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the rubaiyat car scenario by nick pelling

Nick Pelling writes:

So far, all you’ve managed to do with the Rubaiyat Car Theory is loosely weave stories around your interpretation of it, and then complain about the stories. Feel free to raise your game, it would be a nice change.

Fine, let’s look at the detail of your Rubaiyat car scenario, tell me if I’m weaving.

There are three players.
SM – who sells his car to …
PT – who plans to sell it on to ..
Francis –

There is no mention of any MV related paperwork in any of the deals, transactional, legal or otherwise ……. nothing to link a seller to a buyer.

No transfer of ownership papers.
No paper showing it was sold at an authorised price.
No transfer of registration papers. No registration papers. No insurance policy.
No Bill of Sale.
No receipt for monies tendered.
Just a copy of the Rubaiyat tossed into the back footwell of the car by the initial seller as a means of identifying the car at some later point in time, if necessary.

My immediate criticism of this scenario is that even in the absence of paperwork, and given SM’s distrust of Thomson’s financial methods, all he had had to do was flip the hood and record the details off the vehicle’s compliance plate.

But why would he do that? Assuming he bought the car legally he would have all the papers necessary to identify it, unless he bought it off the blackmarket in the first place.

Another criticism is how would SM (based in Melbourne) know where to find the car in Adelaide? You’ve made no mention of Thomson having passed that information on to him.

Yet another criticism is why would SM approach Francis in the first place? His issue is with Prosper.

Another criticism is that you’ve not canvassed the idea that Mr Francis I may have sold the car on to a Mr Francis II.

And how could he, or any future buyer do this without having papers (as above)?

.. or do you see everyone involved in the life of the car being party to the blackmarket business?


.. and lastly, why would SM dispose of the Rubaiyat when it carried Thomson’s phone number and bank account number?

This is how the Pelling Rubaiyat Car Scenario looks in real life:

The rubaiyat and tamam shud slip were used as a means of identifying a car sold into the black market by a man intimately familiar with the dishonest methods used by the man he sold it to.

Somebody tell him he’s dreaming.

39 Comments Post a comment
  1. 1) in the Daphne Page deal, PT was part-buyer, part-intermediary. It seems likely to me that he would have repeated the same arrangement.
    2) the point of going through an intermediary was to launder the MV documents, to make the apparent sale compliant with the state Price Commissioner. So there would be MV documents from SM to PT and from PT to RF: that’s the game PT was playing. So there would have been abundant paperwork: there was no shortage of paperwork in the Daphne Page case.
    3) The point of the Rubaiyat in the scenario was not to identify the car to SM, but to identify SM to RF.
    4) The connection with Melbourne is in your head, not in mine. It’s possible, but it’s not likely. However, remember that Jestyn told her daughter that it was above state polive level: GC takes this to mean that there was some kind of international espionage etc involved, but inter-state car sales fit the same bill just as well.
    5) Perhaps PT mentioned that the buyer was in Glenelg (but with no other detail)
    6) The reason SM would approach RF in this scenario is that he doesn’t trust PT to have acted as he said: remember, PT was part-buyer and part-intermediary in the Daphne Page case, not just a buyer.
    7) The only way this scenario makes sense is if (a) PT was the buyer/intermediary and (b) the sale happened not long before SM’s death. This is what I’d like to know.
    8) PT’s number was surely not secret to either party. And we don’t know what the other number was.

    July 7, 2017
  2. You say ‘Perhaps PT mentioned that the buyer was in Glenelg (but with no other detail).’ Nevertheless SM found the car, and as your scenario runs, is now able to prove he was a previous owner. Are you suggesting Francis then agreed to help SM in tickling up Thompson for monies outstanding?
    That doesn’t seem likely.

    July 7, 2017
    • petebowes: again, that’s you weaving a story around what I’m saying and then disagreeing with your own story. Plainly, what happened next worked out badly for SM – dead on a beach from ingesting poison – but more than that I don’t claim to know.

      Up to a certain point, all I’m saying is that I think the Rubaiyat Car theory matches what we see substantially better than the account that has dominated the coverage for the last seventy years, and I find it strange that the police never seemed to have seriously considered it.

      July 7, 2017
  3. So if we were to take your scenario seriously we would have to use guesswork? You invented this thing, shallow as it is, I’d be interested in what it looks like after you have developed it to its maturity.
    Or is that it?

    July 7, 2017
    • Novelists develop ideas to their maturity, historians instead try to work out what evidence to look for, because ultimately it’s the evidence that will tell the story, not the historian.

      July 7, 2017
      • Fair enough. History and fiction as history share one characeristic, they are structured throughout with strings of evidence.

        July 7, 2017
  4. Who, in your scenario, has the motive to poison SM?

    July 7, 2017
    • Even if the Rubaiyat Car theory is essentially correct, we don’t yet know enough of what happened to ask the question sensibly.

      We know that RF was a real person, but we don’t know his real name: we’re far from sure about his car: and the story he told the police in 1949 and the story he told to Gerry Feltus decades later don’t seem to match up. However, all these basic barriers to evidence may well fall in time.

      July 7, 2017
  5. I am still unable to understand why SM used the Rubaiyat in the way your scenario imagines it … and it is at the very core of your theory.

    July 7, 2017
    • The judge, in the Daphne Page court case, concluded that PT had had no intention of paying Page more than the pegged price: which is why he thought PT’s behaviour essentially despicable.

      Fast forward to November 1948: and SM – in the scenario – has agreed with PT to enter into a part-buyer / part-intermediary deal on a black market car, in a manner that could very easily be the same as happened with Page.

      So the question is: if the courts can’t touch PT, what leverage has SM got? To find out what PT actually did (rather than what he said he did), all SM can do is track down the final buyer and try to talk with him. But why should he listen to SM at all? Because SM can prove that he was the original seller… thanks to the Rubaiyat.

      July 7, 2017
      • What good would it do, for SM, knowing who the current owner of his car is?

        July 7, 2017
        • We don’t know what PT had told him, but if the judge had it even half-right in the Daphne Page case, it could very easily have been a pack of lies.

          July 7, 2017
          • “Oh dear, the buyer’s cheque bounced, and he’s not the kind of person you can ask about it. Best you take the pegged price and walk away.”

            July 7, 2017
          • So, SM tracked down Francis only to be told Prosper had told him (Francis) a pack of lies … have I got that right?

            July 7, 2017
            • No – in the hypothesis, the two reasons for tracking down the buyer were (a) because of a lack of trust in whatever PT was saying, along with (b) a lack of trust in the courts to police black market car deals that go wrong.

              This seems like an entirely reasonable scenario, given the coverage of the Daphne Page case in Adelaide newspapers during mid-1948.

              I don’t know if the two actually met: but I suspect that doing so was SM’s aim in coming to Adelaide that day.

              July 7, 2017
  6. nickpelling: you’ve written ten pages of explanation for a theory that runs to one. This is never a good sign when running a speculative theory past readers who know the subject, and in some cases better than you do.
    Perhaps it’s time to wind it up. Do you have anything to add?

    July 8, 2017
  7. Last call to the Pelling Titanic, your ship is going down …

    July 8, 2017
    • You’ve been a wonderful audience, thank you and goodnight.

      Good luck with those lifeboats, mate.

      July 8, 2017
  8. You’re the one who’s just been chucked overboard.

    July 9, 2017
  9. The game’s changed, nickpelling, your scenario is now irrelevant. Even a lifejacket won’t help you.

    July 9, 2017
    • If you can find a way forward without the microwriting, fair enough. But the microwriting is holed below the waterline, and that only takes ships to a single destination.

      July 10, 2017
  10. nickpelling: I can understand your frustration at being proved wrong with regard to the proven espionage involvement in the Somerton Body case, particularly after spending so many years denying the possibility.
    Fair enough.
    But the point you are missing is that the information passed from Boxall to Harkness must have been in some physical form or another, and given your vociferous objections to steganography in this case, I would hope your frustration might lead you to examining and discussing what other methods might have been used by the pair, given the times.
    More: given that we now know Boxall was writing messages to somebody concerning allied shipping sailing past his boat shed, could the acrostic level of the code be re-examined with a little more confidence?
    What is looming as another interesting topic is the part Mr Francis might have played, given that Harkness and Boxall were known to be intelligence agents they would not have acted without the direction of higher authority – something at a higher level than that of the local police force (Kate Thomson).

    July 10, 2017
    • Every time you use the phrase “must have been”, a unicorn dies. No, sorry, I meant “I facepalm with despair”.

      The point you are missing is that as a consequence of one person telling a story to one person that Clive has talked with, all of a sudden everything has to spin around.

      It might be right, or it might be wrong: regardless, it’s a bit early to set off the New Year’s Eve firework display, hmmm?

      Here are the facts that stay constant:
      (1) the Rubyaiyat code is an acrostic
      (2) there is no Rubaiyat “microwriting”

      July 11, 2017
      • You stand by your Rubaiyat Car Scenario, do you?

        July 11, 2017
        • The Rubaiyat Car theory remains, in my opinion, the most probable sequence of events by which a Rubaiyat with the Tamam Shud torn out ends up in the back of a car.

          But feel free to go chase espionage stuff, knock yourself out. It’s not as if you’ve taken any notice of anything else I’ve written beyond taking the piss out of it, so I’m not holding my breath waiting for any other outcome.

          July 11, 2017
          • You have no interest in the Boxall acrostic, do you? I’m pretty sure old Eric would be liking another shot at it, and you a cryptographer, feigning indifference, are you?

            July 11, 2017
            • The “Boxall acrostic”? Hahahaha, hilarious.

              If you were any wider of the mark, you’d be shooting yourself in the head.

              July 12, 2017
              • The child in you emerges, again.

                July 12, 2017
                • It’s good to have an inner child. Beats having an inner git any day.

                  July 14, 2017
  11. Stepping back. Away for a while. Attempting to look in again with fresh eyes. So…The phone number; it was either Jessica’s or Prosper’s. They both lived there. Why was Prosper never questioned? At all?

    July 10, 2017
  12. The police must have had a reason to disassociate him from the case … instinct or instruction.

    July 10, 2017
  13. Clive #

    Probably by instruction I would think, after all, they knew Prosper quite well. Jessica was another matter all together.

    July 12, 2017
  14. ….. which leads us to Eric Nave.

    July 12, 2017
  15. thedude747 #

    Im glad the Daphne Page case has finally come into the discussion as it reveals a step by step blue print of Prospers business model. Cant believe this has had so little air time in the whole discussion. Clearly DP was shafted by PT and she tried to go about settling through the courts to no avail PT was too slippery even though the judge saw right through him. The guy was a career grifter going right back to the taxi stands in Mentone. Ive no doubt PT pulled the same number on either SM or an associate of SM and SM was in town to settle either on his own or his bosses behalf.
    Agree disagree I care not my only question is can somebody who has access to Feltus PLEASE ask him “was PT ever questioned?” and if not weather he agrees that perhaps he was worth a look.

    SA cops , cock up yet again.

    SA is sometimes called “the murder capital of Australia” this is actually an unfair portrait given statistically we are no worse than any region of Australia BUT for mine we have earned the tag because of the many un solved cases that have haunted the state. Is SA more prone to “mystery” ? some kind of Bermuda Triangle? NO the answer is simple ,,,we have lousy police force , always have had. The SA plods would be flat out solving the daily cross word let alone a murder hence the amount of unsolved cases that come up every few years like the SM case. We regularly see the grainy black and white images of the victims in the paper with a “new appeal for witnesses. “yeah thats right I just members I saw something weird on a beach 70 years ago, better call the cops…..

    July 23, 2017

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