4: Setting Off

While at staying at Ella's, Wally took several photos of the view through her windows and here are some of them. London in 1964, shabby and still marred by bombsites:

A view of Ella's block of flats from the street


"Fifteen of us, if I remember rightly, travelled down in the same coach. ATom, who was coming down on Saturday, had come along to see us off and as the train began to move we were convulsed to see from the window ATom leaning well into the wind, with his cheeks puffed out, pushing the train as hard as he could. We settled ourselves down for the journey and the train was doing a respectable speed when Wally said quietly, "this train sure goes well on ATomics". I'm not sure if the bruises were healed by the time he went home, or not. For some obscure reason known only to herself, Madeleine Willis gave Wally a box of sweets (candies). Immediately we were round him. Not only did we point out to him the ones we liked, we took them. All you could see was a flurry of hands and the fast emptying box. Wally looked in dismay at the two we had left him when I decided that one of the two was also a favourite of mine. Then there was one. Don't worry about him, we gave most of them back to him."

Jill Adams and Chris Priest, 20 years old and heading for his first convention.

"Not all of you in OMPA get CRY, the zine in which Wally is editor of the lettercolumn, so maybe you don't know of his reputation for giving the unexpected comment/answer to something you say in your letters. Many a time I've been a victim of his peculiar talent in this direction. It gave me much pleasure to pay him back in his own coin. On Sunday evening at the convention, Ethel and I took Wally to dinner. We asked him how he was enjoying himself and he waxed all enthusiastic about the generous way in which he'd been treated; he went so far as to mention that he hadn't been allowed to pay a bill so how the heck could he learn to use our currency. I jumped on his neck right away for going around Peterbrcugh bilking all the restuarants. His face was a picture. Just for a moment there I had caught him with his guard down and he hadn't been expecting this reaction at all. So often was I able to catch him I feel that once more we start out level. The slate has been wiped clean."

- COMPACT #4 (Jun '64, ed. Parker for OMPA)