When I stop loving her it will open the floodgates of resentment.
– Owen Morris
Every so often I’ll get an anonymous email out of the blue with a PDF or other such attachment, and some brief explanation of what it is I’m looking at; the sender is always careful to cover his identity, and in each case the account from which the correspondence originated is a temporary one which is deleted as soon as the source is sure that I’ve got what he sent and understand what it is. It’s happened three times so far; the first two were in the summer of last year, and I shared the revelations they contained in the columns “Tangled Web” and “Show and Tell”. But this time was different: though the first two exposed hidden information on people I do not like, this time it involved someone I like very much. At first, I had no idea what I was looking at; the sender was even more reticent than in the previous cases, and promised only that I would find the attachment “interesting”. But as I scanned down the first page, the name “Brooke” leaped out at me and I realized I was reading an excerpt from the diary of Mr. George Owen Morris, ex-boyfriend of my friend Brooke Magnanti, who is currently suing her for libel and defamation of character. A quick search for passages she has previously shared on her own blog (he gave her a copy of the diary in 2005) confirmed that this was indeed the same document.
Obviously, I was not about to publish the thing or even read any further (just what I had already seen on the first page felt uncomfortably like spying on her) without asking her how she felt about it; she replied “I’m a bit at a loss to explain how it came out, but I think if I trust anyone to comment on it, it’s you…When he gave it to me in 2005 it was specifically because he wanted me to read it, so it can hardly be considered ‘confidential’ now can it.” I suspect my informant is someone inside some solicitor’s office, or perhaps at the Daily Mail (which has given Mr. Morris a platform for his bizarre allegations), but it hardly matters; what is important is the rather unflattering picture it paints of its author. Now, there are a few important points to consider before we go any further. First, I cannot be sure how much of the original text this represents; it is forty-six pages long and covers the period from late August to mid-December, 2004, but starts and ends so abruptly it seems likely to be a fragment of a longer work. Second, the document was provided to me as a PDF composed of a series of what are obviously optical scans of typewritten or printed pages upon which the font changes a number of times; though Morris does make reference at one point to typing the diary, I do not actually know that all of the original was typed. Furthermore, since I suspect most people are pretty careless about spelling and grammar in personal writing, I will correct any mistakes in the excerpts I include. Third, though this was ostensibly a private diary, Morris apparently entertained plans to publish it or otherwise make the material known even while writing it, so everything must be viewed with that in mind.
I’ve uploaded the entire excerpt, so you can read it if you like; however, there are only a few points that I think are of major importance with regard to the ridiculous claims Morris makes in his lawsuit. The first and most astonishing of these is the allegation that Brooke was never actually an escort, that she merely made it all up for her blog and books, and that he would “never knowingly sleep with a prostitute”. But the diary makes it abundantly clear that not only was he knowingly sleeping with one (“she said that I would always think of her as a whore, I tried to tell her I didn’t but deep down was again upset by her escorting”), but that the thought was making him crazy enough to spy on her and actually go through her trash looking for used condoms:
Took her to work and came back to do the horrible check, still really surprised to feel so nervous and sick. The two…condoms from the handbag were back in the box, I was so happy! But I checked again and found that three of the ones that were in the box were gone. Went to the rubbish and found one unopened one!?? What does this mean. Missing condoms surely mean she is having johns but not if they are turning up opened. On her table I found a bank slip dated the 28th. It showed that a Jason had met her [and] paid her 400 pounds…
When he first made the incredible statements to the Mail at the beginning of August I was at a loss to understand what he might be thinking, but having read the diary I now realize that this might be the end result of a decade of rationalizations which were clearly well underway by the summer of 2004. It is certainly possible that Morris eventually convinced himself of its truth just as “survivors” convince themselves of the verity of their outlandish tales, but it is equally possible that it is merely a poorly-considered plan for the revenge he admits to contemplating against her and another of her boyfriends:
I had got myself quite worked up over Brooke…and was thinking about when and how I would drop them both in it. Not if, but when. And I realized that the press turning up to see Nick could be quite a subtle revenge. If he doesn’t realize she has written about him it could be quite a shock…
Another thing the diary makes clear is that the other major allegation of Morris’ suit – that his known association with an infamous harlot ruined his career and has somehow kept him from gainful employment since – is merely the latest and most extreme manifestation of a pattern of blaming Brooke for his troubles which permeates the diary. Now, I am not by any means suggesting that Brooke was not partially to blame for the collapse of their relationship, but as the saying goes it takes two to tango; Morris repeatedly depicts himself as a blameless martyr under the spell of the “schizophrenic” and “autistic” Brooke, and as a virile, wise paladin sought by many women who could surely solve all of her problems if she would only give herself completely to him. He also states, “she complains that I have no job when she herself lost me my previous two”, but does not explain how this was supposed to have occurred other than a later allusion to arguments on the phone that he appears to have conducted without leaving the office.
I’m not sure what light his pronounced tendency for projection might shed upon the current proceedings; he repeatedly accuses her of jealousy, spying and refusing to accept responsibility for her own problems…while at the same time admitting to jealousy and spying and blaming her for all of his problems. And then there are the hints at a violent temper: “it was a dangerous game to play me off against Nick, people would get hurt” and “The fact that she began to double-lock the door for the first time…indicates…she really doesn’t know me; does she really think I couldn’t smash my way in?!”
But the most striking character flaw which the diary revealed to me was Morris’ disturbing tendency to keep a mental balance sheet in which he apparently kept track of not only how many favors each performed for the other, but how much money each spent. Now, I understand that many younger people have been raised with the rather odd idea that women should pay equally or at least semi-equally in relationships, but this goes far beyond that; from the first page to the last disturbingly exact sums of money are mentioned over and over and over again, interspersed with much-too-descriptive accounts of the great sex he was getting from her for free even though (as we have established) he knew she was an escort. And I can’t help but link this in my mind to the absurd sum for which he has asked in his suit…an amount which, incidentally, is larger than any ever awarded in a Scottish defamation case, ever. I’m not sure what other claims Morris may decide to make as the case progresses over the coming months, but I’m glad my mystery correspondent has enabled me to ensure that a refutation of it from Morris’ own pen is readily available on a server residing outside the reach of Britain’s daffy libel laws.