John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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The Ghostiologists

Early Days

Towards summer 1961
 1. As we have seen,
[more] Mrs. Fairhurst told Chris Woodhead that Timothy Leech had been banned from “John Cooper’s on Fleetwood Road”. At that time Chris did not know who I was; to him I was just a boy who was mentioned, who lived on Fleetwood Road, whom Leech was friendly with but was banned from my house. I seem to remember, in fact, that Leech suffered more than one ban from our house, during which times our Steve and I would not see anything of him. I imagine, though, that some time after the first ban either Steve or I must have met up with him, and made due representations to our parents on his behalf, and he was conditionally readmitted to our premises. This must have been the case after the ban Mrs. Fairhurst referred to; he must have regained entry to my house, because he brought Chris round there one Saturday morning to see me.
 2. At this time, getting towards summer 1961, Leech and I had started having fairly regular appointments to play a game in which we pretended to be ghost experts or “ghostiologists” (to use the term Leech coined); we pretended to hunt and kill ghosts—although when my Mum pointed out that you can’t kill ghosts because they are already dead, it was decided to change the word “kill” to “annihilate” (again, the word came from Leech). A good look-out position for us was the wooden balcony one stepped out onto from our back door: from there we could see the old house across the fields to the right, where Kathleen Bentley lived or had lived (I think we held that that was haunted); and ahead of us, just visible behind a rise in the field, was the top of a white “tower”, which was the tall chimney of one of the blocks housing the Ministry of Pensions at Norcross—that was definitely haunted, for as Leech pointed out, you could see an “antenna” going up and down, showing that the ghosts were in occupation. In fact, this was a lightning conductor projecting up above the chimney, and it was completely stationary; but once Leech had suggested that it was moving up and down, I imagined that I really could see it, even when I looked through a pair of toy binoculars that I had. (The binoculars were quite big but not very powerful; they were only a toy—just two pairs of lenses attached to red paper-covered cardboard tubes.)

“The old house across the fields to the right”, 1978 photo

“The top of a white ‘tower’”, 1979 photo and detail from it. The “antenna” is not resolved in this photo.
Both photos, the 1978 and the 1979, were taken from upstairs, not the balcony.
 3. One Saturday morning Leech saw Chris, though he had a prior appointment to see me. Whether he went to Chris’s house first (which seems more likely), or whether he met Chris somewhere else and just decided to keep him in tow, is not certain. But he said to him, “I’m going round to see John Cooper: you come.”
 Chris cannot remember how he felt about this—reluctant or willing—but he agreed to go; and Leech got him round to my house.

“My house”, 2006 photo
 4. They went up to the front door, and my Mum let them in. And when he entered my house and met me for the first time, he could sense that I wasn’t over-keen on his being there.
 Chris met me in what he called the “dining room”, but what we used to call the “living room”, through the door at the far end of the entrance hall. To the immediate left as one goes through that door, is the door leading to the kitchen; and it was out of the latter door that I came. I was expecting to see Timmy as I entered the room, to play our game; but instead, my eyes met those of this complete stranger.

“The kitchen” and “The ‘living room’”, 2006 photos.
“To the immediate left… is the door leading to the kitchen…” The jamb of that door can just be seen to the left in the photo of the “living room”/“dining room”.
 I started to appear a bit wary; I avoided looking directly at Chris, but looked instead at Leech as if to say. “What’s he doing here? Who’s he?” And Leech must then have introduced him to me, or apologised for him and said, “It’ll be all right about Chris.” But I was very apprehensive; I didn’t want to play the game while Chris was there.

 5. Now in connection with the game, Leech had brought along an exercise book with something written up in it, a report or something; and I had got out a similar one, ready to start playing—till I saw Chris. And I was being a bit vague, as if to say, “No, Timmy, stop. This is our game; we can’t play it because he’s there.” I possibly even just came out with it and said to Leech, “No, Timmy, not with anyone else; this is our private game”; whether I did or not, I made it obvious—to Chris if not to Leech—that Chris was not really welcome.

 6. Chris was intrigued by this game, but he was not allowed to enter any kind of discussion or conversation relating to it. I made sure of that by my attitude. And the game didn’t proceed that day because of Chris’s presence and my reluctance.

 7. Chris thought I was very unfriendly, actually, about it; after all, Leech didn’t mind him being admitted to our game.

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