John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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The “feight” with Collinge

Early Days

 1. Word reached me that Brian Collinge wanted to settle scores with me, after my cigarette had ruined the Collinges’ expensive, polished dining-room table, during my date with Elaine. If I’d had the courage to confess to him at the time, before leaving without a word about it, things would have been different; but, as it was, the first Collinge had known about the damage to his parents’ table, was when his dad had dragged him out of bed, after they had got home, and chased him, naked, all through the house, thrashing him. That is why Collinge wanted to meet me for a fight, not so much because of the table, but to redress the beating he had received.
I don’t recall being at school in this context; that is, being there and hoping that somehow I wouldn’t see him. But it wasn’t the school mid-term holiday, because that was when I went with Chris Woodhead to Grimsby and met Ann Nurse; and the Christmas holiday, Wednesday 23rd December 1964 to Wednesday 6th January 1965, seems too late. I suppose I could have been at school, and the messenger could have been Peter Gooding.

Extracts from the Fleetwood Grammar School magazine The Georgian, No. 65, pages 5 and 6, showing dates of school holidays.
 2. However it came to me, the message was that I should meet Collinge at the tram stop in Cleveleys at such a time in the evening. I took Chris and Peter along with me, and Collinge arrived on the tram from Fleetwood. Whether Pat Lomas was on the tram with him, or not, I don’t know, but she was there. We left her on the street-corner, while we four walked up Victoria Road West, looking for a suitable spot out of public view. On the corner of Cleveleys Avenue and Victoria Road was a shop that sold TVs and similar goods, and it was the space in relative darkness round the corner, by the side of the shop, that we chose for the confrontation.
 3. I was extremely reluctant to engage in fisticuffs with Collinge, and he challenged me to come on. He even offered to fight me with one arm behind his back, but still I didn’t move. Then he offered to take all three of us on at once. Still we stood there, immobile, for what seemed a long time. Suddenly, though, Chris laid into him; and not long after, Peter joined in. I got myself in as close as possible to the fray, though ineffectually, and I think Collinge’s fist connected with my chin. In Westerns and other movies, people slug each other like billy-o with little apparent deleterious effect; so it was a surprise to me how hard the fist was, and how much just one blow hurt.

 4. Soon it was over, though, and Collinge was standing there, pronouncing upon our performance or lack thereof. He commended Chris for being the first to fight him, and Peter for quitting himself quite well; but he had nothing but contempt for me. “But you…,” began his tirade.

 5. Afterwards, Collinge, with us in tow, rejoined Pat Lomas on the corner of Victoria Road and Rossall Road. He stood there with his shirt dishevelled, carrying his jacket slung over one shoulder, and she remarked that his lip was bleeding. Peter had inflicted this wound on him, and Collinge seemed really proud of it. Even as we stood with him at the tram-stop, he wanted to be seen as having just been in a “feight”, something which seemed to feed his ego enormously. And the way in which he held a cigarette in his mouth drew attention to it as well.

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