John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Brian Hall meets David Jones

Early Days
Perhaps summer 1964
 1. Chris Woodhead’s cousin Brian Hall came over from Grimsby to Thornton for the first time to stay with the Woodheads, perhaps in the long summer holiday from school in 1964. At this time Chris was fourteen years old and Brian eleven. One of the highlights of Brian’s visit was going round to meet David Jones. He was at this time a member of the EMB&H Club, so had in fact corresponded with Jones,[1] who was its Secretary; but he hadn’t met him before.
[1] See Some sayings of Mums.
 2. So the two of them, Chris and Brian, went round to Jones’s bungalow in Park Road one evening. (I wasn’t with them: I was banned from Park Road,[2] and indeed, at school, perhaps, from any contact with Jones at all.) Brian felt a bit nervous about meeting him. They went in his gate and up to the front door, knocked on the door, and Jones opened it: a very tall, bespectacled figure. He saw Chris first, then he noticed Brian and said, “Ah, Hall from Grimsby!” And he extended his arm and shook Brian’s hand. (“Very old for his age!” Brian would many years later comment.)
[2] See The Apple Incident.

1979 photo. There are two bay windows at the front, and to the right of them, in a similarly styled porch, is the front door. Immediately to the right of that is a third bay window in a projecting gable-end.
 3. They may have initially gone inside the house: memories are vague. After a short while, though, Jones said, “Well, let’s go and have a tour round the estate.” So they went into the garden and into the greenhouse, where “Dads” had got all his tomatoes growing up: all these tomato plants were growing up in the greenhouse from pots on the floor; they were towering right up; and tomatoes were hanging in front of the boys as they walked in. Jones was leading towards the end of the greenhouse, followed by Chris and then Brian at the end. And Chris looked at these tomatoes and must have thought, “By— these look tempting! I think I’ll just nobble one of these!” And up came his pudgy paw; and he was just about to start to twist one of these juicy tomatoes off, when Jones turned round! He saw this, with momentary wide-eyed horror, and he lifted his long, white finger up and, with eyebrows raised, said, in a now-calm, almost sing-song voice, “Eh, ah—watch it!” Chris withdrew his hand straight away. It is not quite true to say that when Jones spoke one jumped to attention, but Chris did a fair imitation of it on this occasion.
 That was the only time that Brian actually met Jones.

 4. I seem to remember Brian being at my house, in the kitchen, and Chris feeling peckish and having a bowl of cornflakes. This could have been on the same evening; they could have come to report this latest Jones-event to me. At times like this, Chris and I, and whoever else was there, would start to do imitations of Jones and end up falling about, laughing uncontrollably. A vague memory of putting salt and vinegar and perhaps other condiments into Chris’s cornflakes, and of Brian saying, “Let’s make him eat it, John!”, would accord with such escalating high spirits on this occasion.

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