The Last Day

I was thinking about it as today is our last day in this house. I’ve lived in the Trafford area of Manchester since 1976. My family moved into the Old Trafford area and I married and moved to Stretford, then we moved to Flixton for 7 years before moving into this house where we havre been for the last 28 years.

I know this area very well, every road, every short cut. I’ve seen it change over the years. I’ve seen new roads built, houses and building demolished. I could almost drive blind folded, except that would be dangerous.

I’m very familiar with everything and it feels very strange doing things and knowing it is the last time. I won’t be coming back to this area again. I will go to Stockport to my daughter’s house, which is about 15 miles from here and my son has now moved away to Norwich. So I have no reason to venture back this way and I don’t particularly want to.

We have someone in to give the kitchen and cooker a good clean. I want it to be sparkling for the young couple buying their first house. My four walls will become theirs and it feels surreal.

It’s hard to know when it will sink in exactly; I’m never coming back here; I’m never going to stand in my lounge and look out of the window again. I’m not going to see the plants change as spring turns to summer.

It’s goodbye to everything. I’m not sad. I’m melancholy. This has been a big part of my life and now it is time to move on.


 

Related to:

  1. Before the move
  2. This post

Withington, Where The Secret is set.

Withington in Manchester is a place that I lived in from 1968 until 1976, so I knew the area well. I wanted Kerry and Tommy to be in a place I knew so that I could describe and imagine it as I wrote. If you get the opportunity to walk down the same streets, it brings the book alive.

There are four roads in Withington that run parallel with each other; Hatherley Road, Brooklea Road, Ashdene Road and Fairholme Road.  Cutting through middle of these roads School Grove. This area is Kerry’s world and where she frequently walks, just as I once did.

Ladybarn Park is in the middle Parrsword Road, Parsonage Road and Mauldeth Road. This is where Kerry frequently goes out for a run and it also where she and Tommy have their first row. At one of the entrances to the park, Parsonage Road and Parrswood Road, there once stood at red telephone box. It is here that Kerry makes a tearful phone call to Tommy after a row with Bill.

 

The Cotton Tree pub was a place I frequented and used to stand near Cotton Lane, very near Alan Road where Tommy lives. This is where The Secret opens, when Kerry is out with her then boyfriend, Howard. And it is here that she first encounters Tommy.

Withington village is still a bustling area today and the building that held the Scala picture house still stands.  Kerry meets Iris, for the first time in the village and Kerry and Tommy frequently drive through it. They also went on a date to the Scala to watch a Clint Eastwood movie.

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Alan Road where Tommy lives.

Didsbury

Alan Road

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Another view of Alan Road.

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Ladybarn Park, Lover’s Lane

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Courtesy of Google Earth, This is School Grove

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A map of the roads mentioned in the book.

Cover Story

When I had completed my first book in 2012, my editor provided suggested I give it a new name. It was incredibly difficult to come up with something, but I went with Star Struck in the end. I had no idea at that time how to find a cover and was thrilled when he provided one for me.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 15.06.55However as I discovered the world of the Indie Author, Markie Maddon, who is also a writer, said she would make a new one for me as I was beginning to realise I wanted more from my the one I had.

A friend who is a photographer, had a great photograph of Salford Quays at night. I bought it from him and used it as the background. Markie found an illustration of a girl and put the whole thing together for me.

I was very pleased at the result.

 

 

Star Struck Final Cover

Joanna has very vibrant chestnut coloured hair and I found the girl on the front wasn’t quite what I had in mind. I didn’t know where to look for a different photograph, so I went with it. I did notice, however, that when I ordered some print copies, she came out even more ginger.

In order to get my book more exposure, I employed a virtual assistant called Karina Kantas, she provided me with book trailers and teasers as well as promoting my book.  She asked me lots of questions so that she could come up with something to entice the readers to buy the book.

One of the important questions she asked was how the front cover and title related to the book.

Originally, the story spanned the 80s and 90s, but I decided to split it in two. The second part is not out yet. I realised then that the book was more about Joanna and her relationships. Karina was right, it didn’t actually relate well to the books. So a rewrite was needed. I would also need yet another cover. This time one that truly reflected the story. That was when I came across Ravensborn. I told her exactly what I wanted and who Joanna was.

Andy Hatton of AMH Photography, who provided the previous background photograph seemed a good place to start. I looked again through his collection and found one of Chester Road in Stretford, Manchester at night. I sent it to Ravensborn and the cover she produced was perfect. So good, I will never have to change it again.

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Didsbury, where Joanna’s Journey is set.

Joanna’s Journey is set in Didsbury which is a suburb of Manchester. Many of the houses in  are large Victorian semi detached. In the 70s many were converted from affluent family houses to flats. When I went to the area in Autumn 2015 to take photographs for this article, I noticed many of them had been converted back to family homes.

Clydbank

Clydebank is derived from this road.

Back in 1974 I went to visit someone who lived in the top flat of a house in Clyde Road and the image of the room stayed with me. I transferred that image of what I remembered to make it Joanna’s flat on the top floor.

Clydebank

This is a typical house along Clyde Road.

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Solly and Mike go to see Manchester United play. This is what the ground would have looked like at that time.

Our Street’s Bloody Offal!

Some years ago this appeared in the newspaper, so I used to it write a little story.

A quiet street turned into a river of blood yesterday when a tanker sprang a leak. More than 2,500 gallons of offal cascaded into the road after a pipe burst as the tanker pumped the blood into a waste tank.

Resident Philippa Leavey of Upper Bucklebury, Berkshire, said, “It was like a river of blood coming down the road. “Now the blood has congealed and cleaners are trying to scrub it off the surface. It stinks and it’s horrible.”

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “The road will be closed for at least 24 hours. I gather that the smell is appalling.”


 

Jenny’s romance was over. It had lasted three weeks, three wonderful weeks. She had fancied Connor McGuire for months and it had taken a long time for him to notice she even existed. However, he had noticed her and they began dating. He was all she ever wanted in a man, big, muscular, tall and dark with a roughness she found attractive. Unfortunately, though, he did not feel the same. Oh, he was very nice, very apologetic but she was not the girl for him. He said he hadn’t wanted to upset her.

Upset her? She was devastated. She had wanted to be the most beautiful girl in the world to him. So that was why she was sitting alone at the table of her flat working her way down a bottle of vodka.

She was 3/4’s of the way down when she heard an almighty crash. Getting to her feet, she felt light-headed as she stumbled through to the kitchen. Had a cupboard fallen? No, the kitchen was just as she had left it.

The noise was so unusual she ran the down the stairs, stumbling slightly at the bottom. “Good,” she thought to herself. “I’m drunk, it’ll dull the pain and soon Connor will become a nobody.” She sighed and opened the front door.

The cold air hit her in the face. Her head began to feel airy and light. She propped one hand on the wall to hold herself up. As she focused on the road, she saw a river of blood seeping towards her. She closed her eyes for a moment thinking that she was imagining it. When she opened them again, she saw her neighbours running from their houses. Then came the smell and she heaved.

“Bloody hell,” someone nearby yelled just as Jenny needed the vodka again.

The blood began to pool round the tyres of parked cars making the sight before her appear like a bloody battle.

The shouting and yelling brought Jenny round again. This was no drunken stupor. A large tanker had crashed into a tree. The driver was frantically trying to stop the flow of offal from flooding from the ruptured side.

Jenny was drawn out with the rest of the people in the street unable to believe was she was seeing. Some people were openly vomiting. She was glad she hadn’t had to face this sober.

The sheepish driver was getting nowhere fast as he looked directly at her and grinned with embarrassment. He was covered in blood and guts and looking like he was walking away from a horrific car smash.

It took Jenny several moments to realise why he was looking specifically at her. It was Connor McGuire and he had never looked so bleeding bad. She laughed at her own little joke and went home for some strong hot coffee.

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Predictive Text

Over the last few weeks I’ve realised that my texts and status updates have gone really bizarre and I thought it was just me being careless. But it’s not exactly.

When I look at what I’ve just written, it’s weird, really odd and I fell like I must have lost my mind during the typing of it, but I haven’t.

Since the last IOS update on my iPhone, it now predicts words groups. So as I am typing with one finger and I just happen to pause, it then predicts what word I’m likely to use next. It gets it wrong every time and it can be so infuriating as my text just look like gobbledegook.

We should read back what we have written before any post on Twitter and Facebook, but I have to admit, I don’t always. I suddenly read it back and it looks like I’m illiterate. Along with when your finger occasionally hits the wrong key and it ‘predicts’ the word you were trying to get write, and failing miserably. I just end up looking like an idiot!

Just saying!

Before The Move

It’s two weeks before our move and we went on a visit. it felt surreal standing outside our new home trying to imagine what it will be like to live there.

I’ve always wanted kerb appeal and I feel I can achieve it here. The bungalow  hasn’t been lived in for over 12 months. The driveway will come up nicely with a jet wash and we can replace the house sign and light. The front can be adorned with colourful flowers and the prospect of it all is very exciting.

Front

We’ve been in our present house for 28 years. We’ve brought our children up here, I’ve shed tears and I’ve laughed. It’s seen the worst of times and the best of our times. My parents, my in laws, our elderly aunts and uncles have all graced this house before they moved on. I know every nook and cranny; every squeak and noise this house makes. It has been our sanctuary and where ever we go in the world, it’s the place we to which we return. It’s where we feel safe and is our castle, home, our life.

It is a semi detached building in a crowded road in a big city. We bought it because it was bigger and cheaper than the area we were living in at the time, just 5 miles down the road. Our family was expanding and we were outgrowing the house we bought when we married.

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We can only get one car on the drive, the other get parked at front. When visitors come they have to find a parking space in front of someone else’s house. I get annoyed if I can’t park  outside my own due to their visitors. It is a constant battle.

The gap between the house next door is probably about 12 feet. Our bathroom windows face each other and I can hear them, and they can probably hear us. Privacy is not always there.

It’s a complex estate with main roads, side roads and cul-de-sac all backing on to each other. Each garden fits against another, some longer some short and I often wondered how the plans were drawn up in 1925 to make it fit the way it does.

A mosque opened down the road to accommodate the growing number of Asian, families. The streets filled with cars and at certain times of the day, it’s almost impossible to move.

It’s like that all over our area because we live near an a big shopping complex, a football ground, and conference centre. Some weekend thousands of people spill into the area. Traffic is nose to tail and getting to places can be difficult.

Our house has a small kitchen, long hallway and a through lounge, with three bedrooms and a modest bathroom upstairs. We are lucky that the garden is south facing. Our tiny patch of lawn gets so much sun that in the height of summer, a full line of washing will dry within two hours.

There are houses at the back of us and some of them look into each others windows. We are lucky that the ones behind us are at an angle, so we have a view right through the centre and more importantly, we are are not overlooked by anyone.

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When I walk the dog, I walk along the main road and I look for different places to walk down side streets where it will be quieter. We have several schools around here and bicycles can come up behind without warning, and rush hour is very noisy with the culmination of car engines and motorbikes. It quietens after 9.30, so I have to choose my times to venture outside.

Our new property is a detached bungalow. It’s front driveway is squared and we could fit four or five cars if we wanted. Although the idea was to downsize, I’m not sure we really have. All the rooms are larger, especially the kitchen and we have a garage too.

Because the bedrooms are on the same level, it will be a different way of living. I love the idea of getting up early in the morning and taking a few steps to the kitchen to make us a cup of coffee and take it back to bed.

It has three bedrooms and one of them we are turning into a dining room/office and eventually we shall have a conservatory built. Having lived in just the one through room, we will have a vast choice of places to be. With the kitchen being so large, we can spend time in it. At present when my husband cooks, he gets annoyed if I go into the kitchen as it’s so small that I get in his way. No chance of that happening here.

We have a back garden and a side garden, both large. As summer approaches we will again have a choice of where we want to spend time.

The bungalow situated in the countryside and five minutes from the beach. There are many beaches on the island of Anglesey and even in tourist season it is still never as busy as where we are now.

It’s a two and a bit hours drive from Manchester and I feel it is more of a community and all sharing something special.

On Facebook and Twitter I was able to join Anglesey groups and there is so much going on and I look forward to being part of it. I have plans for the future as our whole way of life will change. This is the perfect time of year as will turn into spring  summer and we can enjoy both the inside and the outside.


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