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Early days with Peter Gooding (1)

Early Days

Perhaps 1963

The record player
 1. When I first knew Gooding and started going round to his caravan-home
[0] [trailer home], he bought a portable record player from a second-hand shop.
  [0] See Limebrest Farm, Thornton Cleveleys.
 2. We may have travelled to Blackpool for this purpose. I have a mental picture of travelling to Blackpool with Gooding on one of those “funny buses with doors in the middle”.[1] Presumably this is a recollection of several such trips rolled into one. We agreed that when travelling we would take it in turns to ask for the fares; but because Peter had a bad stammer when he was nervous, he used to want to get out of asking when it was his turn.
 “It’s your turn to ask,” I would say.
 “Aw, you ask!” Peter would say.
 “Why?” I would ask in mock-innocence.
 But I prevailed at least once; and Peter, spluttering and growing red, blurted out the words: “Two f-f-f-fivepenny
F-F-F-FARES!” (I can’t remember how much it was.) I felt embarrassed because of the word “fares”: of course they were “fares” but one didn’t say “fares”; one said, “Two fives, please”, or said, “…fivepenny halves[2]”, if anything.
[1] “One of those funny buses with doors in the middle”: See New friendships: David Jones—Autumn Term 1961.

[2] Halves: Children aged up to 14 travelled on buses for half the adult fare.
 3. Anyhow, Gooding bought this record player. But there was no spring in the playing arm, so it was very heavy; and when Gooding and I examined the cartridge, we found that it was turned to “78” and that there was no “33–45” (or “LP”) stylus in it. But there were some 45’s that came with the record player, so since they had obviously been played with the player in this condition we tried them out. How “scrawped” they sounded! (“Scrawp” was a word we coined—no, HE coined—and pertained to the sight and sound of scratched records; we were very pernickety about care of records at that time.) So, Peter took the player to Wetherley’s (not known by us as “Wetherby’s”[3] at that time), where a spring and replacement cartridge were fitted.
[3] “Wetherby’s” was Jones’s Dad’s malapropism for Wetherley’s, a retailer of household electrical goods in Victoria Road, Thornton; see The Apple Incident.

In this 1979 photo, Wetherley’s had become “Fylde Colourvision”.
 4. We met at the caravan again when Peter got his record player back, to use it. Peter now started buying his own records. Among the discs that came with the record player, were The Everly Brothers’ Ebony Eyes/Walk Right Back and a Woolworth’s cover version, on their “Embassy” label, of Wonderful Land. Among the ones that Peter bought after acquiring the record player were Duane Eddy’s (Dance with the) Guitar Man—I definitely remember the use of brackets there on the record label—and Boss Guitar. Turning to “The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles” (first edition, 1977) we can put together, from the dates these records first hit the charts, the following chronological list:–
Everly Brothers   Walk Right Back/Ebony Eyes   9 Feb. 61 for 16 weeks
Shadows   Wonderful Land   1 Mar. 62 for 19 weeks
Duane Eddy   (Dance with the) Guitar Man   8 Nov. 62 for 16 weeks
Duane Eddy   Boss Guitar   14 Feb. 63 for 8 weeks

This indicates that Gooding got his record player after 1 March 1962, probably late in 1962 or in early 1963.

The environs of Peter’s home
See also Limebrest Farm, Thornton Cleveleys.
 5. Early on, I remember that Peter produced some Dinky Toy models of earth-moving plant and we played at making roads with them on the small bank of bare earth which was at the shrub-lined boundary fence of the caravan site [trailer park]. We were a bit old for this kind of game (and somebody passing by may have remarked on this) but we did it anyway.

 5A. Just beyond that little rise of earth and the shrub-lined boundary fence at the back of the caravan site, was an unused field. Peter took me into the field, a little way along its edge, and showed me in the roots of one of the shrubs someone’s stash of “girlie” magazines that he had discovered. They were fairly “soft” fare, such as issues of Parade, Health and Efficiency, and others. I remember taking one away, with a centrefold featuring a full-figured brunette woman squeezed into some sort of belted tunic of transparent plastic but otherwise naked. Clearly, we were fast becoming old enough for this kind of game! Where I hid it at home, I don’t remember.
 6. The unused field had been earmarked for the building of houses, and in it were several mounds of earth. Gooding had a stripped-down bike that he used for track cycling over all this uneven ground, and he let me have a go. I wasn’t a very experienced cyclist, and couldn’t get round the course quite as quickly or confidently as he could, but at least I made the effort.

 6A. There were some areas of the field where preparations for building or civil engineering work had begun. There were several upright wooden posts that had been driven into the ground, and I pulled some of them up and relocated them a yard or two away. I was aggrieved that “they” were robbing us of our recreation ground—or that was my excuse for the petty vandalism. When, a year or two later, the roads were laid and the houses built, I went down there, and noticed a bit of a kink in the road; I fancied that perhaps it was a result of my handiwork.

 6B. There were some earthen pipes, dark brown—glazed, I think—that were going to be used for the laying of drains, and some of them were broken. We picked one of the shards up, about 6 or 7 inches across, to throw it like a discus. But as I threw, the sharp edge ripped through the last digit of my right middle finger. I was afraid of needles and terrified that I have have to go to the hospital for stitches and the inevitable tetanus jab. But back at the caravan, the imperturbable Mrs. Gooding, who was a hospital nurse, just washed it, dressed it, and sent me on my way.

Peter’s grooming
 7. Peter Gooding’s hair was always carefully combed, whereas I having curly hair never bothered with a brush or comb. It was Peter, though, who introduced me to the practice of hair grooming. He had straight hair which always seemed to stay in place. He always had the same style, parted on the left side; and he just had to comb it this way, and that way, a touch or two here and a touch or two there, and it was done. I would sit seemingly for hours in front of the mirror trying and failing to get it to look just right. And it tended to curl, so it would never stay where I put it.

Early days with Peter Gooding (2)

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