Jack is Nimble, so You be Quick

Jun 12th, 2008 | By | Category: Readers Contributions

A look at the Jack the Ripper industry in East London
Jack the Ripper not only created chaos in the East End of London in 1888, he also unwittingly created a massive new industry. That industry started life in the daily and weekly rags of London, and then it spread to the nationals and the regional newspapers. Since the last suspected murder in late 1888, Jack has provided thousands of writers, detectives, documentary makers and conspiracy theorists, with enough material to make a `bloody` good living from, if you’ll excuse the pun, Boss. We all know what the papers can do with an average story, they can make a mole hill look like Everest. A good friend of mine, a journalist who will remain nameless, once said to me “never let the truth get in the way of a good story”. Jack the Ripper is different though, you don`t need to embellish the truth, you don’t need to make anything up, in fact there is so much material flying around that an average writer is spoilt for choice.
When I was a tour guide in London I used to do the ripper walk at least twice a week, in fact I loved that tour. I met some of my best friends from abroad whilst taking groups on the ripper trail. I never really knew who had the biggest fascination with Jack, but the Australians and the Americans always came close. I remember vividly some of the laughs we had, with some of the comments made by the tourists. One day the group involved 5 young girls from New York, they were brilliant all the way round, asking great questions and listening intensively. At the end I always finished the tour opposite a car park, which now stands on what was once the home of Mary Jane Kelly. I always asked what the group thought of the tour and my commentary, and if they had learned anything new. This particular day the girls were in their glory or should I say `gory`, one stepped forward and asked, in that wonderful New York accent, “Sean, how many did Jack actually take out”, holding back the smile and suppressing a laugh, I looked at the mixed group and saw they were in the same state. “It depends on the theorist love” I said, “but most of us agree on 5”. This cute, Sex in the City type girl, looked at me with a face that Buster Keaton would have been proud of and said; “What, that’s nothing, we have a guy in the states named Jeffrey Darmar and he took out 17”, her hands moved to her hips as if to further say “so what do think of that?”. I looked at the group again to see most of them staggering with laughter, then a smile came across her face as I answered back; “that’s great love, but it ain`t a competition”. It was one of the best tours I had ever done, and the tips were very good that day as well.
These days you will be spoilt for choice again, not for the information to hand, but for the amount of `Ripperologists` now making a living out of one of the world’s most prolific and best known mysteries. I whole heartily recommend anyone interested in real life crime to do a ripper tour, they usually end up at a pub on the Commercial Road named The Ten Bells, in here you can get a ripper T-shirt and other memorabilia celebrating the great man. This pub is reputed to have been the last drinking hole of Mary Jane Kelly who lived just yards from it. Who knows, she may have even met Jack in the pub, no one would have noticed too much, as at 3 a.m. most of them were blind drunk. One thing is for sure though, she was most likely his last victim and maybe he planned it that way, after all, she was the only one that he killed indoors. Then he spent hours carefully skinning and gutting her. This appears to have been his swan song, but what happened to him after that is any ones guess. One thing the tour will give you though, is enough information for you to become a Ripperologist yourself and who knows, maybe you will be the one who finally solves the mystery. Do take great care though, if you do manage to defy all those before you and actually prove your theory, you will become a murderer yourself. Don’t panic though, you won’t be taking over from Jack, your victim will be multi-million pound industry that keeps the mystery going. Take care now and be careful out there, evening all!

© Sean Boru 2008

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