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The Wind in the Snottygobble Tree, Shabby Weddings
New Worlds started life as Novae Terrae, an amateur science fiction magazine, before the word fanzine had been coined. The fans who founded it included Arthur C. Clarke and John Wyndham. In 1946 the magazine went professional, with the aim of competing head on with the American sf mags. Short stories, serialised novels and book reviews concentrated on the hard SF which readers demanded from the genre; stories of time travel, spaceships, alien worlds, and heroic men wielding ray guns.

By 1964, Michael Moorcock had been an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, editor for a time of the British Tarzan weekly, then sub-editor on the Sexton Blake Library, as well as publishing SF and fantasy stories. He took over New Worlds in that year with an agenda of change, edging the magazine towards a new kind of writing which became known as New Wave SF or Speculative Fiction. As the 20th century accelerated through the most radical period of change in western culture, New Worlds published J.G. Ballard, Brian Aldiss, Thomas Disch, D.M. Thomas, John Clute, Norman Spinrad, Harlan Ellison and many other writers who were pushing well beyond the boundaries of SF into a new fiction which could deal with the issues of the day. (Along the way the magazine also encouraged the ambitions of a young Terry Pratchett, but on balance we shouldn't hold that against it.) By 1970 Charles Platt was in the editor's chair, with Moorcock continuing his close association with New Worlds.

Jack Trevor Story had got to know Moorcock through the Sexton Blake connection. Accounts of their friendship can be found in Jack's Unforgettable Christmas and Throwaway Friends - see Biography & Memoirs >> . After Story's traumatic encounter with the Notting Hill Police in 1968, detailed in those two accounts, New Worlds published his new novel, The Wind In The Snottygobble Tree. The book was serialised over issues 195 - 198 (Nov.1969 - Feb.1970). The prologue (below) was not used in the hardback edition (1971). Nor was the dedication, but virtually the same wording was used as the dedication to Little Dog's Day



JACK TREVOR STORY is probably already familiar to most readers as the author of the Albert Argyle trilogy (Live Now, Pay Later, Something for Nothing and The Urban District Lover), The Trouble With Harry (on which Hitchcock based his well-known film), or his first Horace Spurgeon Fenton book, I Sit in Hanger Lane. Until recently Story’s work has been predominantly of the kind that might be called comic naturalism — its subject matter drawn from his own experience of the London suburbs and the New Towns — but with his second Horace Spurgeon Fenton novel, One Last Mad Embrace (which Allison and Busby will publish in the new year) [1970] he has added a strong element of fantasy and his concerns have been growing increasingly similar to the concerns of the kind of writers who are usually published in NEW WORLDS. Like One Last Mad Embrace, his new novel The Wind in the Snottygobble Tree takes much of its subject matter from the larger canvas of world events, investigating and utilising many of our current totem-figures and questioning our attitudes towards them. Story’s talent for comic writing remains as strong, but he has refocussed it to analyse, like J.G, Ballard, the mythology of the present day. How can we separate the truth from the fiction in our newspapers and television programmes? What, in fact, is truth, at what point does fiction actually begin to become truth? These are some of the concerns of The Wind in the Snottygobble Tree. And like Story’s previous books, these questions are directly inspired by his own experience (particularly his experience, late last year, with a group of police officers in a London police station and, later, during a series of trials and investigations concerning Story’s allegations of terrorisation of himself and his girlfriend which ended with the police being cleared of all charges made against them).

Jack Trevor Story has been a professional writer since 1951 and before then was an electronics engineer, developing the first audiometer used by the National Health Service. He has written films and TV plays as well as short stories and novels but has managed, all this time, to resist the image and life of the Successful Writer. He now lives in a Hampstead bedsitter overlooking the Heath, writing and, from time to time, playing his Gibson guitar.

 The Wind in the Snottygobble Tree - introductory material 

Frondibus hirsutis; n: thrives in burial grounds and bears slimy fruits (snottygobbles). Poisonous.


“In the midst of life,” Horace Spurgeon Fenton said, “we are in St. Albans.”

    Coming from Horace, whom I’ve known since 1952 when we were on the Amalgamated Press slave belt to­gether, this was an unusually profound remark and it led to my asking him to show me the rest of the manuscript; the story you’ll be reading for the next four issues. DV, that is and always assuming somebody doesn’t throw a grenade in the printing press. When he said St. Albans, of course he didn’t mean St. Albans, nor life, life or even, probably, midst. What he meant was that with the increasing legislation (i.e. breathalyser, drugs, immigration etc etc) nibbling away at our liberties the good old British bobby now has the power of Graham Greene’s Tontons Macoute of the Haiti of The Comedians. That is, in effect, the power to kill in the early mornings when there’s no one much about and the power to convince a magistrate that somebody slipped over while crossing the charge room floor.

“Too many people are hanging themselves in prison and police station cells with their braces,” Horace said, “and it’s high time everybody wore belts.”

Of course he didn’t mean people or hanging or any of those things but what he did mean is that the good old British Public are getting increasingly frightened to go out at night in case they meet a squad car — this is a kind of curfew. And if the police are not what they seem, how about the rest of the municipal services; how about dustmen, firemen, ambulance men, magistrates; how about County Cricket Clubs? How about anything?

In other words, nothing is what it seems and particularly justice.

“In the courts of justice,” Horace said, “the well substantiated lie is all the rage and the truth is old-hat.”

He makes injustice sound trendy, but in fact it can’t be new because Doctor Samuel Johnson once said (in effect, for I wasn’t there) that if more than two men agree precisely upon a tale, then treat that tale with extreme caution.

Now nobody here in NEW WORLDS editorial agrees precisely on this tale of James Balfour Marchmont, therefore treat it as a fable for our times and afterwards think twice before dialling 999. The marbled horrors of Marchmont’s imagination may stalk your own particular cosy corridors and may even be one step ahead of his. The death, corruption and decay of freedom succours the roots of the Snottygobble Tree; the wind in the branches comes for the turning of the pages of our awareness.

Now read on: Ludicrous Crudicrous , Editor, Hunchback



To Inspector Arthur Upson, Sergeant Alexander Fraser, Police Constable James Donnelly, Woman Police Constable Carol Gray and all the lads and lasses of Notting Hill police station who, on the long night of December 28/29 1968, made this book possible.

Jack Trevor Story text copyright ©  the estate of Jack Trevor Story 2001. Not for reproduction. Copyright in all work by Jack Trevor Story is the property of the author's heirs. Permission for use of this material can be obtained through Jackie Edwards (Story), Peter Story, Lee Story or Michael Moorcock. Reproduction of copyright material whether in text, visual or audio form by unauthorised sources strictly forbidden.


New Worlds  221, Winter 1996, was the special 50th anniversary issue. It is a substantial book in the form of a 64-page magazine, packed with excellent reading from Peter Ackroyd, Brian Aldiss, Andrea Dworkin, Libby Houston, Harvey Jacobs, Michael Moorcock and Iain Sinclair. Moorcock returned to edit and design this issue, with production and co-ordination by John and Maureen Davey at Jayde Design. Copies are still available from them (and very highly recommended); e-mail JaydeDesign@CompuServe.com for details.
A major highlight of New Worlds 221 is the first chapter of the book Jack Trevor Story was working on when he died, Shabby Weddings .The book is a step on from the semi-autobiographical fiction of earlier novels into something apparently very close to autobiography.
I am pleased to say that the text of that first chapter is to be found on this site, with the kind permission of Michael Moorcock and John Davey.  Click here >>
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