John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Some sayings of Mums

Early Days
“I don’t have to bath David at his age, he can bath himself!”
 1. Chris called round at Jones’s house one morning, and Jones’s Mum answered the door. And she appeared to be drying her hands, or she had her hands wet. (This was when the Joneses lived in Victoria Road, Thornton.)

 2. And Jones called out from within the bath, shouting out: “Tell him I’ve had a letter from Hall!” He had had a letter from Chris’s cousin Brian Hall,
[i] which Chris had rigged up. It was some kind of trick they were playing on Jones, or some game; at any rate, Chris knew Jones had had the letter.
[i] Brian Hall: See Chris’s visits to Grimsby: The EMB&H in Grimsby.

 3. So, from the fact that Jones called out from the bathroom, and that his Mum was drying her hands, Chris put two and two together—and thought: Oh! She still baths him! (And at this time, Jones must have been about thirteen years old.)

 4. And Chris put the word round; he told me that Jones’s Mum still bathed him, and I let it get out, somehow. And it became common knowledge; and the story must have got back to Jones. A story was created out of this simple incident, and it got to become general knowledge in various circles, and it got back to the Joneses.

 5. And Chris went round there one day, and while he was talking to Jones on the doorstep Jones’s Mum came out and confronted him with it, and said, “By the way, I don’t have to bath David at his age; he can bath himself!” She was rather disturbed that Chris should imagine such a thing.

“Call him David!”
 6. Peter Gooding was visiting Jones’s house at 53 Victoria Road, Thornton, and Mrs. Jones or “Mums” must have been nearby, because when Gooding said something to Jones and addressed him as “Jones”, she piped up, “Call him David!”
 It was quite normal for boys at the grammar school to address each other by surname; that was the standard form of address used by teachers. But clearly, Mrs. Jones considered it unfriendly to address her son in this way: “Call him David!” she told Gooding.

“He’s gone on a long bike-ride”
 7. There was another time when Gooding called at Jones’s house, and he wasn’t in. “He’s gone on a long bike-ride,” Mums told him. And Gooding found him just round the corner in Mayfair Drive.

“Walk part-way home with John” or “Chris” or “Peter”
 7A. As we have seen,[ii] there were times when Mums would call upstairs, saying, “David, it’s time for Chris” (or “John”) “to go now!”, at which point one would be summarily thrown out by Jones. Sometimes, though, it would be our decision that it was time to go; and on such occasions, Mums might suggest, “Walk part-way home with John, David” (or “with Chris”, or “with Peter”). For example, on Saturday afternoons, when I had to be at my Grandma and Grandad’s house for tea at half-past four, if the Joneses didn’t have tea, say, till five o’clock, Mums might tell him to “walk part-way” with me.[iii]

[ii] In and around Davelyshome: “David, it’s time for Chris/John to go now”.
[iii] “Walk part-way home with John” or “Chris” or “Peter” 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. When I had to leave, it was in conscious recollection of the Jones-era that Chris “walked part-way home” with me.

“David, it’s time for your disinfectant bath now!”
 8. When we got together we would relate our stories of Jones, and not only do imitations of him but of Mums as well.

“Call him David!”

“David, it’s time for Chris to go now!”
“Right! Get out!

“What’s happening, David?”

“It’s only Cooper messing about!”

 And we would elaborate some of the stories a bit.

“He’s gone on a long bike-ride — down Mayfair Drive!”

“David, it’s time for your

 9. This last elaboration may have been the cue for Chris’s memorable though apocryphal saying of Jones: “Dad’s ill, Gran’s ill, I’m ill, we’re all ill. Mum’s really the nurse; we have to say she’s Dad’s wife, it goes down better in public.”[v]

[iv] In and around Davelyshome: “It’s only Cooper messing about”
[v] This “saying” also appears in David Jones.

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