Friday 26th July 1963
1. It was Jones’s birthday: Friday 26th July 1963. He was thirteen; and he had a birthday party. It was a rather exclusive birthday party, at which only Jones, Chris and Fairhurst were present. It is obvious that I was out of favour at this time, for I was not invited. The Joneses had not yet moved from Victoria Road; and the party was held upstairs there, in Jones’s bedroom—in Davelyshome.
2. The table was set upstairs. It was all rather business-like, like having some sort of private tea in the Managing Director’s office. And Mums kept coming upstairs, like the waitress, taking things away and replenishing the stocks of cakes and things. And at the end of the meal, she asked, “Now was everything all right?”
And Chris and Jones politely replied, “Oh yes, thank you very much.” But Fairhurst commented that he thought the trifle was a bit mushy!
And Mums fumbled for words for a bit, and said, “Well, yes—I did wonder if the jelly had set”, or something like that.
3. This was during their school summer holidays; and in fact Chris was about to go away on holiday, to Grimsby. The party was in the afternoon; and that evening when Chris’s Dad finished work the Woodheads were setting off for Grimsby, for their summer visit there. And it was about this time that Jones had made known about the Middleton Empire; he had put it to Chris that there was a real threat, and that the EMB&H ought to communicate urgently with Gerard pleading for “terms of surrender”.[more] Chris had been brushing all this aside, more or less, as nonsense, though he did not call Jones’s story into question to his face. Chris’s reply to Jones was that the Club’s motto was “Victoire!”—and that even included the Middleton Empire! Jones probably slowly shook his head and gave one of his haughty and disdainful laughs: “Ha– ha– ha– ha– ha–!”—as if to say, “The Middleton Empire is invincible!” He started telling Chris then that they had conquered Bradford, Halifax, Rochdale and so on, which Chris, to say the least, suspected as stretching the truth a little bit. Jones probably upgraded his warning on this particular occasion, to say that the threat of the Middleton Empire invading Thornton Cleveleys was very imminent now, and that in order to save their skins they should commence negotiating with Gerard very quickly so as to make some kind of peace formula with him. Chris still would not agree with Jones, and that was how it was left.
4. Chris had to be home for six o’clock, so he would probably leave Jones’s house at about half-past five or a quarter to six. Jones was automatically Acting President as soon as Chris left the area. Before Chris left he probably reiterated the Club’s policy regarding the Middleton Empire. He briefed Jones before his departure: Jones had pretty much full authority, except that he was not to press the Gerard issue any further while Chris was away. Chris’s clear instruction to Jones was that he was not to take any action on behalf of the Club vis-à-vis the Middleton Empire while he was away. Chris regarded the whole thing largely as fiction, anyway. But just to play up to Jones’s fantasy, he pretended that he was taking it seriously. Apart from that, Jones was left with quite a free hand in whatever happened. Such was his brief.
5. Chris went away quite happily; they came to Grimsby; and after a few days, Chris got a letter from Jones at his Grandma’s house. It was in Jones’s uneven and much amended typewriting, and said that the situation had changed rapidly and that Jones had taken it upon himself to start negotiations with Gerard, amalgamating the Club with the Middleton Empire.
6. Chris was furious. Jones had clearly disobeyed instructions and gone against Club policy in Chris’s absence; and Chris saw it as an immediate plot against himself, an attempt of Jones to use his temporary power to gain control of the Club.
7. The following weekend, Chris and his family went back to Thornton. At the first available opportunity to get away from parental control, Chris stormed off round to Jones’s, and rang the bell: Ding, dong! Jones came to the door, and was quite calm and cool, and said, “Hello, Chris.”
Chris snapped, “Never mind about ‘Hello, Chris’, what about this letter?” Chris was waving it at him.
Jones appeared unperturbed. “Chris,” he said. “You invested in me complete control of the Club in your absence. I was acting President—”
Chris interrupted him: “But you were given specific instructions not to enter into any kind of negotiations with Gerard.”
“But Chris,” protested Jones mildly, “you gave me complete control of the Club. I was acting as the President—in the Club’s best interests. I did what I felt was right—in that situation. I had to make the decision—”
“Look!—” Chris was getting even more annoyed. But Jones continued: “And that’s why I wrote that letter to you, Chris.”
And he handed Chris a copy of his letter to Gerard. Chris didn’t even look at it; he just screwed it up and threw it on the ground. Jones paused, a little bit hurt but quite unruffled; he stooped, picked it up, and said, “Thank you.”
8. So Jones tried to explain himself, and kept protesting that he had done what he thought was right, and that he was quite within his brief to act like this, till Chris finally cut him short, saying, “No, I don’t want to hear any more about it, Jones, that’s it: Disciplinary Court! You’ll be getting a summons.”
And Chris stormed off, and started to rig up a kangaroo court with Fairhurst, to be convened as soon as possible afterwards, probably the following Saturday. And a letter of summons was sent to Jones, to appear.
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