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!