1. In May 1960, Nanny and Grandad Paine brought back for Steven and me poetry manuscript books from their holiday in Germany. Steve’s is lost, I discovered while talking with him, perhaps in 1996; but I still have mine. It is inscribed, “WEISBADEN [sic] GERMANY 25.5.60. To John with love from Grandad & Nannie Paine.” It contains autographs from both sets of grandparents and from Steven, dated 29 May 1960; from Mr. Robinson my class teacher, 30 May 1960;[more] and from Mum, Trevor,[more] and Dad, 31 May 1960. There are some pages torn out which, I remember, contained some inconsequential autographs from Butlin’s (Pwllheli, I think), followed by an ornate one in pencil from Uncle Joe, Grandad Cooper’s brother, in Sheffield, dated 30 July 1960.
Wednesday 25th May 1960
2. This is the date of the inscription on the inside of the front cover, written by Nanny (or as she spelled it, “Nannie”) Paine.Sunday 29th May 1960
3. This is evidently the date that I received the book from Nanny and Grandad Paine, and asked them to write entries in it. I also visited Nanny and Grandad Cooper the same day, and they did the same thing (though Nanny Cooper got the date wrong). And back at home, our Steve signed an entry in it. My writing of the address on the flyleaf was perhaps done using the same pen as he did.
Monday 30th May 1960
4. The next day, I took the book to school and got Mr. Robinson, my class-teacher, to sign it. I didn’t invite any of my classmates to do the same, though.[more]Tuesday 31st May 1960
5. My Mum didn’t write the full date on her entry, so she could have made it on the Monday or the Tuesday. Following her entry is one by my new friend Trevor Davies, who presumably was at my house that Tuesday evening;[more] and following his, one from my Dad.
Saturday 4th June 1960 to Saturday 11th June 1960
6. Whit Sunday in 1960 was on 5th June; and, assuming that we went on our family holiday (Mum and Dad, Steven and I, and Nanny and Grandad Cooper) in Whit week, when Steven and I had a half-term break from school, we would have travelled, probably in Mr. Armstrong’s big black taxi, on Saturday 4th June 1960, to our third and final holiday at a Butlin’s holiday camp and our second at Pwllheli, returning home the following Saturday. There is evidence that at least two pages have been removed from my autograph-book; and that happened because I later considered the autographs I got at Butlin’s to be of no consequence: one was an ostentatious but illegible scrawl, diagonally across the page, by the band-leader at one of the theatres that provided entertainments there; and another was a tiny, back-slanted though perfectly legible signature, confined to the very top-left corner of the page, by Norma Grant, a sales assistant in a candy kiosk. She was very diffident, and asked more than once if I was sure I wanted her to sign my book.
Saturday 30th July 1960
7. Tuesday 26th July 1960 was prize-giving day at school.[more] Now whether we broke up for the long summer holiday immediately afterwards or not, I don’t know, but the following Saturday Mum and Dad, and Steven and I were in Sheffield. It was perhaps the previous year, in 1959, that my Dad got a motorbike-and-sidecar, and the four of us started going in it/on it, on a second holiday, without Nanny and Grandad Cooper, to Sheffield. We stayed at “Auntie” Monica and “Uncle” Clifford’s house at 12 Lees Hall Road, Sheffield 8, and went for days out to places of interest in the Peak District and elsewhere. Monica was my Dad’s cousin. Dad came originally from Sheffield, so there was inevitably the visiting of relatives to be undertaken, e.g. to his Uncle Joe. He was a widower, and he lived with his unmarried daughter Joyce who was a school-teacher. It was a mistake to ask Uncle Joe how he was. “Oh,” he would reply, “I’ve been bad lately!” He had been an engraver in the cutlery-manufacturing industry, and he demonstrated his art admirably in the pencil design that he drew in my book.
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