John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Family matters

Early Days
See also Family History.

Early 1950’s
 1. There were five persons whom I remember right from forever as being more important than any other persons. They were: Daddy, Mummy, Steven, and Nanny and Grandad.[1]

 2. I suppose the first three were more in my mind than the latter two, because I saw them every day, and they lived in the same house as I did, whereas I saw the others less frequently, and they lived somewhere else and visited us from time to time.
[2] There was another Nanny and Grandad who visited us even less frequently,[3] and they were distinguished from the first Nanny and Grandad by being called Nanny Paine and Grandad Jack.[4]

"The first Nanny and Grandad"—ca.1967

"Nanny Paine and Grandad Jack"—late 1960's
3. Daddy and Mummy and the two Nannies and Grandads were grown-ups, but Steven was a child, although he was older than me, and went to school when I still had an eternity of days before I would have to go to school. Although it seemed to me that I was distinguished from Steven by the fact that I looked out from me, whereas Steven was over there, we both had the same relationship with Mummy and Daddy.

Steven… went to school when I still had an eternity of days before I would have to go to school.
 4. The special nature of the five (or, possibly, the seven) was underlined by the prayer I was taught to say every night:
God bless Daddy
God bless Mummy
God bless Steven
God bless Nanny and Grandad
God bless all the boys and girls
Make me a good boy
 5. Steven was taller than I was, being two years older than I. He had straight, dark hair; I had curly, fair hair. He had brown eyes; I had blue eyes.

 6. These persons required to be kissed from time to time: Steven, however, I don’t remember kissing; Mummy and Daddy were kissed before I went to sleep; and Nannies and Grandads were kissed at the commencement and termination of visits, and upon receipt of their gifts.
[1] Nanny and Grandad: My Grandma, or “Nanny” as we called her, and Grandad Cooper used to come to our house regularly, though I don’t actually remember any such visits. A couple of incidents have been related to me which date from this period:
1. It seems that Nanny was interfering with my Mum’s care of us two boys, so my Mum, exasperated, challenged her.
“Don’t you think I’m capable of looking after my own children?” she said.
“No, Marjorie, I don’t” was my Gran’s matter-of-fact reply.

2. My Mum was prone to suffering from eczema, and my Grandma, never a master of tact, commented on one occasion, “Oh, Marjorie, haven’t you got an awful complexion!”—or, “Haven’t you got awful skin, Marjorie!”
More notes (evidently my Grandma was still alive when they were written):
3. None of the material of these notes represents any actual memories from these times, when, to my innocent mind, my Grandma and Grandad were only second to my parents in their adult perfection, in “not being able to do anything wrong”; they were only learned to be fallible human beings later.

4. Looking at my Grandma now, you wouldn’t believe that such a nice, placid old lady would be capable of making these remarks (which I myself never heard). But you wouldn’t believe either that she could do one of her staccato sing-song laughs (“Hah! Hah! Hah! Hah! Hah! Hah! Haaah!”) till she did it. Or that she could belch with a loud “Oi!” (and I have heard her do these things).

5. It seems that my Grandma was wont to unselfconsciously interfere in my parents’ lives; I say “unselfconsciously” because she didn’t do it out of any conscious plan of interference. She’s good-hearted, is my Gran, in spite of what I’ve said.

6. My Grandma tells me that she and Grandad bought the house in Palatine Road, Cleveleys, for my Mum and Dad. But, from a separate memory, it seems that she originally wanted my Mum and Dad to live with them in Thornton. My Mum feels that if that had been allowed to happen they’d have finished up getting divorced. (There’s no risk of this happening now, even though my Gran does live with them, although she does prove a bit of a strain sometimes.)

7. All these are strange revelations, and do not fit in with my childhood impression that all relatives loved each other.
[2] They… visited us from time to time: I am told that Nanny and Grandad Cooper used to visit on Saturdays and stop overnight. Mum and Dad and they used to play bridge together.

[3] Another Nanny and Grandad who visited us even less frequently:—i.e. Nanny Paine and Grandad Jack. Despite my seeming recollection of infrequency of visits, I am told that when we lived in Preston, Nanny Paine used to visit on a Thursday evening to baby-sit while Mum and Dad went out to the pictures. My only memories of such visits are of her wearing very deep red lipstick, and of receiving purple-wrapped bars of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate.

[4] Nanny Paine and Grandad Jack: Nanny Paine bought my Mum her first washing machine. We were poor when we lived in Preston—it wasn’t until 1962, when we lived in Thornton, that my Dad was promoted to EO (Executive Officer, the first step up from Clerical Officer in the Civil Service); and we started to be better off then, for he earned £20 a week. So he had to take an evening job when we lived in Preston—as doorman or cloakroom attendant—in a dance hall. Nanny Paine wasn’t happy about Mum being left alone so much, particularly when Mum had her illness, and she bought Mum her first washing machine. She couldn’t really afford it; she got it on the “never-never”—i.e. by hire-purchase [instalment buying].

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