John Edward Cooper’s Notes

HomeContentsAlphabetical listingWhom I’d like to meet in eternity…

In and around Davelyshome

Early Days
1961 to 1963
 1. David Jones lived in a dormer bungalow at 53 Victoria Road, Thornton, just round the corner from Mayfair Drive, which has already been mentioned in our story.[i] The front door was about half-way down the left side, and on entering there was a door to the left into the lounge, where the event just described[ii] occurred: “Chris, when your Dad goes to Manchester, does he go over Belmont?” “NO! He goes through Chorley!” At the far end of the lounge in the right wall was a door leading into the kitchen, where a memorable incident occurred.
[i] Mentioned in our story: i.e. in Jones and Manchester: The destruction of Manchester.
[ii] Just described: i.e. in Jones and Manchester: The fastest route to Manchester.

Chris’s and my attempts, perhaps late 1990’s, to recall the layout of the house downstairs
A glass of orange squash
 2. I was in the kitchen with Jones; and Jones’s Mum (or “Mums”) asked us if we would like a glass of orange. Now I wasn’t keen at all on orange cordial at that time and always found it a bit sickly, but not wishing to be impolite I said, “Oh, yes please.” And I looked towards the sink where Mrs. Jones was preparing the drinks; and to my astonishment she almost filled a tall glass with the cordial and then topped up the last half inch with water. I had a sickly feeling in my stomach, but then I thought, No, that must be Jones’s glass; he must prefer his orange squash like that. But no, the process was repeated with a second glass. Mrs. Jones brought the drinks to the table and handed them to us, and I took the glass in my hand and drank it down in gulps, trying my best not to taste it. And Jones, of course, drained his glass with relish.
 “Would you like some more?” said Mums.
 “Yes please, Mums!” said Jones.
“Er—no thank you,” I said.
 Believe me, that orange cordial was horrible.

“John wants to know…”
2A. As far as I remember, on this occasion it was Mums who took the initiative; but let us imagine that it’s Jones, and that we are initially upstairs in his bedroom. Jones says: “I say, Coops: would you like a glass of orange?”
He then leads the way downstairs, and as soon as he has opened the living room door, he says, “Mums, JOHN WANTS TO KNOW if he can have a glass of orange.” This, of course, is very embarrassing; I imagine Mums thinking, “Bloomin’ cheek: coming to our house, demanding orange squash!” (Obviously, not actually orange squash: this is a made-up example.)

2B. There were a number of occasions when this happened; so once, when Jones again asked if I’d like something, I replied, “Yes, but please don’t say, ‘John wants to know…’.” Nevertheless, as soon as he opened the door — “John wants to know if he can have [so-and-so].”
Cringe! “NO, DAVID, not ‘John wants to know…’!”[iii]
[iii] “John wants to know” is a late entrant to the “Early Days” written corpus, though there has been an oral tradition of it from the beginning. When I met up with Chris in 2017, he was staying at his aunt’s establishment, where I visited him. Before I went home, we went downstairs to the kitchen, where his aunt was, for coffee. On the way down, Chris said to me, in Jones-style, “John wants to know if he can have a cup of coffee.”


Chris’s and my attempt, perhaps late 1990’s, to recall the layout of the house upstairs
 3. Directly above the lounge and kitchen, at the rear of 53 Victoria Road, Thornton, was Jones’s bedroom. On his bedroom door he had taped a hastily- and untidily-crayoned notice, saying,
53A Victoria Road
 The name Davelyshome was a contraction of his own name David, plus the name of his teddy bear Curly, Curly Bear-Jones: “David-and-Curly’s-home”, “Davelyshome”.
 “Not a bad place, Davelyshome!” Jones declared to Chris once with a proprietorial air.
 Within Davelyshome were: (of course) Jones’s bed, which was also his personal aircraft or spacecraft; his record player (classical music only, no jazz or pop); his typewriter, on which his speed was matched only by his inaccuracy; his dossiers on the activities of friends, enemies, acquaintances and school teachers; and his rexine[iv]-covered pocket chess set, the pieces of which he would hold in his long, white fingers and suck wetly when considering his next move. There were his teddy bears Curly and Brumas Bear-Jones, probably concealed from Chris but revealed to me. Also similarly concealed and revealed were documents relating to the “Animals House Air Force” and “The Game” that Jones and I played, and material relating to Colonel C. Bear Jones, that is, the above-mentioned Curly. There was Albert, his tan-coloured, vinyl, framed document case with the lethal-looking brass corners, which he would use as a weapon when roused. And there was his supply of “Lego” building bricks, from which he constructed model buildings and aeroplanes, or with which he played, particularly when about to deliver some ponderous saying.
[iv] Rexine: a kind of imitation leather used for book covers, upholstery, etc.
 4. Sometimes, when he was going to make a grave statement, or tell you something very deep, carefully-considered or of a personal nature, Jones would go suddenly serious, or sometimes he would build up to it, then stride across pensively to the window with something in his hand and look out as if gazing into mid-air. This was a favourite position of Jones’s when he wanted to say something that he wanted to have some impact. Then he would, after building up the dramatic (some might say, melodramatic) tension, give utterance to whatever deep, devastating statement he had in mind.

“I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown”
 5. Chris was in Jones’s bedroom once, in Davelyshome to give it its proper name, on one such occasion, when Jones moved across to the window in this manner. He did have two pieces of Lego in his hands at this time. He moved across to the window in a very serious mood, and gazed out as if looking towards outer space, or something
 “Chris,” he eventually said. “There’s something I must tell you.” He paused. “I have to tell you.”
 Chris was by this time all ears. “What, David?” he asked, eagerly. “What is it, David?”
 There was another pause before Jones spoke again. “I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown,” he said quietly and without emphasis.
 “You’re not, are you, David? Why?”
 “It’s very serious— You see, Chris, it’s this girl at school—” His voice was becoming more animated now but not very much louder. “She talks about” (and now his voice dropped to a whisper) “loving me!—
 “I can’t take any more of it, Chris!”
[v] Cf. Towards the first kiss, par.1A.

“A trace of aristocracy”
Sources of the story: The Sealed Envelope and Chris’s Reply
 6. One evening Chris was privileged to be a guest at Davelyshome when The Oracle told him that he ranked importantly enough in Jones’s list of confidants to hear something which Jones held close to his heart.
 He moved towards the window, looking out on to the garden, holding a piece of Lego in each hand with which he continually played, and disclosed his beliefs thus:
 “Chris, I haven’t told you before, but I feel that you should know. I believe— that somewhere in my family— there is a trace— of aristocracy.” He didn’t pronounce it in the usual way “ariSTOcracy”, he pronounced it “Aristocracy”.

“An impregnable afternoon”
Sources of the story: The Sealed Envelope and Chris’s Reply
 7. Although Jones liked to think of himself as a master of oratory, such blunders were not unknown to him. That is, they would not be unknown to him if he had not had such an inflated opinion of himself that he failed to notice them.
 For example, Jones is reported to have commented one sunny afternoon that it was an “impregnable” afternoon. Some time later, Chris and Fairhurst were in Jones’s garage at Victoria Road and Chris confronted Jones with this previous statement. Jones denied vigorously that he could ever say such a thing. Fairhurst didn’t seem to know what “impregnable” meant and asked Jones this.
 Jones gave forth one of his hideous half chuckling, half gasping-for-breath laughs, and replied, “UNVULNERABLE!”
 Fairhurst seemed none the wiser!

“An hour’s enjoyment from a cigarette”
 8. Then there was the time, perhaps in 1965 or 1966—I know it was later on because I was friendly with Jones again after a period of enmity—when Jones was in a debate at school about the pros and cons of smoking. I can’t remember if the motion was “This house believes that smoking is acceptable” and Jones was speaking against it, or whether it was “This house believes that smoking is unacceptable” and he was speaking for it; but Jones was on his feet and ready to hold forth on the dangers of the habit, and asked, “Is it worth the risk, for the sake of an hour’s enjoyment from a cigarette—?” And that is as far as he got, for the remark brought the house down with roars of laughter. And I admit that I couldn’t help joining in, it was so funny.

“A trace of aristocracy” (continued)
 9. Going back to Jones’s disclosure to Chris about his supposed aristocratic ancestry: Jones had told Chris that he was a friend and therefore felt that he could trust him enough to tell him what was on his heart, and just said, “You see, Chris, I believe that somewhere in my family there is a trace of Aristocracy.”
 Chris tried to hide the desire to laugh that obviously sprang up in him, and stifled it in some way, and just said, “Oh, do you, David?”
 Jones gave his affirmation and added that he had no positive evidence of this; it was just something that he felt. Knowing himself, looking into himself, he realised that somewhere there must be some aristocratic background.

“First best friend… second best friend… third best friend”
 10. Jones once told Chris when he was in the garden with him—it was in the garden as opposed to being in Davelyshome: “You know, Chris, you’re not my first best friend. My first best friend is David Farrow,” and he gave his full address which was somewhere in Manchester.[vi]
 “My second best friend is Peter Richard Gooding,
[vii] Limebrest Caravan Site, Limebrest Avenue, School Road, Thornton Cleveleys.
 “And you, Chris, are my third best friend.”
 Chris was overwhelmed with the flattery—or audacity—of it all.

[vi] Chris, in conversation with me on Thursday 8th February 1996, told me about his only meeting with Jones’s “First Best Friend”:
OK:… Jones’s “First Best Friend”, David Farrow from Manchester, who, I presume, he went to school with there. He came to stay with Jones at Victoria Road once. I only remember meeting him the once. I’d heard about him because Jones… listed his friends in order of seniority, and… he told me once that I was his third best friend; and he went through the rigmarole of explaining that his “first best friend” was “David Farrow, of” so and so, so and so, something “Road, Manchester”, that his “second best friend” was “Peter Richard Roger Gooding, of Limebrest Caravan Park, Limebrest Avenue, School Road, Thornton; and you, Chris, are my third best friend.” I thought wow.… So, obviously, David Farrow was the one who held first place. And he came to stay—and I only met him the once, at “Davelyshome”. And I seem to recall us being in the garden at the back, with this friend of his; and I thought, “Well, as he’s Jones’s ‘first best friend’, it’s unlikely that he will find Jones as amusing as we do.”… We were probably creeps, because we were friends with Jones mainly for our own amusement! And then something happened—I can’t think what it was—Jones went inside; and David Farrow revealed his true colours, that in fact he found Jones quite amusing, and proceeded to tell something about him, and we started to laugh at Jones behind his back.… I can’t remember the details, but— It only happened— It was only for a few minutes that Jones went away, and I was left with David Farrow, and he just sparked something off, and just said something funny about Jones and started laughing. And I thought, “Ah, well”, you know. “It’s not just us! This is a long-standing friend, who’s come all the way from the ‘Holy City’ just to visit Jones in his new place.” And I thought, “Yes. He’s also cracked some joke at Jones’s expense!” That’s all I remember. I can’t remember any more.
[vii] Peter Richard Gooding: Actually, his full name was Peter Richard Roger Gooding, but we are not sure whether Jones knew that.
“A padded cell for Woodhead”
 11. Jones was by no means always so serious, however. He did have a more playful side to his nature. Now Jones was a staunch supporter of the Labour Party. He knew it made sense!—to use the later Labour Party slogan from the General Election campaign of 1964. Chris and I came from families traditionally Tory, so we were ready-made propaganda material for Jones. Jones’s interest in moderately left-wing politics was probably inherited from his Dad (or “Dads”), who was, I think, a Labour candidate in a local election—which is somewhat surprising: Mr. Jones himself was a practitioner of private enterprise, he owned the Dean Mount Garage in Moston, Manchester.
 Chris was again with Jones in Davelyshome, and there must have been some sort of light-hearted banter going on—Chris must have challenged Jones’s politics in some way—because Jones, this day in a more boisterous mood, pinned Chris onto his bed with his knees on his arms. And having got Chris in this position, trapped on his bed, he pretended to make a phone call to the Labour Party headquarters at Transport House, requesting that they prepare a “padded cell for Woodhead”—with photographs of Harold Wilson
[viii] all round the walls!
[viii] When the leader of the Labour Party, Hugh Gaitskell, died unexpectedly in January 1963, Harold Wilson won the leadership, on the second ballot.
“Ta ta, Grans”
 12. If Jones’s grandmother (or “Grans”) ever ventured to set foot into David’s bedroom—there was hell to pay!
 “David!” she would call, in a more frail version of Mums’s voice.
 A dismissive “Ta ta, Grans!” would be all she would get for her pains.
 If she persisted with a further “David!”, Jones would simply shout, “Grrrr! GET OUT, GRANS!”
 Not very respectful of grey hairs, our David!

“David, it’s time for Chris/John to go now”
 13. If Mums’s soft, almost melodic voice came drifting up the stairs with the words: “David, it’s time for Chris to go now!” or “David, it’s time for John to go now!”—that gained a lot more co-operation from Jones. And immediate, summary co-operation at that. “Right, Mums!” he would call, then turning to whichever one of us it was he would commence to look menacing. “Right, get out!” he would say, and advance towards one with his arm extending and his fingers curved rigidly like hooks. Or he might amplify it a bit by saying, “Right, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go, so GET OUT!” Either way the result was the same: the hook-like fingers would close on one’s collar, and one would be marched out of the room, swung round to the right, directed down the stairs, and ejected out of the front door. He was very strong, was Jones, and it was impossible to struggle free from the iron grip, or resist the onward pressure of the rigid arm, which were only released with a forward thrust at the front door. The door would then be slammed shut, and that was the appointment over.

“It’s only Cooper messing about”
 14. I rebelled against this once, and began to push the doorbell button rapidly and repeatedly: Ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong! That brought Jones back to the door straight away, and he attempted to stop me by placing his hand over the bell push in a kind of tent. But I got my finger through the hole between his forefinger and thumb and, Ding dong!
 “What’s happening, David?” came Mums’s voice from within.
 “It’s only Cooper messing about, Mums!” announced Jones.
 Jones’s Mum did take him to task once about his rudeness to his friends in thus ejecting them, however.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]