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Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Great Debate

   The question is “whether or not the Prisoner owned the contents of the house which he leased in
Buckingham Place
, in the City of Westminster, London?” And for this debate, Johnny Prisoner, Piet Hein, Miss Penny Farthing, David Stimpson, and the Professor, have all been brought together in the same room in order to finally answer this question once and for all. The members of the panel have already been arguing amongst themselves all morning. The debate was opened by putting the question to the panel, and the first to respond is Miss Penny Farthing.
    "Am I a lone voice in the wilderness, in believing the Prisoner did actually own the contents of his house?
   I know it was an extremely large house to furnish, but of course we don't know if every single room on every single floor had furniture in it. So what do we know about him and the contents? One thing we know for sure is that at least some of the effects in the house were his. We learn this is The Schizoid Man when Number Six suggests that things have been changed, little things, like the statue should be gilt and not silver, that a pile of "rubbish" magazines, are not his, to which No.2 responds "No.6 has a very strong sense of identity. You won't catch him out on his possessions." This is when we see Number Six in his old house in the village occupied by the white blazered No.6. In Many Happy Returns, Number six tells Mrs Butterworth that the lease on the house had six months to run {so we know the house was rented, rather than owned}. Mrs Butterworth tells him she has taken the house on for ten years fully furnished. Now if Number Six had rented it fully furnished, that would have been the rental package, and she would have had absolutely no need to say "fully furnished" as Number Six would not have expected anything else to be the case. In my mind, this was added, to explain both to Number Six and the viewer, what Number six's furniture was still doing in the house with a new tenant."


Johnny Prisoner:  "I have to say that Miss Penny Farthing put together a most compelling argument. But I have to say that I do not think that the Prisoner owned the contents of his house. Nor do I think that a man on his own would actually live in such a large house in the first place.
   Miss penny farthing:  "But he was engaged to Janet Portland, the daughter of Sir Charles Portland. Janet would want a large house to live in, perhaps he took the house with that in mind."
    Johnny Prisoner:   "Perhaps, but we are not here to debate that. The question is, did the Prisoner own the contents of his house or not? In my opinion a man like the Prisoner, who moved about a good deal, spending time abroad would not saddle himself with a house full of contents when he was hardly to be in it! Of course over time he would have amassed a certain number of personal effects. Doing the kind of work he did, sent him all over the world, he would be away from his home perhaps for weeks, months, and in this case, for a whole year at a time. So taking this into consideration, the Prisoner would lease a "furnished" house, rather than a "non" furnished house, for which he would have to take time to furnish himself, and
1 Buckingham Place
is a big house for just one man.
Miss penny Farthing:  "My point exactly. That's why all the rooms in his house may not have been furnished!"
                                               
    What have you to say on the subject Piet Hien?
   "Well in my opinion the question in hand is a vexed one, and not at all easy to answer. Perhaps to resolve this we shall have to put the question to Number Six himself. All each of us can do is to state our case for or against. If we continue to argue amongst ourselves, we will be doing so until the "cows come home." And if we do, what will any of us have achieved? Whether or not the Prisoner owned the contents of his home in London can never be brought to a final and satisfactory conclusion. Such a conclusion can only be achieved by Number Six being brought before us, and answering the question himself, which he will not do. Was he asked here to this debate, that is what I would like to know?"
                                                        
   Yes he was, and he did refuse the invitation.

Piet Hein:   "Yes, well there you are then. Mrs Butterworth stated that she now has the house leased for ten years, fully furnished. But that was a lie, because no sooner had the Prisoner been brought back to the village, than Mrs Butterworth turned up on his doorstep bearing a cake with six candles on it. And then in Fall Out, that the Prisoners house is being made ready for him, a house which had been put up for sale, the 'for sale' notice being removed as we see. And it is that removal of the "for sale" sign being removed which compounds Mrs Butterworth's lie. For if Mrs Butterworth had the house under lease, fully furnished or not, the house would not then be put up 
"for sale." So in my book, there is another question."
                                                 
   Another question Piet?

    Piet Hein:  "Yes. Seeing as how 1 Buckingham Place had been put on the market for sale, who was it who purchased the house on behalf of the Prisoner?"
                                                             
   Yes, well thank you Piet. perhaps we can debate that question another time. meanwhile perhaps David Stimpson, who has been brought specially here to the village for this debate would like to put his penny worth in. Although we're not too sure who he has come as!
"For me, the Prisoner did not own the contents of his house. I was once a bachelor, and I never had many possessions at all, just personal effects, a few knick-knacks, a stereo record player, books, clothes and the like. But I didn't own a house, nor did I own any furniture, well nothing to mention only a few personal possessions.
   Working as a Civil Servant, the Prisoner might be earning as much a £50 a week, which amounts to £200 a month. In my opinion the Prisoner could not possibly afford the lease on a house in the City of Westminster, in the first place, let alone afford to furnish such a large house!"

The Professor: "If the Prisoner did not actually own the contents of 1 Buckingham Place, perhaps someone could tell me who did! And are the contents of the Prisoner's study in '6 Private' here in the village, the same contents as those in the study of 1 Buckingham Place
? That's what I would like to know.
  We appear to be getting away from the point somewhat. I understood we were here to debate one question, not to raise others. It seems quite improbable to me that the Prisoner did not own some items in his London home, paintings, prints, a few books and the like. One may lease a furnished house, but then we like to personalise it with our own personal possessions. As for the fixtures, fittings, furniture, I believe they all came with the house. As to the question of who actually owns 1 Buckingham Place, it could be that the Duke of Westminster might own it, and so leased through an Estate Agency. The Duke of Westminster owns property all over central London, and land too, such as the land which the American Embassy stands upon. However, I think this to be unlikely, as research has shown 1 Buckingham Place to be a "freehold" property."

Miss Penny Farthing:  "Well that's all well and good, but it doesn't answer the question does it?"
                                                    
    No, I'm afraid it doesn't Miss Farthing. It also strikes me that unless the Prisoner comes forward and answers the question himself, there is little possibility in drawing this debate to a final and satisfactory conclusion. We can only theorise about whether or not the Prisoner owned the contents of his London home. There is little or no evidence to settle this debate either way. However if readers of this Great Debate would wish to join in with this debate please feel free to do so.

Be seeing you

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