John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Gooding and I go on holiday

Early Days

A holiday in the Lake District
 1. At school, Peter Gooding and I found out about an outdoor-activity holiday in the Lake District. Details may have been posted on a notice-board. It was to take place in the forthcoming long summer-holiday. I seem to remember being in the Physics Lab., looking at literature and discussing it with a teacher, perhaps Mr. Price. I remember that there was a long list of things to take—items of clothing, etc.—including sturdy boots for walking. Also listed, though, were “comfortable boots”, presumably for wear when not walking. (Seemingly, these outdoor types had never heard of shoes!) This particular list-item greatly amused Peter and me, and it became a catch-phrase between us: at any time and for no reason one or other of us might just exclaim: “Comfortable boots!”

Glyn W. Price, M.A. (Cantab), from class photo, 1962

Late August, 1964
 2. And the time for the holiday came, a week, probably Saturday to Saturday, in the latter half of August, 1964. Mr. and Mrs. Gooding took us there in their blue Hillman car.
[1] It was on the wooded west shore of Lake Windermere, a couple of miles north of Lakeside, an establishment run by the YMCA. There was a cluster of permanent buildings at the end of the driveway containing, I suppose, dining facilities, conference- and class-rooms, offices, and so on. I remember that there was a very attractive dark-haired young woman who worked in the office there. She looked shapely in a dark blue dress, belted or well-fitted at the waist, with the fabric at the bodice draping somewhat in loose folds. She held the position of—“purser”, I thought they said, but it could have been “bursar”. Our accommodations were some way off from there, in wooden huts with bunks, each housing perhaps eight people.

[1] See Early days with Peter Gooding (2): Peter’s dad’s car

A hike to Helvellyn

 3. I can’t remember much of the week’s activities. I seem to remember canoeing one day near the shore of the lake, and doing a bit of rock-climbing another time at an outcrop in the hilly area across the road west of the camp. And on one of the days we went on a fell-walk to Helvellyn. A coach took us as near as possible to the mountain, before the metalled road gave out, perhaps to the west of Patterdale, and it brought us back again to the YMCA afterwards. Thoughts of the reputedly knife-edged arête Striding Edge, with sheer drops either side, filled me with foreboding, but in reality it was quite easily doable. This should not have been surprising, really, because our party included boys perhaps as young as eleven. We approached the summit along Striding Edge, then went back on a path north of Red Tarn. To encourage the younger members of our party on the walk, the instructor, a middle aged man stripped to the waist and revealing a sun-reddened chest with white hairs, promised that there was a shop selling pop at the top of Helvellyn. The older ones took this with a pinch of salt, while nevertheless, as time went on and thirst increased, they began to hope that it was true. It wasn’t, of course.

 4. On this holiday I took with me a short jacket, zip-fronted, of fine-woven, buff-coloured stiff fabric, waterproofed on the inside with rubber. I called it, or someone referred to it as, a “windjammer”. As soon as I could find a souvenir-shop after my trip up Helvellyn, I purchased an embroidered patch badge depicting Helvellyn, to go on the shoulder of the windjammer.

Not the patch itself, but something like it

The Passion-Flower Hotel
 5. Some of the lads in our hut were older than we were. They went out on one or two of the days, and came back proudly displaying the booty acquired by shoplifting. They told us that one useful trick was for a member of the party to fake a fit, and while shoppers and sales-assistants gathered round, the others would take advantage of the diversion by raiding the counters.

 6. One of the spoils was a paperback novel called The Passion-Flower Hotel by Rosalind Erskine, with a picture on the cover of a sexy, winking schoolgirl with pigtails and a white blouse. In the book, a group of girls at a British boarding school decide to do something about their sexual inexperience by starting a business to satisfy the needs of the boys at the school down the road: The Passion-Flower Hotel. I remember that one of the girls outside the group was referred to disparagingly as “bolster bosom” on account of her advanced physical development, and I remember one of the girls in the group sleeping so that her arm would go numb so that she could try to experience what it would be like being fondled by someone else. And a snatch of rhyme springs to mind:

And when your tongue transfixes mine,
Your hand electrocutes my breast,…

Obviously, I did read this book, then!

A midnight hike

 7. One night, Peter and I decided to go on a hike, just the two of us. He warned me that nights could get very cold indeed, so I put on two jumpers
[sweaters] and I can’t remember what other layers, with the windjammer over them all. Many of the place-names in the Lake District have “thwaite” in them, and I think it was to a “thwaite” that we decided to head: perhaps Satterthwaite, some five miles distant. I can’t remember whether we got there or not, before we turned back.

 8. Under the bad influence of our bunk-mates, we were on the lookout for things to “nick” (steal). Perhaps they had brought back other trophies than shop-merchandise on their travels. But all that Peter and I found and removed was a wooden “No vacancies” sign hanging under a flag-board advertising a Bed and Breakfast establishment (possibly Graythwaite Old Hall).

 9. On the way back, I became overheated and exhausted. I was soaking wet under all those clothes from sweating. As we walked along, suddenly it was as if I was shrinking and the road was coming closer and closer with every step. I was horrified! Peter reckoned that I must have fallen asleep even as I was walking, and dreamt it.

“She’s Not There”
10. I’m not sure whether someone had a radio, or whether it was from the shoplifting spoils already mentioned, but I remember first hearing The Zombies She’s Not There. This entered the UK singles chart on 13th August 1964, giving an indication of when this holiday took place.

On to Northwich
 11. We travelled back in Mr. Gooding’s car, but we didn’t go straight home; we went on to Northwich, where the Goodings had relatives. We spent the night in a hotel. That was when I met Peter’s much admired cousin Harry:
[2] unmarried, perhaps in his thirties—a bit of a “playboy” type. I have the impression of a well groomed, slim man with fairly short hair, of a face with dimpled or creased cheeks, and of a pencil moustache. We went for a ride in his Mini, along winding country roads. By now night had fallen, so the only illumination was from the car headlights. I may have been in the front passenger-seat; and being very low down in that kind of car, and travelling at speed, I found it exhilarating. Cornering was accompanied by very quick and decisive gear-changes; and there may have been rapid double-declutching too, as Peter had described it.

[2] See Early days with Peter Gooding (2): Cousin Harry.

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