Bob Forrest stirs the pot.
Bob Forrest has been in touch and has directed yours truly to a post he wrote wherein he discusses the mysteries and possibilities of what may be behind the Rubaiyat code, including the 4XAs. Bob seriously avoids adding anything to the flyblown theories about murder and conspiracy and I bet he’ll be surprised to receive three cartons of second-hand le Carre novels in the mail next week.
But more mysterious still, on the back of the book someone had penciled in the five lines of capital letters. The second line of letters seems to have been started, then crossed out, it is thought because it was a mistake for the fourth line.
The inscription proper, then, whatever it was intended to signify, probably consisted of the first, third, fourth and fifth lines – a sort of coded quatrain – and it is curious that if one reads aloud the final letters of those lines (D, P, C and B), they all rhyme, so the coded quatrain has the a–a–a–a rhyming pattern of quatrains 10, 26, 32 & 49 of FitzGerald’s first edition (the remaining 71 quatrains having an a–a–b–a rhyming pattern)!
And why is the quatrain divided in the middle by a pair of crudely drawn lines with an X at the left–hand side ? Or is the X something to do with the O below it? However, I doubt that this divided quatrain observation has any real significance, and on the basis of it I would certainly not join the happy band of would–be decoders who have attempted to fathom its meaning, but without success. I am simply ‘stirring the pot’, if you like.
I would have thought a more profitable approach would be to ask why AB occurs twice in the first line and once in each of the 3rd and 4th lines. If letters represent words, then line 1 has ABAB and how many meaningful sentences can you think of with the same two words occurring in immediate succession like that ? ( Like “and so-and-so”, as in “and so-and-so said this, and so-and-so said that” – not a serious suggestion, but you will see what I mean.)
As far as the probability of the 4XAs appearing randomly, Bob suggests the following:
You could test this sort of thing by computer simulation, using randomised letters in place of each letter of the code (but retaining the frequency distribution of the letters in the code), then doing a computer search to see how rare it is to find the same letter in the same place (1st place, or 2nd or 3rd….or 7th or 8th etc) in all four lines. A computer could do 10,000 simulations like this in seconds.
That’s what I mean .. why do non-espionage enthusiasts complicate a simple espionage matter?
Man 1 with slip intends to meet man 2 with book. Book contains information (ask Gordon how, he’s the invisible ink guy) that man 1 wants once his slip is seen by man 2 to fit into the hole in the book. This success pleases man 2 immeasurably so he hands the book over. Man 1 then determines the message is kosher by lining up the 4XAs so artfully hidden by man 2 from all but me and my good mate Bob for over 70 years.
Information someone said?
In 1946 the Chifley government, joined in equal partnership with the British government of Clement Attlee, created a guided weapons experimental range and village at Woomera, and a sprawling research and development facility near the Adelaide suburb of Salisbury. This was the beginning of one of the most colourful, costly, and secretive episodes in post-war Australian history—the Anglo-Australian Joint Project.
You know it makes sense.