I will post another Q&A later today – the official publishing date of the UK paperback – but, looking through photos, I found this tiny, illuminating snippet. Again, it recalls the Larkin verse of how they fuck you up, your mum and dad.
It’s an internal report card from Cheltenham Grammar School, a couple of years after Brian joined, which could well sum up the entire life of Brian Jones. The entire series is fascinating, documenting his journey from a very bright, conventional child, to a teenage rebel. This card marks the turning point.
Roger Jessop, Brian’s next-door neighbour on Hatherly Road, was an excellent source on young Brian, and the entire Jones family. His father was assistant headmaster at the grammar school; his mother played piano duets with Louisa Jones – light classics. Roger’s father, Frederick, a geography teacher, helped tutor Brian before he joined the grammar school, while Lewis, an engineer, tutored Roger. Here are some snippets from his memories of Lewis.
“Brian’s father was always writing to the Echo about the importance of British engineering. He was very far sighted. If you went to the Echo and look through the letters you might find them. He was very constructive. I remember going through problems with him when I was getting to a higher level of maths – he was very helpful, and very structured in the way he approached a problem, I remember that. The grammar school way was to jump very fast, in a way the leading boys could follow, but which the middle group found more difficult. Brian’s father was very much more steady, and took it carefully stage by stage – you couldn’t help but follow it. That was an engineer’s way of doing it. If you look those letters out [I have searched through some years’ copies, nothing so far – PT] you’d get a deeper understanding of the things he stood for. He was quite a senior figure in the company and had serious opinions.”
What did he look like, how did he seem?
“He was a small man. Like a lot of small men he was a bundle of energy, maybe quite nervous He was very keen for his son, very ambitious for his son in the conventional sense, and so proud he was do ing well, initially. Which in that era was wonderful. You were set up for life in those days if you did well at a grammar school.”
You’ve seen Brian’s report card; the first one mentioned he was very bright, then there’s a deterioration and constant complaints. It all starts with this card – which is quite outspoken for a teacher. None of the other boys’ cards have anything similar.
“I think those initials are Jim Dodge. He was a shrewd chap, I have a lot of respect for him. It was a tension- ridden family, I would hate to have him as my father, whatever Brian did wasn’t quite right. Most fathers leave boys to lead their own way – he used to come home every evening in his Wolseley, telling him what to do.”