Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Courting Cake - Read My Story in The People's Friend


Research is something I didn't know I was going to enjoy so much.

When I first started writing for magazines, my stories were contemporary and always about things I knew something about. As I began writing more, I found that my ideas were coming from all different sources. My story in this week's People's Friend is called The Courting Cake and the idea behind it came from The Great British Bake Off.

In one episode they mentioned that The Courting Cake is a cross between a Victoria sponge and a shortbread and is filled with strawberries and fresh cream. It was traditionally baked by single girls in Lancashire, in order to impress a boy they were interested in.

I thought this sounded fascinating, so researched it some more and found that it was just one part of a Northern courtship ritual. In the past, young men and women, from industrial Northern towns such as Manchester, were inevitably segregated with many of the women employed in the cotton mills and the men in the mining industry.This resulted in certain areas of the city becoming designated 'promenading' streets.

One example was Oldham Street in Manchester, known as the Monkey rank, where single young people would walk up and down until they caught someones eye.

In the town of Chorley, Market Street became known as 'The Drag' and it had a 'tanner' a side of the road where office girls and clerks would walk and a 'tuppence-ha'penny' one for the factory workers.

Having found out about these rituals, I knew a story line would quickly come and the result was, 'The Courting Cake' which follows three generations of Lancashire women who have all won the hearts of their men through their baking.

My daughter works in Manchester and I asked her what Oldham street is like now. "Full of clubs," she said. I picture the girls catching the eye of the buys at the bar... nothing much has changed!

22 comments:

  1. Fascinating historical background! Look forward to reading the story.

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  2. I agree. Research can be great fun (but I shan't try making the cake...). Well done on the story.

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    1. I shan't make the cake either, Frances - I'm useless at baking.

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  3. Well they do say story ideas are everywhere don't they? Well done on your story success. :-)

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    1. Than you, Maria. It's great when one just jumps out at you like it did on The Great British Bake Off.

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  4. What a great idea for a story! The background reminded me of my teenage years spent in Lancashire we all the girls and boys used to go 'up Rivi' to eye each other up!

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  5. Good luck to you and your writing.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

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  6. I love the sound of the story, Wendy. I particularly enjoy stories set in the past and like the fact you enjoyed the research before writing it.

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    1. I've started writing more historical stories and the research is always fascinating.

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  7. What a good idea for a story.

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  8. I do enjoy hearing the inspiration behind the stories, Wendy. Watching TV or listening to radio can be great sources of inspiration - it's often a throw away line or small fact like this off Bake-off that can trigger an idea.

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    1. They are little nuggets of gold aren't they, Tracy.

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  9. I enjoyed reading the story Wendy, I didn't realise so much research had gone in to it though. Made me fancy cake:))

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  10. What a lovely idea for a story. I'd never heard of courting cake. Looking forward to settling down for a good read this weekend x

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    1. I hadn't heard of it until the great British Bake Off, Teresa.

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  11. There was a Monkey Run in Kidderminster. My Gran promenaded there around the time of WWI, my Mum around WWII and me in the swinging sixties. Now I'm showing my age.

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    1. Three generations at the Monkey Run - that's fabulous, Lynne

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