John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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The summer holidays, 1964

Early Days

Friday 24th July 1964 to Wednesday 9th September 1964
 1. According to my school magazine The Georgian of the Grammar School Fleetwood, No.64, page 6:
July 23—End of Summer Term.
And according to the following issue, No.65, page 4:
Sept. 10—Beginning of Autumn Term.
So there were 48 days—6 weeks and 6 days—of much anticipated absence from school for Peter Gooding and me, for the long summer holiday, from Friday 24th July 1964 to Wednesday 9th September 1964 inclusive. (For Chris Woodhead and Trevor Davies, who went to other schools, the dates were probably slightly different.)

Chris works at the Boating Lake

The entrance to the Boating Lake is at the south-western corner (bottom left).

The entrance to the Boating Lake as seen in Google Street View
 2. For Chris, though, it was not so much a holiday, because he took a summer job at Fleetwood Boating Lake, working seven days a week. He got the job there through Fido’s[1] connections with Charlie Bird, the proprietor. Bird also had the franchise for operating the Knott End ferry; this is how he came to know Fido, who was the marine surveyor at Fleetwood docks. Bird spent most of his time at the ferry, so the boating lake was basically run by his wife, Annie. She usually sat in the little office by the gate, where she collected the money from customers wanting to hire a rowing boat, or whatever, on the lake. From time to time, though, she would come out of her office in order to bark orders at those who were working there.[2]
[1] Fido: See Christopher John Woodhead.

[2] Some time later, Chris learned from Fido that she occasionally attended the Full Gospel Church in Lowther Road, Fleetwood. During the time that Chris was there (1965–1967), however, he only ever saw her once. At the Boating Lake she could be a bit of a battleaxe, but on that Sunday evening, during their brief conversation, she told him that she was happy that he was now “in the Lord”.
 3. Because I didn’t see much of Chris during this time, I went to Fleetwood on one occasion to visit him. And just as I approached, he was pushing a boat out, leaned over too far, and fell in!

 4. On another occasion he was working, with another lad, where the boats came in when they were being returned, just to the right of the entrance. They would hold the boats steady while the customers stepped out, and then return the boats to their moorings. On this occasion, he was just chatting with this lad as a boat was approaching, when he suddenly started to fall into the water. What happened then is a blank, but it was the other guy who fished him out. Perhaps he came to in hospital.
[3] Chris wrote on 11th December 2010:
After that, I can’t really remember what happened. I guess they would have sent me home, but how? I would have been soaked to the skin. Maybe Fido was summoned to come and collect me.
According to my Memoir of John, 12th August 1969 (lines 40–41, 56–61):
My friend Christopher suffered from epileptic fits.… …one time he had fallen into a boating lake and nearly drowned; another time he had pulled a pan of water on to him; one time he had fallen downstairs.
A note which I wrote ca.1978 says:
C working at Fleetwood Boating Lake — summer 1964 — has a fit, falls in water, wakes up in hospital.
—though I am not sure where I got the “wakes up in hospital” from. It sounds rather too similar to the outcome in the story Chris has another fit.
 5. For more of what happened while Chris worked at the Boating Lake, and afterwards, see Towards the first kiss: Christine and Pat.

Uncle Jack’s drum-kit
 6. Meanwhile, Peter Gooding, Trevor and I were spending our holidays noisily bashing out pop-music rhythms on my Uncle Jack’s drum-kit.

 7. Both my Mum’s older brother Jack and younger brother Ronnie played the drums, especially in their youth. Uncle Jack still had his drum-kit; and learning that I and my friends were interested in drumming, he lent it to us that summer. It was rather old-fashioned; the cymbals, for example, were rather small and “crashy”-sounding, not like the large-diameter high-pitched ride cymbals used by contemporary pop-groups. But we gladly accepted it; it offered real experience, and made a change from just tapping with hands on chair-seats. I seem to remember that the kit consisted of a hi-hat (we referred to it as a “top hat” till we discovered that it was actually called a “hi-hat”), a snare drum, a bass drum, one tom-tom mounted on the bass drum, a floor tom-tom, and a cymbal on a stand. The shells of the drums were cream-coloured. It was set up at my house in the rear downstairs living-room.

 8. We, or I at any rate, didn’t get much further than straightforward cymbal or hi-hat, snare drum and bass drum rhythms:
 9. We took turns each to play along to one side of a single on our Steve’s record player. If the one whose turn it was wanted to keep it simple, with easy “fill-ins”, he might choose The SearchersNeedles and Pins or Don’t Throw Your Love Away. If he was greedy, he might go for The Animals The House of the Rising Sun, which at 4½ minutes’ playing time was the longest single ever issued. (Most songs lasted two or three minutes.) If he wanted to thrash the skins with a more driving beat, there was The Kinks You Really Got Me. And occasionally one of us would be silly and request Cozy Cole’s Topsy, Part 2,[4] which contained a lengthy and elaborate drum solo, way beyond our capability. While one played, the other two would practise with sticks on the seats of dining-chairs. On the rare occasions that Chris was with us, he would sit there, rather bored; he didn’t join in with the drumming or the tapping-on-chairs activity.
[4] I am not sure how we acquired Topsy, Parts 1 and 2, which was issued in 1958. It wasn’t among my Dad’s original purchases in 1958 (see The Collaro record-changer). And our Steve didn’t start buying records till August 1963 (see David Rotheram and I go camping to Garstang: After we got back). Perhaps it came from Uncle Jack with the drum kit. If so, he never got it back!
 10. One morning, when my friends weren’t there, my parents pointed out to me multiple pock-marks on the surface of the fold-out lid of the bureau. The similar indentations on the imitation-leather chair-seats were neither here nor there, but this was serious. The drum-kit disappeared rather abruptly after that.
David Jones
See also David Jones: 1964.
 11. At that time there used to be cartoon advertisements on ITV for the television-programmes listing magazine TV Times. The message was that if you bought TV Times, you would know in advance what time the programme you wanted to see was on TV and therefore wouldn’t miss it. In one particular example, a woman on the ground floor of a multi-storey building calls up, in a loud, shrill voice, “Al-BERT!” Albert, on the top floor, calls down, in a loud, gruff voice, “HELLO!” She replies, “It’s on!”, whereupon he runs, legs whirling, down flight after flight after flight of stairs, only to arrive and find “The End” displayed on the TV screen.
 I mentioned earlier the Cozy Cole record Topsy, Part 2. Chris and I used to spin it very fast and imagine that the resulting rapid and chaotic drum-sounds represented Jones falling, head over heels, down flight after flight after flight of similar stairs. Very silly—but it made us laugh.

 12. Trevor had a tape recorder, and when we visited him, we would sometimes record imaginary adventures of Jones on it. I was always Jones!—and although the real Jones was mostly quietly spoken, my version of him had an abrupt, sharp voice, perhaps recalling his “Get out!”
[more] or “It’s only Cooper messing about!”[more]
 One recording began with “Jones” barking,
“NOW! We are ready to beGIN!” And by accident, my rendition of Jones, towards the end, on that or another occasion, sounded Welsh: “Oh dear! Then I am doomed!”

Trevor had an Elizabethan tape recorder with a BSR “joystick”-operated four-track mono deck.
 13. For a year I had not had anything directly to do with Jones: I had been banned from his house, and he was under some sort of prefect-protection at school. But it is evident from the foregoing that my interest in him had not waned. Stories that the likes of Peter Gooding and Chris Woodhead would share about him helped to maintain that interest.
 Gooding, for instance, related to us that Jones used to faint in class—particularly just before a lesson which he hated, such as French! (They were in the same form at school; I was in a different one.) We imagined him saying, “Oh— I feel— quite faint!”, then gently lowering himself to the floor, getting out a handkerchief to wipe it, and finally lying down on it.
 And Chris maintained friendship with Jones, and would see him at his house. (He was a double agent, because he would report back to us!) He hadn’t been seeing as much of Jones this year as formerly, though; and especially now, in the summer holidays, he wasn’t seeing much of anybody, working seven days a week as he was.

 14. But he did go round to Jones’s place in Park Road, Thornton, one evening that summer; and they had just finished unpacking the car after having arrived home from Budleigh.
[5] To demonstrate this point, the first thing that Jones did was to drag Chris to the car, which was still in the drive, and to yank open the driver’s door. He then commanded him to read the mileage registered on the speedometer, which he did, whereupon he told him what mileage had been registered there that morning. After a brief calculation, Chris deduced that the car had travelled some 300 miles that day. That was Jones’s first point; his second point was that “Dads” would only trust him with the navigation, so he was feeling worn out. These were the days before there were many motorways; and Jones made a point of saying that they had travelled the length of the A49 that afternoon.
[5] Compare the story “One day down to Budleigh…”.

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