John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Alone at last!

***Mild sexual content!***
1965, the year that changed my life
Thwarted again by Peter Gooding

 1. On Wednesday evenings, a number of the young people used to meet together at the church, then go out in small groups on the streets of Fleetwood giving out gospel tracts to people they happened to encounter — “tracking”, they called it, though I suppose the word should have been “tracting”.

"The church…"
 Sometimes people to whom a tract was offered would refuse to take it, or would just ignore the giver, or throw the tract away after taking it; but at other times they would ask questions — some simply wanting to argue, others sincerely seeking answers — and we would try to “witness” to them. Finally, we would re-assemble back at church for prayer, to ask God to bless our efforts and save the people who had taken and hopefully would read our tracts.

 2. I can’t remember exactly who used to turn up for “tracking”, apart from three who immediately spring to mind: the two Roberts — Robert Parkinson and Robert Miller — and a chap whose name, I think, was Dave.
 Robert Parkinson was somewhat scruffy; and the strides he took in his soft-soled shoes always seemed too long and therefore awkward. His whole demeanour appeared to broadcast this message: “Don’t bother with me; I’m no good!” It was always a bad move to ask Robert Parkinson how he was, because he would typically reply, “I’ve been depressed lately.” It was a standing joke between Trevor and me that Robert Parkinson once told us (or him), “I’ve been reading a good book; it’s called ‘The Christian in depression’”!

"Trevor", ca.1968
 Robert Miller was altogether better groomed than Robert Parkinson, with well Brylcreemed hair, shiny black shoes and a suit. He was going out with Myra Dine when I first met him. She was the one who responded to the appeal given by John Nelson Parr in the Knott End campaign.

"John Nelson Parr" ca.1970
 She was strawberry blonde, attractive, and possibly too fun-loving for strait-laced Robert.

"Myra" — photo from 1970
 The third chap, Dave — or whatever his name was — tried his best to look smart, but didn’t entirely succeed. He was short of stature and so his trousers were bunched up round his ankles. He had long arms and big hands, and his Brylcreemed hair was combed back from a very low brow. All this made his appearance rather simian. In fact, the reason I can’t definitely remember his name is that Trevor coined the name “Igo” for him, from the Neil Sedaka song “I Go Ape”. As if to compensate for his lack of size, he carried a huge Bible with him to meetings.
I previously posted this story on Facebook, and after I did so, Myra Hardaker née Dine commented, on 5 December 2008:
The chap you called “Igo” is actually called David Aldred. He was in my class at Milton Street Junior School together with Robert Parkinson.
Wednesday 17th November 1965
 3. On the Wednesday after the festive occasion with the young people of the church, I went along to the church to go “tracking”. I remember who two of the participants were on this particular occasion, for obvious reasons: they were Peter Gooding and Audrey Wood.

"Peter Gooding" — photo from 1965
 4. I was getting more and more nervous, as the prayer session back at the church drew to a close, but taking courage, I asked Audrey if she would come outside with me, because, I said, I had something to say to her. I wanted her to leave with me before Peter had the opportunity to walk with us and spoil my intentions.
 And now I was in an ecstasy of nervousness and fear, as we turned into Poulton Road and I explained how I had prayed that on the coach, the girl I should go out with would sit with me, and how she had sat with me, and — “Will you go out with me?”
 She answered quietly and simply, “Yes.”
 And I was almost disappointed; it was so easy. I had got up all this nervous energy in preparation for some sort of verbal duel.

"Will you go out with me?…" — photo from 1965

"…Yes" — Audrey in 1966
 5. We were walking quite briskly down Poulton Road, Audrey and I, for it was a chilly night, and there was a strong wind from the west blowing Audrey’s hair back. (I noticed for the first time that she had a little bit of acne on her forehead, just below the hair line, not much. I hadn’t noticed it before, because she wore her hair in a fringe.) Far behind, Peter had emerged from the church in Lowther Road, coming into Poulton Road and discovering that this time he was too late.

 6. After my rambling speech, which could have been construed as emotional blackmail (it was “the Lord’s will” that Audrey should go out with me whether she wanted to or not!), and her simple and anticlimactic “Yes”, I took hold of her soft, cold little hand. And I felt disappointed in myself when as soon as I felt Audrey’s hand in mine, I got a “hard on”. It was completely unbidden; I didn’t want it to happen. In fact, I had intended to go out with Audrey in purity, since it was “the Lord’s will” that I should do so.
When I went out with Pamela Williams I had been somewhat lustful (see The trip to Buxton, and the “one moment of passion”), and I had decided that this time it would be with purity that I would go out with Audrey, and in a manner pleasing to the Lord. That’s why I felt disappointed. I didn’t know at that point that my carnal desires would assert themselves in an even more “disappointing” manner in 1966 (see Saturday 9th July 1966 and Sunday 10th July 1966).

 7. And so we came to her Mum’s house with the news that we were going out together. Poor Peter — again![more]

"…her Mum" — photo ca.1967
Audrey’s first kiss

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