John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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At the meal table

Early days

Early 1950’s
 1. Our meals were always taken while sitting at the living room table. I don’t remember much about the living room, except:
  • a window looking out on to the back yard, through which was visible, on the left, the back door and kitchen wall, and just beyond this a grey shed made of some corrugated material. There was an aviary just there, as well, for my Dad kept budgerigars, but I don’t have any mental picture of this.
  • the tall wooden mantelpiece against the next wall. For some time on the mantel shelf there stood a rounded spike or “tower” made by our Steven out of modelling wax. (It was only two or three inches tall. Was it referred to as a “tower” or a “monument”?)
  • and another window to the right of the mantelpiece.
(I forgot about the doors when I wrote this!)

 2. The first meal of the day was, of course, breakfast, probably with bacon regularly on the menu. We used to rise at half-past seven every morning; and after I had learned to dress myself (even to the point of tying my own shoelaces), on several occasions I was greeted with the words, “You’ve got your shoes on the wrong feet again!” I just couldn’t remember which edges faced inwards, the straighter ones or the more curved ones. But one day, probably more by accident than by design, I got it right (“Hey, you’ve got your shoes on the right feet!”) and thus permanently surmounted the last obstacle in the art of dressing, except perhaps that of tying a necktie.

 3. It was while we all sat round the table that I was able to study in detail these persons with whom I was intimately associated: Mummy, who appeared from the kitchen; Daddy, who first thing in the morning appeared minus a collar on his shirt; and Steven, who was always there before me.

 4. And it was while sitting there, that it first occurred to me how funny it was that everyone had two fleshy appendages to their head, one on each side. So I just exclaimed the single word:
This outburst was met with a rather patronising, laughing, “Oh!” and, “Whatever do you mean, ‘Ears!’?”

 5. There was a quite imaginary problem which I discovered while sitting at the table, and this was, that everybody could move their eyes except me; I on the other hand had to turn my head in order to look from one person to another. So I complained, “Why can’t I move my eyes like you can?”
 So, an impromptu experiment was held. Mum told me to look at “Daddy” (probably), then from him to Steven. “Ooh, they moved!” exclaimed Steven, as I did this.
 Now I was told to look from “Daddy” to (I can’t remember what). And again Steven said, “Ooh, they moved!”
 So that more or less convinced me that I could move my eyes after all like everyone else.

 6. I was ill once, and was sick after eating an egg. This started off my aversion to eggs, and I wouldn’t eat them after that. My Dad wanted me to eat one after this, and I cried; but my Mum protested successfully that they made me sick.

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