John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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I go back to school

1965, the year that changed my life
The “Wignall Period”

Monday 18th January 1965
 1. I have only a vague recollection of what happened when I had to go back to school the next day, Monday. I think the event of our running away from home probably caused some considerable interest among Peter’s and my peers at the Grammar School, Fleetwood. It was probably at this time that I realised that the lack of belief I had encountered when we got home was something which would be repeated time and again, almost without exception. People were quite simply not going to be convinced, as Chris, Peter and I now were.

"Chris, Peter and I" — later in 1965.
"Peter's and my peers at the Grammar School, Fleetwood" — Chris went to a different school: Baines' Grammar School, Poulton-le-Fylde.

"I had to go back to school the next day" — Fleetwood Grammar School in the 1950s
 2. My form teacher, Mr. Cooper (John Cooper), gave my story a guardedly sympathetic hearing. He was, he revealed then, himself a practising Christian. Presumably, though, to him, modern-day miracles were unheard-of; and what’s more, I had no proof yet that such a miracle had taken place. Besides that, it would not do for him to show approval to my having absented myself from school, when I was in the run-up to the “mocks” and needing to study and revise. (The “mock O-levels” were the school examinations preceding the actual examinations in June for the General Certificate of Education, Ordinary Level. Most children took this examination when aged sixteen; I, however, was in an “express” stream which took it at the age of fifteen.)

"I was in an 'express' stream which took the GCE at the age of fifteen" — not quite 15 in a 1965 class photo 

"My form teacher John Cooper" (no relation to me) — from the same class photo. See also Drawings.
 2A. The reaction that surprised me most was David Rotheram’s. In Assembly at school he behaved very piously, putting his hands together and closing his eyes during prayers; and in summer 1963, when we went camping together, he had tried to get me to practise prayer.[more] I thought therefore that he would be pleased that I had finally found what he had been trying to point me to, but no, he gave my story a very cool reception. He made it plain that he didn’t want to know anything I had to tell him.

“David Rotheram’s… cool reception” — 1965 class photo 
On Thursday 5 June 1997 my Mum related that when she worked at Norcross as a casual officer, so did David Rotheram. The Department of Health and Social Security at their Blackpool Central Office, Norcross, would take on people on casual contracts from time to time, to do routine clerical tasks. If this was in the late 1960s or early 1970s it could be that Rotheram was on vacation from university. He seemed to think that such work was “beneath” him, and he didn’t stay long. He mentioned me, saying I was a “Jesus freak”; so Mum pointed out that so was she, and she witnessed to him.
 3. It sometimes seemed odd to me, for example during the short religious service that we had before lessons each morning in Assembly, that whereas before, I had counted myself outside the pale of the Christianity that so many seemed to be a part of, now here I was, myself a believer. It seemed so strange and unlikely a thing to have happened to me. In my atheist days, I had felt so superior to them; now I had become one of them.

The “mock O-levels”

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