“ who by? Serious discussion ensued. There were further Druitt-related issues deliberated on, and you may want to contemplate them yourself. What did the expression ‘serious trouble’ imply?
The Apostles Debating Society at Cambridge drew most of its members from Christ’s, St John’s, Jesus, Trinity and King’s Colleges and is there a link to Harry Wilson’s house ‘The Osiers’ in Chiswick? Did Druitt implicate himself in ‘Liaisons Dangereuses’? Why was Druitt fired from Valentines school in Blackheath? The more questions we asked, the more we appreciated how tangled a web Druitt’s story could potentially be. Why did McNaughten name Druitt as a suspect in his memorandum? And how much did he rely on his memory when he wrote it? Bill pointed out, that a lot of the ‘facts’ we have on Druitt are really just conjecture as the original police records on the case were destroyed during the Second World War. We did discuss some of the books on Druitt and I brought along Montague Druitt – Portrait of a Contender, which was written by the fantastic gentleman – John Leighton. I cannot tell you what a fantastic read that book is. At that point, I suggested that as far as our principal topic was concerned it was time we Druitt to a conclusion!
From that point onwards, other suspects were explored, such as Charles ‘Lewis Carroll’ Dodgson. Well this opened much discussion about his lifestyle, his friendship with Alice Liddell and his photography. This was possibly the most contentious point of the evening, and it seemed that some people had very strong feelings on this matter. By the way, Alice Liddell was his inspiration for Wonderland’s Alice, and in later life she married a cricketer. Wouldn’t it have been such an amazing ‘cat amongst the pigeons moment’ if it had been Druitt!
In summary, it was a great evening and a dynamic meeting. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, the old interims of a couple of years ago plus, were more of a ‘meet up and socialize’ evening. The new generation, however, are more encompassing I feel. They are focused whilst still being cordial, and always remaining friendly.
When departing, I sauntered up Minories toward Aldgate tube reflecting on what brilliant things I had acquired from the evening. It was enormous fun, I had taken part in conversation that was really stimulating and I had learnt a little bit more. Please come along. You’ll walk away with a smile. OK, so Druitt as a serious suspect did not seem to have a lot of yardage. but to suggest that he wasn’t fascinating is simply not cricket.
The next interim meeting will be on Saturday 2 September at the Chamberlain Hotel, Minories, and the subject is Kosminski. What a good call?