John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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“What did you say, Cooper?”

Early Days
July 1964
 1. It was a warm, sunny afternoon in July 1964. At Fleetwood Grammar School the exams had finished and we had been allowed out on the school field. Some sat leaning against the high interlocking-wire fence which separated the playing field from some wooden classrooms known as the “cedar block”, the end one of which was my form room. Others played ball games on the field or stood in groups or strolled. Among the latter were Jones and myself—although it may be a mistake to class us together, for Jones would have nothing to do with me at this time.

Photo, taken in 1970, posted on Facebook, 17 May 2010, by Anne Dunlop née Chamberlain. The high interlocking-wire fence can be seen, and in the near background the “cedar block” of four classrooms. The “end one” of the four, though, my form room, is out of shot to the right.
 2. We had been friends. That was now a long time ago. I had started to call round with my friends at Jones’s house with the sole purpose of making fun of him in front of them. Jones had tolerated this for some time, and had maintained friendship with me. But eventually there came a time when he had had enough and finally refused to have anything more to do with me. Contact with him at his house was severed when his dad (or “Dads”) forbade me from ever setting foot in Park Road again;[1] and Chris and I have a notion that I was banned from contact with him at school as well, that his dad had words with the school, and Jones was put under some sort of prefect-protection.
[1] See The Apple Incident, par.18.
 3. This afternoon Jones was having an angry exchange of words with someone. Because he behaved differently from many of his peers, he was often mocked and sometimes openly despised. In this altercation, Jones was jostled, and the imitation leather-covered pocket chess set that he so often carried with him was knocked out of his hand onto the ground. Of course the thing opened and all the little plastic pieces were scattered in the grass. Some of the bystanders sniggered and others laughed more openly at this spectacle. Jones had to go down on his hands and knees to pick and search through the grass.
 I saw all this, and my heart ached for him. I had been spiteful to him on numerous occasions, but now seeing him so humiliated I felt sorry for him.

 4. A few minutes later, when Jones was again standing, I approached him, feeling in a mood of reconciliation. He still looked unhappy and his lips were pouting.
 “I was sorry when your chess set got knocked out of your hand,” I said.
 But Jones turned up his nose at me and said quietly: “Were you, Cooper?”
 “No, I was bloody glad!” I retorted at this rebuff.
 Jones did not reply, but simply turned round and walked away.
 I flared up with rage. “Aw, you useless, smelly toad!” I shouted at his back, as he strode away with long bouncing strides, arms swinging—stonk! stonk! stonk!
 Jones wheeled round. With similar strides—stonk! stonk! stonk!—back again, he exclaimed in a rush of words, “WhatdidyousayCooper?!” and bash! struck me with a straight blow to the chin with his fist.
 I attempted to sink punches into his belly—I was enraged—but Jones managed to deflect my blows with the arm that seconds before had straightened out and connected with my chin, till a nearby prefect (“Hey, stop it, you two!”) put an end to the scrap.

Photo, posted on FGSOnline, 11 August 2010, by Kathleen Saunders, showing the “cedar block” from the other side. The “entrance facing the boys’ yard”, mentioned below, was to the right of the classroom just visible at the right edge of the photo.
 5. Later, Jones decided to go into the main school building. He was about to mount the steps to the entrance facing the boys’ yard, when I came up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder and when he turned said:
 “You’re nothing but a worm,”—at the word “worm” my upper lip curled in disgust—“a snivelling, crawling worm, not even fit to lick my boots!”
 Jones turned away silently and continued on up the steps and through the door, thus frustrating any designs I might have to further insult him.

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