John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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An unexpected party at my house

Early Days

Some time after 19th March 1964
 1. Bern Elliott and the Fenmen’s recording of “New Orleans” entered the UK singles chart on 19th March 1964 and remained there for nine weeks, reaching the Number 24 position. I remember that our Steve bought it; but he didn’t have it for long, because it was one of the gramophone records that went missing one afternoon during an unexpected party at our house. My Mum and Dad were out — and so was our Steve — so I allowed the gorgeous Pat Ansell and her boyfriend Richard Tyrer in for some necking in the front room. A few minutes later, though, there was a knock on the door, and when I opened it a whole host of their acquaintances came trooping in, smoking (it’s a good job my Mum and Dad smoked at the time, then) and generally creating mayhem. The handle of a small soda-siphon (too tiny to be of anything but ornamental value) got broken, some sherry became reduced in quantity, and, as I said, a number of records disappeared.

Pat Ansell
 2. Pat Ansell was gorgeous; she had wavy, shoulder length or a bit below shoulder length, light brown hair, a very pretty, English-rose face, and a delightful smile. I think she was about a year older than I was, about fifteen, which would fit the fact that her brother Colin was a classmate of Chris Woodhead’s at Baines’ Grammar School and so was a year younger than I was. (Chris, you may remember, although about my age, had been kept back a year before going on from primary school to grammar school.)[more] The Ansells lived in Heys Street, Burn Naze.

An example, Alison in 1989, of the fair-complexioned, rosy-cheeked beauty that I’ve called an “English rose face”, above.
Richard Tyrer
 3. Richard Tyrer was the same age as Chris and I, about fourteen, for he had been in the same class as Chris at the primary school. He had a reputation for being a bit of a “hard case”. I was aware of him, though I hadn’t met him till the day he came to my house. I have a vague memory of being with someone once who didn’t want to go to Burn Naze because “Tyrer” might be there, presumably visiting his girlfriend. The Tyrers lived in Elmwood Drive, Thornton, in the days when it was still a cul-de-sac; when you came in from Briar Road, theirs was the second house on the left after the bend.

Chris Woodhead and Richard Tyrer
 4. Chris was quite friendly with Richard Tyrer, and never felt threatened by him. His parents, though, told him not to hang around with him. How they obtained negative information about him, Chris can’t say; but Thornton wasn’t a big place, and they had a lot of contacts through the church, Wignall Memorial Methodist Church. In spite of their warning, however, Chris did hang around with Tyrer a bit.

 5. How did the incident where I admitted Richard Tyrer and Pat Ansell to my house come about? Chris remembers that they were always looking for “safe houses” where they could have some privacy — and indeed he once had a close shave on their account.
One evening, [Chris wrote,] when I knew that the Fido crowd [Chris’s parents] would be out, I said they could come round to our place. I told them, that is Pat and Richard, they could go up and use my bedroom. Then, shortly afterwards, two other girls arrived, who hung around for only a few minutes. Once they had established that I was otherwise alone, they decided not to stay, and said they were going to Cleveleys. Some time later, after the two love-birds had come back downstairs, we suddenly heard Fido’s car turn into the drive. Once it had driven down the side of the house, I bundled them out of the front door, and that was that. I don’t think they had smoked, and there were no other visible traces of the incident which aroused suspicion, so I was in the clear.
It was a close shave mainly because Chris’s parents had banned him from seeing Richard Tyrer. So he didn’t want them to walk in through the back door, and then find Tyrer with his girlfriend in the living room.

 6. But how it happened that Richard Tyrer and Pat Ansell came to my house, I am uncertain. Also, where did the other people spring from? They were all strangers to me. Chris tells me, though, that Tyrer and his crowd often used to hang around Four Lane Ends, and perhaps that is what happened on this occasion. The wooden bus shelter there could seat perhaps a dozen or so people comfortably. I must have been with Chris, since he knew Tyrer (though not the people he was with). Perhaps Tyrer and Pat expressed the need for a place to go; I offered mine and escorted them there, in company with Chris, leaving the crowd behind (at least initially).
 7. I have the impression of opening the front door then looking back, and of Richard Tyrer being behind Pat Ansell as they entered, with his head down, looking through his eyebrows, almost.

Richard Tyrer from a photo taken at Baines’ Endowed School in the late 1950s or perhaps even early 1960.
“Yes,” Chris agreed, “this was Richard Tyrer’s typical pose. I remember his mum having the same way of looking at people.”
 Then almost immediately after they had been ensconced in the front room, there came a knock on the door (or a rasping ring on the wind-up doorbell), and without any encouragement or invitation from me the mob from the bus shelter marched in, shouldering me aside almost. I remember feeling mounting anxiety about being responsible for but not in control of events, as they put records on the record-player, lit up cigarettes, opened doors and generally poked about in places where polite guests wouldn’t.
 I don’t remember what happened after they had gone, whether any damage or loss was actually remarked by my parents. It was perhaps some days later that our Steve noticed that some of his records were missing.

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