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Henrietta Helen Olivia Robarts Durand-Deacon. I am tempted to say this is the only picture of her, but on closer inspection, it would appear there are two of them taken on entirely different days in completely different outfits, but nearly identical.

She was one of the victims of John George “Acid Bath” Haigh, mentioned in the previous post. He took her to his ‘workshop’ on the pretext of discussing an invention of hers, whereupon he conked her on the head and dissolved her in a vat of acid. For her lambswool coat and the small change in her purse. Kind of a moron, was Haigh.

I very nearly started a True Crime blog years ago, before this one. There are millions of them now — there were probably dozens of them then — but I like to think I’d have brought something a little different to the genre. A little weaselly.

Like, for example, I’d always rather lead with the picture of a victim than the killer (though I was awfully tempted to illustrate this with a picture of Mrs D-D’s gallstones: the only part of her body to survive the acid bath).

I am not fond of murderers. It’s a damn shame that cults of personality spring up around serial killers, because they are always, always, ALWAYS giant losers. Too dumb to make a living some other way or too stunted and damaged to relate to other humans like an actual person.

And it’s tragic when journalists refer to them as “monsters” — they love that. It’s sounds so powerful and scary. And aspiring not-yet-serial-killers hear that and think, “monster. Yes. That is just how I would like to be remembered.”

Anyway, every true crime story has one — or at least one — little nugget of…je ne sais quois. A little factoid, often overlooked.

In Olive’s case, it’s the invention she wanted to discuss with Haigh: artificial fingernails.

Mrs Olive Durand Deacon was the widow of a war hero and had been an active suffragette in her day, even spending a night in the cells after throwing a brick through a window. But now she was a respectable lady in her late sixties – and rich. She was delighted to hear that nice Mr Haigh, who sat on the table opposite her in the hotel, was an inventor. She had a scheme herself to produce and patent artificial fingernails. This was 1949 and the post-war period when women wanted a bit of glamour. Mr Haigh liked the idea, and suggested she come down to the workshop to look at a few blueprints he’d knocked up for the project. That was the last they ever saw of her.

I’m no expert on artificial fingernails, but a cursory Google makes this at least thirty years before artificial fingernails became a thing. I like to think there’s a universe in which Haigh wasn’t an insufferable twat and they both died stinking filthy rich cosmetics barons.


Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: February 19, 2019, 9:20 pm

1949? Haigh! What a prat!
This is the sort of thing you’d expect in Victorian England!
or the England of George the 1st!


Comment from thefritz
Time: February 19, 2019, 9:34 pm

Your carboy post was indeed fascinating. For starters I didn’t know what a carboy was so I googled it. Then I got sucked into Wikipedia reading up on Haigh and followed the link to his executioner whose Wiki listing was riveting. Here’s a guy who, from a very early age, only wanted to execute people. Ya just gotta love Wikipedia.

Comment from CantHarkMyCry
Time: February 20, 2019, 12:15 am

Funny thing, I was just yesterday reading about artificial fingernails:


Go to “Fingernail problems” in the “Later life” section. . .

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: February 20, 2019, 12:32 am

“A Is for Acid” with Martin Clunes is pretty good:

Sometimes I fantasize encountering the true Ted Bundy, turning the tables on him and bashing his head in.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: February 20, 2019, 12:55 am

A train Stoaty and Uncle Badger might like:


Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 20, 2019, 3:52 am

We tried to watch a recent Amazon Prime series based on Agatha Christie’s “The ABC Murders”. However the series itself seems like a crime to us…
It features Hercule Poirot as a skinny old man, forgotten by everyone. His last friend, the Head of Scotland Yard has been fired because he insisted that Poirot was a ‘real dective’ but a British search of Belgian records shows no evidence that Poirot was ever a member of the Belgian Police. Poirot weakly claims that “a lot of records were lost in the war” and we are shown a flashback of Poirot as a refuge in a crowd of refuges, for some incomprehensible reason. Having been fired the man dies of a heart attack leaving Poirot friendless. At another point, Poirot is embarrassed in public and decides to henceforth give up the vanity of dying his beard. He had apparently already given up his excellent mustaches for reasons unexplained – no doubt because they are incomprehensible as well.

Now, as odd as all this seems for Christie’s Poirot, imagine him played by skinny old John Malkovich. Yes, THAT John Malkovich, the one who does a Belgian accent about as well as Kevin Cosner did a British accent in Robin Hood. It’s like having Meryl Streep do the role of Shirley Temple in The Little Colonel.

There oughta be a law.


Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: February 20, 2019, 2:35 pm

Some Veg, I’ll know to avoid this Poirot adaptation. It seems as though (a) Hollywood and the BBC have utterly lost all imagination, so that they produce only remakes or “reimaginings” of older, successful properties; and (b) these “reimaginings” all feature the lead character as crippled or damaged in some way, usually mentally or emotionally.

Examples abound. The Elementary series with Holmes as an Asperger’s patient, and the modern-day version with Benedict Cumberbatch as a near-sociopathic Holmes. This Poirot as a friendless old man. The new Star Trek movies with Kirk as a 23rd-Century James Dean-like delinquent and Spock having an affair with a human woman. Even when the series is original, like House, the lead is “broken” in some way. It’s exhausting.

We were lucky that Guy Ritchie didn’t push his re-forming of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that far. We’d have gotten Napoleon Solo as a charming wife-abuser and Illya Kuryakin as a near-psychotic Ukrainian rebel determined to overthrow the Soviet government by planting bombs in the Kremlin.

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: February 20, 2019, 4:17 pm

Some & Wolf – Mrs D and I tried watching it and were left singularly unimpressed, partly confused, and bored. Which is too bad, I enjoy the weirdness that can be John Malkovich and had hopes for the show, but alas.

This forces her to get her Brit fix watching all the old and newer Brit crime shows on Brit Box.

I should like to add, based on the English village crime solver genre I suggest we start a GoFundMe for Uncle B and Sweasel to get them out of the pastoral British countryside post haste – the number of multiple murders that occur in these quaint old country villages and towns is quite alarming, and I fear for our favorite mustelids.

I don’t want them to turn up on “Detective Miss Father Inspector Whatchamacallit” as victims in a crime committed by Jack the cat.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: February 20, 2019, 5:14 pm

British tv is so bad. All these period pieces like Father Brown, Granchester & Endeavour are all progressive nonsense.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 20, 2019, 5:38 pm

”The number of murders in small English villages is shocking.”

Yes, for example the village of MidSummer seems to average about three murders per week, and it’s supposed to be a NICE place to live.

Comment from bikeboy
Time: February 20, 2019, 6:09 pm

So, apparently I got bad advice from my doctor when I complained about my gallstones: “Take two aspirin and a cup of nitric acid, and call me in the morning.”

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: February 20, 2019, 8:09 pm

For what it’s worth, I rather liked Hercule Poirot as performed by John Malkovich. I have zero problems with new actors taking on old roles in new productions.

We have no objections to new actors on Broadway, or new opera productions (I like finding new opera stars). What if “Shakespeare in the Park” ceased to exist?

I don’t care if Hollywood wants to remake every movie or television show ever made. If I liked it the first time, then I’ll probably want to see the new version. I detested “The Three Stooges,” but if someone want to try it again, have at it.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 20, 2019, 8:34 pm

I’m sorry, Deborah — Shakespeare with an American accent brings me out in hives.

Kind of like when a Brit says “boogie woogie”.

(Yes, that was a dig aimed at Uncle B).

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: February 20, 2019, 10:09 pm

Boogie Woogie?

Is it Bogy Wogy when he says it?
Boojee Woojee?

They really should learn how to use their language properly you know.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: February 20, 2019, 10:53 pm

I’d like to see a Brit reboot of Burke’s Berk’s Law.

Comment from MrsMGunz
Time: February 20, 2019, 11:56 pm

Some Vegetable: I just finished watching the ABC murders yesterday, and it was… odd. It left me cold and depressed, thinking “Surely there is at least one nice person in England.” Agatha Christie is rolling in her grave at Malkovitch’s Poirot. Next thing you know, someone will cast Sarah Jessica Parker or Cameron Diaz as Miss Marple. Or, Meryl Streep.

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