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Showing posts from March, 2018

Reviews of Pregnant Fish Theatre - Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?

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An intriguing production of the Bella in the Wych Elm story was performed on stage at The Space in London, March 13-13, 2018.

The production didn't have a traditional script based on dialogue, but rather was narrated by the cast using original archival and published sources.

It sounds like a really intriguing way of doing theatre, mimicking, in some ways, the true-crime shows that have proliferated on television.

I'm hoping to get a video of the production at some point, but I thought I'd list a few review links.

Most reviewers acknowledge that the piece was exquisitely well-researched but suggest that trying to cram all that information into 60 minutes, might have been a bit ambitious.

London Theatre 1 - "What is particularly impressive here is how different elements of the production come together."

The Upcoming - "The movements the cast create are arresting, but not enough to completely pull the whole act together seamlessly; there are highlights as with…

Article Review - Fortean Times - Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm - 2018

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Article Review - Fortean Times - Bella in the Wych Elm - 2018 03 01

An article on Bella in the Wych Elm was published a few weeks ago by the Fortean Times. Written by Cathi Unsworth, the article seems to be primarily based on interviews with HD Paranormal's Jayne Harris.

The author does manage to dodge a few of the most repeated errors (she doesn't say that Josef Jakobs was Czech) but does include a few (that Clara Bauerle had been a singer in the West Midlands music halls).

It's a fairly well-written article and the author did attempt to track down some of the lingering anomalies about the Bella case.

For example, many Bella stories quote Margaret Murray and her "Hand of Glory" theory, but no one has ever been able to point to primary source material for that story. The author adds a footnote which sheds some light on the issue... but doesn't solve the problem.

The article used a photograph of Josef Jakobs without acknowledgement or provenance, a bit of an a…

Bella in the Wych Elm - The Story of Jack Mossop

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Who was Jack Mossop? Did he and an accomplice murder a woman after a night of drinking at the Lyttleton Arms near Hagley? Did they stuff her still warm body into a wych elm in Hagley Wood? Did the memory of this traumatic event drive Jack mad? Did he die of an overdose in a mental hospital in 1942?

So many questions. So many suppositions and rumours. It's hard to tease apart fact and fiction. But let's give it a try. Before we get started, I am deeply indebted to Duncan Honeybourne. for sharing his information on the Mossop clan. Duncan's grandmother was a first cousin of Jack Mossop and he has conducted extensive interviews with the elders in the Mossop-Crump family.

Family
It all begins in Ireland, as most great stories do. Maurice Mossop and his wife Mary, both born in County Mayo, emigrated to England with their three young sons, sometime between 1847 and 1851. The family settled in Eccleshall, Staffordshire and Maurice worked at various jobs including agricultural labo…

Book Review - Double Agent Celery: MI5's Crooked Hero - Carolinda Witt (2017)

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The Book
Double Agent Celery: MI5's Crooked Hero. Carolinda Witt. Pen & Sword, 2018.

Summary
First off, I have to say that getting a copy of this book took both perseverance and patience. I had ordered a copy in late December and it finally arrived in late February. It was slated for release in Canada on January 19, 2018 but even after that date, there were no actual books in stock online or in stores (Chapters bookstore). I even went so far as visiting Foyles while I was in London in early February and they had not received any copies either. I could have ordered an e-book but I prefer actual books.

As for the book itself, it is definitely interesting. Carolinda Witt is the granddaughter of Walter Dicketts, a.ka. Double Agent CELERY. In the first part of the book, we learn about Dickett's early life, his World War I career and his shady dealings in the 1920s. He was definitely a rogue and a scoundrel! Dicketts had several mistresses and wives and seems to have left many of …

Robin William George Stephens - A few Bibs & Bobs

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Every once in a while, a few more bits of information about Robin William George Stephens float my way. The latest batch come from an odd assortment of sources.

MI5 - Bad Nenndorf & Robin W.G. Stephens
The MI5 website has had a bit of a facelift and they now include a whole page dedicated to the post-WWII CSDIC (Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre) at Bad Nenndorf and its Commandant Robin Stephens. They've clearly sifted through Stephens' court martial documents (National Archives) and distilled their version of the saga. It doesn't totally jive with Ian Cobain's book, Cruel Britannia and, as with Col A.P. Scotland and the London Cage, I wonder at their protestations of innocence.
MI5 still operates under strict rules for interviewing and questioning individuals. All MI5 staff are trained in the requirements of the Human Rights Act before they are deployed to operational posts, and the Service has rigorous procedures for ensuring that the law and the gove…

Double Agent CELERY - update

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At last! The copy of Double Agent Celery that I ordered in December has finally arrived! I am looking forward to reading it (review coming in the next few weeks).

In the meantime, there is a fascinating interview with author Carolinda Witt on the Conversations program on Australia's ABC Radio. You can listen to the interview here:

The daring and scandalous life of British double agent ‘Celery’


Walter Dicketts (CELERY) sounds like a fascinating character - a scoundrel, a rogue and a conman. Perfect training for his double agent mission. I'm interested to see how Carolinda deals with the tangle of stories between SNOW and CELERY.

There's also a three minute video clip on YouTube from the book launch.