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Saturday, November 02, 2013

Flying Saucer Review part 5

Charles Bowen

Another of Girvan’s unusual traits – apart from having psychic abilities – was a talent to “invent” things by dreaming about them; on waking the next morning, he would set about bringing his dreamt invention to life.

It was down to one of Girvan’s dreamt inventions that  Lloyd was encouraged to introduce Girvan to Roger Perry.

Perry, whose office was just two doors down the corridor from where Lloyd worked, had been Girl magazine’s designer; he was also an expert in photography and cinematography.

Girvan’s latest invention was a method to project 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 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 so that 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 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.

During July and August – before going on holiday – Perry had had several in-depth discussions on how to construct a “Maltese Cross” gear mechanism (also known as the Geneva Drive) – a device commonly used in advancing movie film in professional cinema projectors. His thoughts 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 film projector . . . it was the awkward 17-frames per second that had needed to be solved.

Following Perry’s two-week break during September, several weeks passed before he came to the conclusion that he hadn’t seen Waveney for quite some time – but then, often days would pass when Girvan hadn’t appeared in his office anyway. It was Bert Fielder – the studio’s in-house artist – to whom Perry had mentioned this observation when Fielder had replied: “Oh didn’t you know? He died some weeks back – probably while you were still on holiday.”

Charles Bowen recalled events over the summer thus:
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.
Perhaps Girvan had already known that his end was near, for whenever Harman had gone into his office, not only did he hide his hands from her view by placing them onto his lap under the desk, but on passing something over to her, he never allowed Harman ever to have any physical contact with him.
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 book 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 FSR obituary (v.10 no.6, Nov-Dec 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.

Reginald "Rex" Dutta

In later years – and in private – Bowen divulged that he had nicknamed Reginald Dutta "Dutta the Nutter" because of his airy-fairy stance. Reginald Sirdar Mohammed Dutta was born in Lahore, India, on 11 July 1914, the son of Lall M. Dutta and his English wife, Marguerite M. E. Berghe, who were married in London in 1913. Dutta had spent his childhood in India and England before Marguerite returned to the UK permanently in around1924 along with her two children, Reginald and Florence, born in 1921. A second sister died young in an accident.

The family lived in Upper Addison Gardens, Kensington, and Dutta became recognised as an aquarist – an expert in fish – on which subject he wrote numerous books, beginning with The Right Way to Keep Pet Fish in 1951. His main job was running Fish Tanks Ltd. at 49 Blandford Street, London W1. Dutta was married to Olive Dorothy Parton-Old in 1944, but continued to live with his mother and sister for many years.

Known to his friends as Rex, Dutta was involved in a motorcycle accident during the early British expedition into France during WWII, which resulted in having his left leg amputated above the knee before being evacuated from Dunkirk.

Dutta, his wife and his mother became interested in Theosophy and active in the Theosophical Society; Rex started a class in The Secret Doctrine in the late 1950s and eventually he helped set up the newsletter Viewpoint Aquarious in 1972, dedicated to flying saucers, Theosophy, yoga and healing. He died in August 1989.

Little more was heard of Madge Harman, apart from a letter she wrote for publication in FSR as a tribute to Girvan:
Sir, Upon looking through Waveney Girvan’s personal file on Flying Saucers, I came across something that reminded me of an incident which happened last summer. Somehow, I don’t feel entitled to keep it to myself.
    Mr Girvan was standing by his desk, reading something which had just arrived from a contributor, I believe. Without a word, he turned and handed it to me. He stood very still watching me read, and raised his eyebrows in that quizzical way of his when I had finished. I was greatly moved by the verses, and said so adding that I thought them wonderful.
    “Yes,” he said. “That’s what I feel. It could be the answer, couldn’t it?”
    He read the verses again, and they seemed to have great significance for him. He asked me to look the poet up and type it out, which I did. It is by J. Addington Symonds (1840–93).
These things shall be! A loftier race
Than e’er the world hath known, shall rise
With flame of freedom in their souls,
And light of science in their eyes.

They shall be pure from fraud, and know
The names of priest and king no more;
For them no placeman’s hand shall hold
The balances of peace and war.

They shall be gentle, brave and strong,
To spill no drop of blood, but dare
All that may plant man’s lordship firm
On earth and fire and sea and air.

Nation with nation, land with land,
Unarmed shall live as comrades free;
In every heart and brain shall throb
The pulse of one fraternity.

They shall be simple in their homes
And splendid in their public ways,
Filling the mansions of the state
With music and with hymns of praise.

In aisles majestic, hails of pride,
Groves, gardens, baths, and galleries,
Manhood and youth and age shall meet
To grow by converse inly wise.

Woman shall be man’s mate and peer,
In all things strong and fair and good.
I can only say that the words “Gentle, brave and strong” apply to no man more than to Waveney Girvan, and the poem written so many years ago, breathes ideals which were his. “Simple in their homes and splendid in the public ways.” . . . that too.
With the assistance of Dan Lloyd acting as assistant editor, Bowen had quickly and efficiently stepped into Girvan’s shoes. Albeit a little late, the Nov/Dec issue of Flying Saucer Review came out without a significant break. In the Jan/Feb issue, Bowen explained that Girvan used to prepare his articles well in advance, and this was why his last written piece had appeared posthumously.

(* Photograph of Charles Bowen from FSR v.33 no.2, 1988; photograph of Rex Dutta from Fohat, Spring 2007.)

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