GeoGuessr- The Top Tips, Tricks and Techniques


This article will begin with fairly basic techniques to improve your GeoGuessr game and crescendo to advanced gameplay tips (not quite reaching the level of remembering individual blades of grass).

An Introduction to GeoGuessr

I will briefly outline the objectives of the game for any GeoGuessr newbies out there.  GeoGuessr ( is a free game in which a semi-random Google Street View location is presented to you. You are permitted to move along the street akin to Google Street View and must use Sherlock-esque logic (not the type of logic used in the recent poorly executed ‘Holmes and Watson’ movie that has a generous 10% on Rotten Tomatoes) to decode precisely where on earth your initial Street View location is. On an adjacent map, you are required to click a location and your guess’s proximity to your actual Street View position is awarded with points. The point score will range from 0 for an antipodean guess, which is hard to achieve in itself, to a maximum 5000 points for a guess within about 150 metres for the standard GeoGuessr game. A GeoGuessr game consists of 5 rounds and if my abacus is calibrated correctly, that means a potential perfect score of 25,000 awaits.

The primary purpose of GeoGuessr is that it is (everyone say this in unison) “fun and educational”. Other reasons to play involve lauding your geographical superiority nous over your friends or couples settling disputes about who is better at giving directions whilst driving. In pragmatic terms, Geoguessr may only be useful if you are kidnapped and taken blindfolded to a random location on earth with the captor providing you the chance to escape once your blindfold is removed if you can identify your location accurately to within 150 metres. The captor must then proceed to take you to 4 other locations and repeat said process. I smell a new reality TV show MTV. Incidentally, MTV if you are reading this I copyright this concept; saying copyright counts as copyright, right?


There exist several variations of the GeoGuessr game. Firstly, by clicking on ‘Browse maps’ within the left column of the website, you will be presented with a range of themes. The most commonly played is the world map which may come as a surprise to some Americans. Other popular maps include: famous places, United States (I take back my previous remark), The European Union and European Stadiums. If you search for your city/state/country, there will likely be a map for your location- note: this may not be true for astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Challenging others by clicking on the predictably named ‘challenge’ button will allow you to invite friends or foe to play the same map against you to see who really is superior in a very esoteric task that is really quite meaningless.

The standard version of GeoGuessr allows players to navigate along roads for an infinite period of time. In theory, you could be provided a location in Eastern Russia and spend a fun 3 week period on your computer clicking along Siberian roads until you reach a recognisable Paris and thus trace your path back during another fun-filled 3 week period resulting in 5000 points but on the flipside, 6 weeks will be lost from your life. It’s a tough decision. I occasionally dabble in this version of the game but my impatience means that I prefer timed version of Geoguessr. These timed versions can be played within the aforementioned ‘Challenge’ area. You are permitted to enter a time limit per round of somewhere between 10 seconds to 10 minutes. An addictive daily game in which you can test yourself against other GeoGuessr-philes has a 3 minute time limit.

The official versions of GeoGuessr have been explained but there are other variants that aren’t officially regulated and are played in the dark corners of the world; much like cockfighting. The first version involves a still Street View image. Any moving, zooming or panning is forbidden and shall be punishable by death. This is the most challenging version of GeoGuessr and if the image provided is of a grass hill, then good luck in recognising the individual blades of grass if your name isn’t GeoGuessr Wizard. The second informal version of GeoGuessr allows users to pan left, right, up and down but moving and zooming are prohibited. The third version of the game allow panning and zooming but no moving; something akin to being dropped in a location with binoculars whilst your legs are tied up. These variants of GeoGuessr can be played on the normal maps that allow moving and rely on the honesty of people to follow the restrictions. Everyone has a shady cousin whose scent whiffs of recreational drugs that they claim is a new deodorant, flirts with the legal-illegal line and possibly flirts with other cousins too- this is the type of person I wouldn’t trust to play a GeoGuessr version fairly.

It is frowned upon to use external websites whilst playing GeoGuessr (although this website you are reading now should be used).

Fundamental Techniques

GeoGuessr Coverage

By now you have listened to far too much of my ramblings that are perhaps more suited to graffiti on a toilet wall. I will finally start detailing the techniques required to be victorious in GeoGuessr.

There are large pockets of the world that aren’t covered by Street View and thus being cognizant of these locales will improve your GeoGuessr game. The map below indicates what countries are covered by Street View and thus likely GeoGuessr. There are some caveats to the below map. Firstly, I have never seen a street in Antarctica on the game and in fact I was unaware that Antarctica was a thriving metropolis that has frequent traffic jams. Some countries including China appear in the game but only as landmarks and the streets aren’t fully navigable thus you should be able to determine that you are in these countries. Other places such as India occasionally pop up but typically you can’t traverse far either in these areas. For a detailed explanation of which places Street View covers and to what extent, see the link here.

street view locations

A map showing the locations covered by Street View in 2018 and thus GeoGuessr. The blue countries are possible locations in GeoGuessr. (Source: Eugen Simion 14, Wikipedia)

Prevalence of Location

Whilst playing the GeoGuessr world map it is important to be aware of the distribution of countries. If you perpetually select Swaziland, whilst neglecting the rarity of Swaziland appearing, then you will score poorly. Russia, the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Norway and the rest of Europe account for about 75% of GeoGuessr locations. This is crucial information. Learning the idiosyncrasies of these countries is imperative. Also, when tossing up between countries, skew your guess to one of these aforementioned areas. A more detailed synopsis of what countries appear can be found here.


A distribution of locations in GeoGuessr occuring based on 500 games. (Source: C0Y0TE01, reddit)

100 world games

Another distribution of 500 rounds (100 games) of GeoGuessr. (Source= WebbieVanderquack, reddit)

For all of the glory of GeoGuessr and its founder Anton Wallén (all hail Mr. Wallén), the disproportionate nature of countries appearing can make some rounds rather repetitive (I now have a useless knowledge of obscure Russian roads taking up space in my brain). There is an egalitarian GeoGuessr map that can be fun to play that contains a more equal distribution of countries and less poor quality locations with 14,000 hand-picked places. Think of this map as the communism of GeoGuessr, if that communism is a computer game involving geography largely outside of communist countries. This Diverse World map can be played here.

Poor Picture Quality

Have you ever played GeoGuessr and then a place pops up causing you to make an appointment with an optometrist? Intermittently you will come across a location on GeoGuessr with image quality that looks like it has been photographed by a Nokia 3315 phone. This is doubly remarkable for this phone considering it didn’t have a camera. As annoying as these locations are (they typically don’t exist on the Diverse World map) they do provide some insights other than being somewhere that employs blurry sign writers. The blurry locations in GeoGuessr are almost certainly from the USA or Australia. Further information can also be deduced from these places. They will likely be a more remote region; often in the central corridor of the USA and not a large city. In Australia, the blurry locations are normally outback areas and away from the major cities (this still includes most of Australia). Why the economically deprived country of Botswana has crystal clear images whilst the filthy rich countries of Australia and USA have blurred photos is largely due to the outdated cameras used on the Street View car in the USA and Australia from several years ago. Also, horror movies portray these areas as dangerous and no-one from Google will sign up to drive through these regions for Street View; a movie idea- A Street View driver captures their own death on Halloween as they are killed by monsters. Trademark.

The Sun

The sun isn’t just useful for helping sustain life on earth but is also one of the most key instruments in GeoGuessr. Which of these traits is more useful is debatable. In Street View, if the sun is clearly in the Northern Hemisphere then you are probably in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. There is a compass in the corner of the GeoGuessr game that always orientates you north at the start of every round. The red end of the compass indicates north and rotating your computer around won’t move this compass. My first process when playing GeoGuessr is to determine which hemisphere I am in. The easiest way to do this is by looking at the shadows. If the tip of a shadow is pointing south then you are likely in the Southern Hemisphere and if a shadow tip points north then you are probably in the Northern Hemisphere.

If the shadows are unclear then panning up to the sky to find where in the sky the sun is can be useful. Often the sun is shrouded in clouds however a bright patch of sky can be observed. If the sun is in the Northern Hemisphere then you are in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. In some scenes, the sun and shadows are obscured but part of a rolling hill or building is illuminated and you can thus determine where the sun likely is. This sun-hemisphere determination process akin to some ancient civilisation’s infatuated worshipping of the sun, can be problematic. The closer the sun is to the northern or southern horizon, the more accurate guide it is. On some occasions the sun will appear overhead and you will then possibly be between the Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer. There are few guarantees with the sun due to the variance in season that the Street View location was photographed.

shadows pointing

Note the direction of the compass (the red end being north) and the shadow’s tips also pointing north. The direction that the shadow’s tip points generally indicates what hemisphere we are in- in this case the Northern Hemisphere.

Another technique I use if the sun is obscured is to exploit society’s addiction to TV and search for visible satellite dishes. These almost universally point towards a satellite orbiting above the equator in geostationary orbit. If a satellite dish points south then you are likely in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa. A satellite dish pointing directly upwards means you may be near the equator. On occasions I have played a timed round and stumbled across a satellite dish in Brazil and its angle has helped me determine an approximate latitude. I for one stand against streaming services such as Netflix due to their potential destruction of TV satellite dishes potentially jeopardising future usage of satellite dishes for GeoGuessr rounds.

south dish facing

Notice the dish facing south at quite an extreme angle (almost perpendicular to the ground). This indicates that we are in the Northern Hemisphere and probably relatively far north.

Left vs Right Driving and Miles vs Kilometres

Another key clue to pinpoint the country you are placed in within GeoGuessr is to observe the side of the road that vehicles are driving on. This of course ignores drunk drivers, hoons and those overtaking the chug-chug steady paced Google Street View car. As a general rule, countries of British origin (not Canada) drive on the left hand side of the road as well as island countries (not the Philippines or Iceland). Most other countries drive on the right-hand side of the road. Finding a left-hand side of the road car in GeoGuessr is akin to finding a dragon’s egg, wrapped in unicorn hair in the possession of a justifiably famous Kardashian.

Within the restricted versions of GeoGuessr and in some remote locations, cars aren’t visible (they aren’t invisible, there are just no cars around). In these instances other clues must often be attained to determine what side of the road the drivers are using. A fairly accurate indicator is to look for signposts. They tend to lie on the side of the road that drivers drive on. For instance a ‘warning Lannister army approaching’ sign situated by the right hand side of the road (from your perspective) will likely mean that drivers in that country or fictional HBO world drive on the right side of the road.

Look at these nice round numbers: 1 mile equals 1,760 yards or 5,280 feet or 63,360 inches. In contrast, look at these arbitrarily and hodgepodge numbers: 1 kilometre equals 1000 metres or 100,000cm. For some reason only the sensible USA, UK and the might of Liberia and Myanmar use miles. In contrast, every other country on earth uses kilometres. When will the other countries catch up to these four avant-garde areas? Nonetheless, signs on Street View often denote speed limits or distances using kilometres or miles. If you see miles, then you are probably in the USA or UK. This technique is especially useful for distinguishing Canada from the USA. The below map shows what countries drive on the left vs right and what countries use kilometres vs miles.

left or right side

The red countries drive on the right hand side of the road and use km. The orange countries drive on the right hand side of the road and use miles. The dark blue countries drive on the left and use km. The light blue countries drive on the left and use miles. (Source: Benjamin D. Esham, Wikipedia)


To most muggles, roads are made from asphalt and concrete. Enter the magical world of GeoGuessr where so much more information can be gained from glancing at the road. Line markings are particularly useful in determining what region you are in. Yellow centre lines are prevalent from the top of North America to the base of South America. The odds are if you see a yellow centre line you are somewhere on the American continents. South Africa also has yellow centre lines sometimes as does Japan. White centre lines are more predominant throughout Europe and Australia.

Dashed white lines on the edges of roads are quite common in the countries of Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Sweden although these countries sometimes have yellow centre lines or both yellow and white lines on the same road. Finland often has centre yellow lines and centre white dashed lines; it doesn’t have dashed lines on the edges of its roads. Russia has a road line that is thinner than other countries road lines. There are of course exceptions to these rules.

The condition the road is in tells us information about the type of country we find ourselves. The richer a country, the better maintained their roads are on average. Russian’s lengthy road network can sometimes be easy to detect due to the crumbling roads. Another road quirk I’ve noticed involves the typical width of roads in certain regions. European roads tend to be fairly narrow, contrasting the wide roads of the USA and Canada.

If there is one thing I like looking at more than roads, it’s guardrails. These guardrails can also provide clues to your whereabouts. Russia and the Ukraine tend to have black and white coloured stripes painted on their guardrails over areas such as rivers or on twisty roads. Guardrails in the majority of the remainder of Europe tend to be simply silver. One final road quirk I will mention is the ‘rumble strip’. Despite the name suggesting this is someone named Rumble’s strip club, the term actually refers to a long series of raised stripes on the side of the road to alert inattentive drivers to their veering off the road/failed GPS systems directing the driver into fields. I have mainly encountered these Rumble strips in Canada and the USA. On occasions I have seen them somewhere else such as Sweden. The Rumble Strip appearing below is of the type I have observed. Note that the image below comes from Asphalt Magazine (I struggle to believe that a whole magazine can be dedicated to such a substance. Sand I can understand, even concrete but asphalt!)

rumble strip

A Rumble Strip, typically found in the USA and Canada. (Source: Asphalt Magazine)


Whether you are trying to win a game of chess, attempting to rig a FIFA World Cup vote or trying to score highly in GeoGuessr, tactics are required. When the location loads it is often a good idea to initially analyse your surroundings and rotate around 360 degrees. On occasions, a player who races off down the street will miss a sign behind their back or some other clue. This patience and rotation is also useful in timed games. *Insert more updated tortoise and hare reference*.

Firstly I will mention some basic gameplay tactics. Click ahead of the moving arrows on the road. This enables you to travel faster- ideally use this in barren environments but be careful not to skip past clues such as signs. The flag icon on the left of screen takes you back to the start point and is useful for attaining a perfect score once you have moved around and worked out your general location. When you do move, remember the path you have taken and direction you have moved in; this will come in useful when retracing your path or if you find a familiar sign.

When decided on the direction to travel, heading towards nearby signs, houses, shops, major roads, towns and around corners can be useful. When faced with a dilemma as to which way to travel, think of yourself as a lazy, hitchhiking busker- they will want to travel downhill, towards a town and preferably onto a main road. The downhill aspect of travelling is important as interesting things seem to lie at the bottom of hills such as towns, rivers, bridges and key roads.

If you see the name of a towns on a sign, eg XYZ 6 km away and ABC 56 km away then generally search the map for the town further away (or preferably both towns) as the further away town is likely to be bigger and easier to spot on a map. Depending on how far you have narrowed down your region, it can be sensible to even search for tiny towns on the map. This is often contingent on the region’s size. For instance, if I notice a Dutch town name, I know the Netherlands is small and I can zoom quite far in on the map and look for towns matching the name I have found. Contrastingly, this won’t work well in vast Russia.

When I am uncertain on a country whilst playing a timed version of GeoGuessr, I brainstorm a handful of countries that I think might match where I am and try and work through each of them- looking at how well they fit the environment around me.

The zoom feature in the form of the plus sign in the GeoGuessr Street View format is one of the most useful tools in the game. It turns what are optometry tests in the form of signs that are illegible into slightly easier optometry tests. Zooming in to view any writing anywhere in Street View is key to working out clues to tessellate together.

If you are not quite sure on the precise location and want to click somewhere, try and match the road direction you are on to one going the same way on the map. You can always determine the road direction by using the compass.

If you are keen for a perfect score and have narrowed down the street, try counting houses to get to your precise start location and match this with houses visible on the map. If no houses are around, try and survey your surroundings and match up a bend in the road with where you are or some other feature.

After you have made your guess and found out how far you are from the real location, take some time to zoom in to the actual location so you can learn what the real place looks like on the map. Also, try and see if you missed any clues near the real location such as towns or geography that you can learn from. Essentially, try and learn from your mistakes every round.

The most surefire way to improve at GeoGuessr is like most other things (skydiving not included) failure. By making mistakes and learning, your game will consistently improve. Also, don’t compare yourself to people getting 25,000 point perfect scores in 10 second world rounds. Some of these people cheat. There is a way to cheat in GeoGuessr that I won’t describe here that gives you the co-ordinates for the location and these high scorers cheat. They are the athletics dopers of the GeoGuessr world. Having said that, there are some genuine GeoGuessr geniuses (or is it spelt genuses?) out there. These supernatural beings with eidetic memories capable of identifying familiar patches of road (I’m looking at you MrBeardedBread) are capable of a genuine 25k score in quick rounds.

Practicing GeoGuessr and familiarising yourself with what different regions and countries look like is key to the game. Another excellent way to improve your game is to watch YouTube videos of GeoGuessr experts playing. I recommend watching GeoGuessr Wizard’s YouTube channel, found here.

Speed Limit

Although you aren’t technically driving the Google Street View car, you are obeying the speed limit as you move down the road (thanks to slow internet loading the page). In reality, you will encounter many speed limit signs whilst playing GeoGuessr. Being aware of the maximum speed limit in certain rural areas can help you narrow down you GeoGuessr guess if you notice a speed limit sign. Note that this is not for the speed limit in urban areas unless ‘Need for Speed’ is being played. The below map shows these maximum speed limits. The key for the map shows the km per hour as surrounded by a red circle and the equivalent miles per hour written on a black and white sign. The actual signs you see won’t necessarily match these shapes and colours. Notice that the bulk of the eastern USA states and western USA coastal states have a maximum speed of 70 miles per hour. The central USA states typically have 75 or 80 miles per hour whilst Texas has 85 miles per hour. New Zealand appears on the below map as having a maximum speed limit of 110km/h however this limit only applies to a small portion of Kiwi road totalling less than 100km; the maximum speed limit for most of the country is 100km/h.

highest speed limits around the world

A map indicating the maximum speed limit by region. The key shows both km/h within the red circle and miles/h written on the black and white sign. (Source: Amateria1121, Wikipedia) Note that NZ has a maximum speed limit for most of it’s country of 100km/h (only two of its roads have a limit of 110km/h).


Any serious GeoGuessr player will get slightly aroused when they encounter a road sign. These are perhaps the most important clues within the entire GeoGuessr game. Those teenagers that have a stolen ‘Booger Hollow Rd’ hung up in their bedroom should be themselves hanged by the country on account of depriving GeoGuessrs their rightful signpost clues.

Location Names

The crème de la crème of signs in this game are place names. Often a larger city with a direction sign will help narrow down your region. Local street names or highway numbers may further tighten your search. Even if a location name isn’t known by you, if it is large enough population-wise, you may be able to find it whilst searching on the map. The street names and locations on signs should help you to at least determine the country or region you are in. I will elaborate on languages in a subsequent section.

Often you will encounter signs with a place name followed by a number e.g. New York 42. This indicates the distance until you reach the place. In this instance you are 42 miles away from New York. (Be mindful of the kilometres vs miles differentiation depending on the country). Using the compass in a situation that you encounter a sign like New York 42 is vital. You can determine the general direction the road is travelling using the compass (don’t rotate and then drop your computer) and then work out approximately which road approaching New York you are on and estimate about 42 miles along this road.

Highway Number Signs

Most countries on Street View tend to have some form of highway numbering system. If you are in Japan and see a highway 112 sign, then by zooming in on the map you will see Japan’s numbered highway network. Sometimes it takes some time to pinpoint the precise highway on the map but persistence is key. Actually scrap that- intelligence is key. Maybe ingenuity is key. Let’s say decisiveness is key. Try and determine the pattern of the countries highway system you are searching. If you are looking for highway 112, then finding highways number 110-120 might lead to the adjacent or intersecting highway 112. I will detail some specific (and Pacific) highway numbering systems in this section.

As a handful of countries make up most of the GeoGuessr locations, it’s important to be familiar with their highway signs and how to pinpoint these numbers on the map.

USA Highways

Warning: prepare to be bored.

USA County Highways: As an alien to the USA, the highway system took me some deciphering akin to Egyptian hieroglyphics. Apparently there is something logical to this system. Firstly, the smallest highways that are numbered in the USA are county highways. County Highway signs typically have the word “county” on them as seen below. These highway signs appear on the map as bland rectangular shapes as seen below. County highways are largely useless unless you recognise the name of the county. The amount of zooming in required on the map makes county highways often useless to GeoGuessr players without further information.

county highways on map

The symbol for US County Highways as it appears on the map.

county highways

An example of a US County Highway sign

county highways2

Another example of a US County Highway sign

Texas Farm Roads: These are essentially the Texas equivalent of County Highways. They provide more useful information than standard county highways as they tell you explicitly that you are in Texas with flashing lights (really just the word printed as ‘Texas’). A typical Texas farm road sign appears below. Each Texas road has a unique number (sometimes with a letter) making them useful for zooming in on the map and detecting. They appear on the GeoGuessr map as bland rectangular shaped signs. You need to zoom in quite significantly on the map to see these signs.

county highways on map

A Texas Farm Road as it appears on the map (the same symbol as US County Highways)

texas farm roads

A sign indicating a US  Texas Farm Road

State Highways: These types of highways traverse a solitary state (not liquid, gas or solid). Virtually each state has its own unique state highway sign with a few exceptions: Iowa, Mississippi, Delaware and New Jersey (the cultured area that gifted the world the TV show Jersey Shore). These four states share the same state highway sign that is essentially a black background enclosing a white circle. Also the proximate states of Maine and Massachusetts have signs that I can’t distinguish between featuring a white square with a thin black border. On the GeoGuessr map, the state highway numbers appear as quasi round white shapes. In order to notice the state highways on the map, you will be required to do some zooming but not quite as much as the aforementioned County Highways. State Highway shields are useful to spot in GeoGuessr as they narrow down your map search to a single state.

state highways map.png

State Highways in the USA appear with this symbol on the map.

state highway signs.png

A map showing the specific State Highway shield for each USA state. (Source: Mdcastle, reddit)

United States Highways: These highways cross more than one state and the signs appear as a white shield with a black number and black outline to the shield. These highways appear on the map as the same design as the signs. US Highways appear on the map as yellow roads. There is a numbering system to US Highways (hallelujah!) that enables you to not waste time (let me change that to ‘more time’ as playing GeoGuessr wastes time). Odd numbered US highways typically run in the general direction north-south. Contrastingly, even numbered US highways normally run in an approximate east-west direction. If you spot a US highways sign numbered ‘40’ you immediately know that it runs across at least a couple of US states in an east-west general direction.

us highways map

The sybol denoting United States Highways on the map


The United States Highway Shield

US Highways are will be numbered with 1, 2 or 3 digits. Highways numbered with 1 or 2 digits eg 7 or 49 are major US Highways. Routes numbered with 3 digits eg 160 are spur roads. These spur roads veer off from their parent road inheriting their 2nd and third digits from their parent road. US highway 160 spurs off from US highway 60 in Missouri. US 260 spurs off from US 60 in Oklahoma, US 360 veers off from US 60 in Texas and US 460 and US 560 spur off from US 60 in New Mexico.

There is a numbering system to US highways amongst all this craziness. Odd numbered US highways increase in number from east-west. Remember that odd numbered US highways are north-south running. Given this information, US highway 1 is north-south running and hugging the east coast. Contrastingly, US highway 97 runs through the western states north-south.

Even numbered US highways tend to increase in number from north to south. Remember that even numbered highways run east-west. Given this information, US highway 2 snakes just below the Canadian border and runs east-west. US highway 98 runs east-west through the southern states of Alabama and Florida.

If I haven’t bored you by running through the US highway numbering system, I will try and provide a technique to remember this information. I remember the fact that US highways that are even run east west by thinking of the Canadian-US border and thinking that the line is very even. Everything parallel with this line is also even. I remember that US highway that are odd run north south by thinking of the rugged coastline of the US as being uneven or ‘odd’. I remember the method of the increasing number that the US highways follow by thinking of the state of Maine which is in the north east corner of the US. This is the corner where the lowest number for both east-west and north-south highways originate. Every highway west of Maine increases in number and every highway south of Maine increases in number.

USA Interstates: Congratulations if you managed to read through the last section. Now onto the El Chapo of roads- interstates. These freeways run across the country. Signs are conspicuously blue and red and explicitly state ‘Interstate’. On the map they appear identically as blue and red shields and can be viewed fairly far out without much zooming in required.

interstate map

Interstate Highways as they appear on the map

interstate sign.png

The shield indicating Interstate Highways for the USA.

Interstates that are odd numbered run north south and even numbered interstates run east-west. This is the same directional system as the previous section: US highways. What is slightly confusing is that Interstates are numbered in the opposite manner to US highways. In other words, even numbered (east-west running) interstates contain low numbers in the south and increase as you head north to the higher numbers near the Canadian border. Odd numbered interstates (north-south running) contain low numbers on the west coast and increase in number towards the east coast. I remember this interstate numbering system by thinking of California as the state with the lowest numbers both odd and even. Every interstate to the north increases and every interstate to the east increases.

Another key facet to interstate roads is the exit numbers. If a road runs off an interstate, then it will be numbered and appear on the map. If you know the interstate number, you can then zoom in on the map and follow the interstate until you intersect with the exit number road.

To elaborate on the memory side of things: US highways with a black and white shield have lowest numbers in Maine. Interstate highways with a blue and red shield have lowest numbers in California. Both of these road types have odd numbers north-south running (like the uneven US coast) and even numbers east-west running (like the even Canada border).

Canadian Highways

Trans-Canada Highways: as the name suggests, these highways span across the country of Canada. They are denoted by a marijuana leaf (I’m reliably informed that it’s actually a maple leaf) of white colour on a green background. The state is also sometimes listed on Trans-Canada Highway signs.

trans canada highway map

Trans-Canada Hghways as they appear on the map

trans canada highway signs.png

A shield indicating a Trans-Canada Highway

Provincial highways: Like the USA, Canada has an array of highway types that are bamboozling. Each state has its own unique highway shield that is valuable within the GeoGuessr game and these can be viewed below. They appear on the map typically in a similar fashion to their real world (I went outside and experienced this ‘real world’ once) appearance. Often there is no state provincial shield visible but rather a white trapezium shaped sign with a black outline. The map matches the real world mostly in these cases.


A possible symbol indicating a Canadian Provincial Highway on the map


One of many possible signs indicating a Candian Provincial Highway

canada highway shields by reddit pyrobove.png

A map showing the various Canadian Provincial Highway shields. (Source: Pyrobove, reddit)

Brazil Highways

I love Brazil. Its highway system is easier to explain than some previous countries *cough American Cough *.

Brazilian Regional Highways: These highways are numbered xx-yyy with the xx denoting the name of the state that the highway is running in and the yyy representing a number. An example is highway SP-280 which means the highway is in the state of São Paulo. Conveniently, the Brazilian states are listed on the GeoGuessr map (as well as the state initials) so you don’t require an in depth knowledge of them and can simply match up the initials with the state names. You can view the state’s names and initials at different levels of being zoomed in on the map. The below chart indicates what state the initials for each Brazilian regional highway represent:

DF= Federal District

AC= State of Acre

AL= State of Alagoas

AP= State of Amapa (an appropriate name)

AM= State of Amazonas

BA= State of Bahia

CE= State of Ceara

ES= State of Espirito

GO= State of Goias

MA= State of Maranhao

MT= State of Mato Grosso

MS= State of Mato Grosso do Sul

MG= State of Minas Gerais

PA= State of Para

PB= State of Pernambuco

PR= State of Parana

PI= State of Piaui

RJ= State of Rio de Janeiro

RN= State of Rio Grande do Norte

RS= State of Rio Grande do Sul

RO= State of Rondonia

RR= Roraima

SC= State of Santa Catarina

SE= State of Sergipe

SP= State of Sao Paulo

TO= State of Tocantins

I’m in a state of disbelief that Brazil has so many states. After this impromptu Brazil geography lesson, I should emphasise again that all of these Brazil regional highway abbreviations can be matched on the map using initials and without memorising the above list. Just remember to zoom in the appropriate amount to view state initials and zoom in slightly further to see the full state names.

Brazil National Highways: These are the highways that span multiple Brazilian states. They are named with the structure BR-xxx. BR denotes the country of Brazil and it can be handy to see these signs when playing GeoGuessr and immediately knowing what country you are in. The xxx doesn’t denote something rude but rather three numbers. There is a reasonably logical numbering system concerning these Brazil National Highways. Any number from:

000-099 denotes a highway travelling radially from the capital, Brasilia. In other words, think of Brasilia as a sun and any rays from the sun are these highways.

100-199 denotes highways running north-south.

200-299 denotes east-west running highways.

300-399 denotes diagonally running highways. Odd numbered highways run in the direction south-west to north-east whilst even numbered highways run south-east to north-west.

400-499 denotes a highway that connects two other highways.

brazil sign

A Brazil National Highway sign

Russian Federal Highways

Ah yes, we meet again my old foe. Russian highways are confusing partially due to some being renamed/renumbered and the original signs still being in place. Russian Federal Highways have either an M, A or P/R prefixing the road number.

M: Roads numbered M-1 to M-10 connect Moscow with a neighbouring country or connect Moscow with a Russian administrative centre.

P/R: Roads with a ‘P’ prefix are actually written in Russian with the ‘R’ symbol due to their writing system of Cyrillic. These ‘R’ symbols as they will appear in Russia are followed by a number. ‘R’ roads link administrative centres in Russia. I have noticed on a map that these roads tend to be numbered with lower numbers further north (numbers less than 120 being north of Moscow typically) and higher numbers further south of Moscow (above 120) but I haven’t read of this system online so be sceptical of my possibly crazy ramblings.

A: Access roads in Russia have the prefix ‘A’. Once again, be sceptical of my observations but roads numbered A100-A110 seem to commonly be cyclic roads around the outskirts of Moscow. Roads A146-A164 seem to be in the south-west corner of Russia.

look for signs like this in russia it says road number A 166.png

Look for signs like this in Russia. This one says road A-166 in smallish writing.

These 3 types of Russian roads are the best maintained types of roads in the country and are normally paved and relatively well maintained. In the far east of Russia some of these roads may still be gravel. A map of Rusian Federal Highways can be found here.

Road Markers: Fortunately, amidst the geographical and language barriers of Russia there are some further clues. Poles (the objects not the nationality of people from Poland) on the side of the Russian roads with blue signs have numbers on them. These numbers indicate the distance to the start/end of the road. The numbers are printed on both sides of the poles e.g. 6 and 31. In this instance you can determine the road is 37 kilometres long and you are 6 kilometres from one end and 31 kilometres from the other end. In this case it is usually wise to travel towards the closest road end e.g. the 6 kilometre one and to try and gain information at the roads end/junction. An important stipulation with Russian km markers; as you approach a sign and read it as the driver of a vehicle, it tells you how far you have travelled on the highway, the other side of the sign which you have to turn around to see once passing it tells you how far you have left on the highway. For instance, if you are travelling on a 100km highway and have travelled 99km and are only 1km away from the end, the marker will say 99km. Contrastingly, if you have just started driving on the 100km highway and have travelled only 1km, the sign will say 1km. If a Russian road has numbers above 1000km on it, the road is likely the one to Vladivostok (the city situated just slightly north-east of North Korea).

russian km markers

A typical Rusian road marker pole. This one shows that the road has extended 238km to this point.

Other Countries Highways: If anyone is actually reading this article and has read this far then you deserve a congratulations. I won’t go through any more countries highway systems at present. If you would like the highway numbering system of a country poorly explained by me then please leave a comment and I’ll update this article to include a new country. Some other countries highway shields can be found here.

Mile and Kilometre Markers

Mile and Kilometre Markers: I have already touched on the kilometre markers used in the vastness of Russia but many other countries also have signs with numbers on the sides of their highways. There is no universal rule for these numbered signs and even within the same country, different types of numbered signs indicate different things. Some countries have markers indicating how far the nearing exit road is, how far the nearest state is, how far the nearest county is, how far until the end of the road and various other listings. These mile and kilometre markers can be useful to GeoGuessr players as you decide which way to move in the game, it’s often sensible to move towards a zero marker indicating a new road/state or some other potential information. Also you may decide to change direction if you see mile marker 999 then 998 then 997 unless you want to spend the foreseeable future travelling on a desolate road.


Junctions are sometimes the fantasies of GeoGuessr players. JCT is often the abbreviation used on signs which much to my surprise doesn’t stand for a new RnB group but the word ‘Junction”. These JCT signs pop up typically around 400 metres away from an intersection.

Warning Signs

Warning Signs: An object whose purpose is to inform citizens of impending danger has positive connotations within GeoGuessr. Warning signs that are diamond shaped and yellow are ubiquitous in North and South America, Australia (and New Zealand if you count it as a real country), Ireland (it’s very useful for picking Ireland from the rest of Europe), Japan and South-East Asia. If you spot a triangular warning sign with a red outline and a yellow colouring then you are in luck; not because you may be perilously close to a cliff but because only a handful of eclectic countries use these warning signs. These countries include: Greece, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, South Korea and Vietnam. These yellow coloured and red bordered signs are useful for distinguishing Finland, Sweden and Iceland from the white coloured and red bordered signs of Norway and Denmark. Other shaped signs (such as circle-shaped signs) in Finland, Sweden and Iceland also have this unique red outer and yellow colouring. Poland is unique as it has the red outline and yellow filling but the red outline is very thin. Virtually the rest of the GeoGuessr world uses the standard triangle with a red border and white centre to warn of foreboding doom.

warning signs by country


Road warning signs around the world. (Source: Fry1989, Wikipedia)

finland sign

This type of warning sign (a thick red outline with yellow colouring) with various images on it occurs in Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Greece, South Korea and Vietnam.

poland sign

This type of warning sign (thin red ouline and yellow coloured) with various images on it occurs only on Poland.


This type of warning sign (yellow and diamond shaped) occurs throughout virtually all of North and South America as well as Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Japan and most of south-east Asia.

france sign

This type of warning sign (with various images on it) featuring a red ouline and white middle occurs throughout most of Africa, Asia (not south-east Asia) and Europe.



Geography isn’t just a subject you choose at school if you want to bludge but it’s also a useful aspect to navigating and pinpointing locations within GeoGuessr. If you see what resembles the sea to your East and you are in the USA, then you know you are probably on the east coast of the country gazing wishfully into the Atlantic Ocean. If you see a mountain range to your north and you are in some obscure and tiny European country then placing the pin on the map just south of the mountain range is sensible. Even if you just see the semblance of a hill in the background, you can use this knowledge to your advantage. The map on GeoGuessr, when zoomed in the precise amount will show mountains. Forests are also clearly visible on the map and this is another point to use when placing yourself.

One of the most important aspects to GeoGuessr is to match up the colours of the grass and plants you are looking at in GeoGuessr with the colours on the map. For instance, if you think you are in the USA and you see lush, green surrounds then look on the map for what parts are coloured dark green; the eastern and far western parts of the country. If you see dry grass around you that is tinged yellow then click on the map where there is yellowish colours such as the central and western parts of the USA. This process holds true for the entire world- match the grass colours in GeoGuessr with the colours appearing on the map.


Becoming aware of the types of houses in different countries and regions is of the utmost importance in GeoGuessr. A general guide to determining what country you find yourself in is to evaluate the expensiveness of the houses. If you have a mansion in front of you then it’s unlikely you are in the midst of Uganda, unless it’s some warlord’s house. Are we still doing the stop Kony movement? Poorer and smaller houses are typically scattered across eastern Europe and Russia. A different style of poorer houses occupies everything south of the USA, including Mexico (Mexico sometimes has colourful houses) and South America.

A key point to remember in GeoGuessr is that if you see a red house or several red houses then you are probably in a Nordic country (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland or Denmark). These coloured houses are seldom found elsewhere. The UK has its own distinctive style of houses that are closely packed together, in drab colours and often double storey.

nordic houses.jpg

A Nordic style house.

england houses

The house style that is widespread in the UK.

Navigating within the USA, I have found that the houses are heterogeneous enough to provide a reasonable location accuracy. For instance, Colonial style houses litter the north-east part of the USA. Ranch style houses often appear in the southern USA states. California bungalows appear (as the name suggests) through California. Conch houses are found in Florida. Significant information can be gained by examining the local houses although playing GeoGuessr and opening the door in your mind to the different house styles of regions is key (much like the key itself).

colonial house.JPG

A Colonial style house



A ranch style house



california bungalow

A California bungalow home



conch house

A conch house


I won’t pretend to know anything about trees/plants (I know so little that I can’t think of any more categories of flora to list). If you do have a botanical-bend then I doth my fedora to you. Birch trees are found only in the northern hemisphere and if you are in the USA and see a bunch of birch trees then you are probably fairly northern. Eucalyptus trees are found almost exclusively in Australia and they can be useful for identifying this country on bland expanses of road. Pine trees are found in the northern hemisphere. Fir trees AKA Christmas trees are located in the northern hemisphere with colder northern areas and mountain regions home to these trees in abundance. A good general rule to determine your location using coniferous trees is to examine the density of these trees in the region. If you have wall to metaphorical wall of these trees then you are probably close to the Artic region. If these trees are intermingling with other trees then you are likely further south. Savanna trees have a unique look especially the umbrella thorn acacia and point to you being in Africa. Trees with leaves matching the colourful hues of the sunset are found mainly in North-Eastern USA and South-Eastern Canada in Autumn months. Many tree types that have been mentioned here are the genus names for a large number of specific species of trees. If you can work out the individual tree types then you should be able to pinpoint your location.

eucalyptus tree

A Eucalyptus tree, typically found in Australia

birch trees.jpg

Birch trees



pine trees

Pine trees

fraser fir

A fir tree



acacia africa

An acacia tree



Stereotypically, ppl who rite lyk dis are can enthusiasts. These types of people are useful to have around in GeoGuessr but not necessarily other aspects of life. Much in the same ilk as being ignorant about trees, I have a similar blind spot for cars so please forgive any inaccuracies that I write. Within the GeoGuessr game, there is an assortment of things blurred out; sometimes this extends to car logos. Such is my automobile naivety, I struggle to identify specific car brands without the logos.

In the USA I have noticed a large amount of ‘expensive utes’ also known as personal trucks. Excluding major cities, a high portion of cars I see while moving along the street are these ‘expensive utes’. These ‘expensive utes’ are often Ford F150s and indeed this is the best-selling car in most parts of the USA, excluding coastal states. Canadians like the Ford F-Series. Brazil has the Chevrolet Onix as their most popular car whilst Argentina has the Toyota Hilux. Australia and South Africa also have an abundance of Toyota Hilux. Japan likes Toyota Aqua cars and Koreans enjoy Hyundai cars (as well as Korean food).


The Ford F150, the most popular car across large parts of the USA

European cars are typically smaller than cars in the USA and cover an assortment of European car brands. In France there is an abundance of Renaults, in Sweden Volvos rule, Norway= Volkswagen, Finland= Skoda, Denmark has many Peugeots, in Italy there are plenty of Fiats and in Spain Dacia Sanderos. Russians have a penchant for Hyundai cars and typically Russia and Eastern Europe have rectangular shaped cars as more prevalent as opposed to curved cars. South-east Asia has motorbikes as their primary transport. If you spot people on bicycles then the location is more likely to be Western Europe as opposed to North America. Below are maps showing the most popular cars for areas

top cars

This map indicates the top selling car model for each country in the world. The map can be useful if you observe a certain model of car repeatedly in GeoGuessr. A larger version of the map can be viewed here:


The most popular European cars

cars south america

The most popular South American cars


The most popular North American cars


The most popular cars in Asia

cars usa states real

The most popular new cars by US state. (Source: USA Today)

Utility Poles

Utility poles look different depending on where you are in the world. I haven’t been able to use utility pole differentiation for many GeoGuessr purposes however I’m sure the obsessed player can utilise these poles for some guesses. In South Australia, the poles are unique as they contain concrete joining two steel slabs. Some more info on utility poles can be found here.

stobie pole.jpg

Stobie poles are unique to South Australia


There are many state and national flags flying around the world that serendipitously pop up in GeoGuessr. Being aware of the flags of the world (or at least GeoGuessr countries) is vitally important. The national colours of countries also make frequent appearances on Street View. These appearances can include anything from the colours of chairs, colours of signs to writing on advertisements. For instance, if you know you are in Europe and spot a red, white and green setup of chairs then you may be in Italy or Hungary.

flags europe

Flags of Europe. (Source for all flag- world map images is Transparent 6lue, Wikipedia)

flags na

Flags of North America

flags sa

Flags of South America

flags asia

Flags of Asia

flags africa

Flags of Africa and a bit of the middle east

Being aware of the USA state flags can also be of importance in GeoGuessr as these are often visible. Below is a map featuring these state flags:

us state flags SiBr4

USA state flags. (Source: SiBr4, Wikipedia)


Other clues

Richer countries are more likely to have better maintained roads and thus you can use this information to include or exclude certain countries from your calculations. Also the general levels of poverty are worth noting. If you spot any people in GeoGuessr then use their appearance to match up to a mental list of possible countries of origin. Another useful clue in the game is finding internet suffixes on buildings or signs. The letters after .com. indicate the country of the domain name. For instance means you are in Australia with the AU suffix.

License Plates

Pray for a glitch in the matrix and the Google algorithm to be flawed in allowing us the heavenly sight of a non-blurred license plate. License plates are often blurred in GeoGuessr but on occasions they are visible to various degrees. If you see a long and skinny license plate with a blue end (often visible despite the blurring) then you are probably in Europe in a country belonging to the European Union. Each European country has its own system of combining letters and numbers for their license plate and a full list of what combination each country has can be found here.

spanish license plate.png

A typical example of a European license plate. Note the letter on the left hand side of the plate. In this instance, the letter ‘E’ is visible. This means the license plate is from Spain (Espanol).

On the left hand side of European license plates (often under the country’s flag or European Union symbol of a blue background and white stars) is a one, two or three letter abbreviation denoting what country you are in. Sometimes it takes looking at cars for a while before you see a license plate that hasn’t got the country symbol blurred out. The following country symbols represent each country:

AL= Albania

AND= Andorra

AM= Armenia

A= Austria

AZ= Azerbaijan

BY= Belarus

B= Belgium

BIH= Bosnia and Herzegovina

BG= Bulgaria

HR= Croatia

CY= Cyprus

CZ= Czech Republic

DK= Denmark

EST= Estonia

FIN= Finland

F= France

G= Georgia

D= Germany

GR= Greece

H= Hungary

IS= Iceland

IRL= Ireland

I= Italy

LV= Latvia

FL= Liechtenstein

LT= Lithuania

L= Luxembourg

MK= Macedonia

M= Malta

MD= Moldova

MC= Monaco

MNE= Montenegro

NL= Netherlands

N= Norway

PL= Poland

P= Portugal

RO= Romania

RUS= Russia (although this appear on the right of the license plate)

SRB= Serbia

SK= Slovakia

SLO= Slovenia

E= Spain

S= Sweden

TR= Turkey

UA= Ukraine

GB= United Kingdom

Only three European countries have yellow license plates which are easy to identify besides the blurring: the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the UK. It’s especially lucky to immediately realise you are in Europe and see a yellow plate meaning probably UK or Netherlands.


Russia has license plates with a small Russian flag on the right hand side. Above this flag is a two digit (occasionally three digit) number denoting what part of Russia the car is from. Cars do move throughout administrative regions of Russia so it’s probably safer to view two car’s license plates with matching numbers to confirm the exact region of Russia you are in. Some buses and other vehicles have the number printed largely on their rear above the letters ‘RUS’. The map below shows the number (sometimes several numbers) associated with each region of Russia.

russian license plate.png

An example of a Russian license plate. Note that the number above the Russian flag (in this case 78) indicates the administrative region of Russia that the license plate is from. 78 corresponds with St. Petersburg.

russia bus.JPG

Note the number ’24’ on this bus above the ‘RUS’. This denotes the bus being from the region marked ’24’ on the below maps

east of russia map

A map showing the Russian license plate codes (the number that appears above the Russian flag) for each region in West Russia. Note that a list version of this information can be found here: (Source: fremantleboy, Wikipedia)

russia east map

A map indicating the Russian license plate codes for every region in East Russia

United States License Plates

Most states in the USA require a front license plate in tandem with a back license plate. There are however a large number of states that don’t require a front license plate. This is a big clue in GeoGuessr in narrowing down where you are in the USA. The states not requiring front license plates are: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and West Virginia. Most of these states are located in the South-East of the USA, with a band across the south of the country excluding Texas and a region stretching north to Michigan and Pennsylvania, excluding Ohio and Virginia.

license plate requirements USA.jpg

A map indicating the states of the USA that don’t require front license plates. This can be particularly useful if you spot the lack of front license plates on cars.

If you are lucky enough to see a USA license plate that isn’t blurred, then the state’s name is typically written on it. Each state also has a unique number plate design. Some of these can be recognised even with the blurring. A full collection of what each USA number plate looks like can be found here.

Other Countries                          

Australian license plates also provide clues as to where you are located. The New South Wales license plate is yellow and clearly visible through the blurriness. Canadian license plate designs can be found here.

License plates from Indonesia and Malaysia are commonly black and clearly visible despite the blurring. These contrast the white or green license plates of the Philippines. A collection of license plates by country can be found here.


As someone who has a tenuous grasp of my only language: English, the plethora of signs and foreign writing appearing in GeoGuessr was initially overwhelming. You don’t need to understand the meaning words in other languages within GeoGuessr, often a sufficient task is to be able to identify what language is written eclectically and thus narrow down a specific country. A useful technique to identify a language you have read in Street View is to zoom in on the map to a country where you think this language may originate from and see if the place names use similar letters/symbols. If you are reading this article, then I assume you can read and identify English (unless you are using Google translate) in which case *Google could not translate this very funny joke*.


Japanese: At first glance this language looks similar to Chinese and Korean. Japanese is different in that is uses many simple curved strokes that make up their characters such as ノ, シ, い and く. Some Japanese writing appears below:


Korean: The key aspect distinguishing Korean from other East Asian written languages is their usage of circles for instance 요 and 안. Other than the idiosyncratic circles, Korean looks quite blocky and rigid in its writing. Some Korean writing appears below:


Chinese: This language is spoken in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and China. Chinese tends to have more complicated characters than Japanese and Korean. Chinese characters tend to be made up of more strokes than Japanese. For example, 麼 and 名. Some Chinese writing appears below:


Hebrew: This language is spoken in Israel. I identify this language by noting that many of the letters looks like lower case ‘n’ with an extra line added sometimes. Apologies for overwhelming you with these technical language terms. Some Hebrew writing appears below:


Arabic: This language is largely spoken across the middle-east and northern Africa. Its countries include: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen. Note than many of these countries aren’t included in GeoGuessr. I recognise this written language due to its similarity to calligraphy and many of the words having a line underneath them. Some Arabic writing appears below:


South America

In the real world, South America is home to English, French and Dutch however the countries who speak these languages aren’t included on Street View thus we focus on Portuguese and Spanish.

Portuguese: A key dichotomy in GeoGuessr is the distinction between Spanish and Portuguese. Portuguese is just spoken in Brazil (and Portugal). Portuguese contains the ã character, which is a (I’m about to overwhelm you with technical jargon) ‘squiggle’ over the letter ‘a’- note that this is different from an accent. This ã character appears frequently and is in words such as São meaning saint. Ç is also a symbol that appears in Portuguese but not Spanish (it also appears in French). If you notice a word ending in ção, then you can be certain the language is Portuguese. Portuguese also uses the word “do” translated as “of”.

Spanish: This language is spoken in Spain, Mexico, much of Central America and all of the South American GeoGuessr countries excluding Brazil. Spanish doesn’t use the previously mentioned ã but does, like Portuguese, have a similar letter with an accent over the á. Contrasting the Portuguese word “do” meaning “of” is the Spanish word “de” meaning “of”. Spanish also has the letter ñ that appears in Portuguese as ‘nh”. Microsoft Word now thinks I speak Spanish so virtually every word is misspelt according to spellcheck.

Europe: Now onto the melting pot continent of languages which is great to celebrate but unfortunately involves some research for GeoGuessr players.

Western Europe

French: This language is spoken across France, in the western part of Switzerland, in the south of Belgium and in Quebec, Canada. It is reasonably easy to recognise if you read the words out loud and they sound French. Letters include the ç (also found in Portuguese), ë, è, é, ï and à.

German: This language is spoken across Germany and Austria, the North-east part of Switzerland and South Tyrol: a province in northern Italy. The language, like French is fairly identifiable if you read the words out loud and it sounds German. Letters of German include: ä, ü and ö. In Germany, the letter ß is also used.

Italian: This language is spoken throughout Italy and in the region to the south of the Alps in Switzerland. If you read the language out loud, it sounds Italian. Features of the language include: ì and à as well as ‘gg’ and ‘cc’. Most words end with a vowel in Italian.

Dutch/Flemish: These languages are spoken across the Netherlands and in the northern part of Belgium. Commonly occurring features are the abundance of z and w letters as well as the letter e appearing together as ‘ee’ and i and j appearing together as ‘ij.’

Welsh: This language is spoken only in Wales. The language sometimes appears concurrently with English on signs. The letters ll appear together commonly and there are a high proportion of y, w and c letters occurring.

Basque: This language is spoken in a part of Spain known as Basque country. Basque is spoken in parts of northern Spain and south-west France. The signs that appear in this region often have both Spanish and Basque on them. The letter x appears frequently in this language.

Greek: Although Greece is technically in Southern Europe, I’ll lob it into this section. Greek is spoken only in Greece and the southern region of Cyprus. This language uses the well-known Greek alphabet containing the letters alpha, beta, gamma, delta etc. α, β, γ, δ.

The Nordic Countries of Europe

Swedish: This language is spoken in Sweden and features å, ä and ö.

Finnish: This language is spoken in Finland and contains ä and a plethora of double letters such as aa and ii.

Danish: This language is spoken in Denmark and contains æ, å and ø. This ø is only used in Danish and Norweign. Ø also means “island” in Danish.

Norwegian: This language is only spoken in Norway and contains æ, ö and å.

North-Eastern Europe

Estonian: This language is only spoken in Estonia and has significant parallels to Finnish however Estonian also has the letter: õ.

Latvian: This language is spoken only in Latvia and contains many letters with different accents above or below them. These include: ļ, ķ, ņ with the line below the letter and ā”, ē, ī, ō, ū, ž with some form of line above the letter.

Polish: This language is spoken only in Poland and is a fairly easy language to recognise due to its abundance of the letter z (it’s only worth 1 point in Polish Scrabble). The letter z is often paired with other letters such as: rz, sz and cz. Other curious letters used in Polish include: ó, ł, ż, ś, ȩ and ń.

Lithuanian: This language is spoken only in Lithuania. The language is unique as it contains ė as its 9th letter of the alphabet. Essentially this e with a dot above it is only found in Lithuanian. The language also contains: š, ž, ū and č.

Eastern Europe (excluding Cyrillic)

Slovak: This language is spoken in Slovakia. It belongs to the Czech-Slovak group of languages hence is similar to Czech. Slovak uses: á, é, í, ý, č, š and ž. To distinguish the language from Czech, look for ä, ľ, ĺ, ŕ, ô, dz and dž.

Czech: This language is spoken in only the Czech Republic. It contains: á, é, ý, č, š, ž, ě, ů and ř. To distinguish it from Slovak, look for: ě, ř and ů.

Hungarian: This language is predominantly spoken in Hungary. It contains the letters: é, á, í, ó, ú, ü, ő and ö. Look for the letter ő with italic like lines above the o as this letter is unique to Hungarian.

Slovenian: Not to be confused with Slovak, this language is spoken in Slovenia. Slovenian is littered with the letter j. If you remember the capital of Slovenia is Ljubljana (containing two j’s) then this may help you remember the j and Slovenia link. Slovenian also contains:  ž, š and č.

Croatian: This language is spoken in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The language uses: š, ć and č.

Romanian: This language is spoken in Romania and uses: ş, ƫ, ă and ȃ.

Turkish: This language is spoken in both Turkey and the Northern region of Cyprus. The language contains: ä, ö, ı, ğ and ş.

Albanian: This language is spoken in Albania as well as Kosovo. It features a glut of q and j letters appearing. It also contains ë and ç.


We meet again Cyrillic. If you desire consistently high scores in GeoGuessr then a prerequisite is recognising Cyrillic which is not a language but a writing system. A second requirement for high scores in GeoGuessr is to know how to read Cyrillic; this isn’t as daunting as it sounds and working out how to sound the letters out to read place names can be done including memorisation within 10 minutes. Cyrillic is widely used across Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Countries such as Bulgaria, Macedonia and Serbia use a writing system that combines both Cyrillic and Latin. Countries using Cyrillic include: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

A method teaching how to learn to read Cyrillic in a fun manner is here.

The below image indicates the Cyrillic letter on top and the sound it makes below. Most of the letters are the same as English but there are some exceptions you will need to know. An example of this being useful is if you see a sign saying “POCTOB” and you can break it down letter by letter. P=R, O=O, C=S, T=T, O=O B=V hence the sign reads POCTOV.

Cyrillic best image.jpg

As I mentioned earlier, I lack language skills full stop (or exclamation mark, I’m not sure) so please forgive any mistakes I’ve made in this section, it serves only as a guide to help you pinpoint places. A more extensive explanation discussing language recognition can be found here.

Regional Differences

If you have read this far into the article then congratulations- I gave up after the first sentence- You must be an obsessive GeoGuessr player. My devotedness to the game has started to provoke instances in my personal life in which the real world and GeoGuessr world intersect. I dub this process ‘The GeoGuessr Effect’. If I see a photo on the wall, on someone’s phone or on TV of a random location in the world; my GeoGuessr instincts kick in and I imagine a world map in my head and I pinpoint the location. Disappointingly, I am seldom awarded with points and instead rewarded with loneliness.

Many clues have already been mentioned as to how to distinguish one place from another however there are some further hints to help you deduce the continent, country or region within a country.

North America

If you are firmly in North America and tossing up between Canada and the USA, then searching for a symbol of American patriotism in the form of a flag is useful. There are flags scattered across the entire USA in front gardens and on buildings which direct you to a USA location. If you travel through a town and don’t see any American flags then there is a good chance you are in Canada.

A yellow line in the middle of the road is prevalent in North America in usually distinguishing the continent from Europe (although South America also has a yellow middle line widespread). The street width in the USA and Canada seems to be greater than Europe. That is, if you see wide streets and are tossing up between Europe and North America, then pick a North American location.

Mountains are fairly scarce in the USA with a few exceptions. If you notice an amalgamation of desert and mountains then you may be in the Utah-Colorado region. The American Rocky Mountains on the western side of the country tend to be more significant in GeoGuessr as opposed to the Appalachian Mountains on the Eastern flank. Alaska has the most significant mountains of all and it’s important to be aware of this state in the game. If you strike large mountains in Canada, then you are most likely on the western side of the country. Another place to be cognizant of in GeoGuessr that is often neglected by players guessing is Hawaii. The dual presence of Hawaiian and English with hilly sometimes volcanic terrain and tropical flora makes it a unique location as it also contains the typical American mainland signs.

A frequent occurrence in GeoGuessr is to be landed adjacent to a corn field. Knowing a general location of this corn field is useful. Fortunately there is a concentration of corn fields in: Iowa, Illinois and southern Minnesota. Some of the surrounding states have a sprinkling of corn fields including Nebraska however the rest of the country is largely void of corn fields.

corn map.png

A map showing the corn production distributions across the USA. The areas that are coloured dark-green are most likely to be the areas you are based around if you are positioned next to a corn field in GeoGuessr. (Source: The US Department of Agriculture).


Dashed white lines on the edges of the roads are quite common in the Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Sweden (not Finland). The presence of red houses also indicates this Nordic region. Mountains or hilly terrain is a good way to make distinctions in this Nordic region of the world. Nordic mountains are typical of southern Norway or the Norway-Sweden border. The rest of the Nordic region: Denmark, Finland and the rest of Sweden is void of mountains.The last Nordic country of Iceland is somewhere that also resembles the aforementioned places and has mountains.

Whilst there are several mountain ranges in Europe, including the Pyrenees on the French-Spanish border, the Carpathian Mountains arcing from the Czech Republic to Romania and the Apennine Mountains running along Italy, the most mountainous region in Europe is the Alps, centred around Switzerland. If you see snow-capped peaks somewhere in Europe the odds are it’s the Alps. These mountains stretch across France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany and Slovenia but their heart lies in Switzerland.

Another quintessentially European sign are the black and white reflection posts that skirt many rural roads. These appear along certain roads every few metres in Europe.

reflector post

A traffic delineator post with a reflector on it. These posts are common throughout Europe

A further way to distinguish Europe from other continents is by the use of the blue pedestrian signs that litter the continent. Virtually every country in Europe has a variant of this road sign. The full array of the variants of this sign by country can be viewed here. Some notable variants include the Iceland sign which has a yellow coloured triangle as opposed to white and the Poland sign which has one straight horizontal black line as opposed to several vertical black lines that the pedestrian is walking on. Also, the Ireland sign is unique as it is yellow and diamond shaped like the road warning signs.

pedestrian sign

These blue pedestrian signs are uniquely European



I live in Australia and have never left the country hence you may think I have some great insights to distinguish parts of Australia from each other and from the rest of the world. You would be wrong. I’ve previously mentioned that the state of New South Wales that houses Sydney has cars with yellow license plates contrasting the white license plates across the rest of Australia. The state of South Australia is essentially the only place in the world with stobie poles- these hold up the power lines and there are almost 1 million of them in the state hence these utility poles indicate the area are definitively being South Australia.

The greenest area and probably only green vegetation area of the country (depending on the season and droughts) is in the south east corner. Most of Australia is the outback- a desert land that features not much other than serial killers. Noting the direction the outback road is travelling in can be useful in working out where on the map you might be. The Northern territory (the part of Australia in the upper middle) abides by a maximum speed limit of 130m/h vs 110km/h for the rest of Australia. Finding a 130km/h sign ensures that you are in this part of Australia. The two types of typical Australian reflector posts can be seen below.

reflector aus.jpg

A typical reflector post in Australia.

alternate poles australia

The second type of Australian reflector post.

New Zealand resembles Australia but is typically greener and hillier. A useful clue to identifying New Zealand that I picked up is to look for small white poles with red reflectors on them besides the road at consistent intervals.

new zeland reflectors.jpg

White posts that have orange/red reflectors on them are common in New Zealand and useful in helping distinguish the country.


The savanna trees are a good indicator that you are in Africa and include the Umbrella Thorn Acacia. In South Africa people are fairly security conscious and often houses will have high walls around them, sometime with spikes. Warnings about various animals on signs is also a sign that you may be in Africa and a reminder that we don’t know what happened to the Google Street View driver in this area.

South America

Brazil is a large country that is frequently occurring in GeoGuessr. Its notable features include its diverse flora and often reddish clay like soil. The states containing this distinctly reddish soil are mainly Rio Grande do Norte, Pernambuco and Ceara as well as places to the west of these regions. The more densely rain-forested region is to the west of the country as well as near Rio de Janeiro. The southern part of the country is quite similar to Argentina and features people with fairer complexion. The petrol/gas stations in Brazil are often the company known as ‘Petrobras’ their company has a green, orange and white sign.


The major petrol/gas station in Brazil has this logo.

The list of Brazilian area codes for phone numbers can be useful as many businesses and signs contain these. A full list can be found here. For those not keen to memorise all this info, I’ll condense it here: States around Sao Paulo= teens, Near Rio de Janeiro= 20s, south of Brasilia= 30s, south west of Sao Paulo=40s, the very south of Brazil=50s, the central and western regions=60s, around the state of Bahia=70s, the north east corner of the country=80s, and the northern and north western part of Brazil=90s.

brazil area codes phone.png

A map indicating the phone area codes in Brazil. Often advertisements and signs feature a phone number and this prefix can be matched with the above map to determine locations in Brazil. A list of the phone codes for Brazil can be found here: (Source: Magno Brasil, Wikipedia)

Argentina is a location that sometimes resembles Australia, South Africa, Brazil and the USA. The central region of Argentina is flat with grass fields and as you progress south, the country gets drier and rockier. The very south part resembles a desert that has a cold climate. The petrol/gas stations in Argentina are often run by the company known as ‘YPF’. They have a blue sign with white lettering. For some reason, I get many locations in Argentina near Cordoba. The country is more affluent looking in parts than I realised prior to playing GeoGuessr.


The major gas/petrol stations in Argentina have this logo.

Uruguay has many similarities to Argentina. It may look like a slightly poorer country with roads a bit more deteriorated and signs slightly more run down. Ecuador can be sneaky as they have the same style as the USA interstate shield for their major highways. The country is green in vegetation and appears similar physically to Colombia. Colombia can be an easier country to work out as its cars have the license plates on their sides and are regularly not blurred. These license plates have the names of the city on them. Peru contains mountains throughout its eastern flank that resemble the famous Machu Picchu. It has windy roads that are often deteriorating. Bolivia has mountains running from the North West (not the celebrity) to south of the country but it is flat away from this area. Finally, Chile is largely desert in its northern region and Mediterranean looking around Santiago. It has lush, green vegetation and a cold climate in its south. The Andes Mountain range runs right along the entire east side of the country.


I have saved this enormity of a country for last (a position that some of their athletes have now been regulated to). Russia is the quantum mechanics of GeoGuessr: hard to understand and making up a large portion of the universe. Large green fields in Russia are most commonly found near the Ukrainian border. Further north, the land and trees resemble Finland more closely. The Russian regions closest to Europe sometimes have bilingual signs making pinpointing your location easier. The parts of Russia to the east of the Ural Mountains tend to be somewhat forested areas that can be swamp-like. The most extreme eastern part of Russia resembles the Canada and Alaskan areas. The most extreme east, near coastal areas of Russia are fairly hilly besides Vladivostok. The island of Sakhalin, located north of Japan, has few trees and vegetation like virtually nowhere on earth. The roads largely lack concrete here.

The regions of Russia (and entering into the neighbouring countries) near Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan are barren areas with virtually no trees. The south western part of Russia near the Black Sea resemble southern Europe resort towns. Overall, the bulk of Russia is fairly flat and it is fairly rare to be landed in a mountainous Russian area on GeoGuessr. The Ural Mountains are surprisingly narrow and the eastern part of Europe is also largely void of mountains.


Thanks for reading this article about the top tips, tricks and techniques for GeoGuessr. If anyone accuses you of taking this fun, light-hearted geographical game too seriously, tell them they aren’t taking it seriously enough. Don’t divert your eyes away from the GeoGuessr screen when replying to them. If you can gain a perfect score in GeoGuessr, then you deserve to be the person in your car giving directions… the rare instance that the GPS is broken.




The Ultimate Guide to the Somerton Man Mystery

0 The Somerton Man

Author Salman Rushdie said of Adelaide, “Adelaide seems more eerie by the minute… Adelaide is an ideal setting for a Stephen King novel, or horror film… Sleepy conservative towns are where those things happen… and things here go bump in the night.” Perhaps the most quintessentially Adelaide mystery is that of The Somerton Man (TSM). Within this mystery, an anonymous man was found deceased on an Adelaidean beach in 1948. TSM mystery is like a mosaic. Each idiosyncrasy of the case is a tile that must somehow stubbornly tessellate with its adjacent pieces. Although in TSM mystery it’s even challenging using one’s imagination to describe the finished mosaic; an elusive portrait that accommodates the disjointed evidence.

Although this unparalleled mystery has murky, overlapping cogs, I will be analysing the case in parts within this article. These will cover:

Part 1- The Death of the Somerton Man

Part 2- The Rubaiyat Connection

Part 3- The Somerton Man’s Belongings

Part 4- Jessica Thomson

Part 5- Miscellaneous

Part 6- Cases That Are Potentially Related

Part 7- Theories

Part 8- My Theory


Part 1- The Death of the Somerton Man

“Do you think that I count the days? There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

The arrival of the 1948 Australian summer was marked by a man’s body being found on Somerton beach, Adelaide. At 6:30AM, the police were notified and appeared on the scene to find the deceased man lying on his back in the sand with his head and shoulders propped up against the seawall. The man was neatly dressed and appeared to be aged in his forties. He had one unsmoked cigarette tucked behind his ear and another more-than-half smoked cigarette nuzzled between his cheek and his coat’s collar. Due to the Somerton location of the man’s body, he henceforth became known as The Somerton Man (TSM).


1 Somerton Park

Within the enigma that is TSM, there lies another mystery- how did he die? After examining the problems within each proposed mode of death, you would swear TSM should still be alive; yet we know he died. The technology of the era made determining the precise cause of TSM’s death problematic and this difficulty was compounded by the bizarre circumstances surrounding his death.

Physical Abnormalities

There were some peculiar physical abnormalities discovered when TSM’s deceased body was analysed. The pathologist Sir John Cleland speculated that the severe congestion of multiple organs, although most significantly the spleen and liver was consistent with poisoning. Despite Cleland’s assertion, the poison would have unlikely made the TSM’s spleen three times its normal size and this suggests TSM may have had prior health issues. TSM also had liver issues detected in the autopsy and this may have been related to the spleen enlargement. It is plausible that some form of disease killed him or at least caused him to be in a weaker state. There has been ample recent speculation regarding the precise illness TSM had. Regardless of the methodology of death, TSM seems to have been in ill health. This is despite his fit façade and indeed Dr. John Dwyer at the inquest commented that “it was the heart of a man in good physical training.”

Dr. Dwyer noted that there was a pooling of blood most notably near TSM’s ears and neck. Cleland mentioned that he was surprised at the pooling of blood considering the position TSM was found in although he elaborated on this and believed that the degree that the head was supported could explain this finding. This point is contentious as it would perhaps be expected that if TSM died from poisoning on the beach in his position, then the blood might have, thanks to gravity, flowed towards his feet. It’s also possible that TSM was poisoned elsewhere and died in a different bodily position hence the specific blood pooling that was noted.

The Poison Rationale

Dr. Dwyer deemed “The death could not have been natural…the poison I suggested was a barbiturate or a soluble hypnotic.” The poison hypothesis seemed to be the main theory attracting authorities although no specific poison could be detected. Some obvious poisons were tested for but the results came back negative.

At the inquest, Sir Cedric Hicks, a professor of pharmacology and physiology suggested that two publically available drugs: digitalis and ouabain could both individually kill someone if taken in a certain dose and they would not be detectable in an autopsy at the time. Within the inquest, the pathologist Cleland said “I would be prepared to find that he died from poison, that the poison was probably a glucoside (digitalis and ouabain belong to this class) and that it was not accidentally administered.”

In 1994, the Chief Justice of Victoria, John Harber Phillips analysed the evidence in TSM case. His conclusion regarding the cause of death was that “There seems little doubt it was digitalis.” In order to support this conclusion, Phillips cited the engorged organs that he deemed were consistent with the digitalis poison hypothesis. Several months prior to the death of TSM, the death of US Treasury Secretary Harry Dexter White occurred. He was poisoned with digitalis. The later release of declassified FBI documents confirmed White’s identity as a Soviet spy.

1 Harry Dexter White

Harry Dexter White on the left and John Maynard Keynes on the right.

At the inquest, Dwyer said “His pupils were smaller and unusual, uneven in outline and about the same size. Certain drugs may be associated with a contraction in the pupils. Even barbiturates may do it, but it is by no means a distinguishing point.” Digitalis has also been known to cause pupil constriction. Interestingly, it has been speculated that artist Van Gogh’s ‘yellow period’ was caused by his consumption of digitalis to treat his seizures. Digitalis can cause a number of visual abnormalities including perceived visual disturbances and physical eye changes.

1 sunflowers.jpg

Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ were painted in the artist’s yellow period.

There are only a small number of poisons that can cause the heart to be paralysed, which is the state TSM’s heart was found in. This is part of the reason that the drug digitalis has been repeatedly speculated to be the poison that killed TSM. The other physical signs noted of TSM’s body conform to the digitalis hypothesis. According to the autopsy report, “There was blood mixed with the food in the stomach” and this is another consistency with poisoning. Studies have found that the ratio of therapeutic dose to deadly dosage of digitalis can be as low as 4. The overwhelming evidence on the surface points to TSM being poisoned with the most proposed drug being digitalis.

The Vanishing Vomit

Despite the ample evidence that TSM was poisoned, there are several key factors that point against the death being caused by poison. These include the lack of vomit in the vicinity, the absence of evidence of convulsions and notably the nonexistence of a poison receptacle.

The lack of vomit in the vicinity of TSM was repeatedly raised throughout the inquest. This was exemplified by Hicks who said “The only missing fact which would have made me confident (that digitalis killed TSM) is the absence of signs of vomiting, but there is sufficient variation between individuals to account for it or he may have vomited before he took up his position by the seawall, but I confess that I would have been more confident in drawing a frank conclusion had there been signs of vomit somewhere about him.”

Although fairly rare, the main TSM poison candidate of digitalis has killed people without causing vomiting, although a simpler explanation is that TSM did vomit- just away from his final seawall location. The autopsy determined that TSM had tiny pieces of potato in his stomach that were recently consumed. Considering the time and location, a pasty is a common theory as to what the potato source was. It would be expected that a poison would induce vomiting and thus there shouldn’t have been potato in TSM’s stomach. Another possibility is that TSM vomited next to his body at his final location however this was covered with sand.

Convulsion Confusion

The final state of TSM’s figure- neatly lying down, perpendicular to the seawall and with two cigarette’s resting against his body would also seem to be unlikely if poison was the culprit. It might be expected that his body would be positioned more similarly to the classic police chalk sketch although the final position of TSM did include one of his arms freely bent and away from his body in an unnatural position.

At the inquest, it was suggested by Detective Sergeant Lionel Leane that “There would have been convulsions with poisoning in the group mentioned. I understand there was no sign of disturbance in the sand, and I can only assume that so many people had walked in the sand that there was no evidence that there had not been convulsions. I am only going by what I was told, that there had been a lot of people and the body, and sand being what it is it would be impossible to draw my conclusions.” John Lyons, a witness who saw the body on the evening of the 30th noticed the man raising his right arm and dropping it and it has been suggested that this may have been a convulsion. Hicks noted this lack of convulsion drawback of the digitalis poison theory although mentions that the convulsions could have been minor. It seems that there are no definitive conclusions regarding whether there were convulsions although TSM’s final body position and lack of observed sand disturbance raise further questions regarding the poison mode of death theory.

The Riddling Receptacle

Another pitfall of the poison theory is the lack of receptacle found to house the poison within the vicinity of TSM. If TSM had taken the poison on the beach, one would expect the poison receptacle to be proximate to him. There is the clever possibility that he buried the poison vessel in the sand next to him although one wonders if authorities dug around him or over time a windswept beach would eventually expose the poison bottle. Although a random person who found such a container subsequently would likely think nothing of it. There also appeared to be shrubbery overgrowth behind TSM’s beachside location and it’s plausible that he threw the poison container behind himself into this. The question is also raised- why go to such lengths to hide the poison bottle? Perhaps the poison receptacle could be traced to a pharmacy that would lead to TSM being identified.

TSM may have consumed tablets as the form of poison. Tablets wouldn’t necessarily require a receptacle as they could be placed in his pocket. This procedure might require some liquid to swallow the tablets and there was no such liquid reported near TSM’s body. Alternately, some individuals seem to have the ability to swallow tablets without liquid but this seems like quite a cumbersome suicide methodology. An argument against this theory is that the dust within the pockets of TSM was analysed and no chemical was detected.

If TSM had consumed the poison at some previous time before meandering down to the beach, it raises the question as to how he indeed was feeling well enough to walk down 25 steps plus the added route post poison consumption. It is difficult to ascertain how long TSM could have walked for, after taking the poison. It would largely depend on the dosage taken and type of poison. It is plausible that TSM consumed the poison at some period prior to walking down the beach steps although if the final resting place he had in mind was along the beach, it would be an added obstacle to take the poison at some place before arriving there. Cleland echoes these sentiments, “I think if he did commit suicide whatever he took commenced to have a soporific effect on him before he had made his way as far along the beach as he had intended; that he had only time to descend the steps, found he was becoming drowsy and lay down with his head and shoulders resting against the seawall, in position which is within a yard of steps, on a summer evening, which would be frequented by several people at least.”

Further Problems with Poisoning

There are some further problems with the poisoning theory. There were no faecal stains in TSM’s underwear which is something poison might cause. Also the whereabouts the body was found in is a curious location for someone to consume poison; at the base of a busy staircase, whilst privacy awaited further along the beach.

TSM’s agility post poison is also an argument against this mode of death. If TSM had been smoking, as the half-lit cigarette and box of matches in his pocket suggests, then he must have been agile and well enough to smoke and put the matches back, which had he recently consumed poison would appear unlikely or at the least, difficult. Police constable, John Moss who was one of the first people on the scene said (of the lapel situated cigarette) at the inquest, “It is my opinion that it may have been in his mouth, he was smoking it, with his head sideways in the positioning which I found the head.” This scenario that the cigarette had simply fallen out of TSM’s mouth onto his lapel whilst being smoked seems the most probable scenario. If TSM had convulsions, it seems peculiar that the cigarette didn’t fall further onto the ground.

The pathologists of the era tended to err on the side of labelling something as poisoning when they couldn’t determine another cause of death. Collectively, this together with the lack of poisoning receptacle, absence of vomiting signs, no clear signs of convulsions, absence of soiled underwear, specific blood pooling, potato still in his stomach and his ability to light a cigarette, cast shade on the poisoning hypothesis.

Perhaps a plausible poisoning scenario is that TSM took digitalis whilst smoking and sitting on The Esplanade and then he vomited. His public position caused him to seek anonymity on the beach however the weakening effect of the poison ensured that he could only travel a metre or two past the base of the steps.

Positional Asphyxiation

If the collective evidence appears to douse the poisoning theory then how did TSM die? Prolific researcher of this case, Professor Derek Abbott has proposed an alternative theory as to what caused TSM’s death. His hypothesis involves the unique position TSM was lying; with his head propped up against the seawall at an awkward angle. Abbott suggests accidental, positional asphyxiation. The near right-angle head to body connection would have caused TSM to suffocate according to Abbott. The specific blood pooling on TSM could have been caused by this theory as TSM’s bodily position blocked off the blood flow and caused the blood to pool. There is no single autopsy feature that would be present if the positional asphyxiation theory was correct. The positional asphyxiation determination is typically done on circumstantial evidence.

1 awkward position

The alternative theory of accidental, positional asphyxiation also has its problems regarding likelihood of validity. This is quite a rare occurrence that would require TSM to not notice that he was suffocating and thus not moving his body. My primary criticism of this theory is the context of the rest of TSM case. When this is taken into account, which will be discussed later in this article, an accidental death seems even more farfetched than the poisoning hypothesis. Another potential criticism that can be levelled against the positional asphyxiation theory involves what Cleland noted: “If he had given himself an injection of tuberine, which is curare, he should have died a death from asphyxia. It does not seem that there is sufficient evidence from the post-mortem to suggest that.” Although a different cause of the asphyxiation has been mentioned in this quote, Cleland seems to refute the outcome of asphyxia here, although his statement is ambiguous. The physiological findings as a result of examining TSM’s body all seem to be quintessentially poison signs and it is difficult to think that positional asphyxiation could mimic the poisoning effects so perfectly.

Eyewitness Reports

1 TSM against the seawall

Another pertinent question is when did TSM arrive on Somerton Beach? A man was sighted on the evening of the 30th of November lying in a similar position to where TSM was found the next morning. If this person wasn’t TSM it raises the possibility that TSM was dumped at the beachside location during the night. It is therefore critical to comb through the eyewitness reports of those who saw this evening man- was this the same person found deceased the following day; was it TSM?

At around 7pm on the 30th of November, John Lyons and his wife on their return walk came within 14-18 metres of a man slumped against a sea wall only 1 metre from the base of the staircase. In the inquest Mr. Lyons recalled “There is a seawall up there, and he was leaning up against that, supporting his shoulders and head.”  On the evening in question, Mrs. Lyons commented “Look at the way the man is slumped” and the couple discussed his bodily position. The couple noticed that his legs were crossed and pointed in the direction of the sea. As Mr. Lyons joked to his wife that he would report the lounging man to police, the man raised an arm upwards then it fell to the ground. The Lyons’s didn’t see the man’s face that evening due to their distance to the man. The sun would soon set; at 7:13pm that night. The next day, Mr. Lyons took a morning swim and he would be one of the first people on the scene later that morning when TSM was found deceased. At the inquest, Lyons commented “I would however (say) that it was definitely the same person.”

Between 7:30pm and 8pm on the evening of the 30th of November, Olive Neill and Gordon Strapps sat on a bench just south of a man’s body. Their positioning meant that they could only see the man’s legs. The couple reported the location of the person to be about 2 metres north of the base of the steps. Olive reported to authorities that she thought the man’s legs were crossed and that he had brown trousers on. At the inquest, Olive reported “The position of his legs did not alter while I was there that I know of. I did not see his legs move. I saw no difference in his position from the time we arrived until the time when we left.” At the inquest, Olive also said “I did think something was wrong with this man, but I had no foundation for it. It was because he was lying still. I have seen people lying still on the beach before, I saw this man’s hand, and it seemed to be in a funny position, although I cannot remember actually how it was. I did in fact think this at the time, and made the remark to my companion that perhaps the man was dead.”


Gordon Strapps was sitting with Olive on the evening of the 30th of November as they discussed the man lying against the seawall. Gordon suggested to investigators that the man’s legs were extended, not crossed and that he wore brown, striped pants. At the inquest, Gordon recollected “I did not see him move once. However, I thought I noticed a difference in his position. That night I did make a remark to my girlfriend that as there were mosquitoes there he must have been dead to the world in not noticing them. It attracted my attention that he was lying there still notwithstanding that there were a lot of mosquitoes there, and I thought he must have been asleep.” Both Gordon and Olive could only see the man from the waist down and sat at an inappropriate angle to observe his face. Gordon and Olive left at around 8pm; around the same time that the street lights came on.

Was the man seen on the previous evening the same person found deceased against the seawall the next morning? There is no definitive way to determine this however the various eyewitness accounts seem to support this. The separate people noticing and commenting on the positioning of the man’s body, the well-dressed clothes matching at both evening and morning, the distance to the steps, the head and shoulders lying peculiarly against a seawall and the drunk/dead to the world comments about the man all combine to support the fact that this was indeed the same person.

If you go to the beach, you are unlikely to comment on someone’s lying position and consciousness and for the person to be a different man in the morning in the exact same location taking into account all the information, seems quite unlikely. Some people have suggested that it wasn’t the same man on the beach the previous evening. Their rationale is that Gordon recalled the trousers to be striped brown instead of their actual appearance: light brown. The fact that Olive reported the trousers as brown, his general comments supporting the notion that the man seemed “dead to the world” in combination with the other factors listed above, the likeliest scenario is that in accordance with the fallibility of human memory, Gordon misremembered the trousers as being striped.

The details regarding the time the man arrived on the beach are key now that we examine how the man arrived on the beach. The most likely scenario is that he simply walked down the steps. Some people have suggested that he was carried down the steps and it’s conceivable that some combination of a carry and him walking occurred such as TSM being held by two people around the shoulders; think of a drunk person stumbling around with help. The close proximity of TSM’s body to the base of the steps: around 1-2 metres can probably indicate one of two things: either, he had already taken the poison and would thus struggle to walk further along the beach or he had been carried and the person/people holding him couldn’t carry him much further. Voluntarily choosing to sit so close to the public steps before taking poison seems unlikely.

Due to the relatively high degree of light at the time, it seems unlikely that other people would have carried TSM down to the beach. If you have recently poisoned someone, you almost certainly wouldn’t in daylight hours take them to a public location, then conspicuously carry them down a flight of stairs, leaving them to die. This would firstly jeopardise being caught and secondly in regards to TSM, would have drawn attention and reports of this occurring at such a busy location with people teeming around and buildings overseeing the locale. If one was to dispose of a body, waiting until darkness has fallen would presumably be the first step. Also, the fact that TSM was found with cigarettes in positions around his body adds to the ‘he walked there’ theory. If TSM was dumped in his location by other people, you would think loitering around the body and delicately placing cigarettes wouldn’t serve any tangible purpose.

Suspicious Behaviour around TSM’s Body

There are three anecdotal reports of other people acting somewhat suspiciously around the time TSM was lying on the beach.

The Overlooking Man

The first report of strange behaviour emerged from the aforementioned Olive who reported a man of around 50 years old who was wearing a suit and a hat. Olive recalls that the man stood at the top entrance to the stairway and that he looked over the man lying against the seawall for about 5 minutes. This person may have in someway been involved with TSM however it’s fairly common for people at the beach to loiter on The Esplanade footpath and stare out towards the sand and beyond into the ocean. What’s even more telling: if you had been involved with the death of TSM, you would probably want to keep as far away as possible from his location to avoid being recognised. If you wanted to discreetly look at how TSM was acting, you would likely act casually and incidentally walk past along the beach, not overtly stand above his lying down position in such a way to draw attention. The main factor that rules out this man standing at the top of the steps supposedly staring down at TSM is the angle the man would be at in relation to TSM. If the couple sitting on the bench could only see the legs of TSM, then the man who would have been at a more acute angle, further away, with the seawall acting to obscure wouldn’t have been able to see any part of TSM. The purpose for him being there is therefore presumably unnecessary.


The Mysterious Man Carrying Someone

Within Gerry Feltus’s book, The Unknown Man, he writes of a witness seeing a man carrying another man over his shoulders at around 10pm on the 30th of November. This occurred near the colloquial ‘dugouts.’ Feltus writes of the ambiguity regarding the location of the dugouts. There is some reference online to these being located 700 metres north of TSM’s body near The Broadway. When Feltus drove the witness in later years around the area, they also indicated the area near The Broadway as where they saw the man being carried. In Feltus’s book, he cites an elderly local man recalling the location of the dugouts as near Bickford Terrace, the location where TSM was found.

1 dugouts

The mysterious man carrying someone was apparently walking south (the direction TSM was found) and was near the edge of the water. The eyewitness reported the incident to police around a decade later and was adamant that it occurred on the evening before TSM’s body was found. Despite the man’s recall of the date, it is hard to classify this decade late report as solid evidence. If the witness had come out the next day and reported it to authorities the validity of the story would increase however think about something you saw 10 years ago; it would be nigh on impossible to now recall the exact date.

The main counter-argument against this would be that the discovery of TSM’s body was a significant event and the witness upon hearing of the death recalled the specific date because of the body being found. Assuming that the witness was accurate in his date and event recall, then one man carrying another on the sand from at least one set of stairs to the base of another seems superfluous. Why wouldn’t he just dump the body somewhere closer, not at the foot of a secondary set of stairs? A more probable and innocuous scenario explaining the event would be that the man that was being carried was drunk and returning home from a Glenelg pub. As discussed previously, the precariously placed cigarettes, reliable bevy of eye-witnesses and proximity to the staircase, all point to the same conclusion. Occam’s razor would point to the fact that the one witness, a decade later was mistaken or that there was a likely innocent explanation for what he witnessed.

The Warm Weather Overcoat Wearer

There was a final suspicious man reported as being seen this time on the 1st of December, at 5:30am in the morning, about an hour before TSM was found dead. This mysterious man was walking north, in a direction away from the body. This man was wearing an overcoat which was described as being out of context. Despite time of death autopsy reports being wildly inaccurate in the era (the estimated time of death was given as 2AM), it seems clear that TSM had been dead for some hours prior to this 5:30AM overcoat man walking north of the body. It’s not clear what this man was supposed to have done to TSM (perhaps dumping his body) considering he was likely already deceased. Acting suspiciously near the body would only raise the possibility of getting identified for no real purpose.

The most likely scenario is that this overcoat wearing man, the man carrying another man on his shoulders and the man overlooking TSM’s body are innocent people who post hoc became suspicious. The Texas sharpshooter fallacy can be described as someone shooting a gun randomly at a wall and after this action drawing a target around the positions that the majority of bullets have hit. Akin to this, the suspicious people seem only to be suspicious after the fact which in itself isn’t too damning however there are a glut of eyewitness reports likely placing TSM up against the seawall on the evening prior to his death. This combined with the lack of reason for people to risk getting caught by loitering near the body after TSM had died or drawing attention by means of wearing an overcoat, suggests that the three ‘suspicious’ men were just innocent passers-by or in the case of the decade late police report, likely a misremembered date that as time passed became more cemented as TSM’s disappearance date.

TSM’s Burial

TSM’s journey to his final position on Somerton beach involved a bus journey that travelled past the West Terrace Cemetery in Adelaide. On June the 14th 1949 his body was buried at this very cemetery. The S.A. Grandstand Bookmakers Association paid for his modestly attended service that was largely kept secret to avoid curious onlookers. TSM’s body was positioned as the top of three burials within the cemetery plot. A wooden cross bearing the words ‘Unknown Somerton Body’ originally adorned the grave. This was later changed to the tombstone that currently sits above his body.

1 TSM burial

The burial of the Somerton Man


Part 2- The Rubaiyat Connection

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.” –
Quatrain 71 from The Rubaiyat.

Tamam Shud Discovery

During April of 1949, some four and a half months after TSM was found deceased, pathologist Sir. John Cleland re-examined the man’s body and made a number of new observations. The most notable discovery by Cleland was that of a piece of rolled up paper inside the fob pocket of the trousers TSM was wearing on the beach. The fob pocket is now known as an anachronistic small pocket found near the waist of trousers that historically was used for housing pocket watches. The rolled up paper was immersed deep down into TSM’s pocket, so much so that it required removal with a pair of tweezers. After removing the paper and then placing it back in the fob pocket, Cleland took a great deal of time finding the pocket a second time, despite knowing its location; such was the clandestine nature of this fob pocket. The pocket was located slightly to the right of TSM’s fly.

The rolled up piece of paper contained the words ‘Tamam Shud’ printed on it, which would later provide an alternative name to ‘The Somerton Man case’- ‘The Tamam Shud case.’ It was eventually determined that the words ‘Tamam Shud’ were Persian and translated loosely as “finished” or “ended.” It was deducted that a specific book of poetry also ended with the words Tamam Shud and that the scrap of paper likely came from this poetry book. The name of this poetry book was The Rubaiyat of Oman Khayyam and it contained a translation of poems from Persian into English by Edward FitzGerald. The themes permeating the poetry book involve life, death and love with an undercurrent message of living life to the fullest. The poems are framed in the quatrain format that feature four lines with the first, second and fourth lines rhyming. The Rubaiyat was very much in vogue during this era. The search was now afoot for the precise copy of The Rubaiyat this scrap of paper with the words Tamam Shud originated from.

The Rubaiyat Discovery

In July 1949, a chemist by the name of John Freeman read about the search for this elusive book. He remembered that his brother-in-law had left a copy of The Rubaiyat some months ago in the glovebox of his car: a small Hillman Minx. Freeman found that the book was still in the glovebox and noticed that the last page of the book had a quasi-rectangular tear where the words Tamam Shud should have been. The brother-in-law had some months ago found The Rubaiyat on the floor in front of the back seat of the car and assumed in belonged to Freeman. The car at the time was parked on Jetty Road, Glenelg, near the Pier Hotel. Freeman and his brother-in-law recalled that the date they initially found the book coincided approximately with the Parafield air display. This was a large event held on the outskirts of Adelaide on the 20th of November, 1948: some 11 days prior to TSM being found dead.

Upon receiving Freeman’s copy of The Rubaiyat, the authorities forensically analysed the paper and tear and thus determined the book as the exact source of the torn out Tamam Shud paper found in TSM’s fob pocket. Upon examining the book, an officer noticed the back page containing faint writing. This writing has been labelled as both indentations and faint pencil marks; which one of these the writing was composed of remains unclear. Using ultra-violet light, an array of seemingly nonsensical letters were seen on this back page of the book. There was also a phone number written on this back page in small font, ‘X3239.’ There are reports of a local bank’s phone number also scribed according to police officer Ron Thomas and additional conjecture about other phone numbers however this remains contentious.

The X3239 phone number belonged to Jessica Thomson, a former nursing student who lived on Moseley Street at Glenelg; around an 800 metre walk from where TSM’s body was found. Jessica claimed she knew nothing of TSM. When asked about The Rubaiyat, she did mention that she knew of the book and had given a copy to an Alf Boxall, a former army lieutenant in 1945 in Sydney. Alf Boxall was tracked down and found to be alive and he still possessed his copy of The Rubaiyat given to him by Jessica.

The Code

2 code

The supposed code found on the back page of The Rubaiyat has spawned countless theories and 70 years after TSM’s death it remains uncracked. I recently wrote an article about TSM code and this can be found here. Within my analysis I discussed the nature of the supposed code, examined general theories of the makeup of the code, analysed specific claims of the code being cracked and detailed the idiosyncrasies of the code. My overall conclusion cited the Abbott team analysis which determined that the ‘code’ is most likely an English initialism with each letter standing for the first letter of certain words. I also concluded that it is unlikely these words will ever be determined. I finally theorised that as both the ‘code’ has 4 lines and the quatrains within The Rubaiyat also have 4 lines, it is plausible that the ‘code’ writer attempted to write or recall their own quatrain poem using the initials of the words. They were perhaps inspired by reading the quatrains within The Rubaiyat.

The specific letters within the code are far more ambiguous than people realise. I have written another article analysing what each letter within the code is. I concluded that the code contains the following letters (based on the likelihood for each letter position within the code):





somerton man code small






I determined that the most ambiguous letters within the code are those surrounded by red rectangles below:


All attempts to crack the code to date have failed and many types of code have been ruled out as definitively not the Tamam Shud code or statistically unlikely to be the code. A search by John Rehling of over 20,000 books, to see if the code letters represent the first letters of words within the literature realm yielded no matches. Another feature of the code that should be noted is that it doesn’t resemble the structure of any known WWII code. The second line of the code (the one that has been crossed out) has a close resemblance to the fourth line. This seems to indicate that the person writing the code made a mistake and corrected themselves whilst writing the fourth line.

2 second code line

2 fourth code line.jpg

The 2nd line of the code (top) and the fourth line of the code (bottom) share similar letters.

The Date of The Rubaiyat Finding

The date that the chemist, John Freeman and his brother-in-law recall finding The Rubaiyat is curious. They recollect the book being found at the same time as the Parafield air display which was on the 20th of November 1948; some 11 days before TSM was found dead. The most likely scenario is that this was an approximate date of something happening 7 months earlier, thus the not quite accurate timing. For instance, the brother-in-law may have recalled meeting someone around the time of the Parafield air display and remembered being in their company when originally finding The Rubaiyat. He may have pieced these events together and concluded he found the book around the time of the Parafield air show. Another curious scenario involves the implications if the book was indeed found 11 days prior to TSM’s death. Did TSM visit Jessica and she wasn’t home and therefore he returned 11 days later? Did TSM meet up with Jessica 11 days earlier and things were discussed that resulted in a revisit on the 30th of November?

The Location of The Rubaiyat Finding

Another peculiar element to this case involves the location that The Rubaiyat was found: in the car on Jetty Road, near the Pier Hotel. The chemist John Freeman had a premises situated at 24a Jetty Road and close to the Pier Hotel. Both of these locations are on the southern side of Jetty Road and on the beach side of Moseley Street. This area was and continues to be a hotspot for foot traffic. The car’s bitumen location was surprisingly close to the sand, with the Pier Hotel being the last building before the beach. The position is also near a corner. It is only metres from the Glenelg Jetty entrance and it is on the busy Moseley Square. The place TSM was found deceased was 1.6 km south of this The Rubaiyat location; a direct easy access walk adjacent to the sea. It is thought that on the 30th of November, TSM caught the bus from near the Adelaide Railway Station to the suburb of St. Leonards, (present day Glenelg North). As seen on the map below, the location The Rubaiyat was found was in close proximity to where TSM is thought to have departed the bus, where Jessica lived and where his body was ultimately discovered.

2 the map showing 4 locations

2 Jetty Road Glenelg today

Modern day Jetty Road, Glenelg

Piecing the events of the day into sequential order is analogous to solving those cartoon picture puzzles that require the order of events to be placed from start to finish. I find it troubling that The Rubaiyat was found so far from TSM’s body. If he had disposed of it, then why wasn’t it found on some route between Jessica’s house and where his body was found? The Rubaiyat was found about a 20 minute walk away from his body. Did TSM visit Jessica’s house then return to Jetty Road and dispose of The Rubaiyat while perhaps eating a pasty then walk 20 minutes south again to where he was found deceased?

2 modern day Moseley Square now Stamford Grand hotel on left

Modern day Moseley Square. The Stamford Grand Hotel is on the left of picture. This is in the vicinity of where the Pier Hotel was located.

It is conceivable that the Hillman Minx wasn’t parked in front of The Pier Hotel when The Rubaiyat was thrown into it. How could the chemist so precisely determine the location the car had been in 6 months prior on a seemingly arbitrary day for the totality of the day? Perhaps he regularly parked in the same location due to the proximate nature to his premises and perhaps the police pieced the Glenelg links together. This does spawn another question; how did the chemist know The Rubaiyat was thrown into his car whilst it was parked on Jetty Road and not when his car was parked somewhere else such as a friend’s house? The chemist’s brother-in-law had picked the book up whilst he was sitting on the back seat of the car but we can’t be certain that The Rubaiyat hadn’t been there for several days and this was the first time someone had sat on the back seat or indeed noticed The Rubaiyat on the ground. A plausible scenario is that around 6pm John Freeman drove down to The Esplanade and parked near where TSM body was found. It’s plausible that many of TSM’s items could have been found in separate cars along The Esplanade.

2 Pier Hotel 1913

The Pier Hotel as it looked in 1913

How Did The Rubaiyat Arrive In the Car?

Let us assume the book was found next to the Pier Hotel as the conventional story goes. There were no shortage of places to purchase alcohol in the vicinity of Jetty Road. The book flung into the back of a car resembles the actions of a drunk person. Did someone drink alcohol on Jetty Road, or elsewhere, and thanks to their lower inhibitions throw the book into the car? Alternately, TSM may have left the book in a pub (accidentally or not) and some other strangers may have found it and thought it humorous to throw it into the back of a nearby car. The dimension of this copy of The Rubaiyat were deceptively tiny. The book would have fit snuggly inside TSM’s jacket pocket. The book was just the right size for TSM to carry around. Below are two images, depending on the orientation of the code, of the size of the book (the outline) and code relative to an A4 sheet of paper.

2 portrait code

An A4 piece of paper indicates the small size of The Rubaiyat whose dimensions are shown by the black rectangle. The approximate size of the code is also illustrated if it was written in portrait format.

2 landscape code

The A4 paper emphasises the tiny dimensions of The Rubaiyat which are represented by the black rectangle. The small lettering of the code is also shown if written in landscape orientation.

It is often quipped that The Rubaiyat was ‘flung’ into the back of the chemist’s car. This does seem like a peculiar way to get rid of it- in such a busy thoroughfare as Jetty Road, it would be risky that someone else would see this action. There were rubbish bins around and disposing of the book into one of these would seemingly make more sense. This question keeps occurring to me: why not get rid of the book in a bin?

There are many plausible scenarios explaining how the book came to be in the back of the car; not involving it being thrown in. The book may have been on the ground adjacent to the car and a passer-by thought it had fallen out of the car and thus threw it into the car. TSM or someone else could have been hiding in/lying down in/travelling in the chemist’s car and the book could have been left behind or fallen out of someone’s pocket. The book could have been open next to TSM’s body on the beach with a poem on display and someone may have taken it and thrown it into the back of the car. Jessica’s husband sold cars as a vocation and it is plausible that is some abstract way The Rubaiyat was connected to a car he had sold.

Cars in the era of the 1940s commonly had their windows open and this may provide the mechanism as to how the book arrived in John Freeman’s car. The precise model of the Hillman Minx that Freeman drove is not public knowledge however the car has been described as “small.” There were also convertible models of the Hillman Minx and indeed Freeman may have owned one of these models lacking a roof. A book thrown into a car in this modern era shouldn’t be compared to the era of TSM’s death- a time of relaxed security and with vehicles commonly unlocked with their windows open.

2 The Hillman Minx car

A Hillman Minx car.

Why Dispose Of The Rubaiyat Into A Car?

Why was The Rubaiyat thrown (or arriving by other means) into the back of chemist John Freeman’s car? This is a pertinent question. Everything else in TSM case details some level of meticulous concealment. From the mode of death, the identification of TSM, any links to Glenelg or the rest of the world, the purposeful removal of identifiable labels (which will be discussed later) and the mystique cloaking this case. The Rubaiyat carelessly perhaps ‘flung’ into the back of a seemingly random car seems out of context. Especially when a phone number is written in The Rubaiyat that threatens to expose the whole case. If the phone number was more visible or The Rubaiyat was more easily linked to TSM, then an element of intentionality would emerge; however, this is not the case. It was quite plausible that no-one would have come forward with The Rubaiyat and also quite plausible that the Tamam Shud paper was never discovered. The Rubaiyat in the back of the car reeks of a game of chance whereas everything else in this case seemingly has precision and reason.

One theory is that the book was purposefully thrown into the back of the car as a signal, in order to let somebody know something. For instance, when person ‘A’ walks past the car and sees the book, they know TSM has been poisoned. It is also possible that it was thrown into the back of the wrong car. The chemist, John Freeman whose car The Rubaiyat was thrown into may have been somehow involved in this case although this seems a long shot. Why would he purposefully hand the book over to authorities and risk incriminating himself if he was involved?

Perhaps the most logical reason, in terms of motive, explaining the book in the random car finding is that TSM was being followed. If someone sought the book and TSM was intent on depriving the book from this follower, then throwing it into a car in a busy street makes sense. Although this scenario makes logical sense, it may belong more suitably within the pages of a spy book.

The Rarity of The Rubaiyat

There have been worldwide and extensive searches for an identical copy of the 1941 edition of The Rubaiyat linked to TSM case. These have so far proved fruitless. Why has it been so hard to conjure up a copy of a book? There may be several reasons for this. There were many editions of the Whitcombe and Tombs ‘The Rubaiyat’. The specific copy in TSM’s case has now been lost but a duplicate copy is elusive. In the era of TSM case, there were a glut of ‘false imprints’ of books. There were many people creating fake copies of books and selling them. Books of the era were the DVDs of the 2000s or the $10 fake Rolex watches sold overseas. In all likelihood, it seems that The Rubaiyat in TSM case was a false imprint. Finding a copy is imperative as the precise words contained within it may be a one-time pad to decode the possible cipher found at the back of the book. Alternatively, some other clue may lie within the precise combination of words in TSM’s The Rubaiyat that may hold the key to cracking TSM code.

2 front cover of The Rubaiyat

The front cover of The Rubaiyat found in John Freeman’s car

Another Copy of The Rubaiyat?

There may have been another copy of The Rubaiyat found around the same time as chemist John Freeman discovered the torn version in his car. Bus conductor Leslie Francis Wytkin who lived at Glenelg found a copy of the Rubaiyat most likely on a bus (the newspaper article implies it was a bus). Wytkin handed in the copy of The Rubaiyat to the lost property section of the Tramway Trust. Wytkin believed that he found the book around the time that TSM was found deceased. Most likely the find was a coincidence and another unrelated person had left the book on the bus however if the bus in question was the one travelled on by TSM, then it adds another level of intrigue to the case. Although presumably detectives investigating the case would have determined this.

2 Wytkin

Bus conductor- Leslie Francis Wytkin.

Jessica and The Rubaiyat

Jessica, the former nursing student whose phone number was in back of The Rubaiyat had some prior knowledge of The Rubaiyat. In 1945, she met army lieutenant, Alf Boxall at the Clifton Gardens Hotel in Sydney. Alf would be on active service soon after this meeting thus on Boxall and Jessica’s second (and last) meeting, she presented Boxall with a copy of The Rubaiyat. She had transcribed verse 70 in her own handwriting inside the cover which read:

“Indeed, indeed. Repentance I oft bore

I swore- but was I sober when I swore?

And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand

My thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.


2 Boxalls Rubaiyat (2)

The copy of The Rubaiyat that Jessica gave Alf Boxall with quatrain 70 transcribed

The name ‘JEstyn’ refers to Jessica and may have been a nickname for Jessica. What this gift tells us is that Jessica was well versed with The Rubaiyat and may have had a habit of giving them to lovers. When Jessica was asked what she considered The Rubaiyat to be a book about, she responded “love poetry.” The fact that TSM appeared in her suburb, with Tamam Shud in his pocket and The Rubaiyat lends support to the Jessica-TSM former lover theory. An argument against this theory is that The Rubaiyat presented to Boxall had a personalised inscription from Jessica and TSM’s copy had no such writing. Despite this, it is still plausible that Jessica gave TSM The Rubaiyat without transcribing a quatrain.

If you hear the words “phone number in the cover of a book” you would perhaps think the person who owned the book had written their own phone number down in case the book was lost and it could thus be returned. The phone number written in The Rubaiyat was different, it was in tiny writing. Some people have speculated that it was in micro writing (only 1mm or so high) however this seems unlikely to me. If the authorities had noticed the writing being that significantly small (and likely the smallest writing they had come across in their life), they would have mentioned this. Nonetheless, the tiny and faint phone number writing indicates that the person who wrote it may have been wanting to keep the number somewhat secretive or alternately, they didn’t want to tarnish their book so wrote it softly and in small lettering. It is often assumed that the phone number listed in The Rubaiyat was of Jessica but TSM may have only been interested in seeing Prosper, the man Jessica was in some form of relationship with. What if Jessica was the owner of The Rubaiyat that was later found in John Freeman’s car? An argument against this: why write your own phone number in tiny writing inside your own book and then throw it away into a nearby car (unless TSM was the person who threw their book away)?

Matching The Rubaiyat and Tamam Shud Paper

The torn out ‘Tamam Shud’ words didn’t match the hole in the back of The Rubaiyat found in John Freeman’s car. The hole in the book was larger. The authorities were able to match the two items based on colour and texture. The question is then raised: why didn’t the two items match in shape? The most likely scenario is that the ‘Tamam Shud’ paper was too large to fit inside a tiny fob pocket and thus it was torn again. This secondary tear seemed to be much neater and is reflected in the photo of the words ‘Tamam Shud.’ It is unclear whether the widely disseminated photo of the tear marks on the final page of The Rubaiyat is an image of the actual copy of the book.

2 Rubaiyat original maybe

It is not clear if this widely distributed photo of The Rubaiyat with its last page torn is the actual copy found in the chemist’s car or a mock-up for illustration purposes.

Who Placed Tamam Shud into TSM’s Pocket?

The placement of the words Tamam Shud, deep down within the pocket of TSM may support the possibility that TSM himself placed the paper there. The pathologist Cleland had to use tweezers to retrieve the paper from TSM’s pocket, such was its difficulty of access. If you try and place something deep into your own fob pocket, the angle of the arm and hand pushing down seem to make it easier to push the item further into the pocket. If you try and place it into someone else’s pocket it is harder to push the item down as you may become restricted by the length of your fingers.

2 Tamam Shud

The original Tamam Shud piece of paper that was found in TSM’s fob pocket.

Another piece of evidence to support the idea that TSM placed the words in his own pocket is the clandestine nature of the fob pocket. If the clothes TSM was wearing were his own (and they fit well hence they probably were) he would be more familiar with the idiosyncrasies of his pockets. The fact that the pathologist, Cleland struggled to find the fob pocket a second time suggests that someone other than TSM wanting to place the paper into his pocket might struggle to find its location. It has also been suggested that as the pocket was so difficult to find, the pocket may have been sewn into the trousers and the trousers weren’t originally made with such a uniquely secretive pocket.

Why Place Tamam Shud into The Pocket?

Another intriguing question within the whole scenario is why was the piece of Tamam Shud paper placed within the fob pocket of TSM; by himself or somebody else? The fact that it took 4 and a half months for the paper to be discovered raises questions about the purpose of the concealment. Was the paper intended to be discovered by authorities? In a similar ilk to The Rubaiyat being thrown into the back of the car, we have another item that could have just as easily went undiscovered. It has been suggested that the words ‘Tamam Shud’ were placed in the pocket by some higher-level spy as a calling card type signal. A meeting may have occurred and it could have been prearranged that person ‘A’ would identify themselves with The Rubaiyat and they would provide person ‘B’ with the words ‘Tamam Shud.’ It is difficult to conjure other practical reasons for the words being placed in the pocket, leading to the possibility that it was for a symbolic purpose.

The meaning of Tamam Shud in Persian is “finished” or “ended” and these connotations can gain meaning when presented next to the rest of TSM case. When a dead person is found with the words “finished” in their pocket; there is a degree of intentionality involved. Whether that is suicide or murder is difficult to determine. The base rates of suicide being more common than murders are a tick in the suicide possibility column. The word “finished” could also refer to other elements within the framework of life such as a relationship. Did TSM place the “Tamam Shud” paper in his pocket symbolically as to refer to the end of a relationship? Alternatively, did TSM plan on giving the paper to someone else such as Jessica to indicate to them an end of their relationship or the impending end of his own life? There is no guarantee that TSM wasn’t planning to give someone else the piece of paper.

My main criticism with the Abbott theory of accidental, positional asphyxiation being the cause of death of TSM is that he had the words Tamam Shud (finished) in his pocket. This doesn’t seem to correlate with an accidental death. There is a macabre magic trick that could account for the words “Tamam Shud” being in TSM’s pocket. The trick involves writing on a card “I will die today” and placing this card in your pocket/wallet/purse. When the authorities find the card, be it 10 years later, they will be confounded as to how a person predicted their own sudden death. The argument against this being the case in TSM’s instance is The Rubaiyat having been found with the paper hole within the same timeframe as TSM’s body.


Part 3- The Somerton Man’s Belongings

“In this maze of antiques, she says, are the ghosts of everyone who has ever owned this furniture. Everyone rich and successful enough to prove it. All of their talent and intelligence and beauty outlived by decorative junk. All the success and accomplishments this furniture was supposed to represent, it’s all vanished.” – Chuck Palahniuk

Items on TSM’s Body

When the enigmatic man was found deceased on the Somerton beach, he had a curious collection of items on his body. He had one unsmoked cigarette tucked behind his ear and another partially smoked cigarette nuzzled between his cheek and his coat’s collar. TSM also had a quarter-full box of matches on him that were particularly difficult for the authorities to find and some Kensitas brand cigarettes in an Army Club brand packet. He also had:

  • A bus ticket to St. Leonards
  • A train ticket to Henley Beach
  • Two combs
  • A handkerchief
  • A pullover (despite the relatively warm weather)
  • A half-full pack of chewing gum
  • A jacket
  • A shirt
  • A tie
  • A pair of trousers
  • A singlet
  • A pair of jockey underpants
  • A pair of socks
  • A pair of shoes (these looked new)

The labels on the clothes he was wearing had curiously been removed. The aforementioned ‘Tamam Shud’ piece of paper was within the fob pocket of his trousers. The shoes TSM wore were surprisingly clean and polished. The lack of certain items on TSM was also conspicuous. He had no wallet, money or identification on his body.

A Possible Breakthrough in the Case

Approximately 6 weeks after TSM was found deceased, the authorities checked with staff at the Adelaide Railway Station to determine if any items in the Cloak Room had been unclaimed. It just so happened that there was a fairly new suitcase that had remained in the Cloak Room since the 30th of November, 1948. When authorities examined it, it was unlocked. It was checked in between 11am and midday of that day. Within the suitcase was a brown cord thread and needle. It matched the stitching on the coat that TSM had been wearing. There was also a match between the thread found in the suitcase and items that had been repaired that he was wearing. There were similarities between many clothes within the suitcase and clothes worn by the deceased TSM. The underwear was of the same brand, the shirts of a similar style, the handkerchief’s matched up and most of the clothing was of a similar size, besides the coat within the suitcase being slightly smaller than the one he had been wearing. The items in the suitcase had also mainly had their labels removed. The exceptions were a tie with the name “T. Keane”, a singlet with the name “Kean” and a laundry bag that was marked “Keane.” There was more than sufficient evidence that this was TSM’s suitcase. There were three dry-cleaning laundry marks found on the clothing in the suitcase.


Within TSM’s Suitcase

There were many items found within the suitcase.

The clothing related items included:

  • A pair of slippers
  • Several pairs of jockey style underpants
  • A dressing gown
  • A pair of pyjamas
  • 4 ties
  • 2 singlets,
  • A laundry bag
  • A pair of Marco brand trousers
  • 6 handkerchiefs
  • A tartan design scarf
  • A sports coat
  • 2 coat shirts
  • A shirt
  • 2 coat hangers
  • A button
  • 3 safety pins
  • A card of tan coloured thread
  • A tin of tan coloured boot polish
  • A front collar stud
  • A back collar stud
  • A brown button
3 detectives showing TSMs clothes

Three detectives showing TSM’s clothes to the media.

3 tsm clothes

A combination of some of the clothes found in TSM’s suitcase and the clothes he was wearing when found deceased.

TSM’s suitcase also contained:

  • A knife in sheath
  • A pair of scissors in sheath
  • A broken pair of scissors
  • A stencil brush
  • An electrician’s screwdriver
  • A piece of zinc
  • A loupe (a tiny circular object)
  • A razor strop
  • A razor
  • A shaving brush
  • A green soap dish
  • A hairpin (this resembled the hairpins typically worn by females. It was found inside the soap dish)
  • A piece of light coloured cord
  • A toothbrush and toothpaste
  • An eraser
  • 6 pencils
  • 2 airmail stickers
  • 9 envelopes, 8 of which were large and 1 which was small. These included squarish shaped envelopes
  • A glass dish
  • A 6d coin found in the pocket of the trousers
  • A cigarette lighter
  • A teaspoon

The above list provides a superficial insight into TSM’s belongings but by delving deeper, further deductions can be made about some of these items and perhaps about TSM himself.

3 The suitcase and non clothes items

TSM’s suitcase and the non-clothes items that were found within it.

Determining Where TSM Is From

The coat TSM was wearing had a type of feather stitching within it that was only done in America. This alone suggests that the TSM had either purchased the coat in America or bought it second hand off someone who had been to America. TSM had carried two combs on his body and one of these was an aluminium comb that would have been typically carried by Americans, not Australians. The tie TSM was wearing had stripes running from the wearer’s top right shoulder to left hip. America ties post 1920s were made the opposite way to British ties and thus the stripes run in different directions. The tie TSM was wearing had stripes running in the typical ‘American direction.’ Contrastingly, out of the four ties in the suitcase, two were striped and both in the British direction. TSM also has a curious tie that seemed to be white in colour. This was labelled ‘T Keane’ and was therefore probably second-hand. Seeing people wear a white tie is fairly rare and it has thus been speculated that TSM was a member of an organisation of some sort despite the tie likely being second-hand.


The whitish coloured tie with something resembling ‘T. KEANE’ written on it.

On TSM’s body was Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit flavoured chewing gum. This flavour would have normally been chewed by American adults. A chewing gum habit was also more quintessentially an American adult convention, not an Australian adult habit.

3 artist impression chewing gum

An artist’s impression of the Juicy Fruit chewing gum packet TSM had.

The razor strop found in TSM’s suitcase had the label of “Kent Street, Sydney” on it. It has been written that this is where a factory manufactured the strop, not where the strop was necessarily purchased from. It is strange that this item didn’t have the specific location “Kent Street, Sydney” removed or at least obscured. Was this an oversight or did the person who removed the labels know that this address was a red-herring? The Stamina brand trousers worn by TSM were manufactured in Victoria although this brand also shipped to N.S.W. and W.A.

The pants within TSM’s suitcase strangely had sand in their cuffs. Did this suggest TSM had come from a beachside location? Another possible scenario is that he had been in Adelaide longer than the conventionally agreed upon 30th of November arrival date and perhaps he had visited Glenelg or Henley Beach earlier in the week. Contrasting the sand, the pullover on TSM’s body and tartan scarf in his suitcase suggest TSM may have been accustomed to cooler weather. Another possibility for these items is that TSM was sick and felt the cold. Perhaps the most likely scenario explaining TSM wearing a pullover in Adelaide during the Australian summer is his foresight that he would be lying on the exposed beach that evening and night and the pullover was simply preparation for this.

There were three laundry marks found on TSM’s clothing: 305.3/1, 4393/7 and 1171/7. The precise numbers written are ambiguous. Detectives initially thought these marks may have come from Melbourne however this was later ruled out and no Australian dry-cleaners were associated with the marks. An intriguing aspect of the laundry marks is the length of them. Each mark consisting of 5 digits indicates that they came from a large city in which distinguishing between dry-cleaners requires the use of 5 numbers. American laundry marks may be consistent with having so many digits. This clue may prove fruitful in order to trace TSM back to a location he lived although a previous owner of the clothes may be the person who got the clothes dry-cleaned and thus this exercise may prove fruitless in establishing TSM’s origins.

3 laundry marks

The laundry marks found on TSM’s clothing.

The airmail stickers found in the suitcase were accompanied by 9 envelopes, including squarish shaped envelopes. Cleland speculated that the airmail stickers meant TSM was corresponding with someone at a distance. He reasoned that this would more likely be interstate than Britain. Cleland further suggested that the square shaped envelopes may have been Christmas cards that TSM had recently sent overseas. The November date may have been too early for the cards to be sent interstate hence the overseas sending theory. Alternately, if TSM had known he was going to die soon, the cards may have been sent early for this reason to an interstate destination. A photo of TSM’s belongings shows a letter card: an item akin to a postcard that has two sides for writing on. TSM’s letter card has the Australian coat of arms symbol on it. There was ample letter writing material found within the suitcase and an abundance of pencils and conspicuous lack of pens. All of this communication material points to the fact that TSM wasn’t a completely isolated person and that he had at least some social links with the outside world. Amongst the assortment of TSM’s items, there were some British based items including the cigarettes and matches found on his body.

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A letter card and envelopes found in TSM’s suitcase.

The Puzzling Mismatched Cigarettes

TSM was quite the avid smoker as illustrated by his nicotine stained hands. There was something unusual about the cigarettes found on TSM. This oddity it that the packet of cigarettes were of the Army Club brand and they contained 7 cigarettes of the Kensitas brand. This was a more expensive brand of cigarette inside the cheaper Army Club brand packet, although only marginally. Kensitas cost around 2s and 10d whilst the Army Club brand were about 2s and 6d. It is difficult to ascertain if this practice of having more expensive cigarettes in a cheaper packet had some clandestine motive. The people in the era of the 1940s found this cigarette packet switching fashionable although the public would normally place the cheaper brand of cigarettes in a more expensive packet; the opposite of what TSM did. Perhaps TSM wanted to appear as working-class or didn’t want to draw too much attention to himself which is something he succeeded in doing until his death. The most innocuous explanation may be that TSM was running low on Army Club brand cigarettes and a passenger on the train or subsequent bus ride sold TSM some of their loose Kensitas brand cigarettes. The switched cigarette conundrum has also spawned theories positing that the poison that ultimately killed TSM was administered through a cigarette.


An artist’s impression of the Army Club brand cigarettes found on TSM.

The Shiny Shoes Conundrum

The shoes TSM was wearing when found deceased had the interesting property of appearing to have been recently polished. Cleland commented that the shoes were unexpectedly clean and weren’t in the condition one would expect someone’s shoes would be in had they spent the day wandering around Glenelg. There was a small amount of sand on the shoe’s toe marks. Leane supported Cleland’s shoe observation and added “They look as though they had been polished that morning, or later.”

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The shiny shoes TSM was wearing when found deceased.

One possibility to explain the shiny shoes was that TSM had wanted to impress Jessica and thus polished his shoes before seeing her. Additionally he may have spent the majority of the day in her house. Another more sinister scenario revolves around TSM being killed and fitted with polished shoes or having had his shoes polished after dying. I think the most likely scenario was that TSM hadn’t spent the day on the beach and had only walked a metre or two from the base of the beach steps to his final location. On a still day (like the 30th of November was), there would be little sand or debris landing on the shoes if you were walking in the suburbs of Glenelg for 30 minutes or so total. The tan coloured shoe polish in TSM’s suitcase indicates that it was most likely him who had polished his shoes and that he had done so that morning. The shoes were described as looking “practically new.” Did TSM buy them just for the purpose of visiting Glenelg or did he buy them to replace other shoes he owned that could be traced to his identity? Also, what happened to the implement, most likely a cloth or brush, that TSM used in tandem with the polish to shine his shoes?

TSM’s Job?

Another trait of TSM that may be deduced is that he was a crafty person. He had a homemade sheath in his suitcase and it appeared that he used thread in his suitcase to fix his clothes. Several tools that would potentially fit into the crafty category were also found inside TSM’s suitcase. There was also a stencilling brush in the suitcase with an unidentified black substance on the end of it. This type of brush was commonly used on merchant ships by those in the position of ‘third mate’ for the purpose of stencilling cargo. This nautical occupation hypothesis, appears with the limited evidence to be one of the most plausible theories as to TSM’s job.

3 pencils and other items

Some of the tools found in TSM’s suitcase as well as pencils and a cigarette lighter.

An Extra Comb

TSM was found with two combs on his body. Was he overly conscientious about seeing Jessica and hence had two combs? Did he comb his hair in a peculiar manner in which two combs were required? In the modern hipster world, people may carry a specific comb for their beard however TSM was clean-shaven. Did he previously have a beard and was therefore incognito in Glenelg? Another theory is that TSM may have purchased a second comb with the plan of throwing out the first comb as he believed his primary comb could be traced back to his country of origin or identity. TSM may have subsequently forgotten to thrown away the American linked aluminium comb. Alternately, he may have realised post purchase that the aluminium comb couldn’t be traced to him and therefore he kept both combs.

3 artist impression combs

An artist’s impression of the two combs found on TSM’s body.

A Hairpin

There was also a normal hairpin typically worn by females found in TSM’s suitcase- within the soap dish. Was this an irrelevant item that just found its way into the suitcase as these items sometimes do or did it have some other purpose such as enabling TSM to disguise his hair? Did the hairpin have some toiletries related use hence the location it was found or did TSM keep it in the soap dish to prevent it getting lost amongst his belongings? Did TSM use this item as a tool? Some people use such items to pick locks. Another scenario for why TSM had a hairpin typically worn by females is that he lived with a female. Whether this be a daughter, partner or sister. The item was possibly a remnant of them using the suitcase previously or it may have simply been caught up in an item he packed. TSM may have found it in his suitcase and placed it inside the soap dish with the hopes of returning it.

soap dish

The soap dish that was found containing a hairpin.

Coat Hanger Clues

It’s not clear whether the two coat hangers within TSM’s suitcase had clothes attached to them or if they were loose. The existence of loose coat hangers indicates that TSM either stopped somewhere on his journey to Adelaide and thus required a place to hang clothes or that he planned on hanging the clothes once he arrived in Adelaide and didn’t necessarily expect to die and not return to his suitcase. The two coat hangers if loose could have also been originally attached to the clothes he was wearing on the 30th of November indicating that he was keen to be well-presented that day.

A Lack of Labels

A fascinating and further mysterious aspect in TSM case revolves around the clothing and item labels. All of the clothing labels on the clothes TSM had been wearing had been removed as were most of the labels on the clothing within the suitcase and even a label had been removed from the suitcase itself. The labels on many items within the suitcase had also been removed. A newspaper article from 11 days after TSM was found deceased wrote “All name tags had been cut from the clothing. This appeared to have been done recently.” The label removal process seemed to involve clipping or cutting the labels. There appear to be two primary options regarding the label removal motive. The first theory is that TSM may not have wanted to be identified and therefore removed all the labels that he thought could lead back to his identity being unearthed. The second theory involves other people removing the labels so as to obscure TSM’s identity. This second theory can be broken down into two possibilities: either TSM was killed by someone or someone else was helping TSM conceal his identity.


The label has been removed from the jacket TSM was wearing when found deceased.

There are several arguments against a person other than TSM removing the labels. If someone had obtained TSM’s luggage receipt and was thus granted access to the suitcase, then why would the person carefully remove the labels and then return the suitcase. It seems like a superfluous step to return the suitcase and an increase in the risk of getting caught as opposed to just throwing the suitcase away. Another argument against someone else removing the labels involves the selectiveness over which labels remained and which labels were removed. Only TSM himself would have known which labels would potentially lead back to his identity and another person would be required to remove all labels. The fact that the “T. Keane”, “Kean” and “Keane” labels remained supports the notion that TSM removed the labels. Only TSM would have known that the Kean/Keane name couldn’t be traced back to him. Another person may have thought that this was a friend of TSM or some relative and thus would be required to remove these name labels. Incidentally, the “Kean” writing on TSM’s singlet may have originally been a “Keane.” Within the inquest is was speculated that the “e” was washed or rubbed out from the singlet.

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T. KEANE or something similar is written on TSM’s white tie. Also in the photo are his Barbour’s wax thread and tools.

The clothes in the suitcase were neatly packed and nicely ironed: If someone else had gone through the case, then rummaging through the clothes and removing the tags may have creased the clothes: you likely wouldn’t iron them again. The number of items in the suitcase seemed perfectly packed together; like a game of Tetris yet certain items were missing; were these never packed or thrown out at a later date? If they were thrown out at some later stage, these items might not have fit into the suitcase.

A further question involves whether TSM always travelled with clothes that had the labels removed or whether he had just done this process for the Somerton beach journey? The fact that all of the clothes he was found in had their labels removed while only some of the clothes in the suitcase had their labels removed indicates that the label removal process was just for this journey. Having said this, the person that removed the labels would have somewhat expected the suitcase to be found or the label removal process would have been pointless. The newspaper article indicating that the labels had likely only recently been removed is difficult to dissect. Was there a lack of fraying on the labels; something that time might cause?

Another question is why would TSM check the suitcase in to the Cloak Room as opposed to throwing it away if he was so concerned about his identity being uncovered? Perhaps TSM may have planned on committing suicide however wasn’t 100% certain on this process. If he didn’t end up committing suicide, then he would have the suitcase and items he could collect again. Alternately, if he did commit suicide, he could ensure that his identity would remain unknown.

The Suitcase

TSM’s suitcase had enough materials contained within it for a person to survive for approximately one week. Did this mean he had planned on returning back to his home or did it take several days of travelling for TSM to arrive in Adelaide? Having five ties alone indicates that it was unlikely that TSM caught a train straight from Melbourne to Adelaide and planned on abandoning his suitcase as soon as he arrived in Adelaide. The unlocked nature of the suitcase raises further questions. Did TSM not worry about locking the case as he knew he would not return to it? Was TSM in a rush and running late so felt like he didn’t have time to lock it? Perhaps the answer to this question lies in the era being one of more trusting times and consequentially locks were rarely used. Despite its fairly new façade, the suitcase had the remnants of a sticker on it, like one that airports now stick on bags however this sticker had been peeled off. Did this indicate that TSM had recently come from overseas? Did the newish nature of the suitcase indicate that it was bought primarily for the Adelaide journey, perhaps because it was untraceable? The sticker that had been peeled may have been one of those irksome new product brand stickers that require peeling off.

3 the suitcase

TSM’s suitcase

Similarly to the Tamam Shud paper and The Rubaiyat, the suitcase was another item that could have easily went undiscovered by authorities. This ambiguity over whether the suitcase was intended to be found potentially clouds any deductions. TSM could have easily been found with his travel suitcase next to his body, with it 100% certain that authorities would find it. Alternately, the suitcase could have simply been thrown away, with the certainty that no-one would go through it. Removing the labels off of something that may or may not be found seems like a game of chance.

The label removal notion has similar elements to another unidentified person mystery; that of the 1970 case of the Isdal woman. In short, a woman was found dead in Isdal Valley, Norway, her body burnt, bruised and having consumed over 50 sleeping pills. Two of the Isdal woman’s suitcases had been found at a railway station and all identifying labels had been removed. In the Isdal woman case, the evidence strongly points to her being a spy partly due to the number of different identities she assumed. An excellent podcast called ‘Death In Ice Valley’ attempts to identify the Isdal woman and solve the case. TSM case does have parallels to the Isdal woman and the label removal could have been due to TSM’s job as a spy or other secretive profession. Another possibility is that Kean/Keane may have been a false identity of TSM akin to the Isdal woman although this theory seems less likely as surely even the authorities finding even a false identity would provide them with some information to trace the true person.

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A sketch of the Isdal Woman by forensic artist, Stephen Missal.

An Absence of Items

The lack of certain items on TSM’s deceased body or in the suitcase raises many questions. In these locations there was no: identification, hat, wallet, pens or medication. There was also no money on the body of TSM and only 6d in a trousers pocket in his suitcase. TSM had a pair of dark coloured socks on his feet when he was found but strangely there were no socks found in his suitcase. The lack of identification on TSM comes as no real surprise considering the efforts he or others went to in order to hide his identity, by removing clothing tags and the fact that no-one came forth to identify him. TSM wasn’t wearing a hat when he was found on Somerton Beach which seemed slightly out-of-place for the era and strange considering how well-dressed he otherwise was. Indeed, witness John Lyons even noted the lack of the hat on the man in the evening saying, “I was on the sea side of the man. I do not think he was wearing a hat.” It is possible TSM’s hat blew off his head while lying on the beach yet this seems unlikely due to the serene weather conditions. It’s also plausible that he took his hat off while visiting Jessica and accidentally left it at her house. Another theory is that TSM’s hat was lost if he was bending over and vomiting e.g. on The Esplanade. Every aspect of TSM points towards him trying to fit in and not wearing a hat counters this desire. Alternately, every aspect of the case points towards TSM’s identity being concealed and perhaps this is the true reason for his missing hat.

TSM not having pens is another oddity, yet he had up to 6 pencils. The fact that he had plentiful letter writing material and several forms of paper indicates to me that he perhaps had pens and disposed of them. Receiving letters written in pencil is atypical. Some people have their initials on pens so this may have been a reason for disposing of them. Perhaps having an abundance of pencils and dearth of pens is a combination that a spy might possess. The code written in what may have been pencil matches this item being in his possession. This might point to the code having been written whilst on the train to Adelaide. No pencil was found on TSM’s body hence unless it was later disposed of, it seems unlikely that he wrote the code on his bus journey to Glenelg.

The state of TSM’s spleen being 3 times enlarged suggests some underlying illness. Did he regularly take medication? Had TSM given up on treatment or was the absence of medication found in accordance with the ‘not being identifiable’ mantra. There was no dental plate found in TSM’s mouth despite missing 18 teeth. It’s possible that he never had a dental plate, it was removed due to potentially helping identify him or TSM could have vomited and therefore it had fallen out. The glass saucer found within the suitcase may have been a resting place for the dental plate whilst he travelled.

Missing Money

TSM not having any money at all on his body despite not necessarily knowing if he needed to buy something or travel somewhere else is intriguing. It seems unlikely that TSM calculated to the exact cent how much money he would need on the 30th of November and bought transportation tickets and food/drink for the day precisely. The unused Henley Beach train ticket backs up this notion. If TSM was planning on returning to his suitcase, then why only the 6d in there which as it was placed in a trousers pocket seems almost incidental or forgotten about. Although a possible answer to this is that TSM may have thought that leaving large amounts of money in the suitcase was too risky as someone might take it. Most of the items within the suitcase were not expensive or cheap for their specific type. This may provide some insight into TSM’s wealth; a potentially average financial situation.

If the rumours of a bank’s phone number in The Rubaiyat are to be believed then TSM may have taken out his entire wealth and deposited it with Jessica purposefully. Alternately, Jessica may have stolen the wallet although with her unimposing physique, especially in comparison with TSM, she may have required assistance with this task. If TSM had committed suicide, perhaps not having any money on his body would be expected if he wanted to remain unidentified and the money couldn’t be channelled to anyone. Any funds found would be superfluous and wasted; he may have already deposited the money with who he wished inherited it. Another scenario that has been proposed is that TSM’s wallet and money was stolen while he was on the beach. I think this would be unlikely as people wouldn’t necessarily have realised TSM was dead and someone feeling around in his pockets would be risking that he wouldn’t just wake up and they would be caught. How often has someone stolen a wallet from the pocket of someone lying down at the beach? In my opinion this would be a rare occurrence, especially in Adelaide in the 1940s. If the person lying down on a beach resembles a drunk person, people tend to stay away.

A Scarcity of Socks

When TSM was found, he was wearing a pair of socks, with one sock repaired at the heel. It is strange that there were no socks found in his suitcase. Based on the number of other items in the suitcase, it would be expected that 4 or 5 pairs of socks would be found. Did his socks have his initials on them or other traceable features? If so, then was the pair of socks he was wearing the only untraceable pair? Did the sock he wore have some sort of identification mark removed at the heel hence the repair job?

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The pair of socks TSM was wearing when found deceased.

Did the authorities somehow lose the socks in TSM suitcase as they seem like a rather arbitrary and unimportant part of the suitcase, at least on the surface? Most of the other items surrounding TSM suggest he cared about his appearance and hygiene somewhat so it seems odd that he would wear the same pair of socks for his entire trip. Another possibility is that TSM removed the labels of his clothes and placed them in his socks so he could throw them away a bit more discreetly. A scenario that I tend to favour is that TSM kept his money hidden in his socks or travelled on the bus to Glenelg with money in his socks which in turn were in his jacket. Another possibility is that TSM was planning to withdraw money from the bank (there were rumours of a local bank’s phone number in the rear of The Rubaiyat) and he used his socks to transport this money. A general explanation for many of the items that weren’t found on TSM is that they may have led to identifying him


Part 4- Jessica Thomson

“Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another? We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?” – Haruki Murakami


Jessica’s Biography

Whilst TSM had no determinable name, the person whose phone number was scribed into the back of The Rubaiyat has several pseudonyms. Born as Jessie Ellen Harkness in 1921, she also at times went by, Jess, Jessie, Jessica, Jestyn and Jo. Jessica changed her surname in the early part of 1947 from Harkness to Thomson; this was the surname of the man she would later marry- Prosper.

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Jessica in the late 1940s

In 1912, Prosper (George) McTaggart Thomson was born in the central region of Queensland and 9 years later in 1921, Jessica was born in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville. Both Prosper and Jessica would move to the Melbourne beachside suburb of Mentone and they spent a chunk of their youth here. It was during this time that Prosper and Jessica first met. Jessica then went on to work as an orderly in a Victorian hospital. At a subsequent stage, Jessica moved back to Sydney and became a nursing student and worked at the Royal North Shore Hospital during WW2. In August of 1945, Jessica would give Alf Boxall a copy of The Rubaiyat at the Clifton Gardens Hotel in Sydney before he went overseas on active service.

Jessica became pregnant around October, 1946. She never took her final nursing exam with the reason for missing it listed as ‘vomiting.’ In this era, nurses had to depart the nursing quarters if they were pregnant. After becoming pregnant but before the end of 1946, Jessica moved to the Melbourne suburb of Mentone; her childhood home and the same suburb that Prosper lived in. Whilst living in Mentone, Prosper was in charge of the taxi ranks. He was well known in the suburb as someone that could acquire anything you wanted. This had somewhat carried over from the WWII years in which he dealt on the black market. Prosper’s taxi rank job also meant that he travelled significantly and could pick items up. Jessica provisionally lived with her parents whilst in Mentone. Jessica and Prosper again crossed paths in Mentone when it is alleged that Jessica was about to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff. Prosper was serendipitously passing by and managed to save Jessica’s life. After only a brief period in Mentone, Jessica moved with Proper to Adelaide, in the early part of 1947. In Adelaide, Prosper’s occupation was primarily a car salesman.

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Prosper Thomson

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Prosper Thomson from the side view.

In Adelaide, Jessica and Proper seemed to feign being a married couple and it was at this time Jessica adopted Prosper’s surname of Thomson. This was despite Prosper still technically being married to someone else. Jessica and Prosper lived on Moseley Street, Glenelg. In July of 1947, Jessica gave birth to Robin McMahon Thomson. As Jessica had changed her surname to Thomson earlier in the year, she managed to evade putting Harkness on the birth certificate. The birth certificate listed Prosper as the father of Robin despite both Jessica and Prosper being well aware that he wasn’t. Almost a year and half after Robin was born, TSM was found deceased on Somerton Beach and Jessica’s phone number was listed in the back of The Rubaiyat- a book whose final words “Tamam Shud” were found rolled up in TSM’s fob pocket.

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Jessica and a young Robin in the late 1940s.

Prosper allegedly saw other women post 1948. He also had a house in Adelaide, separate to the Somerton Park location. It’s not clear where Prosper was living at the time TSM’s body was found. It has been alleged that Jessica and Proper weren’t physically intimate and indeed they lived very different lives. Proper’s raison d’être was second-hand cars and Jessica had more intellectual pursuits and preferred likeminded people. Prosper went through the procedure of getting a divorce from his first wife in 1949 and this was completed by the start of 1950. During May of 1950, Jessica and Prosper were officially married. Jessica and Proper would later have a child together named Kate. In the early 1950s, Prosper and Jessica would move to the nearby Partridge Street, Glenelg. During 1957, Jessica wrote a letter containing the words “but how to make life interesting when one has two demanding children who have to be fed and clothed?”

4 Partridge St house

During the latter part of the 1960s, Jessica worked at St. Corantyn which was a mental health services hospital. She continued working here until the second half of the 1970s, at which time she retired. Prosper passed away in 1995 and Jessica died in 2007. In 2009, Jessica’s son, Robin died.

TSM and Robin’s Similar Ears and Teeth

In 2009/2010, Somerton Man researcher Professor Derek Abbott presented a theory that Robin was the son of TSM. The background and rationale for this theory will be discussed. After examining photos of TSM, Abbott consulted Maciej Henneberg, a professor of anatomy. He indicated that TSM had a unique ear feature; his upper ear hollow (cymba) was larger than his lower ear hollow (cavum). This characteristic is possessed by 1-2% of Caucasians. Photographic evidence of Jessica’s son, Robin, also shows that he had this rare trait of having a larger cymba than cavum. TSM and Robin also seem to share a similar pointed helix of the ear.


4 Robin and TSM ears

Professor Abbott also discussed TSM’s teeth with dentistry experts. It was determined that TSM was missing both of his upper lateral incisors (the teeth on either side of the two upper central teeth). It is thought that TSM had his canine teeth directly next to his front middle teeth, as opposed to a gap due to lacking the upper lateral incisors. It is posited that TSM didn’t only lack upper lateral incisors but he likely had a rare genetic disorder in which these teeth never grew. Incidentally, actor Tom Cruise lacks an upper lateral incisor. This trait of developmentally missing teeth is an inherited genetic condition known as hypodontia. Upon examining a photograph of Robin, it was confirmed that he too had hypodontia and was born without the exact same two teeth: the upper lateral incisors. Having hypodontia is a rare condition in itself but picking two people at random that are born without the exact two teeth is an extreme rarity.

4 Robins teeth

There is no photograph of TSM’s teeth hence Abbott’s determination of TSM’s hypodontia is based on two primary factors. Dr. Dwyer said of TSM’s teeth “…there were more of the central teeth remaining. Those remaining were the central teeth of each jaw. Anyone looking at him in the ordinary way, if he were to laugh, would notice the teeth missing. If he were speaking, the missing teeth were not noticeable.” The tooth chart that was produced noted the lack of TSM’s upper lateral incisors. It is possible that TSM had gaps where these teeth were meant to be however Abbott has combined the tooth chart information with the Dwyer comment about people not noticing the missing teeth of TSM when he was speaking to make his determination of hypodontia.

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TSM’s teeth chart. The numbered teeth are missing. The teeth are numbered from 1 being the central incisors to 8 being the wisdom teeth. Notice that ‘2’ is listed as missing in the upper row. This represents the lack of TSM’s upper lateral incisors.

Professor Abbott has estimated that the odds of TSM and Robin independently having a larger cymba than cavum and having the precise nature of hypodontia is somewhere between one in ten million and one in twenty million. This Sherlockesque development has major implications for TSM case. The genetic evidence suggests that TSM and Jessica had a child together- Robin.

There has been some criticism levelled at Abbott’s theory that TSM fathered Robin. Amongst those bloggers who regularly post about TSM, there is little acceptance of the theory. Practically speaking, there are some potentially minor holes in TSM-Robin connection logic. Dr Dwyer who analysed TSM’s teeth said “If he were speaking, the missing teeth were not noticeable.” This statement is ambiguous. When speaking, the front upper central incisors (the upper middle two teeth) are commonly seen and depending on the person, sometimes the upper lateral incisors. The main teeth seen when speaking are the bottom row of teeth. Dr. Dwyer’s statement doesn’t specifically clarify what he considered the normal number of upper visible teeth when speaking. It’s possible that TSM had gaps where his upper lateral incisors belonged as opposed to his upper canine’s filling in this space. Dwyer’s statement lacks detailed certainty.

Another potential criticism that can be levelled at TSM-Robin physiological similarities theory involves the ears. The photos below first appeared in 2009 and are purported to be of

A. Jessica’s daughter’s child. The daughter was born after TSM period and hence TSM cannot be related.

B. Prosper Thomson

C. Thomas Harkness (Jessica’s brother)

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4 Robin and TSM ears

When these photos are compared to the ear images of TSM and Robin, as a layperson, it’s not necessarily clear which photos match up more closely to Robins. The photo of Jessica’s brother’s ear seems to show a larger cymba than cavum- the same rare feature that TSM and Robin possess. It’s plausible that this inherited feature of Robin’s came from Jessica’s side. Despite these minor criticisms, it seems fairly likely that Robin shared these unique traits with TSM.

4 Thomas Harkness ear

 Further Evidence Supporting TSM Being Robin’s Father

Although the precise number is contentious, a study found that around 4% of males may be raising a child they think belongs to them yet has a different father. This scenario isn’t rare although the speculation is that in Prosper’s case he knew Robin wasn’t his. There are some additional pieces of evidence that support the Jessica-TSM having a child together hypothesis. Based on the timing of Jessica dropping out of her nursing school exams and returning to live with her parents in Mentone, it seems that she fell pregnant whilst in Sydney. This information is doubly valuable as it potentially places TSM in a location at a specific time: around October of 1946 in Sydney. The fact that Jessica tried to change her name to Thomson and convince the outside world that Prosper was Robin’s father compounds TSM father theory. It seems that Jessica didn’t want others to believe that firstly she had a child out of wedlock and secondly that someone other than Prosper was the father. In the years following Robin being raised, Jessica confided in a friend that it was good of Prosper to raise Robin as if he was his own child. The possibility also arises that TSM was paying child support for Robin and this may somehow be linked to the bank phone number in The Rubaiyat.

The Ballet Connection

Another potential insight into TSM’s life involves his calf muscles. The pathologist John Cleland described TSM as having high calf muscles that were also pronounced. He also noted a slight wedge shaped nature to his toes. Cleland continued on to speculate that TSM may have been a ballet dancer who wore shoes that pointed the toes and that his unique calf muscles were caused by ballet dancing. Cleland also hypothesised that TSM could have been a distance runner. Calf muscles can become pronounced thanks to repetitively raising and lowering your toes such as calf raises. This process is a key feature of ballet dancing. The estimated age range of TSM was between 40 and 45 and this would typically be around a decade too old to be an active, professional ballet dancer. If TSM was indeed a ballet dancer, he may have maintained his calf muscles and overall fit body by having good genetics, practising his ballet dancing or he could have even been a dance teacher who demonstrated to others how to dance.

Taxidermist Paul Lawson noted TSM’s feet were rather “striking features.” He elaborated on this and suggested that perhaps he had worn high-heeled or pointed shoes. TSM’s high calf muscles also led to Lawson’s judgement. Lawson also described TSM as having “wedge shaped” toes. Although TSM didn’t have bunions on his feet, his big toes were leaning in slightly. Lawson’s appraisal of TSM’s feet and calves supports the notion that TSM may have been a ballet dancer. This hypothesis may account for his feet, calves and fitness. Another physical observation of TSM was his lack of calluses on his hands or feet, indicating that he wasn’t a labourer. Also, his hands were described as “enormous” despite his 5 foot 11 inch height and smallish sized 8 feet.

When Robin was still young, Jessica one day, seemingly arbitrarily took Robin to ballet lessons. This was doubly unusual as male dancers in the era were a rare commodity. Robin would flourish in the ballet dancing scene and his career trajectory would result in him becoming a professional ballet dancer with the Australian Ballet. If TSM was indeed the father of Robin, the out of the blue ballet lessons that Jessica took Robin to as a child may have an explanation. Other explanations for Jessica taking Robin to ballet lessons and Robin flourishing are difficult to conjure. Perhaps as Jessica had an abundance of more high-brow interest such as the theatre and poetry, she had always wished for her child to be a dancer. Although this theory on the surface seems less plausible than TSM being a dancer and fathering Robin.

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Robin Thomson as an adult

The McMahon Clue

Robin was given the middle name of ‘McMahon’ which may provide some insight into TSM. When Robin was given his middle name, TSM was well and truly alive and thus perhaps Jessica was less wary of revealing TSM’s identity and therefore provided a subtle nod to Robin’s actual father in this naming process. The given name ‘McMahon’ is so rare that according to historical naming websites it is unheard of. As a surname, it is also rare and has Irish ancestry roots. There was an Australia Prime Minister called Sir William McMahon although he became P.M. in the 1970s and was only elected to parliament in 1949, a few years after the birth of Robin. There is an affluent Sydney suburb called McMahons Point that is located only several kilometres from where Jessica resided whilst in Sydney. It’s adjacent to the Sydney Opera House and provides sweeping harbourside views. McMahons Point is just across the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Kent Street, which is what TSM’s razor strop was labelled. The possibility is raised that TSM lived in McMahon’s Point, met Jessica here or that Robin was conceived here. An alternate scenario is that the name McMahon is someone linked to Prosper’s middle name of McTaggart- both names have the rare ‘Mc’ prefix. Below is a map detailing the location of McMahons Point in relation to Kent Street, Sydney.


The Beaumont Children Link

Jessica’s brother, Thomas Lawson Harkness Junior married Clarice Victoria whose mother was Evelyn Beaumont. Evelyn was first cousins with Grant Beaumont- the father of the Beaumont children. The family tree linking the families can be viewed here. I have written more extensively about the disappearance of the three Beaumont children (Grant’s children) here. This disappearance occurred in 1966 at Glenelg Beach and the three children have never been seen since; the case remains unsolved to this day. On the day the Beaumont children vanished at Glenelg, they got off the bus on Moseley Street; the same street that Jessica had lived on. The Beaumont children lived only 1 kilometre from where Jessica had lived. Prosper was a taxi driver at the same time that Grant (the Beaumont children’s father) and Maxwell (the Beaumont children’s uncle) were also taxi drivers in the Glenelg region. It is unclear whether the Thomson’s knew Grant and his children. Although Jessica and Prosper had no substantial links other than some tenuous connections to the Beaumont disappearance, it is a coincidence that the two most lingering South Australian and perhaps Australian mysteries have this familial connection, taxi driver similarity and added link to Glenelg.

4 Beaumont Children

The Beaumont Children

Robin’s DNA

As the evidence seems to suggest that Robin was the son of TSM, researchers have attempted to trace Robin’s DNA with the hope that it may show some insights into the heritage of TSM. When researchers attempted this task, Robin was already deceased hence they had to use a new technique. In essence, the DNA of Robin’s partner, Roma Egan, was subtracted from the DNA of another relative of Robin’s. The autosomal DNA results indicated that Robin’s father’s DNA line had ancestral links to the U.S.A. The data indicated that a small amount of the DNA that Robin gained from his father contained American Indian heritage. The results also found that Robin was a direct relative of someone called Isham Randolph- The grandfather of former President of the U.S.A. Thomas Jefferson. Forty of the closest individual people genetically matched to Robin had origins in the U.S.A. state of Virginia, on the east coast of the country. In totality, this evidence further supports the notion that TSM, if he was the father of Robin, may have come from America or at the least, had a glut of relatives who lived in America.

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A painting of former American President Thomas Jefferson.

Questioning Jessica

When the authorities were handed The Rubaiyat from chemist John Freeman, they detected a phone number in small writing in the rear of the book. This number was that of Jessica who lived an 800 metre walk from where TSM was found and naturally, the police questioned her. It has been discussed in Part 2 of this article- ‘The Rubaiyat Connection’ the conversation the authorities had with Jessica about the poetry book and the link to Alf Boxall. The police also asked more probing questions such as why TSM had her phone number in his book (assuming it belonged to him) however she responded that she was clueless as to why.

There is a curious maelstrom of truth and lies in what Jessica disclosed to police. She did voluntarily tell of the copy of The Rubaiyat that she had given Alf Boxall several years prior when she could have feigned not knowing anything about the book. In all likelihood, she volunteered this information to police as it was a red-herring; information that portrayed her as truth-telling yet she knew it was irrelevant. Jessica also told police that an unknown man had tried knocking on her door in 1948 (she was being interviewed in 1949). She elaborated on this stating that the man had spoken to someone in the flats next door to her house and asked about a nurse living in Jessica’s house. The man had said that he had once known her. Jessica didn’t relay the month of this event to investigators but thought it occurred in the latter part of 1948. As TSM arrived in Glenelg on the 30th of November 1948, was Jessica not home when he knocked on her door?

Jessica’s rationale for divulging the information pertaining to the mysterious man asking about her is curious. Perhaps Jessica was concerned that police would question her neighbours and she knew that the neighbour who spoke to the man asking about her would divulge this information to authorities, thus she told them. On the other hand, Jessica may have known that it wasn’t TSM who knocked on her door and spoke to her neighbour therefore she could tell the police this information. The specific part of the story that Jessica relayed to police about a man asking for a “nurse” relates to her time in Sydney in which she was a nursing student and she may have told people around her that she was a nurse, or would be as soon as she completed her exams. This fits in with the timeline of when she may have become pregnant with TSM’s child.

There were several instances in her conversation with police that Jessica lied. She told police that she didn’t know TSM, which based on all of the evidence appears to be a lie. Many years after TSM situation, Kate- the daughter of Jessica, said that Jessica told her that she did in fact lie to the police. Kate recalled Jessica saying “It is a mystery that was only known to a level higher than the police force.” Kate has spoken additionally of what Jessica had told her, “She said to me she knew who he was but she wasn’t going to let that out of the bag so to speak. There’s always that fear that I’ve thought that maybe she was responsible for his death.” Jessica also informed police that she was currently married despite this not being true. The authorities found her to be generally evasive. Jessica convinced the police not to release her name publically in relation to the case and this likely impeded progress in the investigation.

A technician, Paul Lawson, made a plaster cast bust of TSM. Detective Sergeant Leane showed Jessica the bust, in the hopes that Jessica may recognise the man whilst Lawson was also present for this showing. A cloak lay draped over the bust before a crescendo building removal of the cloak. When the bust was visible Jessica glanced at it briefly before diverting her eyes. For the remainder of the duration of the interview Jessica’s eyes stared transfixed onto the floor; her eyes avoiding the general proximity of the bust. Lawson described Jessica’s body as swaying and he worried that she may faint. In Lawson’s opinion, she was aware of TSM’s identity.


Paul Lawson with the plaster cast he made of TSM.

Assuming that Jessica knew of TSM’s identity, then why did she lie to police? TSM may have specifically asked her that he not be identified and she may have merely been following his orders. If TSM was the father of Robin, Jessica may have wanted to maintain this lie that Prosper was the father and identifying TSM may have shattered this possibility. If Jessica had no part in his death, then she may have worried that she would be falsely implicated in killing him if she admitting knowing his identity. A more cynical scenario is that Jessica was involved in the death of TSM in some way, whether he had asked her to be or not thus in the hope of avoiding being caught, she may have lied to police.

The Alf Boxall Connection


Alf Boxall

Jessica was 27 years old when TSM was found deceased. The two confirmed people that Jessica had some form of relationship with were Prosper and Alf Boxall. Prosper was 9 years older than Jessica and Alf Boxall was 15 years older. If Jessica had an interest in older men, then TSM being an estimated 18 years older than Jessica is consistent with this. When Jessica met Alf Boxall, she was aware that he was married and that he was the father to two children; his second, Lesley, had recently been born. This seemed to be an affair of sorts. Jessica signed the copy of the Rubaiyat that she gave Boxall ‘JEstyn.’ There is much rampant speculation regarding the precise meaning of this name. Was it a nickname, a personal joke between Alf and Jessica or a poorly written lower case ‘e’ that has been corrected to a capital ‘E’? Perhaps a pseudonym was used as it provided an alias on a book that Boxall’s wife might discover. Another more farfetched scenario is that The Rubaiyat was signed ‘J E Styn’ with the ‘J’ denoting Jessica, the ‘E’ referencing her middle name: Ellen and the Styn being her surname. Was Jessica married or in a relationship with someone called Styn? When Boxall indicated to Jessica that he was married, Jessica may have been in a relationship and told Boxall she was married thus she referred to herself as ‘Styn.’

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The signature ‘JEstyn’ that Jessica left in the copy of The Rubaiyat she gave Alf Boxall.

Jessica’s Interests

There were many curiosities within the person that was Jessica. Some which may in a vicarious way relate to TSM and his death, while others may be purely incidental. Jessica had a pro-euthanasia viewpoint which provides us with a glimpse into her progressive leanings, especially so for the era. She also had a keen interest in pharmacology which may have stemmed from her years as a nursing student. These aspects of Jessica raise the possibility that she helped TSM by euthanizing him or at least aiding in his suicide. Her pharmacological interest can also be viewed in a darker light, considering TSM’s befuddling death.

Kate has suggested that her mother was able to speak Russian, something that Jessica had kept hidden from her children in their younger years. Jessica had mentioned that she had taught English to a small number of Russian migrants and casually said “I’m surprised that I can still quite understand Russian.” Jessica didn’t elaborate to Kate as to why, where and when she learnt Russian.

Jessica also had a lifelong endeavour to master the French language but failed to grasp its intricacies. A friend of Jessica’s commented that Jessica lacked the self-discipline to learn Russian and treated her supposed acquisition of this language as dubious. Jessica also spent a period of her life teaching English to immigrants that had come to Australia. She also had a keen fascination with communism. Some of these insights into Jessica’s life have caused people to speculate that she was caught up in a spy landscape. Indeed, Kate has raised the possibility that her mother was a Soviet Union spy and that she was in some way involved in the murder of TSM who could have been a Russian agent. Kate has elaborated on her mother by stating that she had a “very strong dark side.”

Jessica’s favourite novel was E. M. Forster’s Howards End. Later adapted into a miniseries and movie. Although the plot is somewhat winding with various themes popping up, a key characteristic of the book involves Helen who gets pregnant to Leonard without being married to him. A family member, Charles Wilcox tries to scare Leonard by hitting him with the flattened part of a sword however through the means of an accident, a bookcase falls on Leonard and he suffers a heart attack and dies. When did Howards End become Jessica’s favourite novel? If it was pre 1948 then any potential parallels between the book and TSM case is likely spurious. If Jessica became interested in Howards End post 1948, then perhaps she could relate somewhat to accidentally killing a man who had made her pregnant. Alternately, Howards End could have been her fantasy and preferred version of events regarding TSM’s death.

Part 5- Miscellaneous

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” Azar Nafisi

There are many facets to TSM case. This section will detail information that doesn’t neatly fit into one of the previous 4 parts.

Arriving By Train

5 Adelaide Railway Station today

Adelaide Railway Station in the modern day.

What did TSM supposedly do on the 30th of November? Whilst no definitive actions can be ascertained, there is circumstantial evidence of differing degrees suggesting how his day may have panned out. TSM is thought to have arrived by train during the morning of the 30th of November. The most commonly suggested places he arrived from are Sydney (via Broken Hill) and Melbourne. The trains arriving at Adelaide Railways Station on the morning in question came from: Bowmans, Robertstown, Willunga, Angaston, Melbourne, Broken Hill, Mount Pleasant and the South East. Other than Melbourne and Broken Hill, the remainder of these locations are small rural towns or areas in South Australia. It was a straight railway route from Sydney to Adelaide via Broken Hill.


The Unused Henley Beach Ticket

On TSM’s body was a one-way train ticket to Henley Beach. This is a beachside suburb of Adelaide about 10km west of the CBD. It is about 8km north of Glenelg. The Henley Beach train ticket was not validated and hence was not used. The ticket was for a train departing Adelaide Railway Station. Trains departed for Henley Beach at 10:50 AM and 11:51 AM of the morning in question. TSM had a one-way ticket that cost 7 pence whilst a return ticket that he chose not to purchase would have cost him 12 pence.

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Another bamboozling question in TSM case is why didn’t he catch the Henley Beach train if he had bought a ticket for it? It may be that TSM was unfamiliar with the area and asked for a ticket to the beach. There was a Jetty Street in Grange (the suburb adjacent to Henley Beach) in 1948. This historical street directory of Adelaide for the year 1936 shows train stop number 8 is on (or next to) Jetty Street at Grange. The same train line then travels south and comes to a halt at Henley Beach. Did TSM confuse Jetty Road Glenelg and Jetty Street Grange hence he bought the wrong and unused ticket?

5 Jetty St Grange

Train stop number 9 at Henley Beach, the penultimate stop on the line is next to Marlborough Street. There is some linkage albeit slightly tenuous between Prosper Thomson and Marlborough Street at Henley Beach. Propser placed ads in the newspaper frequently often using the address of 200 Hindley Street, located in the CBD of Adelaide. This Hindley Street address also featured an evening phone number in this 1948 ad. This phone number was located at Marlborough Street Henley Beach. The most likely scenario is that one of many workers at the Hindley Street address lived at Henley Beach and it probably didn’t have any relation to TSM but it does create a tenuous linkage between Proper and Henley Beach.

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One of the many newspaper ads linking Prosper Thomson to 200 Hindley Street.

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An evening phone number for 200 Hindley Street is listed in this ad as ‘L8409.’

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An ad showing that the ‘L8409’ number belongs to an address on Marlborough Street, Henley Beach.

According to Gerry Feltus in his book ‘The Unknown Man’, in 1948 there were unconfirmed reports of maps in the Adelaide Railway Station showing a proposed extended train line from Henley Beach to Glenelg. If this information is true, then TSM may have naively bought the Henley Beach train ticket thinking that the train travelled past this stop to Glenelg. Another plausible scenario explaining the unused Henley Beach train ticket is the possibility that TSM was worried about being followed so he may have tried to throw someone off the scent. This process may have been for the ends of attempting to ascertain if anyone else bought both a Henley Beach train ticket and a Glenelg bus ticket to gauge if he was being followed. It seems most likely that some event occurred shortly after purchasing the Henley Beach ticket that made him not use it. Was this a phone call, a planned meet up at Henley Beach that was changed or simply a local correcting his mistaken Adelaide geographic nous?

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An artist’s impression of the unused Henley Beach train ticket that TSM bought.

Following the purchase of the forever unused train ticket to Henley Beach, it has been speculated that TSM used the City Baths, outside the Adelaide Railway Station. There were no areas in the railway station itself for people to shower or shave. The cleanliness and lack of bearded stubble on TSM suggests that he may have shaved on the 30th of November. This location may also have been where TSM polished his shoes.

The Cloak Room

After possibly using the City Baths, TSM checked his suitcase into the Cloak Room of the Adelaide Railway Station. The top part of the Cloak Room ticket was attached to the stored suitcase whilst the remainder of the ticket would be given to TSM. When TSM’s body was found there was no trace of this bottom portion of the ticket. The suitcase was checked in between 11 AM and midday although based on the bus TSM likely caught, he would have had deposited his suitcase between 11 AM and 11:15 AM.

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The Cloak Room receipt of TSM’s suitcase that shows a 30th of November 1948 “received” date.

The motive for TSM checking his suitcase into the Cloak Room may be for the purposes of later picking it up, like most people. Alternately, TSM may have left the suitcase in the railway station precinct in order to give authorities the impression he had come by train on a certain date. Depositing the suitcase in a Cloak Room does seem slightly odd if you have just arrived by train and you haven’t arranged accommodation. When people travel away from their homes, they typically organise where they are staying and deposit luggage here as a first duty. Does this suggest that TSM planned to die or did he know he didn’t require accommodation for the night? Just prior to the evening when he was most likely seen lying on the beach, he would presumably have started to get tired from his possible overnight train journey and would have thought about where he was going to stay at night. Lying down on the beach voluntarily seems strange considering the journey back to the city and accommodation that required organising. Does this suggest he planned to die or was killed?

A Bus Journey


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An artist’s impression of the bus ticket to St Leonards found on TSM’s body.

A bus ticket found on TSM’s body is an indication of his mode of transport to the Glenelg vicinity. The ticket was purchased most likely in the area of the Adelaide Railway Station on North Terrace. Theoretically the 7d tickets could have been purchased between North Terrace and the West Terrace/South Terrace intersection. The bus left outside the Adelaide Railway Station at 11:15 AM and was the first bus post 10:50 AM to travel to the St. Leonards area (present day Glenelg North). Coincidentally, the suburb that TSM likely disembarked the bus- St Leonards, Adelaide was the same suburb name as the location that Jessica worked in at the Royal North Shore Hospital- St Leonards, Sydney. A total of 40 passengers caught TSM’s bus for at least some stretch of the journey. The bus would reach the closest point to Jetty Road at the ANZAC Highway- Osmond Street (now Old Tapleys Hill Road) intersection then travel slightly north before its terminus (see the map). It’s not known what stop TSM departed the bus.

5 anzac highway bus trip

The red arrows indicate the route that TSM’s bus took. The side street route around St. Leonards at the very end of the bus’s journey is indicated in the map below.

5 bus within St Leonards

The bus’s route within St. Leonards is indicated by the red arrows.

An Identity for TSM?

A plethora of people have come forward over the years claiming to know the identity of TSM. There was a semi-recent media story suggesting that TSM was a man known as H.C. Reynolds. In 2011, Ruth Collins from Adelaide asked Maciej Henneberg (the same specialist in human anatomy that Derek Abbott showed TSM’s ear photo to) about a WWI identification card she had found in her father’s belongings. The card shows an 18 year old Reynolds who is of British origin. Henneberg deemed that there were similarities between Reynolds and TSM in terms of eyes, lips and nose. He deemed the ears of both men to be an accurate match. A mole on the cheek of both men was announced as a “unique identifier” and subsequently Henneberg identified H.C. Reynolds as TSM. H.C. Reynolds has his job listed as “seaman” on his identification card which ties in with the possible occupation of TSM based on the items found within his suitcase.

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H.C. Reynolds identification card.

H.C. Reynolds card was found by random; in no way has any connection been established between him and TSM. If Reynolds name cropped up on a list of ballet dancers that had gone missing or specifically seamen that had disappeared after landing in Australia and the identification card was unearthed then I would be convinced. What we have is a random, grainy photograph that we are attempting to compare to another grainy autopsy photograph. Comparing an 18 year old person and how they have changed to age 45 is also difficult. The mole on TSM is challenging to confirm and it is tempting to dismiss it as a remnant of the photograph. Also Reynolds seems to have a more square-shaped chin that contains a dimple- both features which TSM photograph lacks. After releasing his name and photo, the lack of a positive trail of H.C. Reynolds has further failed to gain evidence to support his supposed TSM identity. Overall it would be remarkably serendipitous if H.C. Reynolds was indeed TSM and at the moment, the burden of proof would seem to lie with those trying to establish a link between him and TSM.

5 HCReynolds vs TSM

H.C. Reynolds on the left and TSM on the right. Are they the same person?

There is a further twist regarding the H.C. Reynolds identification card. The card was found by Ruth Collins whilst she searched under her father’s floorboards. Her father was Allan “Max” McIntyre. McIntyre has been linked to the disappearance of the three Beaumont children at Glenelg in 1966. McIntyre’s daughter, Ruth and son, Andrew believe that their father was involved in the disappearance and murder of the Beaumont children in tandem with Anthony Munro. Max’s children claim they saw the Beaumont children in the boot of Max’s car and that the Beaumont children were subsequently buried in a sinkhole on Max’s property in Stansbury, South Australia. The McIntyre- Beaumont link is another story that I won’t delve into further here.

Ruth Collins, the finder of the H.C. Reynolds ID card believes that TSM is the man in the image. Collins cites Henneberg and claims that the dimple on the chin of the identification card is just a mark providing only an illusion of a dimple. Collins has made further allegation about her father and the circumstance of finding the ID card here.

Why the Lack of Identification?

Why has TSM’s identity remained a mystery for some 70 years? There seem to be several aspects conspiring together to deprive us of his true identity. Firstly, he or someone else actively went out of their way to remove his ID, many clothing labels and other identifiers. This has made the task of identification challenging from the outset. Couple this factor with his likely non-South Australian heritage and abode and we have an outsider that will likely be unbeknownst to those most exposed to the case; Adelaideans. TSM photograph that has become iconic with the case was dispersed but hardly made its way across waters to the international arena. If the front page of the NY Times and other major publications featured the photo in 1948/1949 then I suspect TSM would have been identified.

Another factor that may have led to the lack of identification is the nature of autopsy photographs. Professor Derek Abbott points out that the autopsy photographs of J.F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe make them unrecognisable due to changes to the body after death. The photograph of TSM was taken one day after his autopsy. As we don’t know what he really looked like, we can’t categorically determine how much semblance he had in the flesh to his autopsy photo. It’s conceivable that someone that knew TSM has seen his photo and not recognised him. The era TSM was found in- post WWII when people were unsure of their friends and relative location due to the recent war is another factor conspiring against determining TSM’s identity.

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The autopsy photos of TSM may make it difficult to identify him.

The Two Blades of Grass

There are several further odd pieces of evidence within TSM case that haven’t been mentioned yet. A single blade of barley grass was found on one of the socks TSM was wearing as he lay deceased on the beach. There was another single blade of barley grass discovered within his suitcase. This second blade was specifically situated on the lower section of a trouser leg. It seems most likely that both of these single blades were picked up by TSM at the same time. Did he take his shoes off and walk around in the grass at some time prior to arriving in Adelaide? Is this suggestive of a stopover on some point of TSM’s pilgrimage to Somerton beach? Perhaps the train he caught stopped off somewhere?

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Barley grass which is common throughout many parts of Australia.

Barley grass is found extensively across Australia and the blades couldn’t be pinpointed to an exact origin point. It would seem strange to pack clothes that had grass on them and weren’t properly washed. Also, if TSM had picked up this grass on the way to Adelaide that hints at him wearing the same socks as the day he wore the trousers that caught the barley grass blade. This potentially points at him traveling with only one pair of socks.

A Strange Stain

Another slight curiosity is the stain on the pair of trousers TSM was wearing. It was determined that the stain wasn’t vomit however its cause and composition remains unknown. The stain could have been caused by the poison being spilt, a bodily fluid other than vomit or something innocuous that may have spilt such as food. The stain seems out of place considering how neatly dressed and groomed TSM presented as. It would seem strange to obsessively polish your shoes if there was a stain on your pants. This suggests that the stain may have been picked up after TSM left the railway station.


The body of TSM was found with abrasions in two of his right knuckle hollows and another further down the back of his right hand. The abrasions seemed to look relatively recent. There are some small clues pointing at TSM being right handed. Did he engage in a fist fight or was there another more mundane reason for his abrasions? Knuckle abrasions tend to occur on the knuckles, not in their hollows which is an added curiosity. Did TSM have a job that caused the uniquely positioned abrasions?

A Clue in The Newspaper Advertisements

An ad was placed in the local newspaper by the Thomson’s, 3 days before TSM was thought to be in Glenelg. The November 27th 1948 ad reads:  “Wanted bungalow, pay cash to L1,500. Can give tenancy maisonette, all mod convs, rent 22 6. Glenelg. Phone Thomson X3239.” The background to this ad is likely innocuous in conjunction with the fact that it only appeared in The Adelaide Advertiser, not interstate newspapers. The timing of the ad is curious though. If TSM had come to visit the Thomson’s regarding the ad, the timing of him arriving 3 days after the ad seems to fit quite neatly. Also, the ad did feature the phone number ‘X3239.’ The same number which appeared in the back of The Rubaiyat. Had TSM written down the phone number for this purpose?

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An ad placed in the newspaper by the Thomson’s of curious timing.

A Missing Gold Watch

Less than 3 weeks after TSM’s death, on the 18th of December, another ad appeared in the local newspaper. It was written by Prosper. The ad asked readers if they had seen a gold, Tudor watch. The ad generalises that it may have been lost in the city or the suburbs. The address and phone number listed were for Jessica and Prosper’s Glenelg house. The possibility arises that TSM somehow stole a watch from the Thomson’s house. Alternately, the watch may have somehow been caught up in the whole TSM case. The watch is listed as “nearly new.” Did TSM give this watch to Jessica as a present? The most likely scenario would be that the watch was genuinely lost and had no relation to TSM. At the time the ad was written, the Thomson’s weren’t linked to TSM and it would be risky to declare a lost watch if there was a chance it was found on TSM thus implicating Jessica and Prosper. If the Thomson’s had searched TSM’s body and clothes and no gold watch was found then another potential avenue leading to the ad is provided. Prosper was quite prolific in terms of the number of ads he placed in the newspaper and this was likely an innocent one.

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An newspaper ad asking for help in finding a missing gold watch.

The Abbott- Robin link

Whilst researching TSM case, Professor Abbott contacted Robin’s daughter, Rachel Egan. Abbott and Rachel spent a few days discussing the case and looking at photos. By the end of the weekend, Abbott had proposed to Rachel. The pair married some four months later and they now have three children together. In a remarkable twist, Abbott’s theory that Robin was the son of TSM, if true, would mean that Abbott’s children now share TSM’s DNA and would be TSM’s great-grandchildren.

Analysing TSM’s Hair Isotopes

Almost the entirety of evidence in TSM case emerged in 1949 or the previous year. There are however some more recent developments and one of these involves the plaster cast of TSM made by Paul Lawson in 1949. It just so happens that a few stray hairs were left behind by TSM when this cast was being created. The hair has been burnt using a laser and the isotopes within the burnt hair have been analysed. High levels of lead, arsenic and strontium-88 were detected. The precise meaning of these results is contentious.


The plaster bust of TSM.

Higher environmental arsenic levels were more prevalent in the era of the 1940s thus this reading may not provide much further information. In the narrowly measured timeframe, the elevated lead levels of TSM were found to be very high around a month prior to his death. As time progressed towards his death, the lead levels dropped. It is difficult to ascertain the environmental lead levels of different cities of the era thus knowing what ‘normal’ is may be challenging. The lead result may be indicative of a job that involves exposure to lead. The elevated strontium-88 levels detected involved a significant deviation around 10 days before the death of TSM. Professor Abbott has suggested that this may be due to a change in TSM’s environment involving a possible journey. It has been suggested that during this period TSM may have travelled from Sydney to Melbourne in search of Jessica and then he potentially journeyed to Adelaide.


During February 2018, further hairs of TSM were analysed, this time for their mitochondrial DNA. It was determined that TSM and his mother originated from the haplogroup known as H4a1a1a. This haplogroup seems to have origins in northern Europe including Scandinavia and Great Britain and Ireland. The more general group of the TSM of H4 is rare with a prevalence of about 1% for Europeans. More genetic information may be forthcoming and if TSM is eventually exhumed then a large amount of information about him may be potentially derived.

An Exhumation

On the 70th anniversary of the death of TSM on December 1st 2018, Attorney-General of South Australia, Vickie Chapman, agreed that the state government would give their “conditional support” for an exhumation of TSM. This previously hadn’t been the case and the government had blocked exhumation requests. There are some caveats. The public are required to finance the cost; something that has been estimated at $20,000. Also, “sufficient supervision” of the exhumation process is required. An exhumation would be the gold standard of genetic testing in this case. Consequential of an exhumation, a bone isotope test would yield information about a country of birth of TSM. A surprising number of other inklings into TSM’s life may also be generated. For instance, a tooth and bone analysis may provide habit and lifestyle clues.


Part 6- Cases That Are Potentially Related

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn  

The Death of George Marshall

6 George Marshall

George Marshall

A man named George Marshall (born as Joseph Marshal) was found deceased in Ashton Park, Mosman- a suburb of Sydney on the 3rd of June 1945. His body was situated on a rock ledge which overlooked the adjacent Taylors Bay. He was found near the water’s edge. What was peculiar about the death of George Marshall was that a copy of The Rubaiyat lafy open on his chest. Quatrain 23 was underlined in pencil, which read:

Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie.
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer and-sans End!

Marshall’s head was laying on a newspaper dated the 20th of May 1945 and it was estimated that he died on the 21st of May. A glass was found next to him as well as barbituric acid powder and liquid in a lemonade bottle. Marshall had tried to commit suicide twice previously and his death was attributed to suicide. On the day of his disappearance, Marshall had eaten with someone called Gwenneth Dorothy Graham and he had sent her a 200 pound cheque. Graham provided evidence at the inquest into Marshall’s death. She was found 13 days later naked, in a bath with her body face down and her wrists slit. Graham’s death was considered to be another suicide.

If you delve into the details of the deaths of Marshall and Graham, they both seem to be clear suicides- so how does this potentially relate to TSM? The location of the body of George Marshall was close to the Clifton Gardens Hotel where Jessica would give a copy of The Rubaiyat to Alf Boxall a few months later. The death of Marshall was reported in the newspaper and Jessica was living in Sydney at the time this occurred. It seems probable, considering the proximity to where Jessica lived and visited that she was aware of Marshall’s suicide through the media or local gossip. If TSM was also living in Sydney at this time, he may have also read of the finer details of Marshall’s death.

6 Marshall location and others

The similarities between TSM’s death and Marshall’s death are striking. Men found next to the water, lying down with The Rubaiyat related paraphernalia on their bodies, 3 years apart. These are perhaps the only two The Rubaiyat documented deaths that have occurred in Australian history. It seems like more than a coincidence that Jessica was living near both of them at the time. The most likely scenario in my mind is that TSM or Jessica were aware of Marshall’s death circumstances and thus this concept of combining the words Tamam Shud with death was born.

The Mangnoson Mystery

Another case that has been linked to TSM is that of the Mangnoson family. 7 months after the death of TSM, on the 6th of June 1949, a two year old boy by the name of Clive Mangnoson was found deceased in a sack amongst sand hills in Largs Bay. Largs Bay is a beachside suburb situated around a 22km drive north of where TSM was found. Keith Mangnoson (Clive’s father) was found alive but in a weak state next to Clive’s body. Keith ended up being housed in a mental institution. The pair had been found in the sand hills by someone who said they had a dream of where the father and son were the previous night.


Clive’s mother, Roma, was later threatened by a man wearing a handkerchief over his face. He told her to stay away from the police with the added warning of “or else.” Local officials were phoned and threatened and told they shouldn’t investigate the Mangnoson case. Roma believed that the whole situation was related to Keith’s efforts to identify TSM. Apparently Keith believed TSM to be Carl Thompsen who he had worked with in Renmark a decade earlier. Looking holistically at the Mangnoson case, it seems likely that Keith’s mental illness played a part in the death of his son. The subsequent person terrorising Roma and the authorities was thought to be the same man who had frightened another woman who lost her husband in a tragic situation. Alas, it didn’t seem to relate to TSM case in any way. The identity of Carl Thompsen as TSM didn’t pan out and it seems that Keith was like the hundreds of people who thought that they may be able to identify TSM, to no avail.

The Strathmore Hotel

Another potentially related case to TSM involves someone called Ina Harvey. She was a receptionist at the Strathmore Hotel and believed that TSM stayed there on the few days preceding his body being found on December 1st 1948. The hotel was situated across the road from the Adelaide Railway Station where TSM’s suitcase had been checked in. The bus to St. Leonards that TSM is thought to have caught departed on the doorstep of the Strathmore Hotel. Harvey described the man who stayed at the hotel as middle aged and fairly strong and fit. Harvey also commented that he looked distraught and spoke in a quiet voice as if he were tired. She apparently grew suspicious of the mysterious man and thus told a fellow employee to search his room. The employee supposedly reported back to Harvey that the only item in the room was a small, black case. Within the case was a single item- a needle. At the end of the unknown man’s stay, he apparently gave Harvey a box of powder as a gift in tandem with the haunting parting words “I won’t be seeing you again.” When Harvey was later shown a picture of TSM, she was struck by the similarity between him and the enigmatic hotel guest.

On first glance, the account by Harvey seems plausible. Upon deeper examination, there are several problematic aspects to Harvey’s recollection. Harvey’s story only came out in a newspaper article in 1982. If Harvey was so confident of TSM identity, she or the other workers at the hotel would have reported it to the police at the time. All the information in Harvey’s story lacks the ability to be verified such as her forgetting the name of TSM, the records of who stayed at the hotel being lost and her lack of recollection of the employee’s name who supposedly searched the mysterious man’s room. The needle mode of death hypothesis also seems unlikely with pathologist Dr. Dwyer stating that he didn’t see any evidence on TSM’s body that a needle had been used. Harvey’s story sounds quixotic as she recalls the man thanking her for the compassion she had shown him and presenting her with a parting gift. Harvey’s story was examined by police and nothing transpired from it. Harvey’s family labelled her as strange and attention seeking and indeed this seems to best account for her story given the available evidence.

The Perplexing Motorbike Theft

A further potential case that is linked to TSM occurred on the days leading up to his death. On Friday the 26th of November 1948, a 17 year old boy from Broken Hill stole a motorbike from outside the Broken Hill Power Station. He rode the motorbike to Adelaide and on Saturday the 27th of November abandoned it within the sand hills at Glenelg. The boy then dumped a suitcase containing a man’s three piece suit, a shoe, an overcoat, sports trousers, several pairs of socks and a rifle stock missing a barrel at Somerton beach. When these items were found they were waterlogged and at the water’s edge. The items were dumped 3 days before TSM arrived at Glenelg and 4 days before he was found dead at Somerton beach. The next day, Sunday the 28th of November, the boy arrived at Port Noarlunga after walking the significant 20km distance there. That same day, the eclectic belongings was found at the Somerton beach location. Curiously, the suitcase wasn’t found. The boy stole a car that day from Port Noarlunga and was later arrested whilst driving back to Adelaide. Incidentally almost 7 months later on the 18th of June 1949, Prosper left a ‘wanting to buy’ note in the newspaper asking for a specific model of an automatic Winchester rifle.

6 prosper rifle ad

Prosper’s ad- seeking to buy a rifle.

A boy dumping a suitcase containing an abundance of socks and a rifle stock on Somerton beach 4 days before TSM was found dead on Somerton beach sure is a coincidence. Indeed, Somerton beach is only 1.2 kilometres in length- a tiny fraction of Adelaide’s beach coastline. The lack of socks within TSM’s suitcase is a peculiar facet of the case and the disproportionate number of socks in the suitcase dumped on the beach is also strange. Also the fact that the suitcase was never found is interesting; especially considering that a suitcase was one of the key items of TSM’s.

Also of note is that Prosper wanted to buy a rifle. Did he want to originally buy the rifle that was left on the beach however couldn’t hence was seeking another rifle? Alternately, did an event happen to the Thomson family involving TSM that made Prosper want to protect his family thus the request for a rifle purchase? On the day TSM is thought to have arrived at the Adelaide Railway Station, a train arrived from Broken Hill at 9:17am. This adds another potential connection between the two cases.

The names of the boy (Frederick William Pruszinksi), the person whose car was stolen and the person whose motorbike was stolen were released and don’t seem to have any link to TSM on the surface. The boy was a member of the Broken Hill rifle club. Researching the details of this story some 70 years later results in few tangible leads to follow. In all likelihood, the links between the suitcase dumping and TSM are coincidental but if connected, they provide another perplexing twist on TSM case.


Part 7- Theories

“So many things are possible as long as you don’t know they are impossible.” – Mildred D. Taylor

Within the above six sections, I have written about various possibilities regarding details within TSM case. This section will look at some big picture scenarios. I should stipulate that there is no direct evidence that Jessica, Prosper or TSM committed any crimes and the following theories are simply conjecture.

The Spy Theory

The spy theory has numerous permutations. The central premise is that TSM was a spy and in most scenarios, he died due to the very nature of him being a spy. There is some circumstantial evidence that TSM was a spy. He most likely carried with him a book containing what appears to be a code. The writing within the book was faint which indicates that it was intended to be hidden. The Rubaiyat thrown into the car may have been a message to someone informing them that TSM was dead or instructing someone to kill him. An alternative is that The Rubaiyat was thrown into the car by TSM as he was being followed by another spy and he had to hurriedly dispose of the book. The Tamam Shud paper found on TSM may have been a message to someone from TSM or from another person who left the paper as a calling card; showing that they had personally killed TSM. The hidden nature of the fob pocket could also have potentially been spy related.

The physical attributes of TSM including his physique, neatness and ability within Adelaide to be unnoticed by the public are spy traits. He also had any traceable labelling removed from the clothes he was wearing, clothes in his suitcase and other items in his suitcase. This is consistent with the Isdal Woman who died mysteriously in Norway with labels removed from items in her suitcase. The Isdal Woman was thought to be a spy and this case has many parallels with TSM case including a strange death, unidentified victim and suitcase deposited in a railway station.

The Henley Beach ticket that TSM bought and didn’t use may have been to throw someone following him of his trail. The ticket could have been purchased by TSM to see if anyone was following him before buying the ticket for the St. Leonards bus.

There are some other spy-related cases of the era that share similarities with TSM case. Captain Ulrich von der Osten was hit by a taxi in 1941 and ultimately died. His clothes had the labels removed and he turned out to be a spy. TSM spy theory doesn’t necessarily involve TSM himself removing the labels of his clothes. The murderer or an ally of TSM may have removed these items to thwart his identification.

The death of TSM also remains mysterious to this day and it has been theorised that he was killed in a separate location to where his body was found. The primary theory that TSM was poisoned is consistent with how a spy might be killed. The most commonly named poison: digitalis was what killed Harry Dexter White in August of 1948, just months before TSM was found deceased. It was later made public that White was a spy and involved in Operation Venona. This case involved a USA counterintelligence program that ran from 1943-1980 and involved decrypting Soviet Union intelligence messages. The poison in TSM case was undetected and this may have been the modus operandi of a spy.

The late 1940s involved a high degree of spying relating to the Cold War and some of this occurred in Australia. Two years prior to TSM’s death, the Woomera rocket range was announced as a project. This range was also located in the state of South Australia and involved military testing in conjunction with the United Kingdom.

Jessica was a communist and informed her child that she knew Russian. This may be why TSM had her phone number written down within The Rubaiyat. Jessica had also given The Rubaiyat to Alf Boxall in 1945 and he was involved in a special operations military unit and would be promoted to Lieutenant. When asked if TSM could have been a spy, Boxall responded with a carefully constructed and non-definitive answer, “It’s quite a melodramatic thesis isn’t it.”

Jessica’s own daughter, Kate, has proposed that TSM and Jessica were both spies. Jessica also said that TSM was “Known to a level higher than the police force.” This comment verges on a confession from Jessica that TSM was likely a spy or somehow involved in the intelligence community. For Jessica to use the term “higher than the police force” and to have known this fact, she too may have been a spy.

There are several key arguments against the spy hypothesis. Adelaide was a provincial backwater in 1948 with a population of around only 400,000. The Woomera rocket range was around 500km away from Adelaide and it’s difficult to imagine an espionage homicide trail playing out on the streets of humble Adelaide. The ASIO records from TSM era are now public and there are no mentions of Jessica Thomson within these. The background of Jessica is largely accounted for and there don’t seem to be any spaces to insert the occupation of ‘spy.’ The Rubaiyat had already been linked to Jessica through Alf Boxall in terms of romantic connotations and thus this second TSM linkage is also most likely love related. This is doubly likely when the love meanings within the book are examined. Boxall’s refusal to directly douse the spy hypothesis was, his family claims, due to his enjoyment of the spotlight and his nature as an exhibitionist. The supposed code within the back of The Rubaiyat doesn’t resemble any WWII codes and an analysis suggest that it’s likely an English initialism not a cipher.


There are alternative explanation for the lack of TSM’s labels, other than the spy hypothesis. These include him not wanting to be identified or Jessica not wanting her baby’s father’s identity known. If Robin was TSM’s child as the evidence may suggest then it is difficult to reconcile this factor with the spy hypothesis.

The Suicide Theory

The suicide theory obviously has as its central pillar TSM killing himself although there are many possible peripheral details to his suicide. The Tamam Shud (meaning finished) note in TSM’s pocket can be viewed as a suicide note of sorts. The links between the death of TSM and George Marshall are indisputable. Both had The Rubaiyat paraphernalia on their bodies and both were found near the water’s edge. The close proximity between Marshall’s death and Jessica within Sydney (and perhaps TSM) may indicate that TSM was aware of Marshall’s death through the media or local gossip. The fact that Marshall’s death was a clear case of suicide may indicate that TSM’s death was also suicide and a copycat version.

If Robin was TSM’s child then it would be make sense for TSM to see his child one last time and this would involve saying goodbye before killing himself. TSM was well dressed and this is sometimes a feature of suicides. The method of death of being poisoned seems to be the most likely manner in which TSM died and this is a common suicide routine. The labels may have been removed from TSM’s items because TSM had planned to kill himself and didn’t want his family or friends to find out.

The phone number in The Rubaiyat linked to Jessica may suggest that Jessica rejected TSM’s proposed relationship and this could have been part of the rationale for the suicide. The final possible meeting between Jessica and TSM on the 30th of November may have been TSM saying goodbye to Jessica or asking for her love. Jessica may have rejected this and hence TSM suicided. TSM may have brought The Rubaiyat with him to show Jessica or try and woo her with the love poetry to no avail and the tearing out of the words ‘Tamam Shud’ are then fittingly symbolic of the end of TSM’s life and the end of the relationship. TSM also may have asked Jessica if he could raise Robin or live with her and she said no thus prompting the suicide. The carelessly thrown out The Rubaiyat into a car may have been a sign of TSM’s anger at rejection.

The last quatrain of The Rubaiyat, above the torn words can be construed as a suicide note. Suicides are a common occurrence and if one views TSM’s death based on likelihood of events then the frequent nature of suicides is a much more plausible scenario than the other possibilities. The authorities widely viewed the case as a suicide and this is perhaps the simplest theory. Essentially, if you have a suicidal man who wants to see his son one last time before dying and he doesn’t want to be identified, then most of the events played out how one would expect.

There are several arguments against the suicide hypothesis. There was no poison or receptacle of any kind found near TSM’s body. If TSM did kill himself you would think he would have consumed the poison whilst lying on the beach in his final resting spot. Taking it earlier wouldn’t guarantee that he would be able to physically reach the beach. The exact type of poison wasn’t detected and a suicide in 1948 wouldn’t typically involve something like undetectable poison. There was no clear note found on TSM and the Tamam Shud paper was hidden making it hard to find. Normally a suicide note wouldn’t be as obscured because the person who had suicided would want it to be clearly found. A public beach, near some steps in the early evening in a new city does seem like a strange choice for a suicide. Indeed witness Olive Neill said of the man she spotted in the evening, “Where he was lying was a fairly public place, not the sort of place a man would be likely to choose if he wanted to go somewhere and die quietly.”

The Murder Theory

This theory excludes all remnants of the spy hypothesis. What TSM case is on the surface is a man who has died through a non-natural cause. His body is found an 800 metre walk away from someone he has the phone number of. TSM has likely come from interstate or overseas and knows only one person in the vicinity. These factors conspire to point the finger at Jessica as being the potential killer of TSM. If TSM was (as widely thought) inside Jessica’s house just before he died and then is found dead nearby, the timing and location do make things look suspicious for Jessica.

Kate, Jessica’s own daughter, did say that her mother had a “very strong dark side.” Kate also elaborated on this by stating that her mother told her that she lied to the police and did indeed know the identity of TSM.

One possible scenario involves TSM visiting Jessica and his child, Robin. TSM may have been upset that Jessica was claiming Prosper to be the father of the boy whilst TSM knew that he was the father. TSM may have wanted more time with Robin, to be allowed to raise him, to live with Jessica or he may have been threatening to expose Jessica’s situation of a false marriage and child out of wedlock. There are an abundance of potential reasons that Jessica may have felt cornered by TSM’s visit. Jessica was known to have a proclivity for pharmacology and she could have easily poisoned him. If she knew TSM was visiting in advance (as suggested by TSM having Jessica’s phone number), she would have had ample time to find a formulation that could kill him. This is where the murder theory diverges into three possible paths:

  • A. TSM has been poisoned and Jessica asks him to leave the house so he walks down to the beach to lie down as he isn’t feeling well and dies there.
  • B. TSM is brought to the beach deceased or close to deceased like the ‘Weekend At Bernie’s’ movie and placed onto the sand with a cigarette added to provide the illusion of life.
  • C. TSM dies at Jessica’s house. She goes through the clothes he is wearing and removes the tags, wallet and hat as well as the Cloak Room receipt. TSM’s shoes are polished while the clothes are being examined. Being an avid fan of The Rubaiyat, Jessica can’t help but place the words ‘Tamam Shud’ into TSM’s fob pocket, perhaps to bolster the case for suicide or maybe she is angry with him and this is an extra touch of vengeance. When night-time arrives, Jessica enlists Prosper to drive or carry TSM down to the beach to dispose of his body. A random man with striped brown trousers was lying down and enjoying the beach the previous evening in the vicinity of where Prosper dumps TSM’s body. This is fortuitous for Jessica and Prosper as witnesses would come forward and falsely identify TSM as the same man seen alive the previous evening. Prosper adds the final touch of a cigarette on TSM’s lapel to give the illusion that he was alive and smoking in the beach location. Prosper notices a book in TSM’s jacket pocket and throws is into a car on Jetty Road. Prosper or Jessica travel to the Adelaide Railway Station and find TSM’s suitcase. They remove all identifiable and traceable labels from it and then return it.

The murder theory accounts for the lack of poison receptacle found at the scene. It also explains why there is not vomit in the vicinity of TSM and no clear signs of convulsions, these events occurred at Jessica’s house. The missing labels are simply to cover the Thomson’s tracks so TSM isn’t identified and the close proximity that TSM is found near the beach steps is due to Prosper struggling to carry him further. Jessica’s own daughter, Kate has even feared that Jessica may have killed TSM, “She said to me she, she knew who he was but she wasn’t going to let that out of the bag so to speak. There’s always that fear that I’ve thought that maybe she was responsible for his death.”

The murder theory runs into a litany of potential criticisms. ‘A’ suggesting that TSM was poisoned at Jessica’s house then walked down to the beach fails to take into account the typically immediate effects of poison. An 800 metre walk would be a Hurculean effort for someone who had been poisoned and would soon die. Also, the path from Jessica’s house to TSM’s final resting spot was largely south, parallel to the beach, surely this is a superfluous route for someone who had been poisoned and simply wanted to reach the seaside.


This theory also doesn’t explain when TSM’s clothing tags were removed unless they were done so at the beach. Doing so at the beach would seem to have a higher risk of getting caught near a body outweighing the benefits of removing the potentially traceable labels. The evidence around TSM on the beach also doesn’t suggest that the tags were removed at this location. There was only a trace of sand on TSM’s shoes and in his hair (presumably from the wind or seawall). If the labels had been removed from his body on the beach, this would involve TSM being forcibly rolled onto his face and other strange orientations in order to remove all of the labels. To be 100% sure that all labels were removed, he would have been covered in sand. The lack of sand on TSM’s body suggests that this beach label removal simply didn’t happen.

Also, if TSM was aware that he had been poisoned, he could have simply stopped someone on his route to the beach and asked for an ambulance and implicated Jessica. Jessica letting him out of the house would be risky in itself from her perspective.

The ‘B’ theory that TSM was taken to the beach in daylight hours has the problematic aspect of carrying a body and not being seen. Taking a body to a public area with houses overlooking the vicinity whilst people are milling around means that at least someone would have identified the suspicious behaviour and likely the culprits.

The ‘C’ theory overcomes this obstacle by suggesting that TSM was placed on the beach overnight. This theory does however neglect the plethora of sightings of a man lying in the same position TSM was the previous evening. The man from the previous night not only had such a “dead to the world” demeanour but also an awkward lying style at a very specific location. It was almost certainly TSM who was found deceased the next morning.

Theory ‘C’ also posits that the labels of the items within TSM’s suitcase and the clothing he was wearing were removed. This doesn’t seem like a priority if you have a deceased body. Also, it would be risky removing the labels from within the suitcase at a later time as the police could well be waiting for someone to claim the suitcase. The question also arises as to why return the suitcase after removing the labels, this seems like a superfluous and added risky act. Leaving the ‘Keane’ labels would also be a perilous strategy as this name could have been a friend or relative of TSM and his clothes were passed on to TSM; the clothes could perhaps be traced back to unmask TSM’s identity. Finally, adding a cigarette after placing the body doesn’t seem particularly useful. Surely getting a distance away from the body as fast as possible would be the main concern of the culprit. When people are typically murdered, the body isn’t moved several hundreds of metres away to a public location; instead, the murderer tends to bury the body in order to hide any trace of the person. It has to be queried why this didn’t happen with the possible murder scenario of TSM.

TSM Came To See Prosper Theory

The police were handed The Rubaiyat with the phone number ‘X3239’ written faintly in the back. There were two people who lived at the address of this phone number, Jessica who seemingly had few connections and Prosper who may have been involved in black market dealings, buying and selling items with an abundance of people and performing potentially shady dealings. TSM may have travelled to Adelaide to buy something from Prosper or sell an item to Prosper.  Prosper had frequently left the phone number ‘X3239’ in newspaper advertisements and TSM may have written this down in The Rubaiyat. If a dealing went badly then it may have been in Prosper’s interest for TSM to be killed. TSM may have been a contact of Prospers from when Prosper lived interstate. TSM may have been in Adelaide to exact revenge or he may have been upset about something Prosper had done. The bank’s phone number in the rear of The Rubaiyat could have been for TSM to pay Prosper for a purchase or for Prosper to deposit money into TSM’s account. The lack of labels on TSM’s clothing could have been due to TSM’s work on the black market and criminal activity.

There are some potential problems with the Prosper- TSM connection theory. It is difficult to foresee a specific suicide scenario resulting from TSM seeing Prosper unless TSM was some relation or Prospers. This leaves the murder possibility which has been critiqued in the section above. TSM likely brought The Rubaiyat with him to Adelaide and this book had strong connections with Jessica indicating that TSM was in Adelaide to see her, not Prosper. If TSM was connected to Prosper’s business dealings, he would have likely told people he was travelling to Adelaide and the person would have been identified immediately when they didn’t return and TSM was found.

The Rape Theory

Although it is difficult to imagine TSM as malevolent, there is no evidence that he was virtuous. If TSM raped Jessica whilst she was in Sydney, a mechanism would be provided as to why she left Sydney hurriedly and fled to her parents’ house in Melbourne. Rapes are often done by someone close to the victim and TSM may have known Jessica by name and thus been able to track her down in Adelaide. It seems that Jessica was keen to hide the identity of the real father of Robin and the rape hypothesis provides a valid mechanism as to why. The rape would also provide an added explanation as to why she tried to commit suicide whilst in Melbourne. The situation would have been horrific for Jessica.

TSM may have wanted to track Jessica down for a number of reasons. These include him just finding out that he was a father, wanting to know if Jessica’s baby was his, to pursue a relationship with Jessica, to apologise for his actions or even to rape her again. The rape hypothesis not only explains Jessica concealing the baby’s father’s identity but also explains why she lied to police and why she attempted to cover up the situation. Jessica may have sought revenge on TSM for his actions and hardship caused and the visit would provide the perfect setting for her to poison him.

The rape scenario criticisms can be levelled into two areas. Firstly if TSM raped Jessica then came to visit her and committed suicide and secondly if the rape resulted in a visit and TSM was murdered. Both of these scenarios have been critiqued in the above sections. There are however some unique problems with the rape theory. The Rubaiyat was thought of by Jessica as a book of love poetry and this implies some sort of romantic connection between her and TSM who brought this book to Adelaide. TSM would have likely informed people he was travelling to Adelaide and therefore his disappearance would have been noted and thus he would have been identified. The story that a rapist would travel interstate to track the person they had raped 2 years earlier who now had a husband and child doesn’t necessarily correlate with the real world and seems quite outlandish.

The Accidental Death Theory

TSM had a spleen three times enlarged and liver problems that may have been pre-existing. The sizeable spleen would likely have been a pre-existing condition and TSM may have been in a weakened state. The accidental death theory splits down two paths:

  • A. TSM was at Jessica’s house and an event occurred that resulted in the death of TSM. This may have entailed Jessica providing TSM with some painkillers and an accidental overdose ensued. Alternately, TSM may have experienced some form of allergic reaction to something Jessica provided him with. Another scenario is that Jessica and/or Prosper wanted to scare TSM and maybe wanted to sedate him but TSM reacted badly resulting in his death. The accidental death hypothesis fits in with Jessica’s favourite novel of Howards End. Within the text, an unplanned pregnancy occurs and the soon to be father is hit with the flattened part of a sword in order to scare him however his death results.
  • B. TSM died on the beach due to the unique positioning of his body and head. The death was thus caused by positional asphyxiation and ultimately, TSM suffocated. This theory removes the need for a poison receptacle on the scene and takes into account the curious and somewhat unnatural body positioning TSM was found in. The weakened state of TSM with an enlarged spleen and liver problems may have predisposed TSM to positional asphyxiation. Taking certain drugs may also contribute to positional asphyxiation and it is plausible that TSM was on medication for his health problems. The lack of vomit in the vicinity of TSM is accounted for with this theory and this hypothesis also suggests that the eyewitness reports of a man lying on the beach on the evening of the 30th of November were accurate descriptions of TSM.

There are several potential criticisms of theory ‘A’: the death occurring accidentally at Jessica’s house. Many of the criticisms have been mentioned above due to the overlapping nature of the theories. Hypothesis ‘A’ likely means that the body seen the night before TSM was found dead was not TSM and this seems unlikely based on the eyewitness reports. The necessity to remove the labels from TSM’s clothes and suitcase is also questionable. Also the careful positioning of a cigarette on TSM’s lapel seems to involve a high degree of risk in terms of getting caught near a deceased body with no real purpose.

Theory ‘B’ involving accidental positional asphyxiation raises major questions as to why and who removed TSM’s labels and traceable identification from his clothes and within his suitcase. It’s possible that TSM always wore clothes and had items without labels for some reason, yet this seems unlikely. The major critique that can be levelled against this theory is that the words ‘Tamam Shud’ (meaning finished) were found in his hidden fob pocket. It is likely these words were placed there recently due to The Rubaiyat with the tear being found in a Jetty Road car probably on the evening of the 30th of November. The purposeful placing of these words on TSM indicates a level of intentionality pertaining to the death of TSM. The accidental positional asphyxiation theory doesn’t explain this aspect. The physiological findings of the autopsy of TSM seemed to convince all of the experts that TSM had died from poison. It seems unlikely that a positional asphyxiation death could so carefully mimic the effects of poison and thus fool all of the medical experts.

Other Theories

There are several further theories that may explain TSM case.

  • A. It has been suggested that Jessica was a serial killer and TSM was one of her victims. Her interest in The Rubaiyat may have led her to place ‘Tamam Shud’ in her victim’s pockets. Occasionally in the news, an item appears discussing a nurse who euthanises a large number of patients- could Jessica have been such a nurse?
  • B. TSM may have arrived in Adelaide with another person such as a brother. This person may have helped TSM commit suicide or indeed played a part in murdering him. This theory provides a rationale as to why there was no poison receptacle found near TSM’s body; the other person removed it. This secondary person may have also thrown The Rubaiyat into the back of the car. The mismatched cigarettes of TSM may have been provided by this secondary person. Also TSM’s could have been possessing this person’s comb hence why TSM was found with two combs. The hairpin found in TSM’s suitcase could have made its way there as he was travelling with a female and this item became mixed up amongst his possessions.
  • C. TSM may have had some form of psychiatric condition. Trying to make sense of the bizarre elements of this case is therefore futile.
  • D. TSM could have been the biological father of Jessica. If TSM was about 46 years old at death, he would have had Jessica as an 18 year old. This may also explain the genetic similarities between TSM and Robin as this would make him the grandfather. TSM going to an extra effort to present himself well on the 30th of November also correlates with something a father might do when seeing their daughter.

Theory ‘A’ that Jessica was a serial killer only provides a partial motive as to why TSM died but not an explanation of who he was and why has wasn’t identified. There is also no evidence that Jessica was in any way linked to other deaths. The euthanising nurse scenario lacks the evidence of Jessica doing this to any of her patients.

The ‘B’ hypothesis that TSM arrived in Adelaide with someone seems plausible. If the person assisted with TSM’s suicide or contributed to his murder then the previous objections of these categories largely remain relevant. If a second person travelled with TSM and was involved with his death, it raises the question as to why Jessica likely lied to police about not knowing TSM.

The ‘C’ explanation of a person having a psychiatric illness can be applied to any mysterious case with unusual happenings. There is nothing unique in TSM case to indicate that TSM had a psychiatric illness. The code written on the back of The Rubaiyat based on statistical analysis seems to reflect the first letters of English words and thus have some meaning. The words ‘Tamam Shud’ in the pocket of TSM suggest some knowledge of their meaning: finished. The case doesn’t seem to involve arbitrary actions but things that are linked together and make sense on some level.

The ‘D’ theory that TSM was Jessica’s biological father doesn’t have any evidence to support it. The romantic connotations of The Rubaiyat and unknown father of Robin dictate that it seems far more likely that TSM was the father of Robin as opposed to Jessica’s father. Pathologist, John Cleland estimated TSM’s age to be between 40 and 45 and Jessica’s age was 27 at the time of TSM’s death. This probably makes TSM too young to be Jessica’s father.

Part 8- My Theory

“Circumstances rule men, men do not rule circumstances” – Herodotus

In the shadow of WWII, Jessica Harkness worked as a student nurse within the confines of Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital. She shuffled from one room to the next on her usually tedious morning duties. She entered room 112 and provided the patient with the mandatory “Hello” before skim reading through his paperwork.

-Admitted July 27th 1946

-First name: Robert

-Disease status: Terminal

“How are you today?” a foreign voice chirped. The tone seemed incongruent with a person who had a terminal illness. Jessica hadn’t heard enough words to decipher a country of origin for the accent.

“Good thanks Robert” Jessica politely responded.

“Haha, most Aussies call me Rob” he chuckled.

The man had been lying flat on the hospital bed with his head resting against the back of the bed at a peculiar angle. He sat up, revealing broad shoulders that underlined his sharp jawline, grey eyes and light coloured hair.

“What part of America are you from?” Jessica probed, hoping she had correctly identified the accent.

“The North-East part” Robert replied before adding “I’ve been in Sydney for a couple of years for work.”

The conversation progressed from small talk and provided a refreshing escape from the job for Jessica and reciprocally provided Robert with a fleeting distraction from his health. Although the powerful accent drew Jessica’s attention initially, the man’s erudite background is what provided the spark. Before trudging on to the next hospital room, Robert gave his phone number to Jessica.

Jessica had memorised the hospital rules for nurses verbatim. Rule 7.1- Relationships with patients are strictly forbidden. It was as if these words only encouraged her. They provided a foundation for the rebellion. It was akin to someone writing ‘Do not open’ on a box thus transforming it into a box that begged to be opened. Just a year earlier Jessica had a flirty rendezvous with a married Mr. Boxall. Robert exemplified the forbidden facet of lust.

Consequential of several pub meetings, the pair’s attraction grew. They shared a common interest in the arts, had a shared penchant for progressive political views such as voluntary euthanasia and enjoyed a passion for the classics of literature. The couple often recited poems from The Rubaiyat to one another, providing a verbal outlet to cement their pent-up feelings. Jessica was obliged to keep this relationship clandestine. Her future career was at stake.

After several public meetings, Robert invited Jessica to his humble house located within the harbourside suburb of McMahons Point. Soon after this get together, Jessica discovered that she was pregnant. On rare occasions in life, an event occurs that dictates to you that your world will never be the same again. This was Jessica’s event.

The pregnancy consequences were immediately evident to Jessica: 1. She wouldn’t be permitted to become a nurse. 2. The father of the baby couldn’t help raise it due to a terminal illness. 3. She couldn’t disclose the relationship to anyone, firstly because the baby would be born out of wedlock and secondly as it belonged to one of her hospital patients. Another side effect of the unintended pregnancy dawned on Jessica: She wouldn’t be allowed to stay living in the nurse’s quarters of the hospital and would need a new abode. A sardonic underlining of the situation was Jessica’s morning sickness forcing her to miss her final nursing student exams. Jessica deeply considered her options regarding the trying situation. She finally decided to move in with her parents who lived in her childhood suburb of Mentone, Melbourne.

Within Mentone, Jessica constantly dwelled on her situation. A wasted period of time studying, a lack of a husband, a world void of stability and an impending child that she would have to raise alone and out of wedlock. She feared this last aspect particularly and the consequence of being shunned by society. The grievances accumulated and soon crescendoed with Jessica standing atop a cliff, intent on ending her life. She stood perched in this Schrodinger’s cat like state on the cusp of death and life.

Prosper Thomson navigated the corner. He noticed a silhouette resembling the Christ the Redeemer statue, immobile on the edge of the rock face. Prosper first recognised the vocal cries, then the petite body the voice belonged to and finally the face confirmed the person’s identity. The girl was a memory of his childhood- Jessica Harkness. The serendipity of Prosper’s timing and the meaning of his name, Prosper: to flourish, indicated to Jessica that this was a sign. Prosper talked Jessica down from the cliff, into his arms and listened to her travails. He also provided much more than this- solutions to her problems. “We move to Adelaide, away from the judging eyes of those who know us. Next, we get married and tell the world that the baby is ours.”

Jessica’s life had been on life-support. This was the resurrection she so desperately craved but couldn’t articulate. Although this was a skewed quid pro quo, in return, Jessica vowed to support the new image ‘family-man’ that Prosper wished portrayed. For Prosper this was for the ends of settling down and becoming a car salesman. At this stage, Jessica kept in vicarious touch with Robert who was in deteriorating health.

Prosper and Jessica settled down within the beachside area of Glenelg, a suburb that flanks Adelaide. This location appealed to Jessica who had always had a fondness for the seaside. A baby boy was born in July of 1947 and Jessica who had a tendency for wordplay named him in honour of ‘Robert of McMahons Point.’ Thus the given names, ‘Rob-in McMahon.’ Despite only the façade of the traditional family unit, the stresses of Jessica’s life diminished. Contrastingly, in Sydney, Robert was told at the Royal North Shore Hospital that he didn’t have much longer to live. He had a spleen approaching being three times enlarged, liver problems and a scattering of unpleasant symptoms that comprised his illness.

A lingering memory of a poetic suicide of sorts niggled at Robert. He recalled a proximate George Marshall having poisoned himself whilst lying down, overlooking the water. The Rubaiyat was opened on his chest and a quatrain was underlined pertaining to his life and death. George had given a friend a sum of money prior to the suicide however the friend later killed herself. This was perhaps due to the stress of testifying at the inquest into George’s death. Robert wanted to rebel against his illness. He didn’t fancy being killed by his disease and he wanted to control his destiny. Robert also wanted to avoid making the mistake of George’s suicide and not harm those around him. He concocted a plan and phoned Jessica to discuss the logistics of implementing it. A sympathetic Jessica reluctantly agreed to help.

Robert falsely informed his local friends that he was leaving Sydney and returning to his home country of America. They never knew of his illness with Robert reasoning that his disease was less realistic if people weren’t aware of it. He removed the identifiable and traceable labels from his clothing and belongings before catching the train from Sydney to the interim outback mining town of Broken Hill. During the journey, Robert wrote prolifically to his friends and family in America; people he had hidden his illness from. He told them a semi-truth, a white lie that people have a tendency of justifying the telling of to themselves. Robert wrote that he was married in Australia and had fathered a one year old boy. He expanded on this, with padding details he thought consolidated a lie. His elaboration stated he was living a happy life and would reside in Australia permanently although he would live in a remote town that didn’t receive the post. Upon arrival in Broken Hill, Robert stretched his legs and posted his letters, knowing the Broken Hill stamp mark would be visible to those receiving the letters. He then relaxed by skimming his feet along a rare patch of Broken Hill grass. It was the small things in life that you appreciate when facing death.

On-board the Adelaide bound train, Robert lit one of his last remaining Army Club brand cigarettes. Smoking it reminded him of the train ejecting smoke. He was like a Russian nesting doll inside the train. Robert replenished his supply by purchasing some loose Kensitas brand cigarettes from a fellow traveller on the train however their unfamiliar flavour tarnished their appeal. Robert then read poems from The Rubaiyat to himself; a lonely contrast to the halcyon days of sharing the poetry with Jessica. This thought encouraged him to pen his own quatrain to Jessica. He tried to memorise the poem by pencilling in the first letters of the words on the worn back cover of his copy of The Rubaiyat.

Robert awoke from what he imagined was a few hours seep as the train tottered to a stop. He made inquiries that led to a shower and shave at the adjacent City Baths. Robert laid out and dressed himself in his final attire. He then drenched his shoes in brown shoe polish as the final touch to his appearance. Robert was dressed smartly for Jessica although wore excess layers to account for his illness symptoms. His next duty in Adelaide was to deposit his travelling suitcase inside the railway’s Cloak Room. Robert then asked the ticket seller at the Adelaide Railway Station which train travelled closest to Glenelg.

“The Henley Beach train is what you’re after” the man insisted “Although you’ve still got yourself a bit of a walk.”

“Okay, I’ll take a ticket” Robert replied.

“One-way or return?” The man queried.

“Just one-way” Robert said mournfully as it dawned on him what he was doing.

Robert then reflected on the conversation and asked a local how long it would take to get from Henley Beach to Glenelg. The local informed Robert that the walk was indeed too far and his most efficient route would be the bus that travelled to St. Leonards. On the bus, Robert pulled out his copy of The Rubaiyat and reflected on his memories this book had brought him in life as well as the lessons imparted. He flipped to the back cover and used the letters to recite the quatrain he had written.

As the bus reached its destination, Robert disembarked and proceeded to withdraw his life’s saving from a local bank. His forethought meant that he could store the money in the 4 pairs of socks he had brought with him that he in turn stored in his pockets. Robert arrived at Jessica’s house and embraced her. He was then guided to Robin’s room and his eyes connected with the child. The baby’s resemblance to him was uncanny. From the grin, to the same twinkling eyes and ear shape. Seeing Robin in the flesh was a key motivator for the journey. This was his legacy for the world. Robin spent the afternoon sitting on Robert’s lap. As children have a supernatural knack of doing, Robin’s sticky hand left a mark on his father’s trousers. In a way this was emblematic of the impression Robin left on Robert.

Robert handed Jessica his socks, filled to the brim with money. Jessica was moved to tears; she hadn’t expected this. Robert insisted that his savings be spent on raising Robin and providing him with the best childhood imaginable. He stipulated that ballet lessons would be suited to Robin. For several hours, the two adults and Robin wove together poignant memories; reminiscent of what life could have been like if not for Robert’s illness. Robert recalled the poem he had specifically written for Jessica.

The last piece of the plan orchestrated by Jessica and Robert was to be put in place. Jessica grabbed The Rubaiyat of Robert’s and drew two lines.

“These are the stairs leading down to the beach. This cross here is where you will lie down relative to the stairs.” Jessica added more specifics, “Walk straight down to the Esplanade and turn left. You will go down to this lot of steps at Bickford Terrace. It is away from the house, the first group of stairs are just too close and suspicious. 6 PM is the time.” Jessica handed Robert two bottles.

Robert emotionally left Jessica and Robin and walked north to Jetty Road to appreciate a final supper of sorts. He enjoyed a pasty. On Jetty Road he reiterated his plan to himself. Robert’s body would be unidentifiable to save Jessica from any inquiries or criminal convictions. He also knew Jessica didn’t want Robert to be known as Robin’s father. He patted his jacket pocket and felt the outline of The Rubaiyat. Robert had thought obsessively about this. He had considered an open The Rubaiyat on his body but thought this was too derivative of George Marshall. Instead Robert ripped out the parting words of the book, ‘Tamam Shud.’ They appeared above his favourite quatrain. The poem that he hoped people would celebrate his life by:

And when like her, oh Saki, you shall pass

Among the Guests Star-scatter’d on the Grass,

And in your joyous errand reach the spot

Where I made One- turn down an empty Glass!

He pulled out his watch from his trousers fob pocket. It showed 5:30 PM. He placed the words ‘Tamam Shud’ into this pocket as a final epitaph. He threw his watch into a bin. Robert considered throwing The Rubaiyat into the bin also but second guessed himself. He reasoned that the book may change someone else’s life like it did his. He tossed it into a Hillman Minx car parked on Jetty Road- the last car on the road before the corner.

Robert ventured south. He walked along The Esplanade road that hugged the contours of the sand. As instructed, at Bickford Terrace, he spotted the steps he was to descend. Robert sniffed the air. A salty-seaweed amalgam filled his nostrils. As Robert descended the 25 steps he noticed the parted clouds framing the sun which in turn illuminated the sand. The scene was heavenly. Robert lay against the seawall in order to prop his head up and take in the ambiance. He swallowed the digitalis tablets with a drink and placed the receptacle and bottle into his hat, sitting it down next to his body. Robert lit a cigarette and began to smoke it. This was short-lived hedonism. Jessica had been watching from a distance. She cautiously navigated the stairs and subtly grabbed Robert’s hat containing the contents. Jessica rubbed his cheek with the back of her hand and then left, leaving only her footsteps in the sand. Robert’s footprints had stopped forever at his body yet his journey would not be finished. It would be continued by Robin.


“It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” – Winston Churchill

Once each mosaic piece of TSM case has been examined, the mystery makes less sense. There seems to be no likely and consistent theory accounting for how TSM died; yet we know he died. The identity of this perplexing person remains a mystery yet it seems probable that he fathered Robin. The idiosyncratic removed labels, lack of socks, mismatched cigarettes and unused train ticket are proverbially hors d’oeuvre mysteries preceding the crux of the case- how does one explain The Rubaiyat code and ‘Tamam Shud’ slip of paper? This article has attempted to provide theories and possible answer for every question. Despite the widespread ardent conjecture, many of the answers to the case likely went to the grave with TSM. An exhumation of TSM could unearth some much sought after answers. The words ‘Here lies the unknown man’ currently ornament TSM’s West Terrace grave. The sands of time will hopefully one day trace out a name on the plaque for the Somerton Man.

tsm grave



Cracking the Tamam Shud Code

somerton man

In this article I will examine the Tamam Shud code in detail. Initially I will explore some general theories about what the code represents, then I will discuss some specific theories people have posited as to what the letters actually represent. Finally, I will present some idiosyncrasies of the Tamam Shud code.


In the Somerton Man case, so much is known. Yet when you are immersed into this topsy-turvy world, each piece of knowledge leads to further uncertainties. An unknown man found laying dead on an Adelaidean beach in 1948 reeks of the classic John Doe mystery. His identity is still unknown but may soon be unearthed thanks to technological advancements. Within the deceased man’s fob pocket there was an obscured scrap of paper with the Persian ‘Tamam Shud’ printed which appropriately translates as “finished.” A nearby random car, owned by chemist John Freeman, contained a book of translated 11th century poems, known as ‘The Rubaiyat’ which matched the torn piece of paper. ‘The Rubaiyat’ featured a phone number of a proximate, Jessica Thomson, who claimed to know nothing of the dead man. Also on the rear cover of the enigmatic book was a code that to this day remains uncracked.


What letters comprise the code?

The code is ambiguous. The first step is to determine what letters we are trying to decode. Several years ago, I wrote a lengthy analysis to establish the actual letters that comprise the code. This can be read here.

My conclusion was that the code contained these letters:








My analysis also detailed that the code is more ambiguous than most people realise. There are inconsistencies in the lettering style and despite each letter statistically and individually being most likely the above, there are many areas in the code where precise letter determination is problematic.

The most ambiguous letters in the code are bolded below:

W  R G O A B A B D






I found the above bolded letters to be the most ambiguous and indeed I have a lower confidence regarding what letter/symbol they represent. If you are interested in reading about the ambiguities of these letters, I have written more extensively about this here.


Professor Derek Abbott and some of his students have completed an analysis of the Tamam Shud code. This can be found in its entirety here. Many types of code were completely ruled out by this investigation or deemed to be implausible based on statistical likelihood. In total, Abbott and his team managed to exclude 40 different kinds of cipher. The analysis concluded that the code is most likely an English initialism; that is, each letter in the code stands for the first letter of English words.


General Theories

Theory 1- The Rubaiyat was a cipher pad

As the code was found within the covers of an Edward FitzGerald translation of poetry known as The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, it seems reasonable that the book relates somehow to the code. An identical version of the book the code was found in is yet to be unearthed (and the original book has been lost) hence it is feasible that the book was some kind of cipher pad for the code. The argument against this is threefold. Firstly, the structure of the code doesn’t resemble any known World War 2 professional ciphers. Secondly, similar editions of Edward FitzGerald translations of the book have been found and no detectable cipher pads have been determined. Finally, the Abbott team tested the cipher pad hypothesis of The Rubaiyat for each poem in known (yet perhaps different to the original) copies and no English words were determined.

Theory 2- The code relates to The Rubaiyat itself

The code contains 4 lines (plus one crossed out line that I will address later) and the quatrains within The Rubaiyat are also composed of 4 lines. This may be deliberate. The number of letters in the first line of the code=9, 2nd line=11, 3rd line=11 and 4th line=13. The letters in the code can’t stand for words in The Rubaiyat as the average sentence in a line by Edward FitzGerald contains about 7 word, with very little variance in word length. Almost every single line contains between 6 and 9 words. This contrasts the 9-13 letters per line of the code if they are indeed initials relating to the book.

A more promising possibility involves the writer of the code penning their own quatrain, perhaps after being inspired by reading the book of poetry. There wouldn’t have been enough space to write each word as I have detailed below in the section ‘The size of the code’ hence the writer may have only had space to write the first letters of a poem they had concocted. Another plausible scenario involves the writer using the first letters of words as a mnemonic to memorise the poem they had written. Unfortunately this theory may be unverifiable unless the Somerton Man’s identity was unearthed and he was found to be an avid poetry writer.

Theory 3- The code was a personal message to someone

When taking into account the context of the code and the possibility that the Somerton Man was visiting Jessica Thomson, the possibility arises that the code was the initials of a message he had written for Jessica. The Somerton Man may have carefully chosen certain words or wanted to say something to Jessica so he wrote it down in shorthand as an intialism. It may have served as a memory technique. This is akin to learning a planetary mnemonic, “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos” representing the first letters of the planets.

Theory 4- The code represents initials from another piece of literature

Another theory involves the letters of the code not representing some original creation or FitzGerald writing but instead another work of literature that the writer of the code was trying to recall by writing the first letters of the words. I favoured this theory for a period and spent far too long trying to identify the specific piece of writing. In 2014, John Rehling, a computational linguist searched over 20,000 books with no near complete matches found. Barry Traish also performed a similar search to no avail. Many famous works of literature were searched against for a match of the initials representing words yet no results were found. It is plausible that the code represents an initialism of a more semi-obscure piece of writing that is out in the world somewhere.

What the letters mean

Before I delve into the actual possibilities for what the coded letters represent, I should mention that coming up with any meaning to the seemingly random array of letters is impressive and critiquing things is easy. I have great admiration for people that have managed to ascribe any meaning to the coded letters.

Micro writing

Gordon Cramer, who runs believes the code is actually contained within the code in the form of micro writing. Cramer believes that upon zooming in on the letters, eg looking really closely at the letter ‘T’, the top line of the ‘T’ isn’t just a line but the line contains very tiny letters. To date, Cramer believes he has determined what some of this micro writing refers to. He thinks he has detected Morse code letters relating to a WW2 manual, A British jet and a Bulgarian Airlines flight number. Cramer also believes micro writing is contained within the copy of The Rubaiyat that Jessica Thomson’s gave Alf Boxall, more specifically Jessica’s message to Alf.

Micro writing does exist. On some occasions, it has been known to have been written underneath a stamp. In this case, the micro writing is claimed to be combined with steganography (the act of concealing a message inside another message). Despite Cramer’s insistence that the Tamam Shud code micro writing is not pareidolia, it does appear to be pareidolia. In other words the ability of humans to find patterns and meanings in randomness. The words Cramer had concocted from the code are disjointed and don’t convey a simple and direct message like a code normally would. The resolution of the pictures of the Tamam Shud code are poor and the size of the writing Cramer is claiming to be reading is smaller than the hazy resolution of the zoomed in images. Also, despite being informed what certain micro writing words supposedly represent in the zoomed in code pictures, I still can’t see them. A code needs clarity, unambiguity and an easy mechanism for being conveyed and interpreted. The micro writing hypothesis lacks these features.

If the Tamam Shud code was micro writing and contained the words that Cramer believes it does then it would be the first known professional code in the world to have micro writing within letters that give vague and eclectic references. The fact that Cramer believes the writing Jessica Thomson gave Alf Boxall also contained micro writing further supports the pareidolia hypothesis especially when the context of the people involved is examined. If I wrote something now and told Cramer it was part of the Tamam Shud code, he would undoubtedly find some military WW2 words or meaning within it.

Let us assume for a moment that the micro writing hypothesis is true. The only reasonable rationale for this process would be to hide some information. Why then would the micro writing be within an already mysterious lettering that resembles a code? Surely this would attract more attention to the page (and this has happened with code breakers all over the world drawn to the Tamam Shud code). If I was to write micro writing as a code (if I could indeed do micro writing) I would place it inside an innocuous sentence that people wouldn’t think twice about, not inside letters that resemble a code that would likely attract attention. The original piece of coded paper was carefully examined by police and you would expect that if they didn’t notice the micro writing then it didn’t exist.

The supposed micro writing determination process involves manipulating images to create block-like remnants. It is these remnants that are alleged to be letters. As the actual code was written in pencil, what Cramer has analysed is essentially the pen ink that the authorities traced over the pencil code in. Presumably the micro writing protagonists would claim that there were already micro writing words written in pencil that the pen ink somehow formed the path of although this in itself seems farfetched to me.

On his website, Cramer claims to have somewhat emulated the micro writing process. Although what he has achieved is somewhat interesting, it doesn’t closely resemble 1cm high letters written in pencil containing within them curved detailed words that would be close to 1mm in thickness. Cramer has more recently claimed that the entire code page is full of micro writing, including the areas that are blank on the page. Finding patterns in emptiness seems like further evidence to support the pareidolia hypothesis.

English backronym

Even prior to the Abbott investigation it has been widely suggested that the most likely meaning behind the code was that it represented the first letters of English words. Many people have tried to determine what these words could be. The word ‘backronym’ denotes a phrase that is written after the initialism or acronym, for instance, after golf was invented it was falsely claiming GOLF stood for ‘Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.’

I will present some of the more famous or well constructed examples of what people have proposed the Tamam Shud code could represent. Scout483 has suggested (written in quatrain form) that the letters stand for:


“My rose grows old and by and by decays.

Most thread-bare in my penitence and ne’er enough to pay.

My life is all but over and I am quite content;

I’ll take the moon, the stars, and my soul, to grovel and repent.”


Former detective, Gerry Feltus has posed the possibility that the last line with letters ITTMTSAMSGAB could represent the words “It’s time to move to South Australia, Moseley Street…” which was the then address of Jessica Thomson.


Someone else has suggested that the letters represent:

“Mr R, gone out and down at B.D.

My trouble being in my pregnancy, am not expected to please,

My love, I am bored out alone in a quiet city,

It tempts me to send a message straight to GAB.


Another person came up with the following possible meaning:

“Must really go over and demand a better deal.

May try bribe inside man perhaps a North East Territory policeman.

May leave in a British overseas aircraft I am quite confident.

I tried three months to see a mess steward to get a birth.”


Barry Traish has written a poem using the first letters of words in the code. Unlike other efforts, he has only used words contained within The Rubaiyat itself:

“My road goes on, and by and by divides,

Now two branches, into morning, past a new evening that provides,

My love is a barren oblivion, and itself alone quite certain,

It’s time to move the soul among magic stars, then gently asleep besides.”


Some of the words, sentences or indeed entire meanings written above may be correct. The great variance of them does suggest that you can make the letters represent virtually anything. If you did stumble across the actual meaning, there would be no way of knowing. The unverifiable part of this code initialism theory makes it difficult to examine. If the Abbott statistical analysis is correct and the code is an English initialism that the Somerton Man wrote, then we will likely never decipher the true meaning of the letters.


The Persian Connection

As The Rubaiyat was originally written in Persian as was the piece of paper found in the Somerton Man’s fob pocket, reading ‘Tamam Shud’, it has been speculated that the letters within the code may represent Persian. ‘Persiankitty’ has directly translated the letters of the code into Persian, for example the first 3 letters of the code, MRG (Marg) in Persian mean death. MLI at the start of the third line (Meli) becomes national. ‘Persiankitty’ states that Persian doesn’t always use vowels hence they added the ‘a’ and ‘e’ in the above examples. After continuing this process for the entire code they came up with:


“Death and eternity in honor.


The national water from Oxus – OR (the national honor Ai Oxus)

The Balance of Shams (or sun? also name of Poet) valley.”


Another similar attempt at this has been performed by Zhiyuan Sun. This person broke the code up into:







They determined that this translates to:

“And/Blood Vessel/Water/Eternity.


National/Father/Whether or/Someone.

(State of Being)-Darkness-(Your)/Poison/Is/Cow.”


The next process they performed was to correctly order the words as they mention the word order should be switched around to reflect the true meaning of the poem. This produced their final result:


“And Blood Vessel is Water, [Water] is Eternity.

And Medicine is Sea, Hill is Shelter.

Whether Nation’s Father or Someone.

Cow Poison is Your Darkness.”


There do appear to be several flaws with the methodology of the above two processes. Firstly, I propose that virtually any group of English initials can be in a similar ilk translated into Persian. This is doubly true if you are allowed to add vowels to the words. Even in English, adding vowels to the code makes things easier; for instance the first WR can become “war.” If the code was truly in Persian, a native Persian speaker should be able to easily read it and the translation should make sense. Instead, we have something resembling gibberish, disjointedness after a selective process of breaking the code into specific pieces and looking for words that may resemble the Persian words after adding vowels. After this entire procedure, we would expect something half poetic or meaningful, not what has been produced.


Letter substitution

Leconfield has claimed to solve the Taman Shud code by substituting certain letters (other people have done something similar). For instance, A becomes E, B becomes R, R becomes U etc. After this process they have arrived at:

“Number 124,

IORSN Keijo K16,

Naser beset c,

Soon open 5? Omer.”


They continue on to explain the historical and war related meanings of these words. There are several potential criticisms that can be levelled at this approach. Firstly, the final result after decoding all of the letters still lacks a simple directive meaning. As with many of the other aforementioned attempts, after going through some process to decode the letters, we are still left with something that is difficult to interpret, is disjointed and doesn’t provide a clear message; like a code should. Professional WW2 ciphers didn’t end up with confusing writing similar to the above. They would instead provide clear and directive information such as “attack at this time at this location.”


Idiosyncrasies of the code


The size of the code

A common misconception regarding the Tamam Shud code involves the size of the writing. There is no definitive source detailing the exact dimensions of The Rubaiyat containing the code however a University of Adelaide website lists the book as the equivalent of 11.4cm x 13.97cm. This was a pocket book and deceptively tiny. Below are two photos I’ve taken of an A4 page to give this size some context. It’s not clear if the code was written in a landscape or portrait orientation so I’ve included both scenarios. The black outline in the bottom left corner of the photos is the approximate size of the book. The original photo of the code didn’t contain any background and are just of the page itself (although there may be a fold at the top of the photo). It is unlikely that the original photo was perfectly framed to include the page only and in all likelihood there would have been some page space around the edge of the code. The below photos indicate this and suggest an approximate size of the coded writing.


tamam shud1


tamam shud2


Correct tracing?

The original code was written in very light pencil. The police were only able to read the code due to the use of ultra-violet light. The widely disseminated picture of the code that features in this article only exists thanks to the authorities tracing over the light pencil with ink. It is plausible that some of the letters in the code weren’t traced accurately. It is also possible that due to the lightness of the code, it was difficult to read and parts of it may have faded completely. It also may be that parts of the letters were visible and the authorities that traced over the code inferred what the remainder of the shape of certain letters was. The first letter in the dark traced-over code appears to resemble a ‘W’ in my opinion. Despite this, there seems to be a lighter, ‘M’-like shape beneath this ‘W’. See the image below. Superintendent Len Brown when interviewed by Stuart Littlemore said of the code, “It was written in a square.” If true, this further raises question as to the size and nature of the code that code breakers haven’t necessarily been privy to. It has also been suggested that the famous photo of the code is in actuality a photo of a photo, further distancing code crackers from the actual code.


Questions arise as to why the code was written so lightly in pencil. On one hand, it could be due to the clandestine nature of the code. On the other, it may be innocuous; if I was to do some writing in a book I owned, I would want to write lightly so as to not ruin the book or make it look messy. In the absence of an eraser and other paper to write on, it seems understandable to want to write lightly or to try and erase the writing with a finger thus making it hard to read. The pertinent question lingers: Why write something if an ultra-violet light is necessary to read it? Perhaps even more flummoxing: why cross out the second line of the writing if it is barely visible anyway?

The crossed out line

The second line of the code appears to be crossed out (M L I A O I). The fourth line begins in a similar way: M L I A B O A I. The differences here are an extra ‘B’ and an extra ‘A.’ It seems most likely that the second line was a mistake; hence, the crossing out. Was this due to the person who wrote the code incorrectly writing the line in the wrong location initially; that is in the 2nd not 3rd line position? Alternately, were some of the letters incorrectly recalled and thus the extra ‘B’ and ‘A’ were added later. A further possibility combines these two ideas. The code writer may have been trying to loosely recall something they had written. The letters ‘B’ and ‘A’ may have stood for superfluous words such as “my life is all over, I…” and then subsequently, “My life is all but over and I…”



The letter Q

One of the key clues in the code seems to be the letter ‘Q’ appearing as the penultimate letter of the 3rd line. Statistically speaking we would expect less than 1 in 500 English words to begin with the letter Q and less than 1 in 1000 letters contained within an English word to be a letter Q. The clear relatively unambiguous physical nature of this letter in the code also potentially makes the ‘Q’ a vital clue in the code.


X marks the spot

Above an ‘O’ in the third line of the code is an ‘x’ that only has no other letters in the same line as it. Only two long lines pass through the ‘x.’ There are several possibilities as to what this ‘x’ (if indeed it is an x) represents. The ‘x’ seems to occur at the middle apex of the lower ‘O’. Perhaps the ‘O’ was a mistake and the ‘x’ signifies it should be removed. The ‘letters’ below the ‘x’ aren’t necessarily that clear. It could be the number ‘30’ or ‘130’ (or 1:30 a time) appearing beneath the ‘x.’ Most people believe the lower letter is a ‘B’ however is has a distinctly different structure to the only other clear ‘Bs’ in the code. See the images below.



The ‘x’ and the lines may be a place for a phone number. Jessica Thomson’s phone number was apparently found on this page, so was it originally here? Her phone number was written down as X3239, note the preceding ‘X’ of the phone number. It also resembles what may have been a spot for a signature. The ‘x’  and two lines also span over the possible letters: B O A I A Q, perhaps making some indication of these letters.

What if the ‘x’ wasn’t an ‘x?’ The symbol seems asymmetrical. Although unlikely, the ‘x’ and the two lines do resemble a slightly tilted crucifix (or person) up against a seawall, like the Somerton Man was found (although this may be pareidolia). The ‘x’ and lines also seem to separate the top and bottom halves of the code and are in the midst of a relatively large space. Another line at the bottom of the code also runs almost parallel to the two lines piercing the ‘x.’ The possibility also remains that the ‘x’ and two lines didn’t have any relation to the code and were written at a different time, with the code written around the already scribed ‘x’.


Although admirable, the best attempts to crack the code are either unverifiable or contain dubious logic. If the supposed code, as evidence suggests, is simply an English intitialism that was only contained within the mind of the Somerton Man, then there is something ironically poetic about code breakers worldwide being set a Sisyphean task. In my imagination, the Somerton Man was a tortured poet whose writing only existed in his consciousness and emblemised on that famous piece of paper that he thought had faded into oblivion in the back of an arbitrary car. Instead the initials of his poem may be world famous. Unlike other poems where just the author is anonymous, the meaning of the Somerton Man’s poem may be too.

Anagrams of the Capital Cities of Countries



The English names of certain country capital cities can be rearranged to spell words found in the dictionary. An example of this is that the letters of ‘Paris’, the capital of France, can be rearranged to spell the word ‘pairs.’ Below is a list I have compiled of all of the valid one word anagrams of capital cities of countries in the world. The capital city list I used can be found here and the anagram solver I used can be found here. Note that extra information is written next to some contentious anagrams or capital cities; this includes an acute accent (é) appearing in the capital city name but not the anagrammed word. The list is presented in alphabetical order of the country’s name that the capital belongs to.


Kabul = baulk (Afghanistan)

Tirana = antiar (Albania)

Algiers = glaires (Algeria)

Luanda = landau (Angola)

Nassau = saunas (Bahamas)

Minsk = minks (Belarus)

Sucre = cruse, cures, curse, ecrus (Bolivia) *Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia

La Paz = plaza (Bolivia) *La Paz is the de facto national capital of Bolivia

Moroni = morion (Comoros)

Roseau = arouse (Dominica)

Quito = quoit (Ecuador)

Cairo = coria (Egypt)

Asmara = asrama, samara (Eritrea)

Suva = vaus (Fiji)

Paris = pairs (France)

Athens = hasten, snathe, thanes (Greece)

Tehran = anther, thenar (Iran)

Rome = more, omer (Italy)

Riga = ragi (Latvia)

Maseru = amuser (Lesotho)

Monrovia = omnivora (Liberia)

Skopje = kopjes (Macedonia (FYROM))

Malé = alme, lame, meal (Maldives) *Malé has an acute accent over the ‘e’

Oslo = loos, solo (Norway)

Lima = mail, mila (Peru)

Manila = animal, lamina (Philippines)

Castries = scariest (Saint Lucia)

São Tomé = osteoma (São Tomé and Príncipe) *São Tomé has a tilde over the ‘a’ and an acute accent over the ‘e’

Riyadh = hydria (Saudi Arabia)

Freetown = forewent (Sierra Leone)

Pretoria = priorate (South Africa) *Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa

Seoul = louse, ousel (South Korea)

Bern = bren (Switzerland) *Switzerland doesn’t technically have a capital city although Bern is considered the de facto capital

Lomé = mole (Togo) *Lomé has an acute accent over the ‘e’

Tunis = suint, units (Tunisia)

Caracas = cascara (Venezuela)


I have also compiled a list of all of the valid anagrams of country names and this can be found here:


Part 3: Amazing Facts about Adelaide and South Australia- Crime, Climate and Cartography



Author Salman Rushdie visited Adelaide for Writers Week in 1984. He said of Adelaide, “Adelaide seems more eerie by the minute…Adelaide is an ideal setting for a Stephen King novel, or horror film. You know why those films and books are always set in sleepy, conservative towns? Because sleepy, conservative towns are where those things happen. Exorcisms, omens, shinings, poltergeists. Adelaide is Amityville, or Salem, and things here go bump in the night.”
Despite Rushdie’s assessment, South Australia’s murder rate is actually lower than the Australian average; at less than one person per 100,000. Although, a 2008 ABS report found that South Australia had 15% of the countries convicted killers yet only 8% of Australia’s population. A Dexter Showcase ad, that can be viewed below, refers to the notorious bevy of Adelaide serial killers.

Some of Adelaide’s most infamous murder and missing person cases are tinged with interesting facets. The Somerton Man case involving a still yet to be identified body found propped up against a seawall occurred in 1948 and is even now considered one of the most mysterious criminally themed events to this day, featuring high among worldwide mystery lists. A torn out piece of paper found in the enigmatic man’s fob pocket led to a poetry book with a still yet to be deciphered code. The person who has made the most inroads in the Somerton Man case, Professor Derek Abbott, concocted the most likely theory with plenty of circumstantial evidence to back it up; The Somerton Man had a child with an Adelaide nurse. Professor Abbott, while making this breakthrough sought to interview members of the nurse’s family and met the nurse’s granddaughter. Within a weekend of meeting her, Professor Abbott proposed to her and they have since had children who in a cyclic twist would share the DNA of the Somerton Man himself.

somerton man code

The yet to be cracked code that is linked with the unknown Somerton Man.

The notorious Beaumont Children case involved three Adelaide children going missing at Glenelg Beach on Australia Day, 1966. A leading criminologist has said “I haven’t been able to find another case where three children are never to be seen again in the westernised world.” The Beaumont children went missing on the very day that Harold Holt become Prime Minister of Australia. In another synchronicity, while PM this man would also go missing at an Australian beach albeit in different circumstances.

Beaumont Children

Jane, Arnna and Grant Beaumont went missing at Glenelg Beach in 1966 and their disappearance remains a mystery.

The Beaumont case also has precarious links to another infamous S.A. crime. The Beaumont Children’s father, Jim, was in the S.A. town of Snowtown on the day of his children’s disappearance. This town would later make world headlines as three men would murder 12 people with many of the bodies being found in barrels within a Snowtown bank vault. The Beaumont case also has thin links to the aforementioned Somerton Man case. The nurse who is alleged to have had a child with the Somerton Man was related to the Beaumont Children. She also lived on the same street that the children’s bus arrived on that fateful day.
Another less known case that is a bit more on the peripheries of crime involved Reg Spiers; an Adelaide man who had competed in the javelin at the 1962 Commonwealth Games. Spiers who was penniless at the time essentially posted himself in a wooden box from London to Australia. What eventuated was a 63 hour trip. Spiers would later unrelatedly be sentenced to death in Sri Lanka for drug smuggling yet survived this too.

Reg spiers crate in perth

The media in Perth examining the crate that Reg Spiers posted himself in from London to Australia.

There are some peculiar laws within South Australia. It is illegal to offer a reward to somebody for the return of stolen property; no questions asked. It’s against the law to disrupt a wedding or funeral. South Australia is also the only place in Australia where it is illegal to eat dogs and cats. It’s illegal in S.A. to fake being a clairvoyant or medium. Perhaps the most petty of actions to be against the law in S.A. is that it’s illegal to open a closed farm gate and leave it open and alternately close an open farm gate. In a weird way this sums up South Australia; a quixotic law about remembering to close a gate.

gate open

Walking through a farm gate and not closing it after you is a crime in South Australia.



A Fata Morgana is rare type of mirage that seemingly flips objects on the horizon and stacks them on top of each other. Fata Morgana are rare and only occur in very specific weather conditions. When looking out to the west from Adelaide’s beaches on hot, cloudless days (generally above 36°C), the Fata Morgana mirage is almost always noticeable. On the horizon, the ships that can be seen look strangely inverted.


A Fata Morgana image showing a boat that appears inverted. These types of rare mirage are commonly seen on hot, clear days from Adelaide beaches.

South Australia has a higher rate of deaths due to cold weather than Sweden. A study determined that 3.9 South Australians died per 100,000 people over the 6 year study period due to cold temperature exposure. Contrastingly, only 3.3 Swedes per 100,000 died due to hypothermia. The authors of the study believed the South Australian deaths were largely involving elderly women left alone and inside. Alternately, the Swedish people who died were commonly middle-aged males who were outdoors and drunk.
Deserts are generally defined as areas receiving less than 250mm or rain per year. On average Adelaide has much higher levels of rain although some years Adelaide comes close to this desert threshold number of 250mm. During 1967, Adelaide received just 257.8mm of rain (less than 1cm over the desert cut-off). Even as recently as 2006, Adelaide recorded only 287.8mm of rain, emphasising why Adelaide is the driest capital city in Australia. Goyder’s Line (an imaginary line that essentially separates desert and non-desert area in S.A.) is moving south, approaching Adelaide.

Goyders Line

A sign indicating where Goyder’s Line runs. Areas north of the line are considered desert.

South Australia’s holds the title of Australia’s highest recorded temperature: 50.7°C, recorded in Oodnadatta on January 2nd 1960. Adelaide is also no stranger to warm weather. During the 10 summers between the years 1989-1999, Adelaide recorded 17 days in excess of 40°C. Contrastingly, across the previous 10 summers 2009-2018, Adelaide has recorded a massive increase in hot days- 60 days over 40°C.

oodnadatta roadhouse

The South Australian town of Oodnadatta holds the record for the hottest temperature recorded in Australia.



If you ask most Adelaideans what state or territory lies directly north of Adelaide, they will answer the Northern Territory. In actuality, Queensland is located north of Adelaide. Adelaide is also situated further north relative to the eastern states than people typically realise. Adelaide is positioned further north than Canberra; that is you would have to travel south to reach Canberra (and largely east).
South Australia’s borders contain some oddities. The eastern border of the state is not a straight line. The border was intended to run along the 141st line of longitude. Longitude however was determined in relation to Greenwich Mean Time and due to poor watch accuracy in the 19th century, a two minute error occurred resulting in a 3.6km deviation in the border. A protracted legal battle resulted between S.A. and Victoria but ultimately to no avail hence South Australia’s border moves west to the south of the Murray River. The S.A.- N.S.W. border is also contentious due to a bushfire that vanquished survey markers. When the fence was set to mark the border, those laying it placed it several hundred metres into N.S.W. territory.

SA-Vic border

The South Australian- Victorian border is west of where it should be.

South Australia’s northern border also has its peculiarities. It is not a straight line but actually ever so slightly curved so as to look like a straight line on flat maps of the earth. The S.A- W.A. border marking process garnered worldwide interest in the scientific realm during the 1920s. At the time, state of the art, wireless time signals were used to fix up the previously inaccurate border. British astronomers, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, a French observatory and the Adelaide Observatory all teamed up to synchronise and make astronomical observations in order to mark the border. Despite the technological advancements at the time, the border was out by 127 metres and remains so to this day.

sawa border

At the time, ground breaking technology from around the world was used to determine the position of the S.A.-W.A. border.

Locals often talk about the chilly Southern Ocean battering the coast of South Australia although this isn’t quite technically correct. Despite Australian maps detailing the Southern Ocean as skirting South Australia, the official consensus worldwide is that the Indian Ocean borders the state to the south. This is due to an international definition of the Southern Ocean stating that it extends from Antarctica up until 17 degrees of latitude; which is further south than the southern tip of S.A.

southern ocean.png

The Southern Ocean doesn’t border South Australia, only the Indian Ocean does.

The sheer centralisation of South Australia’s population in Adelaide makes it one of most disproportionately populated regions in the world. The below map indicates this visually. Remarkably, the green, red and blue portions of the map each contain the same population; roughly 560,000 people. South Australia and Adelaide occupy a unique place in the world.

An equal number of people live in the red, blue and green areas of South Australia.

Thanks for reading ‘Part 3: Amazing Facts about Adelaide and South Australia.’

Part 1: ‘The Most Amazing Facts About Adelaide and South Australia’ can be found here.

Part 2: ‘More Amazing Facts About Adelaide and South Australia’ can be found here.

I’ve also written some other articles covering amazing Adelaide:

‘49 Entertaining Things to do in Adelaide’ can be found here.

‘51 Free Things to do in Adelaide’ can be found here.

‘The 20 Most Famous People who have Lived in Adelaide’ can be found here.


A Puzzle a Day Blog


I have started another blog called ‘A Puzzle a Day’ and it can be found here:

Each day I’m going to be posting a new puzzle, riddle, game or interesting tidbit so make sure to follow for daily email updates. So far I’ve posted:

  • A game to test your skills at noticing when a painting is hung slightly askew or a straight line isn’t straight.
  • A simple number game to test if your memory is better than a chimp.
  • A letter sequence puzzle that children may perform better at than adults.
  • A missing money puzzle that will delight and confabulate your friends.
  • A question asking how many folds will a piece of paper require to be as thick as the universe- find out the surprising answer!

I will continue this blog and its sporadic and more detailed, unabridged entries but be sure to check out A Puzzle a Day here:


The World’s Greatest Literary Quotes

literary quotes pic

I present a selection of my personal favourite quotes that I’ve been lucky enough to encounter across my life. I should stipulate that when it comes to quotes, they are often wrongly attributed, paraphrased or mistranslated but nonetheless, I have attempted to portray these quotes as accurately as possible. The quotes are ordered alphabetically by the supposed authors’ surname.


“Give me but a firm spot on which to stand, and I shall move the earth.” – Archimedes


“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle


“I’d been painting rats for three years before someone said ‘that’s clever it’s an anagram of art’ and I had to pretend I’d known that all along.” – Banksy


“The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules. It’s people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages.” – Banksy


“An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” – Niels Bohr


“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” – Albert Camus


“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” – Albert Camus


“When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him; and you are torn by the thought of the unhappiness and night you cast, by the mere fact of living, in the hearts you encounter.” – Albert Camus


“An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself.” – Albert Camus


“The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.” – Albert Camus


“It’s a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn’t want to hear.” – Dick Cavett 


“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” – Roald Dahl


“The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot.” – Salvador Dali


“The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky


“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank


“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” – Paulo Freire


“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.” – Greek proverb


“It was like when you make a move in chess and just as you take your finger off the piece, you see the mistake you’ve made, and there’s this panic because you don’t know yet the scale of disaster you’ve left yourself open to.” – Kazuo Ishiguro


“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!” – Soren Kierkegaard


“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same.” – Rudyard Kipling


“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.” – Stanislaw Jerzy Lec


“The Perfect Way is only difficult for those who pick and choose; Do not like, do not dislike; all will then be clear. Make a hairbreadth difference, and Heaven and Earth are set apart; If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between ‘for’ and ‘against’ is the mind’s worst disease.” – Bruce Lee


“Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.” – Vladimir Nabokov


“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” – Azar Nafisi


“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” – Friedrich Nietzsche


“When a hundred men stand together, each of them loses his mind and gets another one.” – Friedrich Nietzsche


“Please, don’t destroy people’s lies, their illusions, because if you destroy their illusions they will not be able to live at all; they will collapse.” – Friedrich Nietzsche


“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin


“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” – Pablo Picasso


“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” – Pablo Picasso


“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.” – Ayn Rand


“Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.” – Ayn Rand


“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” – J. K. Rowling


“There will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” – J. K. Rowling


“I am always saying “Glad to’ve met you” to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.” – J. D. Salinger


“Do you think that I count the days? There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.” – Jean-Paul Sartre


“Freedom is what we do with what is done to us.” – Jean-Paul Sartre


“Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.” – Jean-Paul Sartre


“If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company.” – Jean-Paul Sartre


“Everything has been figured out, except how to live.” – Jean-Paul Sartre


“It’s the well-behaved children that make the most formidable revolutionaries. They don’t say a word, they don’t hide under the table, they eat only one piece of chocolate at a time. But later on, they make society pay dearly.” – Jean-Paul Sartre


“I am no longer sure of anything. If I satiate my desires, I sin but I deliver myself from them; if I refuse to satisfy them, they infect the whole soul.” – Jean-Paul Sartre


“Who steals my purse steals trash…But he that filches from me my good name, Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.” – William Shakespeare


“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw


“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn      


“You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything he’s no longer in your power — he’s free again.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau


“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy


“I think… if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.” – Leo Tolstoy


“You are to yourself what your thoughts are, you are to others what your actions are.” – Unknown


“Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon; no matter how good you are at chess the pigeon is just going to knock over the pieces, crap on the board and strut around like it’s victorious.” – Unknown


“You’re a ghost driving a meat-coated skeleton made from stardust, riding a rock, hurtling through space. Fear nothing.” – Unknown


“To turn an F grade into a B grade only takes a bit of ingenuity, hard work, penmanship and the hand-eye coordination to curve the F into a B.” – Unknown


“Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.” – Unknown


“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” – Voltaire


“Worry is a misuse of imagination.” – Dan Zadra


“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.” – Carlos Ruiz Zafón