We are pleased to publish Part Three of the memories of Roger Perry – memories of now more than half-a-century ago – of his days at Fleetway Publications working on Girl and Eagle…
Aahhh yes, 1964…
It was during this unusual year that a good number of notable events had taken place. On a personal level, I’d found and made friends with a strange animated 20-year-old, Maxwell Frank Clifford, whose hobby of swimming had very much dovetailed into my own (and so several of our lunch-hours during that year had been immersed in the watery environment at the Oasis recreational centre, as related in Part Two).
Dan Lloyd’s UFO Connections
There were new friendships, or rather, working relationships, for Dan Lloyd, the Chief Sub Editor for Eagle, too, who occupied an office just two doors down the corridor from my own at 96 Long Acre. He was to suddenly become exposed to two rather curious individuals, for whom the paranormal was part of their everyday life. The first of this ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ pair was the middle-aged Margaret (Madge) Harman and the second was another staff member, the unassuming but, as it would turn out, distinctly unusual Waveney Girvan.
Lloyd’s involvement into the unknown came about after the entire Juvenile Publications staff were forcibly relocated from the Hulton House Annex building in November 1963 and over to 96 Long Acre. For reasons never entirely explained, Madge (who had been someone entirely new to appear on the scene and had not in any way, shape or form been connected to the magazines of Eagle, Girl or any other of the original Marcus Morris creations) had suddenly been given desk space in an office already occupied by Chief Sub-Editor Dan Lloyd and Eagle designer Brian (Benny) Green. But interestingly – for Dan, as it turned out – Madge Harman, an ex-World War Two ambulance driver who had broken both ankles whilst crashing her vehicle in North Africa, was also a closet ‘psychic’.
Her extraordinary sixth sense had come to light fairly early on, when one of Lloyd’s drinking pals, his flat mate Peter Henderson, called into the office late one morning to find out if Dan was going to be free for lunch. (In those days, Lloyd had regularly met up with five other friends from all walks of life, including Peter, in order that they might sink a pint or two while putting the world to rights).
In introducing Madge to his flatmate, as they’d shaken hands she’d suddenly gone very quiet… and then, in a disheartened voice, had murmured: “Oh dear, you’ve had some bad news this morning… I am so sorry…”
Lloyd had absolutely no idea what on earth Madge was talking about; but within seconds, Peter revealed that just that morning, he’d received a letter from his fiancée in Paris with news that she was breaking off their engagement. The letter had been tucked away in Henderson’s inside jacket pocket.
Madge had been employed as a secretary to Waveney Girvan, of whom Charles Bowen (a freelance author contributing articles to both Boys’ World and The Flying Saucer Review, and who would become the latter’s editor) had spoken of as being a chartered accountant; a distinguished author; a successful publisher; the founder and chairman of the West Country Writers’ Association; the literary executor to the estate of author and poet Eden Phillpotts; an inventor; and rather more latterly, a top executive of a great publishing house.
Waveney was also – much like Madge Harman – a psychic and had been allocated an office just four doors down the long corridor from where Dan, Benny and Madge were located.
Waveney hadn’t actually been entirely new to us – at least, not to those working on Girl magazine. While still being housed inside the Hulton House Annex between November 1961 and November 1963, faced with on-going ‘interference’ by the higher-echelon of the Mirror Group’s own comics division, the staff of Juvenile Publications (this being Eagle et al) had done their best to ignore a both unnerving and unpleasant state of affairs. Most of the staff decided it was advisable (albeit perhaps privately) to keep one’s head down, speak to no-one you didn’t know, and just get on with the job you’d been given.
It was into this unsettling environment that Waveney had first arrived. Being a relatively quiet and unassuming new boy himself, he had been allocated a small, obscure office to the rear of one being occupied by the editorial staff of Girl magazine. In that medium-sized room, there had been Chief Sub-Editor Shirley Dean, Sub-Editors Anne Littlefield and Linda Wheway, and yours truly.
Waveney’s comings and goings from that back room had – for at least a year – been acknowledged with little more than a Good Morning or a Good Night. Given his quiet unobtrusive manner, his austere attire of black jacket, striped trousers of narrow grey and black stripes, his neatly rolled umbrella, all topped off with a bowler hat, plus the fact that he often only appeared once or twice a week anyway – well, he was not someone who one really wanted to know too much about.
It had been generally assumed that he’d had something to do with accountancy, and it was only when Juvenile Publications had forcibly been relocated to the old Daily Herald building in Long Acre – and with Waveney having been relocated along with everyone else – that he began to be accepted as not being a spy from the dreaded Daily Mirror camp after all. It was also becoming clearer – through Madge – that Waveny had been one of the original pioneers (and was now the editor of) an outlandish magazine called The Flying Saucer Review.
During the early part of 1964, through a mixture of visits by Charles Bowen, plus the flow of conversations and information passing between secretary Madge and boss Waveney, Dan Lloyd’s interest in the paranormal was steadily rising. He not only became well-acquainted with the current editor of Flying Saucer Review, but when he went off on holiday, he had taken Girvan’s book, Flying Saucers and Common Sense, written some nine years earlier, with him, in which Girvan assessed the evidence for flying saucers and attempted to counter the claims of sceptics also looking at the attitudes of governments.
Part way through this book – in Chapter Four – Lloyd had suddenly been brought up with a start; for that chapter included a personal letter written by Earl Mountbatten in 1950 and one that had been sent to the editor of the Sunday Dispatch. Waveney had made comment that this letter had followed an earlier article concerning an increased wave of UFO sightings in America, particularly of one seen over the town of Orangeburg:
These extraordinary things have now been seen in almost every part of the world – Scandinavia, North America, South America, Central Europe, etc. Reports are always appearing and the newspapers generally try to ridicule them. As a result it is difficult for any seriously interested person to find out very much about them. I should therefore like to congratulate you on having had both the intelligence (and, incidentally, the courage) to print the first serious helpful article which I have read on the Flying Saucers. I have read most other accounts up to date, and can candidly say yours interested me the most.
However, what the book hadn’t divulged was that the Sunday Dispatch’s editor, Charles Eade and Mountbatten had already been firm friends anyway, with Eade having served as Mountbatten’s Press Liaison Officer during World War Two. The book also hadn’t offered any reason as to why Dan Lloyd should have been brought up with such a start… for the simple reason that the author had known absolutely nothing about who else had been involved in typing the letter out and then sending it off!
Dan could hardly wait to return to his place of work so that he could confirm this story – because it had been to Dan Lloyd, who, as a 19-year-old stenographer stationed aboard HMS Liverpool that Mountbatten had dictated the original letter all those years ago.
Astounded, Girvan quickly bore Lloyd off to his club near to Whitehall where he found himself obliged to make a hasty, impromptu talk in front of a large gathering of dedicated followers and believers, and where he was able to verify Girvan’s claim over Lord Mountbatten’s interest in the whole flying saucer question.
My own experiences of working with Girvan were of a more practical bent, but short-lived, as it turned out.
During July and August and before going on holiday, I’d had had several in-depth discussions on how to construct a “Maltese Cross” gear mechanism (it is also known as the Geneva Drive). Essentially, it’s a device commonly used in the advancement of 35mm movie film in professional cinema projectors. Apart from his interest in flying saucers, Girvan also had the talent to “invent” things by first dreaming about them while he slept; and then, on waking the next morning, had set about in trying to bring that dreamt invention into fruition. His credits as an inventor had included a series of patents for improved methods of uniting the ends of metal band straps and making pipe joints. This latter claim is still something of a mystery to me, but I dare say that there are some out there who would know exactly what is meant by it all.
Girvan’s latest invention had been a method of projecting perfect 3D pictures onto a screen without having to use specially-made three-dimensional glasses. To prove his theory, Girvan had purchased two 35mm slide projectors and a “ViewMaster” reel – this latter item consisting of a thin, circular cardboard disk that had seven pairs of stereoscopic pictures. The one Girvan had chosen had scenes from Walt Disney’s version of Alice in Wonderland.
The procedure was simple enough. The two projectors were positioned side-by-side and close enough so that a spinning disc could be positioned in front of the two lenses. The circular disc had been fashioned with part of its surface missing. As it spun, it prevented the light-beam of either one projector or the other from reaching the screen. The system worked perfectly… but unfortunately, to create the three-dimensional illusion, the precise speed of the spinning disc had to be 17 revolutions per second – resulting in 34 frames per second – and this hadn’t tied in with either the standard 24 frames per second (as used in the projection of professional cinema film) or the 25 frames per second as used in transmitting television pictures – to fit in with the UK’s standard frequency of 50 cycles per second where each frame is scanned and transmitted twice.
His thoughts (and mine) were that by using such a device, the alternate frames (representing first the left eye and then the right eye) could be captured by a single movie camera but one that had two lenses two-and-a-half-inches apart (thus maintaining the stereoscopy effect). The result would be a single length of movie film and it could be shown on a single-lens film projector… it was the awkward 34-frames per second that had needed to be resolved.
Sadly, no further such discussions were to take place. Following my own two-week break during late September, several weeks had passed by before I came to the conclusion that I hadn’t seen Waveney for quite some time – but then, days would often pass when he just hadn’t appeared in his office anyway. It was Bert Fielder – the studio’s in-house artist – who’d informed me that he had died… “Probably while you were still on holiday,” he blithely commented.
As I related in my profile of Dan Lloyd for Bear Alley in 2013, despite Bert’s suggestion, Girvan actually died on 22nd October 1964. Given his claimed psychic powers, perhaps he had known that the end was near, for whenever Madge had gone into his office, not only did he hide his hands by placing them onto his lap under the desk, but on passing something to her, he never allowed Harman to have any physical contact with him.
With the sudden death of Waveny, despite being in such close proximity to Dan Lloyd’s office, I was totally unaware of the turmoil that was being generated over the editorship of “The Flying Saucer Review”.
The following excerpt is taken from Part Eleven of an extensive Twelve-Part series published by Steve Holland’s Bear Alley website, of which Part One began on Monday, 14th October, 2013 and had been entitled “The Men Behind the Flying Saucer Review”. Although originally written by me, this is how Charles Bowen recounted the events of that summer:
Last August it became increasingly apparent that Waveney was a sick man. When I returned from holiday last September, his seat in the train was empty: the journey was strangely quiet and lonely. I shall always treasure the memories of those evenings in the train.
… I thought he was exhausted by the way he had thrown himself wholeheartedly into his work, his other projects, and the editing of the Review – a single-handed marathon for the best part of five years! . . . but that turned out to be wishful thinking. For all who knew and loved Waveney Girvan, the world seemed an empty place on the morning of the 22nd October, 1964.
He died at The Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, aged 56. He was survived by his wife Barbara Newman Girvan (nee Cann), whom he married in Newton Abbot, Devon, in 1936. They had a son, Ian A. Girvan, born in 1938, who later co-authored a number of books with Margaret Royal, including True Stories of the Ghosts of Bath (1974), Local Ghosts: True Stories, Odd Happenings (1976) Bristol Ghosts and their Neighbours (1977).
Charles Bowen recalled Girvan in a Flying Saucer Review obituary (v. 10 no. 6, November – December 1964)
Waveney was wonderful company: an extremely intelligent man with a restless, inquiring mind; a man of infinite charm and sparkling wit, yet relentless in the pursuit of truth; a gentle man, not lacking in patience, yet impatient of bumbledom and mediocrity where better could be expected…
For me, the drudgery of London commuting vanished from the time I met Waveney Girvan.
With that same issue, Charles Bowen assumed the role of acting editor of the paper and subsequently was confirmed as editor. Waveney Girvan’s secretary Madge Harman was not backwards in announcing that she favoured the appointment of Reginald Dutta as Flying Saucer Review’s fourth editor. With Bowen’s confirmed appointment, she decided to have nothing more to do with FSR.
The Singularly Unlucky Bert Fielder
Bert Fielder was not what one might call a lucky man. When he’d been called up during World War Two, having first been kitted out and then completing his preliminary basic training, Bert had been airlifted over to Normandy. Within half-an-hour of placing feet onto French soil, he’d been captured and had spent the remaining four years of the war in a Prisoner of War camp… such was his luck. The effects of his war experiences had shown, for at just 45 years old, he’d had stark white straight hair thus giving a much older appearance.
Bert lived in Surbiton with his wife Olive and their one (unnamed) son, and during 1963 Surbiton Council had sent a printed circular out to every house on the road in which Bert had lived informing residents that commencing on such-and-such-a-date, a gang of council workers would methodically work their way down, and those houses where there had been an erected garage, the kerbstones would be lowered thus making access onto the property that much easier – it was not free, but instead of the usual fee of £28, the charge per dwelling would be reduced to just £14. Well Bert did have a garage, but he had no car. He had never learnt to drive anyway and had felt that he really couldn’t afford it and so had turned the magnanimous offer down.
Over the following weeks, Bert would arrive in the morning and give all who were interested an update on what was happening. About two weeks later, the council workforce had reached Bert’s house, and without any preamble, had set about to lower the kerbstones leading to his garage. The gang had said nothing, and in turn, Bert had said nothing assuming that while they were there, it’d be best just to get on with it.
A month later, the bill came thudding onto Bert’s doormat, and he immediately got on to the council saying that if they would care to check their records, they would see that on the returned form, he had declined their kind offer.
One week later, another gang of council workers turned up at Bert’s house… and had raised the kerbstones back up to where they once had been.
Pictures at the Palais – Wimbeldon Palais, that is…
Apart from having learnt of the sudden demise of poor old Waveney Girvan, I would have to admit that life for me had become a good deal more interesting and at times, quite exhilarating too. Lunch times were rather more than just wondering what to do with myself for an hour, and thanks to our closer friendship (plus my growing expertise in photography), at Max’s suggestion, he and I made plans to visit the Wimbledon Palais on a Friday evening in order to capture images of whoever happened to be booked to perform there.
Wimbledon Palais opened in 1922 and boasted the largest sprung floor in Europe, hosting guest live music entertainers, tea-dances, and competitions. By the 1960s, the Palais was also attracting rock and roll acts, including early performances by The Beatles. It closed around 2000 and the property has since been demolished.
My photo shoots weren’t entirely a new venture, as through the pioneering efforts of Sally Brompton (writing her weekly diary in Girl under the auspices of Mandy Brown), she and I had already been involved in photographing other pop-artists – the likes of Mike Sarne and Adam Faith – and I’d also been her regular staff photographer for when venturing out to interview some 14-year-old girl Olympic swimmer (whose name I can no longer recall – mind you, she’d be 64 years old now) and a group of Bertram Mills circus folk, so that we might find out how their offspring got themselves educated due to the fact that the circus as a whole had travelled all over the country and therefore hadn’t remained in any one place for much more than a few days.
There are three very definite areas of expertise in the art of photography. The first is the technical side of which these days – what with the huge advancements in technology – well, let us just say that even an Orang Utan with motor-neuron disease could take a pretty good picture if he knew where the shutter release button was. Secondly, there is the artistic (or more commonly referred to as the composition) side of the skill of which there are certain cardinal rules… and was I a designer or wasn’t I? And then the third, of which there are no books to learn from, for it relies entirely upon the photographer’s own self-confidence (and perhaps his charisma or lack of it). It’s giving his ‘model’ (or ‘models’) firm enough guidance on how he (or they) should pose prior to the shutter being released.
Through lack of this experience, to begin with I had been far too ‘soft’ particularly as I had been placing all these pop-idols onto very high pedestals and had been treating them with kid gloves and as gods when the bottom line was, they were as common as muck… just as I was. But once my belligerence had begun to take over, it was more a case of: Come on you lot, stop pissing me about – I want to get this job over and done with so that I can get on home to my sweetheart-true! … and it was quite amazing how just a tiny bit of authority could make all the difference.
Groups I have photographed down the years include The Kinks, Slade, The Pretty Things and The Moody Blues… and during one Palais shoot, it was this latter group who – nice as they were – had caused me a small amount of extra bother. With their gig over and done with and having captured all the shots I’d wanted, it was then discovered that no-one had had the forethought in organising anything for their transportation home. So it had been left to me to drive them back to their rented accommodation in my Renault 10, which luckily had been roughly in the direction I’d wanted to go in anyway. What was the exact date? I don’t know, but this is what BrumBeat relates:
In May of 1964, the band was rehearsing and performing regularly at Birmingham’s Carlton Ballroom in Erdington and their blue suited act was spotted by London manager Tony Secunda who got the band to perform at London’s famous Marquee Club They also appeared on TV for the first time on the popular show Ready Steady Go!’
Another fine group had been The Animals with Alan Price, originally from Newcastle, whose hit at that time had been The House of the Rising Sun. Well, I flippantly say at that time, but here we are half-a-century later, and it’s still a great hit that continues to receive deserved air time. The resulting images of all these performers were printed in both Girl magazine and, eventually, in a new comic launched later that year called WHAM!
But there’d been one embarrassing moment when photographing a group who were rising fast in their popularity – these had been The Rolling Stones… their name having meant nothing to me at that time.
Normally, I would follow a strict pattern. Max and I would normally get to the Palais a good half-hour early so that we could say Hi to the manager. As the performer(s) tended to be slightly on edge prior to a show, I would wait until they’d completed their stint on stage (and were back and relaxing in their dressing room) before I would even consider trying to set up a photographic session. It was only during those times that I could organise the rather more staged group shots with them, for instance, holding up a copy of Girl or WHAM! and grinning at the camera.
But with the Stones, Max had already warned me that they would arrive via a back door seconds before the start of their show; they would carry out their act; and then with the performance over (and before anyone had realised it), they would disappear out of the back door again into awaiting cars, not to be seen again that night. He said that whatever pictures I needed, these would have to be grabbed while they were ‘on stage’ and with me being on the platform alongside them.
In those days, you have to remember that everything was shot on film – you couldn’t instantly review the photographs you had taken, as you can today. I operated a twin-lens Rolleiflex as the larger 2¼ inch by 2¼ inch format had rendered a far better reproduction when the single image was being printed over the width of two pages (as in the case of Girl’s centre spread). But focusing with that camera wasn’t at all easy for it was really a studio camera and was best used when mounted onto a sturdy tripod. To use the focusing system, not only did one have to look downwards into the view-finder (which was a bit sea-sick-making anyway, but owing to the imaging machination, the picture one saw had been reversed left to right thus bringing about a certain unsteadiness on the part of the operator particularly when trying to follow moving objects – it was a bit like steering a boat, if you want to turn left, you move the helm over to the right.
Under those circumstances, I decided to dispense with that little game; had set the focus for twelve feet; and had relied on something called the sports facility which in essence was not too unlike aiming a rifle using fore and aft sights – the photographer looks through a one centimetre square hole at the camera’s rear and lines it up with the larger 6cm square hole at the front. What could be easier?
Five minutes later and changing what I had believed to be the first set of 12 ‘exposures’ with a fresh roll of film, I was mortified to see that I had not actually removed the camera’s lens caps… meaning that up to now, I’d not captured a darn thing! Had I used the camera’s focusing device, this would have been apparent… but I hadn’t. I just hoped that the audience, screaming away just feet from the stage, had been far too interested in what Mick Jagger and his musical chums were doing rather than worry about anything that Roger Perry was (or wasn’t) physically doing!
One tends to imagine that photographing these groups would have been a pretty easy-peasy exercise… but more often than not, it most certainly wasn’t. As I have said, almost always, the group would turn up just minutes before they were due to go on stage (so therefore it wasn’t prudent to organise anything ‘posed’ beforehand); I would grab shots of them singly or as a group while on stage (not that that was easy either as they were usually so well spaced apart that I couldn’t contain them all into the one shot anyway); and so it had rather meant that I had to get the shots I really wanted after their gig was over.
But do you think I could get them all together in one place? Not on your life. First one would zoom off to the toilet; and then when he was back, another would be discovered as being missing because he’d gone off to go and buy a beer or two. And then when he… Yuch, it’s a wonder I still have hair.
Not only was Max in cahoots with the manager, but the Wimbledon Palais was within walking distance from where his mother and father had lived (and presumably he did too, although I was never ever invited back to their home). We probably visited the Palais a good couple of dozen times or more over the months. But sadly, now the place is no more.
Lighting Disasters at Long Acre
One invaluable piece of equipment we’d had use of at Juvenile Publications was a wee beastie called the Grant Projector (or more lovingly known as The Grant). It stood about 20″ wide by 20″ deep and was something in the region of 42″ from its four casters where it had touched the floor and up to its uppermost ‘height where the quarter-inch-plate viewing glass was located. To assist the operator further, not only did Mr Grant supply a nine-inch-high foot stool so that he could work in relative comfort at the quarter-inch-thick viewing glass , but he had also installed a ‘fold-away pram-hood-type’ affair, for although the wee beastie had been situated away from windows, there was usually a good deal of other ambient light about. With the addition of this ‘shade’, most of the extraneous, unwanted light was reduced down to a minimum, particularly while the operator stood – thus blocking further light intruding – and could then view the projected image.
The photographs I’d taken at the Palais on a Friday were usually developed on a Monday; picked up on a Tuesday; and the design-work carried out on the Wednesday. The Grant came with two lenses – a standard focal length for viewing artwork (or photographs) where the range of enlargement or reduction could be anything between a high of 300 per cent and down to 30 per cent, but by using this second lens, its alternative focal length meant that 35mm colour transparencies could be enlarged up to 1,500 per cent or even higher if the need be.
It was on this Wednesday that I had wanted to enlarge the transparency I’d taken of The Pretty Things (who in my opinion hadn’t been in any way, shape or form, pretty). It was lunch-time; I’d decided to work through, and I’d had all the necessary things to work with while I took up residence within the confines of the Grant Projector. Being tucked up nicely inside the darkened restrictions of the ‘pram-hood’, I cannot really say as to whose idea it had really been… but I could hazard a guess.
On entering the Art Room with my accumulated bits, I noted that there were others who had also decided not to go out. Balloon-lettering-artist Roger Barndon had been there along with ‘long-standing’ Office Boy Tom Byrne (an obliging lad in his twenties of whom Bert Fielder had once observed was the oldest office boy in London) and another fairly new addition to the Office Boy staff – one Graham Marsh.
Graham was a tall willowy fair-haired lad with a ‘D-A’ hair-cut and shoes with the thickest crepe soles I’d ever seen… thus making Graham even taller by at least another two inches. As I’d arrived, all three had seemed content in doing little more than twiddle thumbs and idle away their time with non-absorbing conversation.
It must have been the noise that first had attracted my attention. As I withdrew from the confines of the ‘pram-hood’, I noted the three lads had got involved in a game of ‘catch’, and the ball… well, to me it had looked remarkably like a bundle of Robin comics all tied up with thick and hairy off-white string!
By way of setting the scene, at the far end of a long narrow alleyway running off Fleet Street and sandwiched between Hulton House and the Midland Bank, Eric Bemrose, the Liverpool-based printer of Eagle, Girl, Swift and Robin, had a small London office. A little before lunch on each Wednesday, the Bemrose courier delivered four bundles of advanced issues and these were placed onto the Office Boys’ long counter-cum-work-surface. It was also on this counter where copies of the four latest editions were on display as were the more recent back-numbers – for issues going further back, these could be found on the shelves beneath the work-surface.
It was an un-written law that no-one (apart from the Office Boys themselves) had the authority to hack through the off-white, thick, hairy string. For the distribution of these advanced issues, it had been the Boys sole responsibility, and only when everyone had returned back from lunch did any of us have the chance to gloat (or commiserate) over those ideas and designs we created some four weeks earlier.
With every throw, the manic activity had increased. The trick was to get the bundle to land inconveniently amongst the ill-placed desks and chairs. When it came to Roger Bardon’s turn – Roger being rather small in stature and with dark, straight hair – he’d spun on his heel, and with his back to Tom, had tossed the bundle over his head in a blind throw – now that hadn’t been such a good idea either.
The Art Room – as with all the other offices at 96 Long Acre – had been illuminated using eight banks of four four-foot-long fluorescent light tubes inside highly-reflective metal troughs. Each unit had been hung by two restraining chains from the overhead ceiling, and in turn were held in place by fairly hefty purpose-made hooks. They’d produced a good light and the units certainly hadn’t come cheap.
The chunky bundle hit one gang with such a wallop (slightly aft of amidships) that caused one chain to become ‘un-hooked’. The longer end (now-free) had swung down narrowly missing Roger’s right shoulder while the shorter section had sped upwards in a correspondingly direct proportion. Unfortunately, before the free end had reached its nadir point, the restrained shorter end had found itself well-and-truly jammed up against the ceiling… and it hadn’t liked that one little bit.
With this unexpected leverage, the second chain was yanked out of the ceiling’s joist and the unit had suddenly become totally free. The electric cabling then finding itself under unbelievable strain had protested wildly by offering a pyrotechnical display of sparks and flashes before the entire apparatus made a bee-line for the Art Room floor. Within milliseconds, what had once been ‘pure and simple artificial daylight’ had incredibly become a carpet of thin, slightly-curved pieces of white opaque glass – about 18-billion shards of the stuff. I still ponder to this day which, out of the two, had appeared to be the more shattered – the once fluorescent lighting device… or Roger Barndon. I learnt a year or two later that Barndon had become a prison officer at Wandsworth Jail but rather think that the incident in the Art Room had had little to do with it.
The End of Girl, the debut of WHAM! – and an unexpected Red-Coat…
Although editor Margaret Pride, Sally Brompton, Shirley Dean – and all those others who had contributed so magnificently to producing Girl – had done their best, in August (and dated 3rd October 1964) the very last issue of the title had been sent off to press. Plans for its amalgamation with Princess (a Fleetway magazine) were on the cards. Sally, who had been regularly filling Mandy Brown’s Diary Page had successfully secured a position at The Mail on Sunday as one of their junior investigative reporters. In later years – and having learnt the craft from Patric Walker during the 1990s – she became the Mail On Sunday’s astrologer. Margaret Pride sort of disappeared and presumably she’d gone back to Fleetway with the intention of working on the merged title.
To help make up for the loss of Girl and Boys’ World (for due to the poor circulation figures, it had become merged with Eagle), Lancashire-born artist Leo Baxendale – best known as the creator of Beano characters such as Little Plum and The Bash Street Kids – was brought onto the staff and was placed into an office right next door to one where John Jackson and John Kingsford had sat. Perhaps Jackson had felt he needed to be close-at-hand, as following a notification by Baxendale announcing that he was looking for a change from the rigors of D C Thomson’s, John had shot up north in great haste (before anyone else had had the chance to snap him up) with offers of work on the forthcoming publications of WHAM!, Smash! and POW! Magazines.
Yes, the Reverend Marcus Morris’s original vision of having quality magazines with a loose thread of Christianity running through their pages was slipping further and further away into oblivion.
Situated in between my own office in which I had worked alongside Shirley, Anne and Linda, and to the one in which Dan Lloyd was billeted, there was another that had been occupied by those who had been producing Boys’ World. Albert Cosser had been the Chief Sub-editor but now that that was being merged with Eagle, Cos, and the two Sub-editors, Brian Woodford and Chris Spencer now found themselves at a bit of a loose end, although thoughts were being turned towards the launching of three new comic-cuts papers – WHAM!, Smash! and POW!. To assist them in their quest, Cos (along with one of his artist chums) had sloped off to Butlin’s Holiday Camp in Brighton for a few days, the reason being that each year, Butlin’s had hosted A Cartoonists’ Convention where there could have been a good source of new artistic talent.
Whether Cos had achieved his goal of finding cartoonists for the three new papers I really cannot say… but he was certainly pretty ecstatic over what he did find – for he had brought back from Brighton one of Butlin’s Red-Coats. I was not privy to the whys and wherefores of what happened next, apart from saying that he became separated (or divorced) from his first wife; they found themselves a small apartment (or a set of rooms somewhere); and nine months later, the Red-Coat had given birth to a fine bouncing baby.
Far be it for me to make any comment; the Red-Coat was indeed a very attractive-looking girl; going by Brian Woodford, the life Cos had led was somewhat easy-going to the point of being lackadaisical; and when Cos and Red-Coat had wanted to go out for the evening to the pub, for a cot, they had simply placed the new-born-child into one of the dresser’s two top drawers.
These were the days when girls also did things to their hair. Linda Wheway back-combed hers and came to the office with a top-not that any Grenadier Guard would have been proud of; Bart’s secretary Silvia White had bleached hers so many times that it was beginning to fall out in great clumps; and Red-Coat had sprayed on some sort of powdery stuff that when she moved violently, great clouds of the decorative matter – plus some applied sparkly bits – had fallen onto the floor.
A Testing Experience
In his own effort to come up with new and exciting ideas, Editor of Eagle Bob Bartholomew had thought (perhaps) that by putting together a feature on the Advanced Driving Test, that he might just increase the circulation figures by a few thousand – perhaps even by a few hundred thousand! For some odd reason I had it in the back of my mind that he’d had to get permission from someone ‘higher-up’… but then, maybe he didn’t. Anyway, during one afternoon, Barry Cork (editor of Robin) had popped his head around the office door requesting that tomorrow, I bring my cameras plus some means of portable recording equipment.
The test itself was carried out professionally by a examiner from the British School of Motoring, a branch of which had been situated in west of London’s sub-district of Shepherds Bush. I suppose Bart (or his secretary Silvia White) had made all the arrangements the day before, for it was to the BSM where Bart, Barry (who was proposing to write the article) and me (armed with camera and a tape recording machine) had all met up.
But not all the arrangements had been made totally clear, for the Examiner hadn’t been at all pleased about the idea, particularly as usually a test takes place with just the Driver and Examiner and without all the riff-raff listening in from the back seat. With the Examiner already in a bit of a huff, we’d all trooped off to the spot where ‘Bart’ had parked his car.
I have to say that I was a little disappointed by his choice of vehicle… after all, the war had been over for more than sixteen years by now. As Barry and I climbed into the back, the seat cushioning had expelled a cloud of accumulated dust – probably forty-years-worth – this having been accompanied by that familiar aroma old cars get which can only be a concoction of cigarette ash, old toffee papers, stagnant oil drippings, and about a thousand hot and sweaty backsides.
But what was really worrying me, was that my own backside had ended up virtually level with the car’s chassis. The reason for this quickly came to mind. ‘Bart’ was, of course, an ex-Fleetway man, and at some point, either George Allen or Leonard Matthews must have offered ‘Bart’ advice regarding the removal of springing from items of upholstery.
As I recall, the test itself wasn’t enormously different in structure to the standard driving examination that I myself had taken just a year or two earlier – it’s just that everything has to be done with much greater perfection, and there was also a greater degree of complexity also. For example, in the standard test, the driver has to do a hill-start, and then in another part of the test, has to reverse around a corner into a side street. In the Advanced Drivers Test, these two manoeuvres were combined so that the hill-start is carried out in reverse gear prior to rounding the corner into a side street… which was also on a hill!
The tape recording came into its own for about five minutes when ‘Bart’ was obliged to supply a spoken commentary of all his thoughts and actions: “Pelican Crossing two hundred yards ahead… Woman with pram about to approach pedestrian crossing from left… De-clutch and change down into third… Breaking gently to reduce speed… Woman now stops to speak to another… Woman delayed so Pelican Crossing now clear…” and so on and so on.
At the end of about one-and-a-quarter-hours, we found ourselves back outside the BSM branch in Shepherds Bush. Sadly, the result hadn’t been favourable, and so the planned article intended for Eagle / Boys’ World never went ahead – a pity, because they really could have lied about the outcome. My own personal view (for what it was worth) was that ‘Bart’ was actually a careful and courteous driver, but may have been too cautious as one of the comments made by the Examiner was that in areas where ‘Bart’ could have driven at 60, he’d kept between 50 and 55 thus in theory holding up other drivers. Basically, he was a good driver… but it was the car – not ‘Bart’ – that had had the nasty habits.
The Mysterious Fate of Peter Stephens
Something else that had become rather worrying at that time had been the antics of Peter Stephens… not that anyone ever really saw him from one week to the next – apart from Max Clifford that is, for the two had shared an office going back several years to when both Stephens and Clifford had first become employed at Juvenile Publications in the early part of 1961.
It was clear at this stage that there was no doubt that Juvenile Publications was over-staffed, and among the “thumb-twiddlers” to my mind were Alfred Wallace, Peter Stephens, Max Clifford and Colin Gibson. I could also add Barry Cork here, but then I have already given details as to how Barry had filled much of his working day. Max Clifford and Peter Stephens had shared an office, and apart from making plans to dig a tunnel under Endell Street for their ultimate escape to freedom, I cannot imagine what else they did to fill their time. I could say that they were almost driven to madness through utter boredom… and I suppose this was proven as being correct in the case of Peter.
Looking back half-a-century, the following little episode isn’t just a case of not remembering all that had happened, but far more the fact that whatever did occur, very few of those involved – Alfred Wallace, Max Clifford and Colin Gibson – had wanted to say very much about it. Perhaps with Peter having been “a Matthews man”, it had been prudent to keep a tight lid on things. So I just left it alone and haven’t asked too many questions.
As I related in Part One, Peter wormed his way in from the Fleetway Publications magazine he’d been working on – School Friend – to very suddenly becoming appointed as Deputy to Managing Editor Clifford Makins. There’d been none of the usual announcements in the standard trade journals (such as The Bookseller and / or Campaign) advertising this prestigious position. And, as it turned out, not only had there been no interview as such for Stephens (for Stephens was already well-known to Matthews and therefore hadn’t needed one), but no other Longacre Press employee had been invited to apply for this highly-esteemed position either. It had been a bald case of fait accompli… Leonard Matthews – the newly-appointed Director of “Fleetway Publications” – had slowly, but surely, been making his presence known.
In a paragraph taken from Eagle Times Summer 2004 issue, ex-Eagle Editor Derek Lord recalled:
“Eventually Clifford felt obliged to step down, attacked on all sides – Matthews and Cudlipp (the ‘puppet’ management of Longacre Press), and undermined by Peter Stephens, a veritable ‘Trojan Horse’ from Fleetway who was ensconced as Deputy Overall Editor, with all the other editors losing their individual offices (to reduce their status) and then had retired into a private room himself. Soon after that he refused to even speak to Clifford at all.”
The day of Peter’s departure from our offices appears to have begun with a telephone call to Managing Editor Alfred Wallace from the manager of that ‘ultra-posh’ car sales dealership in Park Lane. The company mainly handled the selling of Rolls Royces and Bentleys to sheiks, earls and self-appointed dictators. The man in charge had been a tad concerned by the visit of a certain gentleman who had been wearing a “red, orange and white striped Henley Regatta type jacket” and all topped off with a straw boater. Presumably, Peter had given Alf Wallace as a guarantor and he needed to know if he “was on the level”.
Apparently, Peter had spun a lengthy yarn about being in the middle of producing a comic targeted for a North African country (or was it Middle Eastern?) and in order to impress his targeted clients, had pre-warned this top-of-the-range car-salesperson that at short notice, he might need to hire some suitable transportation.
Breaking away from his own thumb-twiddling proficiency – having had a hurried browse through jotted notes on Peter’s desk – it was also becoming clear that the would-be car renter had also booked a certain restaurant in the Kings Road for each and every Wednesday for the coming six months! The restaurant concerned had specialised in the preparation of dishes normally consumed with North African (or was it Middle Eastern?) gastronomy in mind.
Given that there was some element of fraud involved in proceedings, Colin Gibson – another ex-Fleetway man who had been brought in specifically to create “dummies” for any new proposed and up-and-coming magazine – was seconded by Wallace to “go and find the man”.
We later heard that Stephens had been ‘tracked down and detained” by police (together with “several-men-in-white-coats”) at Victoria Main-Line Railway Station. He was never seen or heard of again.
Even though Max Clifford for a good number of years had worked in the same office as Stephens, even he had been very reluctant to offer anything conclusive… but then, Clifford had kept rather a lot of his own interests close to his chest (such as working for EMI since 1962).
Do I hear you go: “Uh… What was that?”
It’s abundantly clear. If you care to browse through Clifford’s semi-autobiographical tome – Max Clifford: Read All About It! – you cannot fail to spot that wedged between pages 120 and 121 – although not physically numbered – there is an eight-page section of good-quality “art-paper” upon which are printed several black and white photographs with others having been in full colour.
The page I am particularly interested in is the very first of these eight “art-pages”… it is right opposite to page 120 where will see a set of four pictures, including one of Max and pop star Donovan, captured sitting upon the handrail of a metal fire escape.
That fire-escape was in fact attached to the western side of the Daily Herald Building (96 Long Acre) and had one wished to go down, you would have discovered that it had led to an area that had at one time been a World War Two bomb site. In the years prior to Juvenile Publications taking up residence at 96 Long Acre in November 1963, enterprising local residents had turned this pile of bricks and rubble into quite an attractive “rockery”. Behind the posing pair on the balcony is north and encompasses the areas of Shaftesbury Avenue, Tottenham Court Road and beyond.
The caption that comes with that photograph says:
“Below. Early days in the music business. Me with 60s pop star Donovan.”
If editor John Freeman hasn’t gone to sleep due to my ramblings (for way back in 1957 when I was still a student attending art collage, I had been reliably told then that when I grew up, if I wasn’t careful, I could probably find myself as being thought of as “The Club Bore”), I would like him to place here a half-page “pop feature”. It comes from Eagle volume 16 Number 22, cover dated 29th May 1965.
Now, as my son Marcus had quite correctly pointed out; just because a picture is printed in a magazine that is dated 29th May 1965, there is no proof that the picture hadn’t been captured one or more years earlier (which Max might like us to believe). That, of course, could be entirely true, but I shall now offer you two quotes that recently have been printed in Eagle Times. The first was published on the Post Bag page in the summer 2015 issue (Volume 28 Number 2):
“It was hardly a shocking revelation that Max Clifford had been employed as a junior sub on WHAM! or that he wrote the pop music feature for Eagle in 1964-5. I had known this since before 1993 when Robert Bartholomew wrote to me about him.
“He [Max] was continually on at me about including pop features… I finally gave in and let him have a corner, with picture, in Smash! Knowing that kids were into pop in a big way, I [also] let him have a half page in Eagle”.
The above was authored by Eagle Times staff member David Gould, and I now place here another of David’s creations – he speaks of fellow balloon-lettering artist Bill Nutthall (Eagle Times Volume 26 No. 1 Page 50):
“Bill thought I rather resembled the singer Donovan, whom he had actually met once on the occasion of Donovan’s visit to 96 Long Acre to be interviewed and photographed for Eagle’s ‘Pop Pick Of The Week’ compiled by Max Clifford.
“Bill had been impressed by how pleasant and unassuming Donavan was.”
This series of pictures was actually captured in March 1965. If you are beginning to feel a little confused, then how about this – for on that same page of high-quality “art-paper”, the portrait to the left and above the Donovan / Clifford shot bears this caption:
Left: My move from journalism to PR happened in October 1962, when I joined EMI’s press office.
I will let that little nugget of Max Clifford ‘spin’ slowly sink in and give you more in Part Four. But, once again, Max appears to be brainwashing us into believing that he had been employed at EMI from October 1962 onwards – I wonder why that is? Anyone not believing now that Maxwell Frank Clifford was not actually fully employed and still working (bumming around) out of The Daily Herald Building right up to and including late March (or perhaps into very early April 1965) needs to have his or her head testing!
My use of the word bumming may bring about some feeling of disapproval, but in a recent email written and sent to me by Brian Woodford (ex-Chief Sub-editor for Boys’ World and WHAM!), he says this:
“I got a chuckle out of the statement that Max was the only one with journalistic experience. Max quite literally couldn’t write his way out of the proverbial paper bag. We allowed him to write some of the caption stuff on the pop stars that filled the back page… but his efforts were pathetic which really underlines my amazement at the success he has had.”
More Pop World Encounters
As we eked our way through into the latter half of 1964, other solo artists Max had been in contact with were now turning up fairly regularly at our offices in Long Acre. Such was my own expertise in pop that many times these artists would suddenly appear in the office and I hadn’t a clue as to who on earth they were. Yes, I had often watched such shows as Ready Steady Go and Duke-Box Jury but I was never one for rushing down to the local music shop so that I might buy Somebody-or-Other’s latest Top-Ten 45 release.
However, there were two who called in that I did recognise. The first of these had been Billy Fury, who turned out to be such a nice guy – which was not at all how he had appeared on the television shows – and the other was Kiki Dee. The next problem I had been facing was that with all these artists coming into the office, I was being very limited to locations – I mean, just how many variations can there be when standing them on The Old Daily Herald’s fire escape?
I can’t recall where we took Billy now (it might have been up onto the flat roof of 96 – but with Kiki – particularly as it had been a fine sunny Autumnal day with the leaves turning to oranges and gold – I’d taken shots of her leaning against a tree with the busy Shaftsbury Avenue traffic thundering by.
After the shoot, she had sat opposite me in a small cramped café and while holding hands over the chipped cream-Formica table-top, she had (personally) crooned me with her You Don’t Know How Glad I Am while we’d supped our hot, sweet afternoon teas.
Not too far away from that café and a stone’s throw from Tin Pan Alley, there’s a small cemetery of which inside the confined grounds had contained perhaps two- or three-dozen gravestones and a tomb or two. A week or two later, it was there that I’d captured images of the rather more sombre The Spencer Davis Group. And why were they so sombre? Well maybe the answer was as to how the group’s name had come about. It would appear that Muff Winwood had come up with the band’s name reasoning that as Spencer was the only one who had enjoyed interviews, then the rest of the band could therefore remain in bed thus leaving him to get on with it.
The band had been formed for only a year (first having been called The Rhythm and Blues Quartet) and it was only later on when they became rather more established particularly with such hits as Somebody Help Me, Keep On Running and Give Me Some Lovin’ that the band had been re-named.
With others, instead of them coming to us, Max and I had had to go to them… such as Joe Brown (now deservedly blessed with an MBE) who, owing to his stage commitment hadn’t been able to find time to come to the Long Acre offices. We’d gone along to the theatre where he was appearing as Buttons in the Pantomime rendition of the fairly tale Cinderella. Up to that time he’d had hits with A Picture of You, Your Tender Look and It Only Took a Minute (1962), and then in 1963, his hits were That’s What Love Will Do. Nature’s Time For Love, Sally Ann and Little Ukulele. The previous year, Brown had also been voted Top UK Vocal Personality in the 1962 NME magazine polls.
The Perils of Hand Lettering
Despite magazines (and people) dying or losing their marbles (Boys’ World, Girl, Swift, Waveney Girvan and Stephens), the underlying mood of Juvenile Publications had oddly been still one of great optimism. WHAM! and Smash had been launched; Baxendale had continued to beaver away producing strips for 90 per cent of its pages; and Graham Allen, who had once been one of Juvenile Publications’ balloon-lettering artists had discovered that he had a talent for emulating Baxendale’s characters and had started to produce pages to fill some of those that Leo hadn’t had the time to do himself.
The Big Art Room – the name having been carried over from the days of Hulton House – had contained amongst others, the half-dozen balloon-lettering artists who laboriously hand-lettered the speeches that emanated out of the mouths of those ‘strip cartoon characters. Those still around in 1964 were Bill Nutthall, Graham Allen (when he wasn’t drawing pages up for WHAM!), Derek Pierson, Bert Fielder and Roger Barndon.
Generally, ‘balloon lettering’ was done by ruling lightly in pencil, line after line after line onto large sheets of sticky-backed art-paper (known as Tacky-Bac). Carefully and meticulously, the letterers printed out the words in black Indian ink roughly matching fairly bland areas the artist had left for them on the artwork. When all the ‘spoken words’ were done, these ‘balloon shapes would be individually cut out from the main sheet, stuck onto the art board making sure that it was not only in the correct place but that the lines were level, and then ‘tails’ running between the ‘balloon’ and the character who was meant to be uttering them were added.
Such balloon-lettering requires precision and a certain amount of concentration, and the art room on this particular day – as it very often was – was quiet. Suddenly, without any preamble, Roger Barndon had given out a wild yelp, had grabbed the piece of art-board he’d been working on, and had rushed off like a mad dervish only to disappear into the Ladies Toilet. I cannot give you an exact account of what happened as I wasn’t there, but it would seem that somehow, Roger had inadvertently knocked over his bottle of Indian ink, and its contents had spread all over the top half of a page intended for WHAM! comic.
The nearest toilet had been the Ladies – the Gents having been one flight down the stairs – and by taking it straight to a washbasin and flooding the board with water, Roger’s quick-thinking had saved the day. The deluge of clean H2O had rid the work of 95 per cent of the Indian ink before it’d had time to dry.
It was with some luck that Leo Baxendale’s original work had also been illustrated in black waterproof ink – and in line only with no grey wash tones – so although the work had ended up by having a certain ‘greyness’ about it, the repro house at Eric Bemrose had done wonders and no-one had been any the wiser.
Pussy Cat Willum and Practical Jokes
At the other end of the long corridor, Shirley Dean and I – together with assistance coming from Anne Littlefield and Linda Wheway – had got our heads down working on another new magazine called Pussy Cat Willum, whereby the type-set text matter had incorporated the use of the government’s recently-devised Initial Teaching Alphabet… which personally I thought had been a load of old bunkum.
Pussy Cat Willum became the star of the Small Time, Rediffusion’s 15-minute slot for the under fives in 1959. The show was an “umbrella programme” for many different children’s shows between 1955 and 1966 including The Adventures of Twizzle, Torchy the Battery Boy and others. The hugely popular puppet character, devised and animated by Janet Nicholls, appeared with musicians Wally Whyton, Bert Weedon and presenters Muriel Young or Liz Shingler down the years, on Small Time and, later, The Five O’Clock Club. Willum not only achieved superstar status, receiving as many as 400 letters per week (more than anyone else who worked for Rediffusion!) but also featured in numerous licensed titles, including books, annuals and, previously, TV Land comic, launched in 1960, which merged with TV Comic along with companion paper TV Express, in January 1962. (There was even, unsurprisingly, a Chad Valley-produced glove puppet).
I.T.A. was a variant of the Latin alphabet that originally had 43 symbols representing various sounds which was then increased to 45. But then it was discovered that any advantage of I.T.A. in making it easier for children to learn to read English was often offset by some not being able to effectively transfer to reading standard English and being generally confused by having to deal with two alphabets in their early years of reading. Neither Pussy Cat Willum magazine (despite the success of the character on TV) nor the I.T.A. had lasted all that long and they too had met an early demise… so perhaps I was right on that one.
All editorial staff (and of course secretaries too) had been allocated their own personal typewriter. On an annual basis, a mechanic would call in and give each machine a general clean and an MOT during which time the typewriter carriage would be easily separated from its main framework of keys. Perhaps it was during one of these visits that Benny Green had been asking too many questions.
What Dan did during his allocated one-hour-break is not entirely known but I believe he often went for a stroll (and whether that stroll had also included a visit to the local public house, I really cannot say)… however, in his absence, Benny had been busy.
On this particular day, Dan had returned to his desk following his lunch-time breath of air, and having settled back in front of the typewriter’s keyboard, had flexed his fingers in readiness for an hour or two’s well-controlled pounding of keys. The words had flowed well, and at the end of the line, his little finger had automatically homed in around the carriage return lever and naturally had offered the carriage a jolly good thrusting over to the right.
Now under normal circumstances, the left-hand margin control would have halted the carriage’s momentum at just the right spot for Dan to start the next line… but unfortunately, during Dan’s street-strolling, Benny had done a certain amount of fiddling to Dan’s machine. Instead of stopping, the carriage continued travelling on; first over-flying that morning’s completed Times crossword puzzle, and then on to exit Dan’s office via a four-foot by four-foot sheet of Mr Pilkington’s finest frosted glass.
The carriage – together with its half-written script – had ended up in the very centre of the corridor amongst a multitude of glassy shards. Editor of Eagle ‘Bart (Dan’s immediate boss) shot out of his office, had stood there utterly speechless, and was obviously not at all impressed!
Roger outlines the downfall of Hulton Press, publishers of Eagle and Girl, office moves for the editorial staff involved and his first forays into the world of British pop music photography…
Roger traces the emergence of Maxwell Frank Clifford…
Roger Perry charts the full career of Dan Lloyd, for many years the chief sub-editor on Eagle, who has for many years been an editor, compiler of crosswords and researcher into the paranormal and now lives in Leatherhead
Steve Holland profiles the key writer for Flying Saucer Review on Bear Alley
• Waveney Girvan Obituary – Flying Saucer Review – by Charles Bowen (PDF)
• Waveney Girvan’s Flying Saucers and Common Sense, published by Frederick Muller Limited, London, 1955 is re-visted here by John Harney
This article on OpenMinds includes links to a PDF of a statement by Frederick Briggs, a retired British Army Sergeant who worked on Mountbatten’s Broadlands estate and who claimed he had witnessed a UFO landing. UFOlogist Nick Pope has some information here, too.
• Earl Mountbatten’s interest is well known to most ufologists and has been widely documented, not least in Philip Ziegler’s 1985 book Mountbatten – The Official Biography
• Bert Fielder is profiled in Eagle Times Volume 28 Number Two
Some of the world’s biggest bands played in Wimbledon during the 60s. David Jamieson takes a look…
“Small Time” was Rediffusion’s 15-minute slot for the under fives, broadcast from 1955 to 1966. As well as airing in London, it was picked up by Anglia and Southern Television and possibly some other regions. The story of Small Time is documented here by Malcolm Batchelor
The Initial Teaching Alphabet was devised to teach young children to read. But many people found it did them no favours in the long run
Our thanks to David Slinn and Shaqui le Vesconte for providing imagery and information in the creation of this feature