With our Steve to the Lake District
Extract from The Cooper Diaries:
Steve called for me ca. 9 a.m. Our route was: A585, A586, A6, M6 from junction 33 to 36, A6, A591 through
Windermere, Ambleside, past Rydal Water and Grasmere, then after some lake-free motoring through hills, past Thirlmere and on through Keswick. Turning left, we took the B5289, passing by Derwent Water and on through Borrowdale as far as Rosthwaite, where there was a car park.
On the way we mentioned our time in Fairfield Drive.[more] As I related my recollections of Alan Clark, Steve remembered the upsetting of the table, and that he said “Bugger!” himself (perhaps after learning it from Alan Clark?) at school. and got a scolding for it; then he remembered an additional saying of Alan Clark: “You can’t come in my house because there’s a bogeyman there!” He thought Alan Clark lived at the end house. (The left front door and right front room of my memory fits in with this, but I don’t have the impression of it being the very end house — towards the end, but not quite the end — so No. 6, perhaps.) Steve recalled that Pamela Bramley was bossy. He reeled off names of other kids who lived in Fairfield Drive and where they lived, but I can’t remember them. The move to Thornton[more] was difficult for Steve; he knew lots of kids in
Preston but none in Thornton. So who came on the scene in Thornton? He mentioned Timothy Leech[more] — and, unbidden, stated the axiomatic “No-one ever got into Leech’s house.” I think he said that Leech’s Dad was all right, though; it was his mother who was the problem.[more] Mum and Dad didn’t like Leech because he was always breaking our things. The heavy garden roller ended up in the pond, too, while Leech was there. (Who was it Steve mentioned as falling in the pond? I remember Ian Hawtin, but this was someone else.) Steve also mentioned Alan Barnes as a visitor to our house.[more] But these two were later; they didn’t appear immediately. Then Steve remembered Michael Burnhope as an early friend, who moved away later on; he lived in Gordon Avenue. I remember going to some party at his house. There was a comic book featuring some character with one eye in the centre of his face, and I kept having to check by feeling or looking in the mirror afterwards that I still had two eyes, that I hadn’t changed to become like this character. Steve remembered someone I knew who lived on the corner of Belvedere Road and Pinewood Avenue (next door to “Mushy”, whose grandma lived with him). I remembered the name of this brief friend as Alan Holt,[more] which didn’t sound familiar to Steve. The guy had an inflated opinion of himself; he was a liar, too: he told me he had moulded a little
OO-scale plastic figure himself. He also had quite a large electric motor in his garage and had ideas of making a hovercraft out of fibreglass, incorporating this motor. Steve later came up with the name Ian Porter for him, which didn’t sound familiar to me. Certainly, I knew an Ian Porter, but that was at
School, and he wasn’t a friend of mine. Yet wasn’t the Fleetwood Grammar School Ian Porter’s name significant to me because someone else already had the name? I remember the Porter girls too, who lived down Alexandra Road. Steve went on to tell me stories about the Secondary Modern school. Some of the kids there used to play tricks on the caretaker, and the headmaster Mr. Rhodes (known as “Cecil”) took them all to task about this in assembly one morning. Steve (and presumably everyone else) regarded it as comical that while doing this he turned to one of his staff and said, “They pinched his bike, you know!”[more]
A Dutch couple asked us for change for the pay-and-display machine in the car park, and we saw them from time to time on the walk itself. We set off. The first part was a quite stiff climb on this hot, sunny day. I thought that straight away I was going to get blisters on my heels in the boots I’d borrowed from Dad, but things settled down. We kept hearing a cuckoo, but didn’t see one. Steve recognised the bird-song from some trees as that of a willow warbler. There’s a custom of friendliness, of greeting everyone you pass with a “Good morning!” or “Hello!”
• • • indicates where we travelled by car.
• • • indicates where we walked.
We descended towards Watendlath,—
—but instead of entering the hamlet, we almost doubled back on ourselves to skirt the tarn that is there—
—climbing again and coming to Dock Tarn, which we passed by on its west side.
There was now more climbing again. On a rocky outcrop we saw a wheatear standing there.
On the way up we were remembering Church Road County Primary School.[more] He and his classmates used to call Pop Robinson “Cock” Robinson. The teacher of 1R was Mrs. Brown; I couldn’t remember what Steve told me last time. That’s the class he was in; he wasn’t in Pop Bastide’s class, Class 1. He remembers him, though: he was the deputy head, he had red hair, and he didn’t pronounce the “ng” in “talking”: “Stop talkin’!” he’d say. I used to think he looked like Mr. Teddy.[more] Steve told me a number of names of classmates. David Massey was mentioned — didn’t he have an accident with fireworks in his pocket? I used to think he looked like Rainmac,[more] but we both agreed almost at the same time that he looked like Eric Burdon. When Steve was in Class 3, they used to merge with Class 4 for Religious Instruction, taken by Mrs. Jackson. I don’t think anything like that happened when I was in Class 3, but then I had a different teacher: Mrs. Hodgkinson had left and Miss Hough taken over. Steve also remembers Classes 2 and 1 merging for Craft. Again, I don’t remember that, but do remember them coming together for Music, taught by Pop Kay.[more]
The final part was a descent through a wood of oak trees, so steep that my legs trembled. Looking back in the very bright sunlight the oaks were light, almost yellowish, green. There was a longish level path and a humpbacked bridge over the stream before we reached the car again.
We retraced our outward route, stopping at a pub where I had a pint of Tetley’s. After tea, Dad and I met up with Steve again, and we walked up to the Bay Horse, and Angie walked with us because she was working at Thresher’s off-licence this evening. There were three of us, and we had two rounds each — so I had 5 pints of Tetley bitter, and a whisky. Dad recalled that what attracted him to Mum was her walk. They used to go out in a group, and the girls would walk on ahead and the boys behind. That’s when he noticed. Mum’s father was a tailor and made suits for her, but insisted on suitable poise and walk from her when she wore them.[more] Steve came back to our place, and Dad heated up a couple of his meat-and-potato pies.
There was a longish level path…
Looking back in the very bright sunlight the oaks were light, almost yellowish, green.
The Bay Horse, Thornton