“Eagle Daze” – Part Two: The Fall of Eagle and the Rise of Max Clifford

Sally Brompton, author of Girl's "Mandy Brown" column, surveys the chaos of "moving day" for Juvenile Publications" in 1963

Sally Brompton, author of Girl’s “Mandy Brown” column, surveys the chaos of “moving day” for Juvenile Publications” in 1963

We are pleased to publish Part Two 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

1963: A New Home brings about a “Cleansing of the Slate”

On Monday, 25th November 1963, the editorial staff of Juvenile Publications very suddenly found themselves in a very different environment.

Although they were still very much within the confines of “Dear Old London Town”, gone was the “newspaper world” of Fleet Street, where their neighbours had once been the giant conglomerates of the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph; gone too were the more sedate machinations of the London Evening Standard and the London Evening News.

Replacing the clackity-clackity-clack of printing machines at 96 Long Acre were the musical incantations of the Drury Lane Opera House, the solemnisations of Bow Street Magistrates Court and the 24 / 7 hustle and bustle of Covent Garden, then a very different place to the retail market it is today. Juvenile Publications were now surrounded by countless stalls selling fruit by the ton, vegetables by the lorry-load and all the while, the damp and steamy fragrances emanating from the Flower Market had continuously permeated the air.
There were also other noticeable (and unique) differences in that area, should one care to seek them out. Within 300 yards of our new home, for example, there was a leisure centre – and a pub that had rather unusual licensing hours.

These were the days, you see, when throughout the land, to be caught having an alcoholic drink outside certain permitted hours had been a chargeable offence, where ‘the-boys-in-blue’ would knock upon pub doors should the saloon not be cleared of customers by five minutes past the official witching time. But Covent Garden had its own rules. If you were crafty enough and knew just where to go, you could find a watering hole in Long Acre where – should you wish to do so – you could consume a quick pint or two while the rest of the world slept. Even at three – or four-o’clock in the morning, there was little fear of a single constabulary eyebrow being raised. Due to the special circumstances of Covent Garden Market, “The Campbell Arms” had been given a special licence to operate (I believe) throughout the whole night.

Fleet Street, 1963 - locations of interest overlaid by Roger Perry on a modern map (via Google).

Fleet Street, 1963 – locations of interest overlaid by Roger Perry on a modern map (via Google).

Sally Brompton's report as "Mandy Brown" on Juvenile Publications office move, in Girl, cover dated 18th January 1964.

Sally Brompton’s report as “Mandy Brown” on Juvenile Publications office move, in Girl, cover dated 18th January 1964.

For the editorial staff of Juvenile Publications, the move from Fleet Street to Long Acre had been somewhat akin to a “cleansing of the slate”. Having moved into the old Daily Herald building, in theory (even if not in absolute fact) the staff had the feeling of now being part of “a brand new team” with the chance of “making a fresh start”. It was as though all those unhappy memories of Hulton House (and those of the Annex) had at long, long last been thrown out of the Reverend Morris’s Stained Glass Window.

We have all seen those “disaster-type-movies” whereby, towards the end of the story, we see “the survivors” as they emerge gingerly from their caves and tunnel systems; they venture out onto the open landscape where they are greeted by beams of life-giving sunlight; the clearing of turbulent dark skies; and the joyous twittering of birdlife. Yes, that was the mood of staff when they’d moved to Long Acre – this was how this change had appeared to them.

We still had with us many of those who’d been transferred from the “Farringdon Road Marionettes Brigade” (i.e. Fleetway Publications), but not only did us “oldies” have the satisfaction of knowing that we were now almost one mile further away from “The Dreaded Tyrant of Fleetway”, but I rather fancy that those “exiled and displaced puppets” who had come with us had been happier also… the “Napoleon Bonaparte Clone”, Leonard Matthews, and the area of jurisdiction he’d presided over was just “no-longer-spoken-of”.

Perhaps you might think I’m biased? I will lift and repeat a piece George Beal had written and of which I had placed in Part One of this series:

“Halfway through 1962, a weekly news magazine in London appeared with its front page fully devoted to a cartoon. It showed the figure of a man in Napoleonic garb [and was] flagged “Napoleon of the Comics”.

“The Farringdon Road Marionettes Brigade” I speak of had included Alfred Wallace (the latest managing editor); Robert Bartholomew (now editor of Eagle and Boys’ World… who, two months earlier in September, 1963 had taken over when the two-year-contract given to Andy Vincent had run its course); Barry Cork (editor of Robin); John Thomas Jackson (art editor); Margaret Pride (editor of Girl); Colin Gibson (new projects designer); Albert Cosser (chief sub-editor of Boys’ World) and Brian Woodford (sub-editor of Boys’ World)… none of them had specifically returned to visit the annuls of Farringdon Road, and as far as I know, no-one from Farringdon Road had ever ventured over in the direction of Long Acre. One reason for this may well be due to something that Leonard Matthews has been quoted as saying:

“They [Juvenile Publications] appeared to be doing all right . . . so I left them alone.”

Really!? Please allow me to momentarily turn the clock back a couple of years.

Eagle‘s Downfall Begins…

Leonard Matthews. Photo courtesy Steve Holland

Leonard Matthews. Photo courtesy Steve Holland

Matthews’ destructive intervention in the creation of some of Britain’s best-known comics began at the meeting he presided over on the afternoon of Tuesday 5th September, 1961 I mentioned previously, flanked by editors George Allen and David Roberts. A meeting that resulted in 50 per cent of the staff – almost all having been senior-management material and being the magazine’s “main structural framework” at that – promptly resigning, wishing to get the hell out of the ensuing nightmare and go elsewhere (while they could still actually get up and walk), It also triggered the downgrading in the quality of both the magazine’s content and the resulting artwork that prompted Charles Pocklington to stand up to Matthews, resulting in him having to “clear his desk and leave by Friday”.

Keith Motts, who had been organising, had adjudicated over and distributed any prizes offered in competitions, was bluntly told that there would be no more, for as Matthews had said: “I don’t believe in them”. I rather think that Keith was all ready to stand up and do battle also, but then, when he saw what had happened to Charlie, had probably felt it best to bite his lip and keep his mouth shut.

Matthews’ continuing directives also homed in on “wasteful spending” and in particular, the subject of Frank Hampson’s “stipend” of £60 a week for doing precisely ‘sod-all’ had been spoken of (although I rather think that he’d chosen a more refined word to the one I’ve just offered).

With everyone stunned into utter silence and the self-appointed ringmaster seemingly having said his piece, the “Mafioso-Trio” had donned their sunglasses, and without a further word, headed purposely out towards the lifts where, ten minutes earlier, Clifford Makins had presumably already cleared his desk and had gone without a single word to anyone.

On the following Monday – 11th September – the first two new faces to arrive (alongside Val Holding) had been John Thomas Jackson – the new Art Editor (and my new boss), thus replacing the heat emanating from Charlie Pocklington’s backside for his own; and Andy Vincent – the new editor for Eagle – who continually hurried around from here to there and back again, flapping his arms about like an agitated penguin who’d mislaid his chick amongst the masses.

Vincent – who wanted a better office – had taken over Charlie’s old room and Jackson – who was unlikely to have said boo to a goose – in turn had taken over the four designers’ “old room”. The four designers and Brian Blake therefore had been turfed out of the room they once had and were now downgraded into “The Big Art Room”, where the office boys used to be (well, they’d been given far too much space anyway!).

There was much disgruntlement.

Changes on the Eagle - despite great art from Keith Watson on "Dan Dare" and the contiuation of "Heros the Spartan" by Frank Bellamy - were not well received by its readers, and sales began to fall.

Changes on the Eagle – despite great art from Keith Watson on “Dan Dare” and the contiuation of “Heros the Spartan” by Frank Bellamy – were not well received by its readers, and sales began to fall.

With the arrival of Andy Vincent and John Jackson, so too came what came to be known as “Fleetway’s Back-log of Old Art Crap”…  but it was to be another five weeks – the normal lead-time between the material going off to press and it being sold on the streets – before it would be seen by Eagle readers. It was, therefore. about six weeks – round about the middle of October – when the figures came in saying that Eagle’s readership had plummeted like the proverbial stone.

Matthews was appalled at this unforeseen reaction – first from the mainstay of Juvenile Publications staff and then secondly from Eagle’s” once-solid and dedicated readership. Realising what an utter pig’s dinner he’d made out of it all, he’d closed his eyes hoping that by keeping a low profile and avoiding Hulton House, the remaining staff might even forget that he had ever been near the place.

Behind the scenes staff on Girl, a feature in the issue cover dated 12th January 1963.

Behind the scenes staff on Girl, a feature in the issue cover dated 12th January 1963.

“The Lost World”, and the Wonder of Letraset

In my own small way – for I too was the “new boy” there (apart, that is, from all the other “new boys” that were now arriving in dribs and drabs out of Fleetway), I caused some fuss, too. Within two weeks, I’d already had the hint of a stand-up argument with the new Art Editor John Thomas Jackson (purposely using his full name of “John Thomas”) and then a few days after that, having had a good reason to have a round of “fisty-cuffs” with Andy Vincent.

As to the first altercation, the three remaining designers – three now, as John Kingsford had already been chosen to become Jackson’s official Number Two – usually had enough work to keep them busy all week long. There was always something to do: the designing of the pages of Eagle, Girl, Swift and Robin; the “white-lining” around an image on a photograph using Process White paint from a pot of Windsor & Newton’s best; then there was a bit of hand-lettering to do for a heading and so on.

A typical Letraset sheet, alongside a sample produced by rival Transotype.

A typical Letraset sheet, alongside a sample produced by rival Transotype.

Although it had been around for a couple of years, there was also something reasonably new called Letraset available to us. The Letraset Type Lettering System, the earlier form of this product needed the use of a small silk-screen frame, a pot of clean water, a paintbrush (to wet the silk screen) and a sharp knife. Thin plastic letters printed (either in black or in white) onto even thinner ‘transferring’ paper were individually chosen, cut round and peeled away from its sturdier backing sheet. The pale blue transfer paper was placed ‘face-down’ onto the wetted silk screen; given another splashing of water; and in about two or three minutes, the plastic letter could be parted from its transferring paper thus leaving a film of ‘glue’ on the letter. This letter could then be positioned onto a piece of white art-board or onto a piece that had already been illustrated upon. Great care was needed as the Letreset letter was still very ‘wet’ and could easily mess the illustration’s poster-colour paint.

There was also another brand called Mecanorma, whereby the (slightly thicker) plastic letters could be “pressed into place” using a wooden spatula. By 1961, Letraset had perfected its rub-down Instant Lettering, which was to be their core product for many years to come. Letraset incorporated this cleaner method into their “transfer” system.

Many of the jobs had entailed the carrying out of word-counts – for there were no such things as computers to do the work for us in those days. There were several secretaries around, and one or other would be given the job of re-typing a manuscript to a width specified by the designer. For example, by setting a story in 10 on 11pt (point) Helvetica over 13½ ems, the typeface guide we had, had informed us that each line would contain an average of 41·2 characters. Using that information, the typist would set the machine’s margins to 41 and continue to type the story regardless of whether the whole word could be squeezed into that line or not.

Some designs were quick and easy, while others took up quite a fair amount of our time. But on the day I have in mind, I found that I had absolutely nothing to do – perhaps I had been waiting for something to be read and / or typed up – I don’t know. So, I’d opened the sandwiches my wife Jenny had lovingly made for me earlier that morning and had got out the paperback book I’d been reading while I travelled back and forth on the train to Chesham.

The Art Editor – having spotted me – came over and with a definite sneer had said: “Hmm, no work to do then?”

“John,” I had replied snottily, “if I had work to do, then I would get on and be doing it. But I don’t. As I have no intention in being sneaky about it, if I have no work to do, then I shall bring out my book and continue to read from its pages in full view of anyone who cares to pass me by and witness it.”

But with Andy Vincent, this ‘upset’ with him had been far more one of “honour”.

Within a week or two of our new Editor for Eagle arriving, as an inside strip in colour was coming to its natural conclusion, Andy had gone round asking if anyone had had any ideas as to what could replace it. Being a “new boy” at the time I’d said nothing but then later on – maybe that same day, or perhaps it had even been the next when the idea had come to me – I’d gone into Andy’s office.

I had always been a poor reader, much preferring to read stories in an illustrated form and suggested the idea that perhaps we could serialise Conan Doyle’s The Lost World – a book that had fired my imagination but in my adolescent state had been unable to tackle the written words. The expression on Andy’s face clearly indicated that he had been delighted with the suggestion.

A panel from "The Lost World", illustrated by Martin Aitchison, which ran from Eagle Volume 13 Number 10 – 29. Aitchison would go on to carve a name for himself as an artist on ladybird Books.

A panel from “The Lost World”, illustrated by Martin Aitchison, which ran from Eagle Volume 13 Number 10 – 29. Aitchison would go on to carve a name for himself as an artist on Ladybird Books.

A couple of days later, he, John Jackson and Barry Cork (all three ex-“Fleetway” boys) had been standing near to the designers’ desks (now that they had all been moved out of their office to make way for John Jackson) when suddenly I heard Andy spouting out that he’d had this wonderful idea of serialising Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. Naturally I saw “red” and on standing up at my desk had blurted out:

“No Andy, The Lost World was my idea . . . not yours!”

Andy was so taken aback that he very quickly humbly admitted: “Oh yes, so it was, so it was.” And so dear reader, perhaps you can now understand why it was that I – and (what I would call) “the rest of us oldies” – had come to regard all those who had joined us from “The Fleetway Stable” with a great deal of suspicion, a heap of mistrust, and to a degree, a touch of resentment thrown in for good measure.

Now back to where I was when we came in…

Bob Batholomew, circa 1949, in his red Singer Le Mans sports car. Photo via Bear Alley.

Bob Batholomew, circa 1949, in his red Singer Le Mans sports car. Photo via Bear Alley and used with permission.

1963: Enter Robert (Bob) Bartholomew and the tortuous debut of Boys’ World

All that I have just spoken of was more than two years earlier, And while we had all settled down into our nice, clean newly refurbished offices in what was once the newsroom of the long-gone Daily Herald newspaper, I was quite surprised to discover that Juvenile Publications had actually gained several new members of staff I’d not come across before. In much the same way I’d seen neither hide nor hair of Managing Editor Clifford Makins nor of his replacement Val Holding – the latter having been around for a year before having been replaced by Alfred Wallace – I now learnt that we had a rather tall, head-master-ish type of individual who went under the commanding name of Robert (Bob or Bart depending-on-how-chummy-one-felt-towards-him-at-the-time) Bartholomew.

The first issue of Boy's World

The first issue of Boy’s World

Following his two-year-long contract, Andy Vincent had finally left Juvenile Publications in September 1963, and to replace him had been this ex-editor of the long-running The Children’s Newspaper. Initially, “Bart” had been brought in as Eagle’s new Editor, but when it emerged that things were going rather badly for the up-and-coming launch of Boys’ World, not only did he have Eagle to contend with but now he’d had to take on this new project as well.

The man who originally had been given the charge of launching Boys’ World had been the innovative Canadian Jim Kenner who, apparently, had terrific ideas, but had also been given the inauspicious accolade of “not being able to organise a piss-up in a brewery”. Also being rushed in to help out at the very last stage of the game were Brian Woodford (an ex-editor of Fleetway Magazine’s TopSpot) and Albert (Cos) Cosser.

The following interview with Robert “Bart” Bartholomew is reproduced here from the spring 1995 issue of Eagle Times and is where ‘Bart’ speaks mainly about Jim Kenner:

He came to England looking for work; editorial work, writing work; and Alf Wallace, who was then IC at Odhams, was so impressed by him that he offered him Boys’ World to start, to create. Jim started out working, with me in the next room doing Eagle and him doing Boys’ World.

Jim had the most ambitious schemes. He was, if you like, another Marcus Morris in his ambition but of course we’d moved on and there wasn’t that sort of money around. I remember he wanted to give a prize away of an aeroplane!

Jim had a number of good ideas but unfortunately he was so impractical. And as we neared the first press day we were weeks behind – weeks! He hadn’t got this written, he hadn’t got that written: he didn’t know anybody in Fleet Street, basically, I was called in by the management, who said: ‘We want you to take over Boys’ World immediately – as of now – because we’re due to go to press in X days time. We’re told that the paper is way, way behind and I’m afraid that Jim has just got to give way.’

So I called in Jim. I said: ‘Look, I’m terribly sorry, Jim, but I’m told I’ve got to take over Boys’ World because it’s so ridiculously late. We’re never going to get anywhere near our press day.’

Jim was awfully good about it. He accepted he didn’t know what was happening. Of course, I knew everybody in Fleet Street, in the Juveniles. So I simply got on the blower, and phoned this man, that man, any man I could get hold of, offered them a fortune just to get me a story in, get me some artwork in, etc., etc. And so that was how Boys’ World came out, and how you see me as editor right from Issue One. But I was never intended to be. I then ran the two side by side.

While I sat back and let “Bart”, Brian and “Cos” get on with sorting out their pre-launch problems, I turned my attentions onto a strangely animated individual aged 20 years and seven months old who apparently had been there as long as I had – in fact some seven months longer, if a printed article in Girl magazine had been anything to go by. I say “strangely animated” as even when completely unprovoked, he would suddenly burst into a series of manic antics that resembled something akin to shadow boxing. On one occasion, Art Editor John Jackson had even asked of him: “Max… why do you keep doing that all the time?”

The Mysterious Ways of Max Clifford

Clifford Makins announces the arrival of Max Clifford on the staff of Girl, in the issue cover dated 29th April 1961.

Clifford Makins announces the arrival of Max Clifford on the staff of Girl, in the issue cover dated 29th April 1961.

This was, of course, Maxwell Frank Clifford… and although I would have placed money on it saying that he had joined Juvenile Publications most likely around February or March 1962, greater proof of his arrival had come about when David Slinn kindly sent a scan of Girl‘s Editor’s Page dated 29th April 1961. The copy, signed by Clifford Makins, reads:

“Meet Max Clifford. Last week, Max was our office boy. This week he was promoted, and he now has the very responsible job of making sure that all the good things that go to make up a copy of Girl get sent to the printers – marked up correctly; in the proper parcels; at the right time.”

As you all know by now, the lead-time between manuscripts and art work going off to press and to when the magazine is printed and ultimately goes on sale to the general public is five weeks – hhmm, 29th April, so that would take us back to 25th March… actually, it would have been one week before that, due to the Easter Seasonal break – so 18th March. Now normally, on a first job – particularly so in the case of an office boy with little or no working experience – it is more than likely that there would have been a three-month probationary period… and that would now take us back to Christmas 1960.

I shall now place here a couple of paragraphs from a book called… no, I’m going to be sneaky about that for the moment and keep the origin of that book to myself. The author of this following quote comes from Max Clifford’s older brother:

“When Max told Mum he’d been sacked she phoned me to say I had to do something. I was father of a local Natsopa clerical chapel, part of the print union at the time, and spoke to the branch chairman, who was also father of the chapel at IPC, to ask if he knew of any vacancies. He told me there was a job going as editorial assistant on the Eagle comic.

Max went for an interview and was offered the job for the annual salary of £761 / 15. The editor took a shine to him and gradually began to let him write one or two small pieces.

After two years they had to move offices and Max took voluntary redundancy. He got about £1,200, which was about eighteen months’ money and used some of it to buy his first house with Liz.

I’ll come back to this particular piece later on, but in the meantime, I will just say that due to not having really come across him before, I’d assumed that he’d started his employment at much the same time as Linda Wheway and Sally Brompton, particularly as it had been the latter girl who had introduced him to me.

Oddly enough, despite us being “chalk-and-cheese”, Max and I very soon became firm friends. This had been mainly due to having discovered we both enjoyed the common past-time of swimming. Through Max, I learnt, close to our offices, was the recreational swimming area known as The Oasis. Their facilities had boasted of two Olympic-sized pools – one indoor (and therefore fully protected from the elements}, and the other outside and used only during the warmer weather. For the princely outlay of £1 10s 6d, Max and I were able to obtain season tickets that allowed us entry on every single day for a whole year!

From that moment on – certainly on three if not four days each and every week – this is where Max and I had spent our lunch breaks. On other days, I either worked through the hour or had luncheoned with in-house artist Bert Fielder and the head of “in-house” accounts department – Keith Motts. As to the former, a conversation hardly ever began without the pre-amble words of: “My wife . . . “ or “My boy . . . “ without ever discovering whether Bert’s wife or his boy had ever been blessed with ‘given names’ anyway, and it was the latter’s state of dress that had always been a draw.

Due to him habitually tucking his shirt tails well within their confines, it was unavoidably apparent that Keith wore long johns. As the day progressed, so the elastic waistband crept higher and higher up towards his ribcage to the point where even his tie was in fear of disappearing. Had Keith been a “belt-supporting man”, perhaps no-one would have noticed and the need to make comment here would never have arisen. But with the addition of so many vital buttons missing, it was the continual flailing of loose restraining straps that had also added to the day’s overall entertainment…

This new-found activity Max and I had found hadn’t pleased everyone, for having spent 40 or 50 minutes submersed in 80ºF water (or until the ends of our fingers and toes had gone all pruney), on our way back to the office we would buy 1/6d-worth of proper fish and chips from the “The Plaice and Rock” on Endell Street – all wrapped in proper newspaper. (None of that greasy rubbish that one tends to get these days that is all bundled up in some EEC regulated hygienic wrap). We weren’t too paranoid over our cholesterol intake either (not that we knew about it in those days) and the only ones to have become paranoid over our selfish activities had been Shirley Dean, Anne Littlefield and Linda Wheway.

Come to think of it, the one and only time Alf Wallace had appeared out of his room and had thrown open the door to our place of work was when I must have stunk out his office too with the magical aromas of my wonderfully fried fishy lunch.

And while I speak of “food” (and have thought about it), in the lead up to Christmas and having asked around, Max and I had gone to the nearby Covent Garden Market and had bought a crate of oranges and a one-hundredweight sack of mixed nuts. Having brought in a pair of weighing scales from home, it was in the Big Art Room where these were sold at so much per pound (I don’t think we were into kilos at that time) with the hope that at the end of the day, both Max and I would be able to have our own quota of nuts and oranges “free”. Well, we did, but perhaps we should have added an extra penny per pound to have made the whole exercise rather more worthwhile.

1964: Out of Hours Distractions…

For around one complete year plus a further eight or nine months, Clifford and I had regularly swum on average three – sometimes four – times a week without any noticeable interruption. From around May to September, we would use the facilities of the outdoor pool with its fine surrounding sun-deck (the roof of which was the indoor pool) and gawk with manic lust at the office secretaries who had donned skimpy bikinis for a quick burst of summer sunshine on their pale midriffs. When it became too cold to remain outside, we would venture back in. But on the 31st December of that year – this having been 1964 and tipping over into the year of 1965 – “The Oasis” had closed its doors to the public for a three-month-long renovation and refurbishment programme. Disaster had struck.

However, again thanks to Max, our lunchtimes had continued in the watery environment that we both had so much enjoyed in 1965, for he’d discovered that the London University in Gower Street – roughly halfway between University College Hospital and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) perhaps little more than a brisk ten-minute walk away from our Long Acre offices – was also blessed with a very fine Olympic-sized pool.

But what had made this latter place even more of a draw had been the fact that this pool was almost always empty (apart from the presence of Max and me, that is) and that there had been no entrance fee what-so-ever either – we just walked in unchallenged. A further draw had been that more often than not, with them having seen us there, two other girls had quickly shed their outer coverings and had come in to join in the fun. These two were, I believe, London University students with one having lived in or around Little Chalfont in Buckinghamshire… for one morning, she’d caught the same train to London as I had done. At that time, even though Max was engaged to Elizabeth Porter – for they had eventually become man and wife two years later in 1967 – he was certainly not averse to having a “bit of fun” on the side, so to speak.

Flash Forward: 2007, and beyond…

Jumping forward to the year 2007, had you been one of those who had attended the Eagle Society’s Annual Dinner Weekend which, that year, was held in Chelmsford, you would have heard me talk about certain “personalities” that I’d had the pleasure of working alongside during the period of time that I have been speaking of here. I had been specifically asked to speak of Dan Lloyd and of Leonard Matthews – both of whom I had kept in touch with during the years and decades that had followed 1969 when Eagle had finally flown.

But later on during that same talk, when I had broached upon the subject of known… erm, well let’s just call them “discrepancies” that had involved our “young Max”…. Well, to be honest, it had been hard for me to work out whether the “quiet tone” I’d suddenly been faced with had been due to my audience being in “utter shock” or had it just been a plain case of general disbelief and that “Perry was telling tales out of school”? Whatever it was, the vibes I’d felt at that gathering were such that my words hadn’t gone down all that well.

Eight years on from that dinner, and in 2014, for Max, thanks to Jimmy Savile (who I also knew and had met a good number of times due to Purnell Books, with whom I was working at the time,  producing two Jim’ll Fix It Christmas annuals), things have gone beyond minor “discrepancies” and for him, matters have now turned for the worse and decidedly gone down the pan.

Max Clifford: Read All About ItYou might ask as to why I’d been encouraged to speak of Max Clifford at Chelmsford anyway for in the overall plan of things, unlike Dan Lloyd and Leonard Matthews, Max hadn’t been what one might call a key player, anyway. Well, if I am honest, I would have to say that I’d had a bee under my bonnet. I was still reeling over what I had read in a book entitled Max Clifford: Read All About It, a biography written by Max in conjunction with Angela Levin published in 2005 by Virgin Books.

While standing in front of perhaps thirty Eagle Society guests, I had read out what it had said on page 46:

“Going abroad for the first time on business for EMI was exciting for such a young man. It was February 1964 and I accompanied the Beatles to the United States…”

It then continues further down the page with:

“As we were touching down at New York’s John F Kennedy airport, we saw hundreds of kids waiting below. George Harrison turned to me and said, “Look at all those people down there. There must be someone famous flying in.”

This book gives the impression that with Clifford (presumably) sitting next to (or in an adjacent seat to) George Harrison as the aircraft was in the process of touching down at JFK; that it had all been pretty “matey” stuff and that Clifford had become “one of the gang”, so to speak.

But if he was, and if he also attended the press conference at JFK, isn’t it a little odd that not one of the many press photographers didn’t inadvertently take a snap of Max with this then little-known pop group… particularly as he had been so “matey”?

After all, Clifford’s autobiography notes that he remembers his PR beginnings very clearly:

“The first task I was given when I joined EMI in October 1962 was to promote a new group whose first single was about to come out. They weren’t expected to amount to much, and I remember one of the directors saying to me, ‘Don’t waste much time on that lot, son. They haven’t got a chance.

“The single in question was called ‘Love Me Do’ by a then unknown group called The Beatles. Obviously you don’t get any luckier than that.”

And of the Beatles themselves, he writes

“I personally found Paul McCartney too wishy-washy and self-obsessed for me and I didn’t have much to do with him… Ringo Starr was a bit of a clown. He liked to muck about and play the buffoon.”

For those of you bemused by Maxwell Frank Clifford’s rather pathetic write up of this momentous first United States Beatles tour – precisely 110 words covering a space of precisely ten lines of text – well, his New York trip didn’t happen, did it? Because at the precise moment George Harrison was saying: “There must be someone famous flying in”, Max was swimming alongside me, Roger Perry, in a pool just 325 yards away from the Long Acre offices.

Your easy to read visual guide to some of the

Your easy to read visual guide to some of the “discrepanices” in Max Clifford’s claimed life story. Graphic: Roger Perry

2014: Facing The Sins of the Past?

Now that the Maxwell Frank Clifford sex-abuse trial has come to its conclusion, his economy with the truth has really come back to haunt him – and others are rushing in and saying much the same thing. Lorraine Kelly, writing for The Sunday Post in May 2014, for example:

“His reputation is wrecked and he won’t be in a position to manipulate and humiliate anyone ever again. Smug Max Clifford, who thought he was “untouchable”, will be spending his 70s behind bars.

“I have had to interview the hideous old lecher several times over the years, but seldom in person. Instead of coming into the studio he usually insisted a crew be sent to his house where he would pontificate about tawdry kiss and tell scandals, with his silver Rolls Royce always featured prominently in the shot. Presumably this was to show off his wealth and power, but he has found out it doesn’t matter how rich you are, or how much power you think you have, justice will be done.

“His whole PR persona was based on lies. Freddy Starr obviously never ate a hamster, and equally David Mellor never wore a Chelsea strip while “romping” with Antonia de Sancha. While spinning these yarns, he was also hired by the rich and famous to keep their names and deeds OUT of the papers.”

Oh, and by the way, the earlier quote about how he had become employed on Eagle also comes from his biography. But one small bit is worth repeating:

After two years they had to move offices and Max took voluntary redundancy. He got about £1,200, which was about eighteen months’ money and used some of it to buy his first house with Liz.

As we worked out earlier – if Clifford joined Juvenile Publications around Christmas 1960, and this “office move after two years” would have had to have taken place around 1962 (which would have tied in very nicely to his being employed by the EMI Press Office. But being a member of the National Union of Journalists, he would have been entitled to one month’s severance pay for every full year of service, and if he had received £1,200 “after two years”, then that would have meant that he was earning (having started off as an office boy) a staggering £600 a month!

Perhaps I should have given up the idea of becoming a designer and had found employment as an office gopher! I reckon it would have been far more lucrative. Ah well, we all live and learn.

So, yes, Max was prone to doing some odd things back in his days at Long Acre, and it obviously became a life-time trait of his, as, in conclusion for this chapter, these two reports on court proceedings illustrate:

“During sentencing, the judge – Judge Anthony Leonard QC – commented upon Mr Clifford’s “contemptuous attitude” to the court proceedings, citing as an example his bizarre behaviour by the mimicking of a Sky News reporter earlier in the trial. “I find your behaviour to be quite extraordinary and a further indication that you show no remorse.”



“The wife of Max Clifford was granted a quickie divorce, but as papers reveal, their marriage was already over. Jo Clifford, Clifford’s former PA, was granted a decree nisi on the grounds of his mysterious ‘unreasonable behaviour’, which she said had taken place four months before his [first] arrest when he was charged with sex offences and was therefore little more than another PR stunt. Their four-year marriage was dissolved in a hearing lasting just 105 seconds at London’s High Court, three weeks after Clifford began an eight year jail sentence. Neither was in attendance at the hearing.”

The Daily Telegraph, May 2014

As John Jackson said: “Max… why do you keep doing that all the time?”

Roger Perry
The Philippines


Further Reading

• Read “When an Eagle Became Ensnarled in a Mirror’s Net” here

Eagle and Ladybird Books artist Martin Aitchison’s official site

• Wikipedia’s entry on The Beatles in the US

More than you’d ever want to know about Letraset on the Letraset blog

Everything you could possibly want to know about Letraset’s much more exciting product – Action Transfers!

Lost Pubs of London: WC2 (Covent Garden etc)



Roger during his art-school days in 1956.

Roger during his art school days in 1956.

• You can read Roger Perry’s full biography here on Bear Alley


Our thanks to David Slinn and Shaqui le Vesconte for providing imagery and information in the creation of this feature

Categories: British Comics, Creating Comics, Featured News, Features

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8 replies

  1. Former Longacre Press staffer Derek Pierson notes of Roger’s feature (now updated): “I like the reference to the pubs in London’s Markets and Covent Garden being open at unusual hours. The one in Long Acre Roger is referring to was called “The Campbell Arms” and on odd occasions we used to walk up on an “extended Friday Lunchtime” from Hulton House in Fleet Street and feast on one of their half-pound steaks (beef or gammon) lunches, washed down with a nice pint of draught. And all for about 12/6d!

    “Then when we worked across the road at 96, we hardly went in there, preferring the pub around the corner by The Opera House stage door, and that was another story, for just before the interval of whatever performance was taking place, the bar staff started laying out pint after pint on the bar.

    “Suddenly the doors would burst open and in would come the noisy baritone voices of the chorus, all screaming out for a glass of the golden throat charmer.”

    Ten minutes and several empty glasses later … peace returned! Great days!

    • Hi John, thanks for the update from Derek Pierson. Derek also makes contact with me via email, and in one of his that I picked up on Sunday (2nd August), he had said this:

      “And yes, I do remember Keith M’s long johns and do you remember he used to do Saturday night on the papers in Fleet Street thanks to his NATSOPA card.”

      In my reply to him just half-an-hour ago, I had said: “I had no idea that Keith Motts had moonlighted for the Fleet Street papers. If you can expand further on that, then I would be pleased to hear about it.”

      If I hear anything, you can be assured that I shall let you all know!

      • Derek Pierson wrote the other day enlarging on the Keith Motts conundrum. This is what he said:

        I believe Keith Motts brother was an FOC of NATSOPA down at one of the popular Sunday papers off Fleet Street and he got him a ticket to work “casual” on the Saturday night run of the paper. It was a “nice little earner” I know that and good luck to him. It was funny really because loads of those guys were working a tax fiddle … signing on in fictitious names such as “Gordon Richards” and other jockeys and sportsmen and thereby not paying tax on their cash earnings! The Inland Revenue caught up with them eventually.

  2. Roger, please keep this series going. I am absolutely enthralled by this history of “Eagle daze” and I love how it adds to the bare bones that I know about Eagle and the staff that produced it. Both articles have been a joy to read and I look forward to many, many more.

    • Hi “Colcool007”, I am delighted to learn that you have enjoyed my ramblings. There are two more parts to this particular series so there is more to come. If I can twist John Freeman’s arm, maybe at a later stage I can write other pieces where my employment had been with “Century 21 Publishing” (“TV21”) and then later at “Polystyle Publications” (“Countdown” and then “TV Action”).

      I am also delighted that you have made a comment on John’s website as I personally loathe sites such as FaceBook and Twitter.


  1. “Eagle Daze” – Part One: When an Eagle became ensnarled in a Mirror’s Net | downthetubes.net
  2. “Eagle Daze” Part Three: WHAM!, the end of Girl, and Max Clifford’s World of Pop | downthetubes.net

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