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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dan Lloyd

Dan Lloyd, for many years the chief sub-editor on Eagle, has for many years been an editor, compiler of crosswords and researcher into the paranormal.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne on 28 March 1931, Joseph Daniel Lloyd's childhood was relatively uneventful up until the age of seven, when he was suddenly rushed off to The Royal Victoria Infirmary with a severe case of scarlet fever. Four weeks later, after numerous inoculations into his backside, he was allowed to go home. He still remembers with affection the doctor who gave him a penny on his birthday; the pleasure was, however, short-lived as, before being allowed to leave the hospital, Lloyd was obliged to surrender the penny on the grounds that it might be contagious!

At the outbreak of war he was evacuated along with his sister Margaret to Ellington in Northumberland, a pretty coastal village about 20 miles north of Newcastle. His brother, Alan was not so lucky, for although he too was evacuated, he’d become separated from his brother and sister and was sent to the Lake District, where he had to scour the hills for firewood before being allowed to have breakfast!

Dan Lloyd’s father, Joseph Daniel Lloyd, served as a policeman based in and around Newcastle during the war years. “My father was thrown out of the house on his ear by my mother when she found out that he was philandering with another woman. I don't think I ever saw him again,” recalls Lloyd. Meanwhile Dan’s mother, Margaret (nee Younger), kept the home fires burning while at the same time holding down a job in one of Newcastle’s sub-Postal Offices.

Leaving school at the age of 15, Lloyd began developing an interest in Morse Code and discovered that by stretching a cable that linked his house with the house of nearby friend, the two boys were able to send messages to each other (all pretty good Sexton Blake stuff!}. But these were the days when the Ministry of Information were advising people to be on their guard—“Careless Talk Costs Lives”—and that you never knew who was listening in. One of Lloyd’s neighbours had grown suspicious of the sudden appearance of this wire and thinking maybe that there were spies in the neighbourhood had cut it in half with a pair of scissors, thus ending their nightly communications.

By the time he reached the eligible age of 17, Lloyd joined the Royal Navy. It was now 1948 and to all intents and purposes, he’d said ‘goodbye’ to his family home for the very last time. Having avidly read magazines such as Champion, Hotspur and Rover, reading and writing was his forte and it was natural for him to take up the trade of writer for his seven-year enlistment. Lloyd’s chief aim was to travel and serve abroad and he quickly discovered that, to speed matters up, he should volunteer for a three-month intensive shorthand and typing course at the Royal Navy’s secretarial training school. Within a few months, Lloyd had set sail for Malta where he joined the staff of Admiral of the Fleet, Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma—more commonly known as Lord Mountbatten. His tour of duty was aboard HMS Liverpool, but life at sea again had to be placed on hold while HMS Liverpool went into dry dock for an intensive refurbishment programme in Valletta lasting five months.

It was during the time he was Mountbatten’s personal stenographer that he learnt of the Admiral’s interest in Unidentified Flying Objects. Early in January 1950 the Admiral called Lloyd to his stateroom and dictated a letter that was to be sent to the editor of the Sunday Dispatch in Fleet Street. Several years later, Lloyd discovered that the Sunday Dispatch’s editor and Lord Mountbatten were firm friends, Charles Eade having served as Mountbatten’s Press Liaison officer during World War II. Lloyd also came to learn that during the late summer of that year, the Sunday Dispatch had been partly responsible for launching the flying saucer debate as part of a circulation battle between the Sunday Dispatch and the Sunday Express.

In May 1952, halfway through his seven-year commitment, Lloyd returned to the UK for a period of well-earned leave. With his tour of duty in the Mediterranean now over, he was posted to a land-based ship in Greenwich, South-East London, where from January 1953 to the early part of 1956, he completed his seven-year obligation.

Now that he was familiar with living in and around the boundaries of London, Lloyd spent the following three years taking on various forms of employment ranging from Reuters—the world renowned newspaper agency in Fleet Street—to a job with Amalgamated Press.

At this latter establishment Lloyd was part of a team that compiled prize crosswords for the magazine Everybody’s, where entrants had to abide by simple rules, one being that the applicant had to complete the puzzle without help from a second person. Part of Lloyd’s duties was to travel to the successful winner’s home and, if he or she had complied with all the rules, he was at liberty to announce that they would receive a cheque in due course.

It all sounded very simple, but when Lloyd went to one winner’s house, to his dismay, he discovered that the entrant was totally blind and it had been his wife who had filled in the answers. In theory, this act had broken one of the major rules. Excusing himself, he’d gone down to a nearby phone-box and on contacting head office, Lloyd had outlined the predicament he had found himself in, but then had gone on to point out that if the local newspaper learnt that the winner had been defaulted due to having been blind then Everybody’s would receive a large amount of adverse publicity. A few days later, the winner deservedly got his cheque.

During 1959, there had been a great deal of upheaval and unrest within the publishing and printing industry: in February, Amalgamated Press had been acquired by the Mirror Group (and had changed their name from Amalgamated Press to Fleetway Publications due to the publishing company having had their offices in a building called Fleetway House); there had been a six-week-long national printers’ strike during the summer; and in March, Dan Lloyd had joined Eagle.

It was a Catch 22 situation. Magazine experience was deemed essential in order to qualify for NUJ membership, but a job on a magazine was often open only to those who were already members. Out of the blue Lloyd had written to the Reverend Marcus Morris and was surprised to discover that there was indeed a vacancy for a sub-editor on Eagle. At the interview, when he was asked by Eagle’s Chief Sub-Editor Derek Lord as to how soon he could start, Lloyd’s response was “Would tomorrow be too early?” and they had all shaken hands, the deal done.

During the ten years that Lloyd worked on Eagle—first as a sub-editor, then later as Chief Sub-Editor—many changes were taking place within the publishing world. In the same year that Lloyd joined Hulton’s, through disagreements between the Rev. Marcus Morris and Lord Hulton, Morris had resigned to take up a position at The National Magazine Company group (where, after a five year gap, Morris became editor-in-chief and orchestrated the launching of Cosmopolitan); Hulton Press had been taken over by Odhams Press, who in turn were taken over two years later by Fleetway (the Mirror Group); and with the hierarchy of Fleetway Publications being given the right to take the reins of the four ex-Hulton comics, in a show of indignation, many senior staff had resigned, including Lloyds’ immediate boss, Derek Lord. In an undisputed cost-cutting exercise, the editorial offices that had once been home to Juvenile Publications—the umbrella heading under which Eagle, Girl, Swift and Robin were collectively known—now had to be vacated. In fact, they were moved twice—the first relocation to a building at the rear of Hulton House better known to the staff as “The Annex”, and then a second major move two years later when, during the weekend of Saturday, 23rd and Sunday, 24th November 1963, the staff were moved from 161-166 Fleet Street to  the old and obsolete Daily Herald Newspaper building at 96 Longacre.

Dan Lloyd during his days in the Navy

It was from events that took place over the following seven or eight months at Longacre that Lloyd's life took a significant turn, for it was his close encounters with two newly established individuals that gave rise to his greater interest in the paranormal. Of these, the first was Madge Harman.

The office Lloyd was allocated also housed two others, one being Eagle designer Brian (Benny) Green. In later years—and this may have been due to the influence emanating from the other person in that room—Green had taken over and run an occult bookshop in South London’s Crystal Palace. The other was Madge Harman, employed as secretary to a dapper “City Gent” whose office was just four doors down the lengthy narrow corridor from where Madge, Brian and Dan were sat.

Madge Harman was a closet ‘psychic’. An example of her extraordinary sixth sense was when one of Lloyd’s bachelor chums (drinking partners) called into the office late one morning to find out if Dan was “free for lunch”. These were the days when Lloyd regularly met with five others of a similar standing but from all walks of life. Lloyd introduced Harman to his flatmate Peter Henderson and, as they shook hands, Harman had suddenly gone quiet and in a disheartened voice murmured: “Oh dear, you’ve had some bad news this morning... I’m so sorry,”

Lloyd had no idea as to what on earth she was talking about, but Henderson soon made everything clear by admitting that, just that morning, he had received a letter from his fiancĂ©e in Paris with news that she was breaking off their engagement. The letter was tucked away in Peter Henderson’s inside jacket pocket. Perhaps Harman had also seen that Henderson was destined to die from the effects of alcohol poisoning in late 1979 while still middle-aged.

It was also during those early months at Longacre that a second strange occurrence had taken place.

The man for whom Madge Harman worked was Waveney Girvan. In a way, Girvan stood out like a sore thumb at Long Acre, mainly due to his austere attire. Although most staff were smartly-turned out, they were also for the most part dressed casually. Girvan, however, was never seen without his standard 'city business suit' of black jacket, trousers in narrow grey and black stripes, a bowler-hat, and a neatly rolled umbrella, Girvan was the editor of a magazine called the Flying Saucer Review. This quarterly journal—first established in 1955 by the former R.A.F. pilot Derek Dempster—had established itself as being one of the most influential journals serving the UFO community. Due to Lloyd’s own increasing interest into the paranormal, it became a regular event for Lloyd and Girvan to discuss matters relating to the latest paranormal findings.

While on holiday, Lloyd took with him a copy of Girvan's book, Flying Saucers and Common Sense, published nine years earlier in 1955. In chapter four, Lloyd was brought up with a start to read that Girvan had revealed a personal letter written to the editor of the Sunday Dispatch in 1950 by Earl Mountbatten. Girvan went on to say that this letter had followed an earlier article concerning a wave of UFO sightings in America, particularly one in the town of Orangeburg, South Carolina. The letter had said:
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.
Lloyd could hardly wait to return to his place of work and tell Girvan that he could confirm this story because it was he, who, fifteen years earlier, had typed out Mountbatten's words. Now it was then Girvan’s turn to be astounded. As a consequence, Waveney had born Lloyd off to his club near Whitehall where, as being the one and only person who could confirm all that Girvan had written in his book, Lloyd found himself obliged to make an impromptu talk in front of a large gathering of dedicated followers and believers!

Within a matter of weeks, on 22 October 1964, Waveney Girvan died. He too had had psychic powers and perhaps had known that the end was near, for whenever Harman 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.

Despite having lost its key leader, the Flying Saucer Review continued without a break, now under the editorship of Charles Bowen, a long-time contributor to Juvenile Publications, with Dan Lloyd stepping into the breach as assistant editor. Much of the magazine’s content was put together in Lloyd’s Chelsea flat, with the aid of an invaluable proof-reader who conveniently lived one floor above in the same block. The proof-reader’s name was Eileen Linda Buckle (b. 27 April 1940), an attractive and intellectual long-time friend, to whom Lloyd eventually became married on 28 March 1980—his 49th birthday.

With the closure of Eagle in April 1969 Lloyd opted for a career of freelancing that enabled him to take on a wide range of editing work. Amongst other commissions, this included a series of small books for the Milk Marketing Board.

Early in 1971, with ex-working colleague Roger Perry now acting as Art Editor for Countdown, Lloyd was encouraged to take the opportunity to become the periodical’s Science Correspondent and writing a variety of weekly articles. Owing to the magazine’s fluid appearance—for Perry believed that “variety is the spice of life”—there was never a regimented size or shape that Dan was obliged to adhere to.

In January 1974 Lloyd once again worked alongside Perry at Purnell Books, whose offices had moved from Poland Street in the West End of London to Maidenhead, Berkshire. Owing to stringent measures introduced by the Conservative Government in an effort to conserve electricity by introducing a three-day-week, Editor Sue Hook—unable to cope with the workload—had sought help and not only had Lloyd been brought in on a temporary measure but at Lloyd’s recommendation, Eileen Buckle was also commissioned to carry out the proof-reading of manuscripts..

Between 1977 and 1989, Lloyd went on to work as a sub-editor for TV Times magazine. The Art Editor at TV Times was Bruce Smith, who, sixteen years earlier, had been one of the four designers working closely with Lloyd at Hulton House. This had been between the summer of 1960 (when Smith joined Juvenile Publications) and 1963 when he had left to take up the post of Art Editor on Homemaker, the first practical “how-to-do-it” monthly magazine that first saw light of day in March 1959. But for Lloyd, his life was being severely hampered by a relatively unknown condition that had become simply known as 'yuppie flu'. Following years of study, this affliction was officially recognised as a bona fide medical condition and given the grand title of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The symptoms of CFS include un-refreshed sleep, widespread muscle and joint pain, increased sensitivity to light and headaches of a type not previously experienced. After battling with this condition for a number of years, it seemed a good time for Lloyd to take early-retirement.

During his early years Lloyd had been a keen walker with holidays often taken up circumnavigating the Isle of Wight or simply striding along river banks of the Thames—many of these ventures in the company of Derek Lord. Lloyd has said: “Rain or shine, our small group of avid walkers would set forth on a Sunday to enjoy the countryside to the north side of London, and occasionally to the south,” He went on to say: “Rain never seemed to deter us, and if it rained, it was part of the adventure to remove our shoes, wring out our socks, and carry on tramping! Any hostelry we happened to encounter en route was greeted with glee and many a pub seat must have borne the signs of our visit by the telltale patches of dampness from our sodden rumps!”

Two of Lloyd’s other interests were astrology and homoeopathy. His interest in the former begun in the early-1970s while still bachelor-free and living in Chelsea. There had been a tight nucleus of five others—all in a similar-disposition—who regularly met. Out of the blue, one had requested Lloyd create his Birth Chart. With him knowing absolutely nothing about how to construct horoscopes, at the chum’s insistence, Lloyd researched the subject and had taught himself the art. But the odd thing was that having become proficient in the craft, the friend who had initially made the request now seemed to have little or no interest ... to the point of not even being able to recall having asked Dan to do it in the first place. Perhaps the powers that be had felt Lloyd needed a prompt in that direction.

During its compilation, although the author of this article has known Dan Lloyd for more than fifty-two years, he has learnt so much more about this quiet, good-natured, private man than he’d ever been able to glean before. For forty years, Lloyd has been heavily into astrology, not only erecting dozens and dozens of Birth Charts for a variety of friends and acquaintances and has carried out research on a number of notable personalities... and yet, it would appear that he has chosen to close his mind to all those he grew up with. During the late-'70s, Lloyd gave guidance to first Perry in the art, and also taught his wife-to-be.

Dan Lloyd and his wife now live in Leatherhead.

(* Biographical sketch compiled by Roger Perry, who also supplied the colour photos of Dan, taken in September 2009.)

1 comment:

Mike W said...

A fascinating article.