John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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David Charles Woodhead and David Charles Jones

Early Days

This story is derived from three sources: Chris’s interview with his brother David, 6 March 1977, Chris and I discussing photographs of Thornton, ?early October 1978 (2), and Conversation between Chris Woodhead, David Woodhead, John Cooper and Sue Aldous, 10 August 2014 (1).
Perhaps 1964

“The battle over the fields”

 1. After Jones moved to Park Road, Thornton—that is when Chris Woodhead’s younger brother David
[i] started getting to know him. Jones was by now thirteen or fourteen years old, and David was about eight or nine. He knew Jones because he used to come round to the house in Ascot Road quite often to see Chris. Jones suspected that Chris and I were plotting against him, and thought that David might be quite useful to him as someone on the inside who could inform him of what we were planning. Jones would have nothing to do with me at this time (understandably), but Chris kept in with him; but he was suspect because also went around with me. And David started selling Jones false information about Chris and me. Jones would give him threepence,[ii] or if they were near a shop Jones would go in and buy him an ice-cream. David thought Jones was very good fun!
[i] It was David who guided me when I sought his brother Chris: see I meet Chris.
[ii] Threepence: Three old pence, 3d (equivalent to 1.25p in decimal currency). There was a threepence coin, the twelve-sided brass “threepenny bit”.
 2. According to David, it was he who started this practice: it wasn’t Jones who approached him; it was he who went up to Jones and volunteered information. He was a bit of a mercenary, even at that age! Jones probably called him an “insect”, his generic term for all small children, and accused David of bothering him. He always did something like that. But he seemed very interested when David told him that Chris and I wanted to meet him on the field down Hawthorne Road for a battle.
 3. It is at this point that we start imagining the scene, perhaps at Worrall’s sweet shop, on the corner of Victoria Road and Sandringham Avenue. (This was also the scene of our Steve’s first purchase of a Mars bar.)[iii] It’s easy to imagine this as being the scene of Jones’s bribery of David because David lived just down the road opposite Sandringham Avenue.
 So in our imagination we see Jones and David enter the shop. Mr. Worrall, the man with one-and-a-half ears, appears and announces, with his characteristic monosyllable “Yesss!”, that he is ready to serve them.
 David stands about a pace behind Jones, and Jones turns and asks him what he wants. He expects the answer “a cornet” or “a wafer” or “an ice-lolly”. David is extravagant and says, “a choc ice”.
 “An ice cream cornet, please,” Jones says to Mr. Worrall, “for my little friend.”
 “Yesss!” says Mr. Worrall, rummaging in the fridge for a wrapped portion of ice cream, peeling off the wrapper, and sticking the little block into the appropriately rectangular hole in the “cornet” (or “cone”, as they were advertised). He hands it to Jones.
 David raises his hands, eagerly trying to reach it, but Jones says, “Ah, but you’ve almost forgotten something, David. I believe you have some information for me first”—holding the ice cream just out of David’s reach. Short, chubby little arms keep trying to make a grab at the ice cream.
 “Chris wants to meet you over the fields, in Hawthorne Road,” he says, adding for effect, “for a big battle.” Between Ascot Road and Hawthorne Road there was a large playing field.
 “Oh,” replies Jones. “This is very interesting. When is this meeting to take place?”
 “Erm!—” David hesitates. He hasn’t thought of this. “Sat’day!” he adds hastily.
 Jones says that he’ll be there with his briefcase, Albert.
 Then David goes off and tells Chris that
JONES wants to meet HIM.
[iii] “A Mars packet, please!”
[iv] Albert appears in these stories: New friendships: David Jones—Autumn Term 1961; Davelyshome (its potential use as a weapon is mentioned); The Middleton Empire spoof (ditto).
4. According to David, Chris made plans to go over there; but on the day he failed to materialise. Jones turned up, however. For David and his friend Alan Swann were there, concealed, waiting to see what would happen. Jones turned up, brandishing Albert, his briefcase. He waited for about ten minutes, and left again.

 5. When Chris found out, on one occasion, that his brother had sold Jones information, he took the money back to him. David had got threepence off Jones, and Chris took it back to him.

“I shan’t be responsible for my actions”
 6. Jones asked David to deliver some Labour Party leaflets to the houses on Ascot Road. It seems likely that this was shortly before the General Election of 15 October 1964, although it could conceivably have been before a local election at some other time. And all David did was to take the leaflets round the corner — and rip them up! When Jones found them, he wasn’t happy with David (to say the least!). And David, using his best boyish bad language, retorted by telling him what he thought about the Labour Party — and ran off! Jones was encumbered by his briefcase Albert and a big batch of these leaflets, so David got away. (Had he remained, Jones would probably have also told him that he wanted his threepence back with which he’d bribed him for information about me and Chris.)

And all David did was to take the leaflets round the corner — and rip them up!
 7. On a plot of land on Hawthorne Road, awaiting construction work, there were some big reels of heavy-duty cables; and David and his friends would play on and around them. And more than once, when Jones passed by, with his red Labour rosette on his lapel,[v] they hurled all kinds of abuse about the Labour Party at him.
[v] Jones’s wearing a red Labour rosette is also mentioned in The Colonel C. Bear-Jones Incident: Alan Fairhurst.
 8. According to David, Jones also came round door-to-door canvassing. David told him to go away and threw his leaflets back at him. He never came there again — canvassing, I mean.

Jones came to the house and knocked on the front door.
 9. For after this, Jones did come to the house and knocked on the front door. Chris’s and David’s Mum answered the door. He came in, and after the initial greeting he said to her, “Mrs. Woodhead, I have to say to you that if David does not desist from making derogatory comments about the Labour Party, I can’t be responsible for my actions.” She was rather taken aback, and after a pause just mildly replied, “Oh, all right, David,” or something similar. And then he repeated himself. “You see,” he said, “I won’t be responsible for my actions, Mrs. Woodhead.” With that, he probably bid her “Good day!” and left.[vi] He may have said something about the leaflets, though, because David recalls that afterwards his Mum had a word with him, saying, in an almost “by the way” manner: “Don’t rip his leaflets up any more, David, please.”
[vi] This illustrates the way that Jones was always so polite, even when (as in this case) making veiled threats. Our Steve (my brother Steven) once recalled an incident when Jones addressed some kids in these words: “You’re throwing stones at my bike. Kindly stop it.” And one girl in the group took up his words tauntingly: “Kindly stop it! Kindly stop it!"

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