These revisionists would have you believe that it was not Patrick Mcgoohan who was the instigator of The Prisoner. Not only that, but they would claim and infer that Patrick McGoohan was both liar and serial copyright thief, since this same sub-cult also insisted Mr. McGoohan only avoided explicitly making his prisoner John Drake, in order to swindle Ralph Smart from receipt of Danger Man royalties. Serious crimes indeed, but how to find a witness for the defence? Step forward blogger Moor Larkin - it seemed there was no jury in town, just a bullying lynch-mob so the only answer was to refuse to live in harmony with them. Fortunately villager Larkin had the Sheriff on his side, so all was not hopeless.
For some strange reason this sub-cult of The Prisoner gained the ability to resonate their peculiar version of history into the mainstream, and most published books seem to mirror their distortions and often their downright myths and untruths. I have highlighted the way this cult history has influenced otherwise dependable authors and lulled them into publishing statements that are not only palpably untrue but also completely fictitious. My last blog before this one summated how and when this had broken out into the mainstream, back in 1982, and I had thought my Blogroll would end with that one.
However, by a strange quirk of fate, my final two blogs attracted the attention of a gentleman who was a contemporary of George Markstein. His name is Sidney Allinson. Whilst most accounts label Mr. Markstein a man of mystery who might have been even a member of British Intelligence [!], Sidney labelled him as an American, “When I knew George, he was known as an American citizen, and certainly had an authentic-sounding strong American accent. Also, I recall him strongly hinting that he had been in the US Office of Strategic Services (precursor of the CIA.) Likeable as he was, George's co-workers took that with a pinch of salt.”
Many of my series of blogs have touched on the absurdity of much of the official biography proffered for Mr. Markstein. However the strange concurrence of Mr. Allinson’s memoir about Mr. Markstein passing himself off as an ex-spy, and that given in the *official* Companion, where he is again suggested as a ex-spy, suddenly struck a chord with me about an interview that George Markstein gave in 1973, just prior to the release of his 1974 novel that was based on “Inverlair lodge”, The Cooler. The quote heading up this blog is taken from that interview. Clearly this man made no even pretence to be a spy to anyone in the public, wider world, where his claims could be dissected.... and checked.
One thing that is also noticeable, is that in this interview, which was all abut George's new debut wartime Secret Agent novel, The Cooler, no mention was made of either Danger Man or The Prisoner. What is missing can often be just as significant as what is there, as Chesterton's Father Brown may or may not have said.
Together with my fellow-researcher I used the main clue given by Sidney Allinson to try to run this story finally to ground. After all, much of my Blogroll, where it appertained to George, had been wholly negative – stating how he had said (or been reported as having said) things that were evidentially untrue. I thought it time I redressed my balance and actually found out what WAS true about George Markstein. I recognised that if Sidney Allinson’s recall was genuine, then the obvious place might be to start with his recollection of George Markstein being employed as a journalist in Southport, England, in 1947, and aged somewhat older than he has always been reported as being. His birth-date has long been accepted as 1929, but this would have made him barely 18 in 1947. His presence in that Lancashire coastal resort, working for a small local newspaper would also make it impossible that he had been gallivanting around Europe working for MI5, just as his age would make it impossible that he had been working for the OSS. Following the clues so given, I discovered first that George Markstein was an active member of not any Intelligence service, but in fact, the Union of Journalists in the UK. This led to a record of his having obtained work in Reading in Berkshire, transferring from the Southport Guardian, in the same year that Sidney Allinson had known him – 1947.
As I have continually discovered in my trek to ‘prove’ the innocence of Number Six, the truth is often hiding in plain sight – all you have to do is to ignore the self-proclaimed experts and find it. The truth about the man who was George, is radically at odds with much of his popularly-believed biography (check out his wiki-page if you want a good laugh). His background is also completely at odds with what he either told Prisoner fans, or allowed them to infer for themselves. Like most human beings however, his story is both poignant and fascinating and redolent of what motivated Patrick McGoohan when he led his team of contributors to create his paean to the glory of the Individual, whilst simultaneously mocking the very idea that any man can be truly free. The creation and perpetuation of so many untruths about George Markstein have done him no benefit whatsoever. Once revealed, falsehoods rightly make us distrustful of the sources of those deceits. Revealing the source is often difficult however. Mr. Markstein certainly had some circularities of his own to rotate the truth upon, but it can also be difficult to separate the fictions he created from the stories woven by his later cult followers.