Saturday, 11 October 2014


I was made up the other week when I read that as we get older it isn’t that our brain stops working as efficiently, it’s just that when we try to remember things, it takes longer because we have more in our memory banks for our brain to sift through. This made perfect sense of my remembering just the first letter of a name or a place I can’t recall straightaway but do so a few hours later or the next day. It reinforces what I’ve thought for a while and that older people are at a disadvantage when it comes to quick-fire quizzes, such as Mastermind.

In our house it’s not only me that can be forgetful but my husband as well. Who hasn’t been asked, ‘Do you remember where I’ve put my keys?’ His have turned up on the second stair up by the front door or on the top of the fridge…or even inside his woolly hat with his gloves.

I always remind him of an episode of Poirot in which Miss Lemon couldn’t remember where she had put her keys and had to stay at his flat. The next day she remembered something Poirot had told her and backtracked on her actions of the day and she found the keys in a bowl of fruit in the hall.

When I first set out to be a writer and was looking for ideas for magazine articles, the smell from a tar machine where workmen were resurfacing a road, instantly reminded me of when I was a little girl bursting tar bubbles between the cobbles on Whitefield Road, near where I went to junior school. That I managed to get tar on my white ankle socks didn’t please Mam at all. Especially when her method of getting rid of the tar involved rubbing butter into it.

But that memory led me to writing an article called SENSES OF THE PAST - smell, hearing, sight, touch - I sent the article to LANCASHIRE LIFE. It wasn’t accepted but the editor did tell me that it was a near miss and that letter encouraged me to carry on writing.

The sight of laden branches of blackberries takes me back to a Sunday School trip on the Wirral or a holiday in Towyn, North Wales. I still enjoy picking blackberries and this morning I decided to make jam, I’ve had three ice cream containers of the fruit in the freezer for weeks and decided it was time to do something with them, as soon I’m going to need the space for Christmas goodies. I decided to make apple and blackberry jam and John helped with the peeling of the apples and sterilising the jam jars. The bubbling mixture smelled gorgeous but after spooning the jam into jars, left at the bottom of the pan was a mush of blackberries and syrupy liquid that was fragrantly toffeeish.

My mam never made jam but she did make toffee apples. I can picture her now in her floral pinny in our old back kitchen. Us kids loved those toffee apples because they were a once a year treat. Having said that there was a woman who used to make toffee apples who lived near Ogden’s tobacco factory on Boundary Lane, and there would be a queue of us kids waiting to hand over our pennies to buy one. Today’s shop bought ones just don’t taste the same.

On a slightly different note I received an email this week from a lady called Deborah who lives in Perth, Australia. (Isn’t the internet magic!) She had recently read my books STEP BY STEP and A DREAM TO SHARE; both of which are mainly set in the beautiful city of Chester. She wanted to know the titles in the right order of the other books in my Chester series because she wanted to know what happened next to the characters. I have been asked this question before about that series - which is partly set in Liverpool as well.

For anyone else who would like to read about my Chester families who discover they have links with Liverpool. They are as follows:


Just like Liverpool, Chester is a fascinating place to visit. Chester as a port came to prominence much earlier than Liverpool but Liverpool was to supersede it when the Dee silted up. I discovered the main similarities between the cities were both had rivers, cathedrals, canals and markets, as well as a main railway station. The differences were obvious, but most interesting to me was that Liverpool had numerous pawnbroker shops during Edwardian time, while I could only find two in Chester.

I would have liked to have carried on writing that series whose stories came to an end in the twenties, but my publisher at the time decided it was time to leave that era and the characters. She wanted books to be set around the fifties. It is where my latest Liverpool books are set and I have to confess that the fifties is one of my favourite decades to write about.


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