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What if Nick Pelling is right !!!!

You know, reading that thread title sends a chill all the way down to my feet, seriously, and my hands are getting clammy, plus there’s this peculiar thumping in my upper chest left-hand  side. It might be drugs because I’ve run out, but not booze, it’s too early.

It’s the thought of agreeing with the dreaded Dome.

He’s the bloke over < there with two chins trying to look like Harry Potter.



Remember these? Like who doesn’t.

Well, nobody has spent a lot of time trying to place the pencils found in his suitcase which means it might be a good place to start. There were six of them. The three pictured don’t appear to be in very good shape, as a matter of fact they look to be the same vintage as the wear and tear you can see on the tool wrappings – from this you could argue that the grime on the tool coverings is graphite from all the pencils rolling around in the bottom of the suitcase.

What we have here is a man who has found a common use for all these pencils, a cut down knife, a pair of scissors and a particle brush.

So far we’ve eliminated the silhouette artist – wrong tools –  and nobody is really happy about a Ship’s 3rd using a set of homemade tools for making stencils and marking up about 3,500 boxes of cargo typically slotted into the holds of a merchant steamer.

So, they’re out.

Next we have the beef about Detective Sergeant Leane’s woeful performance with the TS slip. I mean, FIFTY-ONE DAYS ??

Maybe it just happened that way. Something that small would have no trouble getting lost in the lock-up, those places were straight out of Steptoe and Son believe me, I’ve asked around.

So, no conspiracy to delay or obfuscate, no mysterious meetings with a secret society, no nothing like that.

Plus ..

No steganography, no spies and likewise no tiny writing or criminal connections – looking at you dude – everything gets shovelled into the bullshit bin. It’s over. Besides, where has it got us?

The blackboard is clean.


This is a drawing Ronald Searle completed while imprisoned in Changi Gaol in WW2 – one of many, and he wasn’t the only man to take up the pencil in a POW camp.

Searle, upon release, was able to take many of his works back home to the UK, and I’m pretty sure he would have packed his drawing kit as well.

See what I’m getting at here?

A WW2 POW with an artistic streak being treated at the RNS Hospital in about 1945/6, say, opens his fevered eyes to a lovely young nurse hovering over his bed. They share an immediate intimacy. She changes his bed-pan and it’s love at first splash.

Then, on Feltus P176 we have this to consider: ‘about three years ago (1945/6) she had given the man, Lieut. Alfred Boxall, a copy Omar Khayyam’s “Rubaiyat” when he was in hospital.’

Feltus though declines this morsel as a misinterpretation by the journalist. He would. We don’t. Journalists are the harbingers of truth. I’ve asked around. Besides, does anyone remember Littlemore asking Alf where he met Jessica?


So no wonder Alf hid Jess’s Rubaiyat sign-off under a piece of tape. Some things a wife doesn’t need to know. And you have to admit, Verse 70 is a little on the steamy side.

Have another look at these babies  .. how far removed could they be from a prison art kit? Six pencils? Please.

So, here’s a fellow looking like a skeleton in the RNS Hospital in 1945/6 who pops up in 1948 looking like a miniature Charles Atlas and searching for the nurse he remembered from Ward 15 or whatever.

Not only that, but what were the chances they all first met in hospital in October 1946 when Alf came home on leave.

Our man Keane in Ward 15, Alf in Ward whatever and the lovely young nurse who attended to them both. Then a drink or three down at that lovely pub on the harbour when everyone got better.

And nine months later it’s hello to baby Robin.

Nobody knows how T Keane died and nobody is certain where he died. But the one thing we do know is that he knocked off a veggie pasty an hour or two before checking out and no man in fear of his life does that.

Face it, we could be looking at a love story gone tragic here.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    I was thinking if this story was set in the American West, you could be accused as being quick on the ‘draw’.

    September 26, 2020
  2. пожалуйста #

    Can’t comment on the artist part, but my own amateurish attempts (some time ago) at a POLE (People, objects, locations, events) type analysis made me think the lovers angle was the most likely.

    The only thing I’d say about the artist angle, is that there’s an absence of any completed or in-progress work in his luggage or about his person. Or indeed (in the form of doodles) in the Rubaiyat (as far as we know… we only get to see a blank page of the book). Curious.

    But, an artist’s work is usually identifiable in some way, even if only to friends and family. So he (or others, if you want to stick with conspiracy) may have disposed of it – sketchbooks, portfolios, etc. – along with other personal effects.

    I wonder if anyone found some such discarded artworks in Adelaide (or elsewhere) around the time? Is there anything in the lost & found ads in the papers?

    September 26, 2020
    • Seriously, Boris .. why would a bloke have SIX pencils, in his luggage? Who does that? I just put the same question to Tamara Bunkerama over at Cipher, who, just between you and me, sounds like a bit of a babe – probably from Ukrainia. That place near your place.

      September 26, 2020
      • пожалуйста #

        Here in Yekaterinburg I know of nobody named Tamara. But perhaps in the neighbouring Oblast there is such a person. Maybe she is fox, like you say.

        Regarding the pencils, three thoughts:

        1) IIRC, the pencils were supposedly similar grades (HBs?). For an artist to have six pencils, perhaps they’d be expected to be in some way differentiated, either by grade or perhaps by the shape of their points (some for lines, some for shading, for example). Can we tell from the images if this is the case?

        2) Would the specific and deliberate modification of the table knife be useful for pencil-sharpening?

        3) Where’s the artwork? Is there a way to look for what these pencils drew? A man is known by his tools, as we agreed many months ago (is it years now? My memory can deceive me these days). But he will reveal himself in the artifacts these tools make.

        Did he or someone else remove any evidence of his work? And is there any remaining somewhere? Perhaps left with someone he loved? Professor Abbott would know.

        September 27, 2020
        • Some think the reason he had no wallet or ID or luggage ticket was because they were stolen during the night. Others think that he inadvertently left his (almost new) suitcase unlocked and wrote his letters in pencil on the back of his envelopes ..
          They’re the ones who think there was no conspiracy involved. They think he arrived by train and lodged his own suitcase. They don’t think that leaving the two tickets in his pocket that led back to the train station was deliberate because they reckon nobody was smart enough to manufacture such a clever little scenario.

          September 27, 2020
        • пожалуйста #

          … as might the Boxalls.

          September 27, 2020
          • I’m no big researcher, but today I found out that there was an Army Intelligence office at Georges Head, just around the corner from Boxall’s workplace and the Clifton Gardens pub .. a couple of dates need checking but it looks to have been operating in 46/7.

            September 27, 2020
      • John Smith #

        Pencils? Pushing these between fingers may work… As source of pain. And information – maybe 😦

        September 28, 2020
  3. пожалуйста #

    The pencils that we see in the photo show signs of age and use that don’t appear commensurate with their degree of depletion.

    That is to say: they look pretty battered along the length of the shaft, with indentations and paint scuffs. But they’re still almost full length.

    Whatever they were used for, it doesn’t look at first sight like it was a lot of drawing or writing.

    Given their hardness (supposedly H, but not graded with a digit… a convention that may have developed only later), the pencils may only have been used for outlining. This would have presumably depleted them more slowly, although you’d perhaps expect the constant sharpening (is this what the modified knife was for?) required would also lead to depletion as well as a pronounced point.

    Is there a pencil sketching technique that involves area coverage and smudging by brush? Brushes containing remnants of “black powder” were of course found in the luggage.

    Another key tool for the artist working in pencil would be an eraser. Or at least a lump of some soft, pliable putty- or rubber-like material.

    September 29, 2020
  4. The only way I can put together a common use for those tools is to start with a sheet of tinned zinc – say foolscap size – use a pencil to sketch around the outline of the object being copied or created, use the knife point to impress around said pencilled object then use the scissors to cut it out of the sheet.
    That leaves a problem with the brush, unless it was used to clean the working surface of graphite.
    The use of the pencils as per this scenario would explain the absence of an eraser and the knife may have served a double-purpose as a pencil sharpener, as you suggested.
    Then depending on what was being stencilled and depending on its size .. it may have been placed in one of those mysteriously large envelopes and mailed out to whoever ordered it.

    I’m assuming the operation was for illegal purposes, rather than decorative or practical. Even so, the man must have been doing something for a living.

    Russians have a history of using stencils for propaganda purposes :

    September 29, 2020
  5. MDBevan #

    Your mention of the pasty…

    T (let’s call him Tom) knocks on door. Jessica opens door. “Tom! So glad you could make it. I’ve made a pasty for you and it will be ready in a couple minutes. I hope you like it, I made it ‘special’ for you.” ……… Jessica calls Alf. “Alf, we’re all set here, come pick up the body… I don’t know, maybe put him down on the beach… fine… hurry up.” Jessica hangs up phone.

    Of all the mentions of the pasty (which is an odd word to me), I’ve never read of any investigation or speculation as to where it came from. I’m not familiar the food, but surely the number of sources would not be uninvestigable (my new word). Though I believe the scenario I proposed above is its most likely source.

    October 3, 2020

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