John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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The Fairhursts and the Leeches

Early Days

Spring to summer 1961
 1. When Chris Woodhead first knew Alan Fairhurst, Mrs. Fairhurst Alan’s Mum didn’t like Leech or his mother, and was always speaking ill of them. “That Violet Leech!” she used to say. She would often have something bad to say about either Leech or his mother, and would try to tell Chris what a bad lad he was. “You and our Alan ought to keep away from him,” she would say.

 2. Once, Leech had been sent packing for some reason—he had annoyed Mrs. Fairhurst in some way—so she said to Alan, in no uncertain terms: “Go and tell that Timothy Leech to keep away from here—and his mother!” Possibly Chris and Alan were just leaving, intending to call on Leech.

 3. It was Alan’s Dad who summed up Violet Leech’s son. “Aye, he’s puddled, that Timothy Leech,” he said. “That Timothy Leech is puddled!”

 4. No-one ever got into the Leeches’ house. However, they had no qualms about visiting other people’s houses. Mrs. Fairhurst told Chris about the time Leech and his mother came round, one Saturday morning; and Alan was in the house on his own, and let them in. She was trying to say that Alan was a bit gullible because he let them in; but he was only about ten or eleven years old, and the Leeches, presumably, could be quite persuasive.

 5. Mrs. Fairhurst worked on a Saturday at a shop in Fleetwood—where, exactly, we don’t know. It seems likely that she worked all day, and would not get home until Saturday tea-time. And Alan’s Dad worked on a Saturday morning as well; he would come home at lunch-time. He worked on a building site; he was working somewhere near Norbreck at that time. So Alan was always at home on his own on a Saturday morning. Chris often used to go round there and play, or whatever they did together.

 5A. This is a slight digression: The Fairhursts had their milk delivered by the Coopes of Marsh Farm; and the main reason why Alan stayed at home on a Saturday morning was because that was when the Coopes (usually Mrs. Coope) collected the money. For this reason, Chris often tried to be there—just in case their daughter Susan Coope would also appear on the Fairhursts’ doorstep! According to Alan, this had occasionally happened. As far as Chris can remember, however, he had no such luck!
[1] See Chris moves to Thornton: Susan Coope.
 6. Now Leech knew what the situation was with Alan on a Saturday morning; but despite this, he and his mother called round at the Fairhursts’ house at about half-past ten to eleven o’clock. And some time afterward, Mrs. Fairhurst was sounding off about “Violet Leech”, discrediting both Leech and his mother, by saying, “Do you know what happened? One Saturday morning Violet Leech and Timothy knew that Alan was in the house on his own, so they came round—”

 7. Their excuse was, apparently, that Mrs. Leech wanted to see Mrs. Fairhurst, so they both came round; and Alan said, “Well, no, my Mum’s at work.” And of course, according to Mrs. Fairhurst, Violet Leech knew this.
 So they stood there, and then they said, “Oh, we were coming for a coffee. Would you make us a cup of coffee, Alan?”

 8. So, much to Mrs. Fairhurst’s disgust when Alan later told her about it, they trooped in, sat down, made themselves at home, had coffee (which Alan made for them), and then just took off. Mrs. Fairhurst was livid about it. “That Violet Leech,” she said, “Coming round here with her son, drinking our coffee!”
 So that was one of the reasons why Mrs. Fairhurst had such an active dislike for them.

 9. And then she tried to demonstrate that Leech was no good, by listing the places from which he had been banned—the homes where offended parents had told their children that on no account could Leech visit there any more. There was somewhere that Chris can’t remember, and there was my place.
 “He’s been banned from ‘So-and-so’,” she said. “He’s been banned from the Coopers’ on Fleetwood Road. Do you know John Cooper?”
 “No, I don’t,” Chris replied.
 I am not sure whether in fact I knew Fairhurst at this time; certainly, as I write this now, I have no mental recollection of the boy. But if I did not know him, they obviously knew of me. Chris did not know me at this time, but he remembers that I was mentioned in connection with Leech’s being banned from my house.
 “And now he’s banned from here!” Mrs. Fairhurst added.

 10. So, in trying to discredit Leech, to warn Chris off him, Mrs. Fairhurst said, “That’s why he doesn’t come here any more, because he’s banned. He used to come on a Saturday morning when Alan was on his own, and cause trouble. And then, what’s more, his mother came; Violet Leech came with him one morning and they invited themselves in.” And so Mrs. Fairhurst continued her tirade about the Leeches.

 10A. Yet they must have started off with some kind of friendship for Violet Leech to know her well enough to come to the house. But Mrs. Fairhurst, a blunt Lancashire lady from Bolton, didn’t take long to see through her—oh, no: she was not easily fooled. Mrs. Leech was always very friendly on the surface, and to most easy-going people she found some sort of acceptance. It was only when she went too far, and started making use of her friends, that they started not liking her.

Later events
 10B. Mrs. Davies, Trevor’s Mum, who incidentally also came from Bolton, got friendly later on with Violet Leech. Or, to put it more accurately, Violet Leech got quite friendly with Trevor’s Mum. This was after the Leeches had moved from Victoria Road to Colesville Avenue, and after the Davieses moved (on 22nd June 1965) to “Sharon”,
[more] a house round the corner from the Leeches on Briar Road. How it came about is not certain; but Mrs. Leech would come round to use the phone, and Trevor’s Mum would do various little jobs for her, to help her out, like buying her various items while out shopping. Trevor’s Mum would accept her well enough; if she came round she would give her a cup of coffee, and she would let her use the phone when she asked. But Trevor’s Mum was always offended that when she went round to deliver whatever it was that she had happened to pick up at the shops for her, she was never allowed in the house. The transaction was always conducted through the bedroom window, or somewhere similar. The fact that Mrs. Leech used to come round and use their telephone as if that was a divine right did nothing to mitigate this feeling of offendedness. So after such a visit, Trevor’s Mum would spend the rest of the afternoon complaining about her—just like Mrs. Fairhurst did. So it was only out of politeness that she tolerated her; she didn’t like her.
 Trevor’s Mum, then, discovered the fact, already stated, that one never got into Leech’s house. It seems that Mrs. Leech actually did become a leech on people, “enfriending” them as Timmy did.

 10C. After all this, Violet Leech moved to the Lake District, to Lakeside, but did not stay there very long and moved back into our area, to Poulton-le-Fylde. It was while living in Poulton that she was prosecuted for shoplifting. It is not known whether she still lives there; at first she used to send postcards and letters to Trevor’s Mum, and come to see her when she visited Thornton. But after she was prosecuted for shoplifting, Trevor’s Mum did not see her very much, and to tell the truth, wasn’t all that bothered anyway. She was probably glad to see the back of her; she used to dread her coming round.

 10D. Timothy got married. When he left home, his mother sold his bed! He went to London to go to college; and the day he moved out, or almost, she sold all his furniture. And he came back suddenly—his college course fell through or something—and he came back, to find that his room was bare! After that, he went back down to London and met a girl, but when he brought her home his Mum didn’t like her, wouldn’t have her in the house; so they had to go and stay at the Regal Hotel in Cleveleys. He married her shortly after that, and they had a child.

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