Interim 4th January 2020

In the wake of our trip to the Postal Museum and the exhibition on The Great Train Robbery we found ourselves in the Crutched Friar Pub for the Interim discussion. Tonight, the topic is ‘Why Do So Many Jack the Ripper Documentaries Get Some Obvious Facts Wrong’?

Normally there is quite a preamble before we get into the discussion, but tonight was different. Apart from mention of police whistles being made in Birmingham, the films ‘Time After Time’ and ‘Krakatoa, East of Java’ very little was spoken about and we were straight into the issue. One which I guess this has been kicking about since the documentary with Emilia Fox and David Wilson was broadcast in April of last year. It was probably called JTR – The Facts at Last or JTR – Finally the Truth or one of those ‘pun’ titles. Actually, I believe its title was, JTR – The Case Re-opened.

This programme did indeed have some new angles and David Wilson is a very respected Criminologist coincidently having worked with the Societies last guest speaker Elizabeth Yardley. It was a very good viewing, but it did get some facts very wrong and put forward a couple of theories as facts when they were rather leftfield suppositions. The man that Joseph Lawande (definitely him) saw was dressed differently to the man seen in Berner Street by Israel Schwartz (definitely him) was due to the murderer going home to change clothes. I guess he wanted to smarten up a bit.

That is a good example of mistakes that are made and so many of these programmes house them. I imparted that I thought JTR – The Definitive was pretty good but then I guess it was made by enthusiasts. Without going into a blow by blow account of the evening the consensus of opinion was that the makers of JTR documentaries want a selling point and that normally means they want a conclusion so the viewer is left with a ‘ that’s probably not far from the truth’ feeling. Gestaltic thinking suggests we humans have to reason to neatly concluded matters, and we cannot accept unfinished concerns. Hence why there must be a conclusion. Don’t leave the public frustrated.

In saying that how many programmes have be made the light of Stephen Knights book and he was a really good writer. The story we know is not quite true but look how it sold. I guess we involved in the field always search for the truth whereas a lot of the public that are not that bothered just want a good story. There are some thoughts for you.

Before we all departed there was still some time to go over a few, slightly related points. Did Caroline Maxwell see Mary Kelly just a few hours before her body was found? Did Mary Kelly come back to her room and find a body on her bed and decided to disappear into history. We like sticking to facts. In addition Mary Wollstonecraft senior got a mention as did a JTR enthusiast Jim Marsh who Mark told us claimed he was visited by Mary Kelly and Kate Eddowes in the night.

The next Interim meeting will be at the Crutched Friar pub on March the 7th and the subject suggested by Martyn will be ‘Why can’t we find Mary Kelly’? That should be an interesting one and please see the Interim Meeting’s Facebook page for further details.

Attendees in the house were: – Mark Galloway, Tony Power, Richard Shepard, John Kelly, Martyn Priestnall, Tony Power and of course yours truly Steve the Rattey.