John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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To cure me of being a “claustrobe”

Early Days

 1. Peter Gooding used to call me a “claustrobe”.

 2. He liked to use “words”, did Peter, words like “claustrobe”, and “scrawp” (“Look at that record, Woodhead, it’s all ‘scrawped’!” “It plays!” protests Chris. “‘It plays!’ Is that all you can think of, ‘It plays!’?”), and words like “cange” (“It’s all canged in!” — meaning “It’s all smashed up”) and “souped up” (“My cousin Harry’s got a ‘souped-up’ ‘Mini-bin’, and he’s had it sprayed in ‘British Racing Green’”). I seem to think that the word “stonk” — used onomatopoeically: “stonk! stonk! stonk!” — for walking with bouncing, long-legged strides, was a coining of Peter’s.

 3. Once, Gooding and I decided to try to cure me of being a “claustrobe”. This was in his caravan home
[mobile home], “Beech View”, on the Limebrest Farm caravan site [trailer park], Thornton, and we were in his bedroom. Now beneath his bed, which lay along the far left end of the ’van, there was a gap of a few inches, so it seemed to us that a cure could be effected if I were to lie under the bed—which I did for several minutes.

 4. During this psychotherapeutic session Mrs. Gooding, Peter’s mum, came into the bedroom.
 “Where’s John?” she said.
 Peter indicated under the bed.
 “Whatever is he doing there?”
 “We’re curing him of claustrophobia: he’s got claustrophobia,
[1] he’s a ‘claustrobe’.”
[1] Compare Chris and I watch “Sharon” on TV.
 5. She bent down and had a quick peek under the bed.
 “Ach!” she said disparagingly. “He’s making it up. It’s all in his mind.”

 6. And with that, she went out of the bedroom door. And I suppose she was right, I was making it up; but I sort of half-believed it. After all I used to panic if our Steve got me in a headlock, feeling all trapped and closed in. But then, I was all trapped and closed in; and who, “claustrobe” or normal, wouldn’t feel panicky in such a situation?

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