John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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My first visit to Grimsby — Saturday

Early Days

Saturday 31st October 1964
 1. The events of the Saturday of my first visit to Grimsby were, according to a much later-written note:
  • Chambers
  • “Um 6”, “Always…” — Gough and Davy
  • Gilbey Road incident
  • Jennifer Ballard and Ann Nurse incident
 2. When Chris lived in Grimsby, before he moved to Thornton in 1961,[more] his Aunt Mar would take him and his cousin Brian to “Chambers” in the Old Market Place, Grimsby, on a Saturday morning, for coffee and toasted teacakes. And the same procedure was followed on the Saturday morning of my visit to Grimsby. I myself now have only a very vague recollection of the event: of being upstairs, and there being a balustraded “hole” in the floor from which one could look down on a string band playing on the ground floor. Because this had been a regular childhood treat for Chris, though, his recollections are clearer:
It was a double-fronted building and Chambers had two doors, one to the right and one to the left. They ran a fairly high-class grocery business in the front part of the building, with counters on the left, on the right and in the centre of the shopping hall which one accessed through the main doors. To the left of the left-hand door was an enclosed area with windows on two sides, and this is where they roasted their own coffee. A lady would be standing there, most of the time, operating a metal barrel into which she would pour the coffee beans, and which was revolving over a flame. There was a ventilator above the front window, so whenever you approached the place, there was always a strong smell of coffee being roasted! The counter on the left-hand side of the shop was where the coffee was sold, so presumably it was bagged there and also ground, if the customer so wished. At the back of the shop, also to the left and up a couple of steps, were the double doors which led to the café/restaurant. Once through the doors, one could either go through to the lower part of the café, where the string band played, or take the staircase on the left to the café on the first floor. We always went upstairs and, if it was free, would sit in an alcove in the far left-hand corner. There was an open fireplace, where they always had a roaring fire in the winter. The waitresses wore navy-blue dresses and white aprons. Our Saturday morning treat was to have coffee and toasted teacakes. I seem to recall that the string band, playing downstairs below the “hole”, had three people it. I can’t be sure of course, and I can only really remember the violin being played.

This image is from Francis Frith, and can be purchased here.

This image is from Francis Frith, and can be purchased here.

This image is from Francis Frith, and can be purchased here.
“Um 6”, “Always…” — Gough and Davy
 3. It was after our morning coffee that the three of us, Chris, Brian and I, then went down Victoria Street, Grimsby, to the musical-instrument and record store Gough and Davy. When I saw the sign over the shop, I laughed and exclaimed, “G
OUGE and Davy!” My other friend Peter Gooding, who was not with us on this trip, and I had a fondness for talking about gouging out people’s eyeballs. And I persisted in calling it “Gouge and Davy” after Chris pointed out that it was “Gough”. Brian and I bought records there. Brian asked the young lady behind the counter for “Six Um”, and she immediately understood him! It was Um Um Um Um Um Um by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders. I bought (There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me by Sandie Shaw. Most singles in those days did not have their own distinctive cover with, say, a picture, the artiste’s name, and the title of the A-side and B-side songs on it; LPs did, and EPs did, but singles didn’t: they came in a paper sleeve just printed with the record company’s name and logo, with a circular hole cut in the centre to reveal the record’s label. Gough and Davy, though, substituted their own sleeve, in stiffer paper or thin card, greyish, with “Gough & Davy” printed on it in dark blue letters.

Gilbey Road incident
 4. Going on to Saturday evening: It was our last evening in Grimsby, and Chris and I went out specifically looking for birds. There was a first encounter somewhere around Corporation Road or Boulevard Avenue, Grimsby; we struck up a conversation with two girls who were walking along. To be more accurate, Chris got talking to one of the girls and I just tagged along with the other. Chris was the more sociable of us two, I was quite shy; and the same seemed to be true of the girl he was with and the one I was with. I seem to remember “his” being quite attractive, with longish, light brown, perhaps wavy hair. I also picture her wearing a dark blue gaberdine mac. “Mine” is a blank, though; I have no memory of her. Perhaps “his” was tall and “mine” was short; I don’t remember. I didn’t fancy her, anyway. They lived in nearby Gilbey Road and were on their way there, intending to go out shortly afterwards. The one Chris was with seemed quite amenable to the idea of being picked up, and indeed of meeting later. By this time they were about to turn (or continue) into Gilbey Road, and the tryst was almost concluded, at which point “Chris’s” turned to me and asked whether I also wanted to meet up later (the understanding being that it would be she with Chris and I with her friend). I replied, “Not particularly!”,
[1] and that was the end of it: we parted company and went our separate ways.
 I’m not sure whether, as with the girls we tried to pick up the evening before,
[2] the question, “Are you all right?” arose.
 “What do you mean?”
 “You seem to be walking funny.”
[1] “Not particularly” has been received into the list of famous sayings of Cooper, along with “See if I care!”, “It’s no skin off my nose!” and “Can’t you de-write?”
[2] See My first visit to Grimsby: Neptune Street incident.
 5. As we went on from there, I wanted to use the loo, and not for “No.1” or “No.2” either. There was a public convenience (or at least a gent’s) just between the Duke of York Gardens and the where the houses start, and that’s where I went.

Jennifer Ballard and Ann Nurse incident
 6. Later, back in the town centre, and in fact back in Victoria Street West where we’d been that morning, Chris and I finally scored a success when we met Jennifer Ballard and Ann Nurse. I have already written this up as the story Ann Nurse.

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