John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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David Jones

Early Days
Summer 1961
 1. As we have seen,
[more] Chris Woodhead knew Peter Hargreaves through the Methodist Church and especially through “Macnamara’s Band”, the singing item in the church concert that a number of the children of the Sunday School were doing. Peter’s Mum was training them, getting this item together, and they would go and practise at the Hargreaveses’ house. And it was after one such rehearsal, that Peter and Chris were playing outside in some sand, and Jones appeared. It was a Saturday afternoon, by now in the school summer holidays.

“Hargreaves’s house”, No.9 Mayfair Drive, 1979 photo. The front of Nos.1, 3, 5 and 7 can be seen quite clearly, but there is a tree obscuring No.9.

Mayfair Drive, June 2009 photos

“Hargreaves’s house”, No.9 Mayfair Drive, June 2009 photo
 2. The sand was on the building site adjacent to the Hargreaveses’ house. For although their house was some way down Mayfair Drive, for some reason it was the first one to be built on that side. Between where they lived and the corner of Victoria Road, there was building work going on, but it was very much in the early stages—only at ground level—with not much going up. And there were heaps of sand and piles of bricks.
 3. Chris had heard Peter mention “this new boy in the neighbourhood”, David Jones. The Joneses had only recently moved from Manchester, to a house similar to the Hargreaveses’ just round the corner in Victoria Road. At the time the Joneses were looking around for a house, the Hargreaveses were just about the only residents in Mayfair Drive, for theirs was the first house to be completed and occupied. It must have been a rainy day or something when the Joneses came from Manchester to look at the house,[1] for the Hargreaveses saw them and invited them round. And that is how Peter became friendly, in a way, with David Jones. Why I say “in a way” will become clear soon.[more] Suffice it to say here, that Peter Hargreaves knew Jones and mentioned him to Chris: “Oh, there’s this boy—”
[1] The Joneses came from Manchester to look at the house: Jones was evidently with his parents on that occasion. It seems appropriate to us that Jones would come with them to inspect the house, to make sure he approved of the “Davelyshome” part. Further, we imagine that the move from Manchester to Thornton would not even have been considered without David’s approval. If David had said, “No, Dads, it’s got to be Southport!”—so we imagine—they would have moved to Southport instead of Blackpool. Compare David Jones.

“A house similar to the Hargreaveses’ just round the corner in Victoria Road”, 2003 photo
 4. And now Peter and Chris were on the site next to where the Hargreaveses lived, where just the foundations were down for a house. Peter had a trolley, and some game was being carried out. There may have been others of the kids who were in “Macnamara’s Band” still around, but if so, they didn’t play any significant rôle in what happened next. Chris recalls that at one point in their proceedings they were sitting down. That is why he recalls the sand; but again, they may have been sitting on the trolley. But they were sitting somewhere on the site, back from the pavement [sidewalk], after the rehearsal, and they were talking about the club Chris had joined, which would eventually be called the Emeralds, Mallards, Broadswords and Hellfires. (The Club didn’t actually do much besides meet together and do the sort of things that schoolboys of that age do, but it did give them a feeling of belonging to a body of people.)

“Peter had a trolley…”
 5. It isn’t certain whether Hargreaves was in the Club at this time, but Chris had got him at least sufficiently interested in it for them to be discussing that afternoon the idea of printing a Club newspaper. And it was during this conversation that a tall boy, in a gaberdine mac,[2] strolled up, and just stood there—resplendent, almost! He had a rather “superior” look about him—hands behind his back, nose in the air. Peter may have introduced David Jones to Chris, but it would seem more like Jones if he introduced himself. (At that age, anyway, you made friends very quickly. You met somebody, and if you didn’t fall out with him after half an hour you were his friend.) And Jones joined the two of them and their conversation about the Club; and at the mention of a Club newspaper, he became very interested—and offered the use of his typewriter.[3] And he seemed to be a knowledgeable chap. And after the initial friendship had started during the afternoon and they had discussed the Club and the newspaper with him, he invited Chris round to his house. This day was a Saturday, and the invitation was for Sunday morning.
[2] Tradition has it that David Jones was dressed in a gaberdine mac on this occasion; whether he would be attired thus on a Saturday afternoon in July is uncertain. At that time, boys up to the age of about twelve or thirteen wore short trousers; and it is hard to picture on this occasion Jones in a gaberdine mac, with long spindly legs sticking out below it.
[3] Jones… offered the use of his typewriter: Those who are familiar with Jones’s typewriting—over-hurried, and filled with errors and corrections—will groan at the thought! For we presume that Jones included himself in the offer as typist.
 6. Jones had moved from Moston, Manchester, and at the beginning of the next school term would have started at North Manchester Grammar School. But having moved to Thornton, his parents put his name down to go to Fleetwood Grammar School. This was a mixed school; most boys went to the all-boys school, Baines’ Grammar, in Poulton-le-Fylde. Chris had his name down to go to Baines’. (Peter Hargreaves was a year younger and still had a year to go at primary school: Baines’ Endowed School, Thornton.) Jones was rather proud of the fact that he was going to Fleetwood and not to Baines’ with the common lot, and was bragging about it. The fact probably made him feel that he was “a cut above the rest”. He must have gained the impression very quickly after moving to Thornton that it was the “plebs” who went to Baines’, and that only the “select few” went to Fleetwood.

 7. Peter Hargreaves was a bit of a “toff” (his parents were teachers
[4]); he could put on authoritative-sounding airs. And that afternoon, he employed this talent to try to tease Jones. “Oh, David, have you heard?” he said. “Your parents came round to see my parents last night, and they were talking, and they’ve decided against you going to Fleetwood Grammar and they’ve put Baines’ Grammar School down as first choice.”
 Jones almost went berserk. He started to erupt. “Whaaat!” he exclaimed. “Whatssat?”
 He may have dismissed Peter’s assertion as impossible, and Peter may have added, “Oh, no, David. I remember distinctly hearing your parents talking to my parents and saying they’d changed their minds about you going to Fleetwood.”
 Whether or not the conversation was protracted in this way, Chris remembers what the outcome was. “Well,” Jones growled. “If there’s any truth in this, there’ll be fireworks!” He remembers distinctly the term “fireworks” being used: “If this is true, there’ll be fireworks!”
[4] His parents were teachers: Peter’s Dad was a P.E. teacher at Church Road Secondary Modern School. He was a show-off, and Peter took after him. Peter’s Mum was a night-school teacher; she took something like art classes or dressmaking.

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