Since I am not good on hills and can't seem to find a octolink compatible compact chainset is it possible to put say a 36/52 pro compact set up on a standard 39/53 arms or do I need new arms too.
52 yes, 36 no. the smallest you'll find is a 38.
As dave says you cant get that spread on a standard chainset, however unless you are planning on racing down long descents where you are likely to spin out a 53-11 I would suggest getting a compact chainset running to a 12-25 or something even bigger like a 11-28. True it gives you less options for finding comfortable pedalling cadences on the flat, but it does give you way more options going up hill.
When I first started riding in the peak district I had a 53-42 and a 12-28 cassette on the back, found it really help my ascending to begin with but left me with plenty of options.
As will all things gear ration related sheldon brown is your man. If you go to his webiste you can compare the relative gear ratios of just about any setup you could imagine to see how they all work out.
you can get the new Sora FC-3550 compact for around £55 and a hollowtech 2 BB for £12 or so, which probably won't be much more than new rings, and a lot less faff...
What's wrong with a triple?
I may have misunderstood, but I'd heard that British road cyclists consider themselves too macho to use triples.
I noticed that most of the road bikes in a dealer near where we holidayed in France earlier this year were fitted with triples.