Columns

Whose signature is it anyway?

Bev
East

Sunday, February 25, 2018

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A reliable way to identify an authentic signature is to be present at the signing. My column could end here but, as you know, more is required.

I have examined many disputed documents where witnesses have come forward to say that they have seen a document signed when their own signatures were also in question. There is a notarised document sitting on my desk right now as both witness and mortgagee's signature are signed by one person. Pretty stamp around the signature as well. In one matter, the witness had died two months prior to the document being purportedly signed. So sometimes this argument of witnesses authenticating a signature is sometimes not as reliable as one would hope.

I was in London a few weeks ago and while I was there I had a lunch meeting with a lawyer to discuss an unresolved matter of a land issue in Jamaica.

She wanted to meet me at a restaurant off the Edgeware Road as she had another meeting close by after seeing me. It's been years since I had ventured in that part of London. I usually stay south of the river. When I came out of the Edgeware Road Underground Station, I crossed the busy intersection, I looked across the street and I was transformed in time.

There in front of me was Pared Street, not the street that I was having my meeting, but a street where I had spent many late nights and early mornings in a nightclub called the “Q Club” (those smiling at this sentence you're giving your age away). Anyway, there I stood in front of the entrance where I would venture downstairs to a smoke-filled basement club and not surface until it closed at 5:00 am, then catch a cab to Kensington, have breakfast and then headed home. I was transfixed in nostalgia

It was in this very place that I received my first … no not that first, but my first authentic official celebrity signature — none other than the undisputable sex symbol of all-time, Marvin Gaye.

On any given night a celebrity may pop in unannounced in this legendary establishment, some to hear the best music in town and others to perform.

That particular night I looked across the smoke-filled, purple-lit room and there, sitting all alone, was Marvin Gaye; no entourage, no significant other or a string of women flanking him, just him sitting quietly smoking a cigarette and nodding to the music. I nudged my friend and told her who I'd spotted. She carelessly dismissed me and walked towards the DJ. I optimistically walked in the opposite direction towards him. As I got closer my eyes had not deceived me. It really was him.

I stood in front of him ... my heart almost exploding in my chest. I sheepishly said: “Excuse me, Mr Gaye, may I trouble you for your autograph?” He smiled ... that sexual healing smile, and in a soft tone said, “Sure.”

He tapped the seat beside him and said “sit down — I don't want to be rushed”.

I quickly sat down. I could hardly contain myself, then I realised I had no pen or paper. He disregarded my embarrassment and asked me if I wanted a drink, I dared not say I don't drink so I accepted a coke — and with his order of two cokes he asked the waitress for a pen. He pulled the beermat closer to him and scribbled very quickly his name.

I was not even a student of handwriting analysis at the time, but just saw his signature as a piece of paper that I would treasure forever.

He wrote swiftly with an initial stroke on the letter M — smooth lines with a right slant, sharply pointed m. The letter G resembled a treble clef and long downward strokes in the letter y. The last letter in his surname stood alone like a Greek capital e. It was odd to see a capital letter at the end of a surname. A music note at the top of his signature and the year '80' underneath.

I was awestruck. Buzzing in my head was a thousand questions I wanted to ask him: his music, his inspiration, being a part of the Motown magic, who was his favourite female artiste? Tammy Terrell or Diana Ross, etc. But I could hear my mother's voice in the back of my head “Don't outstay your welcome,” so I quickly sipped on my coke, thanked him, shook his soft delicate hand, and reluctantly headed back to my friend with autograph in hand. I was walking on air.

I wanted to kid myself that he was admiring my smooth dark skin of my back and shoulder as I was wearing a backless top, but when I glanced back to check, he was heading out the exit door flanked by two bouncers. I was surprised not at his departure as I had blown his cover, but how small in height he was.

As I witnessed the signing of his signature and know it to be authentic, I wondered what was online and were there similar comparisons. While writing this column for the first time I just did a Google search and the many samples on line are similar to what I have just described.

Mind you, no two signatures can be identical. If they are, then it is sure evidence of simulation. I am never sure why tellers insist on telling the customer “your signature is not the same”, when it cannot be the same every time you sign — but that's a whole other subject to be addressed another time.

Four years later, this brilliant singer/musician of so many hit songs was dead. Ain't A Mountain High Enough, What's Going On? The list is endless. It's hard to believe 34 years later his music and message is as relevant now as it was then.

So what characteristics do you see in your signature that make it unique? Do you underline your name? Is there a full stop after your signature? Does your signature rise above the line? All these traits are familiar to you and you alone. Your signature is as unique as your fingerprint.

Since my first experience meeting Marvin Gaye I have witnessed countless signatures of celebrities, from our great Miss Lou, Grace Jones, Isaac Hayes ... my collection of authenticity is endless. Watch this space; you never know which one I might appear.

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