John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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The Apple Incident

Early Days
Sources for “The Apple Incident”
A “wrecking” expedition to Jones’s,
August 1963
 1. One Saturday morning in the school summer holidays in August 1963, Trevor called for me, to find the Webster twins already at my place. It seems that Gooding was there as well, or else he appeared later.

 2. It was probably I who suggested, “Let’s go round and ‘wreck’ Jones.” (“Jones-wrecking” was still a new craze at this time; the practice of making fun of Jones had not long been established.) The suggestion was agreed; it would be a good opportunity to show the Websters what a risible fool this Jones was.

 3. Jones had just moved to live in Park Road. We called at the side door of the bungalow. (It was usual not to go to the front door when visiting friends.) As it happened, Jones was not playing and seeing any friends. He must have realised that his casual callers were there for one reason alone and that being to make him the object of their entertainment. This meant that we couldn’t “wreck” him in front of the Websters.

“Jones had just moved to live in Park Road”, 1979 photos.

“We called at the side door of the bungalow”, visible in this 1979 photo.
 4. Jones went back in and closed the door. Thwarted in our plans, we knocked at the door several times, Jones coming to the door again once and then ignoring us. However, the brief moments that we had spent with Jones were long enough to make us realise that Jones was alone in the house.

 5. Failing to get any further response from Jones, we then decided to ring the front door as well, knocking on the back door and ringing the front doorbell. Jones began to go hopping mad inside the house, frequently appearing at windows and vainly trying to tell his tormentors to go away.
 This went on for some time until Jones finally “cracked”! He blew a fuse, as it were, came storming from the lounge, through the “inner” front door to the porch door and ripped the wires out of the bell.

 6. Thwarted again, we decided to go, but espied the front gates, which were left open to facilitate the entry of “Dads’s” car. So we closed the gates and left. However, Jones came and opened them, at which point began a new game, with us shutting the gates and Jones opening them.
 Jones was becoming even more angry, especially with me, accusing me of trespassing. I replied that on the contrary I was assisting him by closing his gates for him.

 7. Then the Websters had to go for lunch; and possibly I left with them, because I had to report to Nanny and Grandad’s for dinner on Saturdays at 12.30pm. If this is so, Trevor stayed with Gooding for a bit before they also had to go for dinner. (Trevor remembers dispensing with someone at the top of Hawthorne Road, and Gooding’s presence would fit the occasion here because he would then go on home to the caravan
[trailer home].)[1]
[1] See Limebrest Farm, Thornton Cleveleys.
The “Apple Incident”
 8. Around 2pm Trevor called again for me. I wasn’t available for play before 2pm on Saturdays because, as stated earlier, I had to report to my Nanny and Grandad’s for dinner; and when the meal was over, there was a period when I had to sit and “let your dinner go down”. There were three boys at my place that afternoon: Trevor, me, and again Gooding. The Websters weren’t there, because they couldn’t play in the afternoon for some reason.

 9. The three of us had nothing to do (as usual). But, since it was the time for apples, we asked if we could have an apple. We were told that, yes, we could, but only the apples that had fallen off. So that’s what we did. But it was noticed that all the best apples were on the tree—especially one, which Trevor espied. So he took it.

“It was the time for apples”, 1979 photo.
 10. This had not gone unnoticed by my Mum, who was observing the scene from the kitchen window. She came out of the kitchen and down the garden, as Trevor emerged, casually strolling from the trees munching the apple. My Mum, having passed the little fish pond, confronted Trevor as he stood in the middle of the lawn.

“This had not gone unnoticed by my Mum, who was observing the scene from the kitchen window”, 1979 photo.

A sycamore tree and shrub occupy the site of “the little fish pond” in this 1979 photo.
 With her voice slightly raised, she demanded, “Did you take that apple, Trevor?”
 “Yes,” Trevor replied immediately.
 As well as being annoyed that Trevor had disobeyed her specific instructions, my Mum was astounded that he had admitted his misdeed in such a complacent, matter-of-fact way.
 “Oh Trevor, how could you?” she said. Then, losing patience, she cried, “Get out!”—adding for good measure, “Get out, all of you! I’m fed up with the lot of you.” Perhaps we had all been playing her up in other ways that afternoon.

 11. Without much ado we sheepishly left my house. “Where shall we go?” we wondered. “Woodhead’s!” So we headed in the direction of Chris’s house.

 12. Strolling down Fleetwood Road, we three had just passed the Neville Drive bus stop, when a grey Austin Cambridge family saloon car appeared. It approached and crossed to our side of the road so that it was facing oncoming traffic, and the window wound down.

“We three had just passed the Neville Drive bus stop”, looking back to the bus stop in this 1979 photo.

“We three had just passed the Neville Drive bus stop”, looking forward from the same position in this 1979 photo.

Austin Cambridge family saloon car

“It approached and crossed to our side of the road so that it was facing oncoming traffic…”
 “Now then, you three, I want a word with you!” The speaker was Jones’s Dad, an ageing, red-faced man with a basin-cut mop of white hair. Diagonally opposite him in the back seat of the car sat Jones, arms folded, looking ahead or slightly down. He was probably feeling quietly vindicated and smug.

 13. We stopped. Out of the car emerged the familiar figure of Mr. Jones, looking annoyed.

Sketch by me, ?1980s
 Trevor confesses that he felt somewhat perturbed (in other words, scared) by this, but much to his relief Gooding and he appeared not to be the main targets of ire, because it was “You, Cooper, you’re obviously the ringleader!” So Trevor felt relieved. I must have been scared at this point, but I put on an appearance of unconcern. Had I been alone, doubtless the situation would have been different, but I had to put on a show for the benefit of the others.
 “I was just on my way to see your parents,” Mr. Jones continued. “What do you say to that?”
 I probably just shrugged my shoulders and said something like “Well, it’s up to you.”
 “You don’t seem to care, Cooper!”
 I probably said words to the effect of “Well, you’ve every right to—” or maybe, “There isn’t anything I can do about it, is there!”

 14. Mr. Jones went on about the damage to the doorbell, concluding his words with “Your father will be getting the bill from ‘Wetherby’s’.” (“Wetherby’s”—or to be correct “Wetherley’s”—was the name of a local electrical retailer’s shop.)

“Wetherley’s”, now Fylde Colourvision in this 1979 photo.
 15. Mr. Jones was still not satisfied with my apparent lack of fear following his threat of reporting my behaviour to my parents; but I must then have said something which showed that I regretted Mr. Jones’s going to my house, because Mr. Jones replied, “That’s all I wanted to hear, Cooper!”
 And with this, he got back into the car and went off to see my Mum.

 16. All three of us were somewhat pensive as to what the outcome of the visit would bring, but we shrugged it off and went to see Chris. We would certainly have told Chris all about the day’s activities with a great deal of laughter.

 17. What happened when I returned home cannot be remembered, but one can only suppose that no great disciplinary action was taken against me. I waited in vain for a few days for the delivery of the “bill from ‘Wetherby’s’”.

My ban from Park Road
 18. It was during this confrontation with Mr. Jones, that he told me with some indignation that if I so much as set foot in Park Road again he’d set the police on to me.
 The result of this threat was that whenever I walked (and, indeed, still walk) past the entrance of Park Road I stepped in a defiant arc one or two yards into Park Road.

See also Sources for “The Apple Incident”.

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