1965, the year that changed my life
Our first visit to the Full Gospel Church, Fleetwood
Perhaps Saturday 20th March 1965
1. Chris, Peter and I went on an abortive camping expedition to the Pennines. The plan was to hitch-hike to the village of Woodhead and camp there. We chose Woodhead for the simple reason that it was Chris’s surname.
2. My Dad would only agree to my going if we could all produce a pound note before we went. My parents were very reluctant to let me go, but my Dad conceded in the end that I could go if we all showed him a pound note. This was emergency money for getting back if anything went wrong; we hadn’t to spend it on anything else. It was a lot of money to raise, Chris thought. He had doubts about being able to go because of this; he thought our plans were doomed to failure, because he didn’t think he could get a pound, but he did manage it in the end.
 My Dad would only agree to my going if we could all produce a pound note before we went: A letter from my Dad, though, dated 1 February 1997, states: “I have no recollection at all of insisting that you all had a pound note.”3. Chris said that he would hitch-hike on his own. We thought all three together would be too many; and since Chris was the experienced hitch-hiker he was the obvious choice to go alone, while I went with Peter. We decided that we ought to meet up, though, in Manchester, before continuing on the final leg of our journey, and agreed to meet in the waiting room at Manchester Piccadilly railway station. The next day, we intended to visit the Williamses in Manchester before returning home.
4. Chris borrowed some boots of Trevor’s. Trevor was a regular fell-walker; he used to go with one David Cook who, like himself, went to Kirkham Grammar School. I borrowed something from Trevor as well — was it a tent pole?
 David Cook: He used to go out with a girl we referred to as “Fat Pat”, who lived on Lawsons Road, Thornton, in an old house on the right-hand side. She used to chat to me from time to time when I went down there on my newspaper delivery round.5. I took with me two methylated spirits stoves. They were cylindrical, about five or six inches in diameter, made of tinplate, with a small methylated spirits burner inside. They were my Dad’s; he had bought them for use when we had trips out on the motorbike and sidecar. We would stop to boil a kettle for a cup of tea, or even to fry some bacon or heat baked beans. I seem to remember carrying these little tin stoves tied to a pole — Trevor’s tent pole, I assume — and they were cumbersome and I was getting fed up with them; and they were clanking and made me feel conspicuous. I felt in some way that everyone who saw me carrying these things would know that I wasn’t a “proper” camper. Presumably after I had crammed the sleeping bag (borrowed from my Uncle Ronnie, I think) and other bits into the rucksack I was carrying, there was no room in it for these stoves.
6. So we set out. Peter and I got to Bolton. Why this was I don’t know, but we were at Bolton bus station. (Had we got a bus to Bolton for some reason?) I had these methylated spirits stoves, they were annoying and embarrassing me, and I just abandoned them at the bus station. There was hell to pay from my Dad when I got home. I think I left Trevor’s tent pole as well; the tent Peter was carrying, presumably, had its own poles. Trevor wasn’t best pleased when we got home, either.
7. We had arranged to meet at Manchester Piccadilly Station, but we didn’t manage it; we somehow missed each other. Chris went to the waiting room, as agreed, and waited — and waited. Then when he didn’t see us he decided to set off on his own to our destination, Woodhead, which seems a bit silly because he didn’t know where exactly he would meet us there.
8. So Chris set off. He had got as far as Tintwistle, just beyond Mottram — some fifteen miles out of Manchester — when he decided that to continue would be a waste of time. It was getting quite late, and he thought that if he did manage to get to Woodhead, it was we who had the tent and he could be stranded there on his own. So he thought, “What can I do?” And he decided to cross over the road, go back into Manchester, and go to stay at the Williamses’.
9. I have no recollection of how long Peter and I waited at Manchester Piccadilly Station when we didn’t see Chris. We continued on our journey, and I seem to remember that we walked all the way out of Manchester; we didn’t attempt to thumb a lift.
We had got out of the Manchester conurbation to where it becomes open countryside. We pitched the tent in a field; and there were cows nearby. There were still street lamps — yellow sodium lamps — along the road, so this may have happened just after we had left Hyde, or around Mottram.
10. Chris remembers these, or similar, street lights. When he was thinking about crossing the road, at Tintwistle, he remembers that it was getting dusk. He crossed over the road, started thumbing a lift, and these yellow lights came on (or pink, to start with) as he was trying to thumb a lift back into Manchester. He got back into the city centre and caught a bus to Upper Chorlton Road, and went to the Williamses’. When he got there, they were all out at a meeting, so he must have arrived there after the time for church meetings to start, after half-past seven. It was dark when he got to the Williamses’.
There was a lady who lived in one of the flats upstairs, who answered the door and took Chris into the front room, where he waited until the Williamses came back. They were pleased that he had thought to go there.
The “Abortive Camping Expedition” — Day Two
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