Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Strangest Coincidence


This month I have a story called, 'The Girl in the Striped Sundress' (with a great illustration by Martin Baines) in The People's Friend Summer Special. The inspiration behind it is interesting and also very spooky!

A while back, I read an article in The Telegraph titled, The Mystery of the Blackpool Belles. It showed a photograph taken in 1951 of two girls sitting on some railings on the seafront in  Blackpool. One of the girls was wearing a spotted sundress and this iconic image has been reproduced on postcards, books and magazines since then.

Apparently, for years nobody knew who these two girls were until, a few years ago, a lady called Norma Edmondson came forward to say that one of the girls in the photo was herself. She identified her friend, Alice Sumner, as her mystery companion. First reported in the local press, the national press soon got hold of the story and Norma became a minor celebrity. Case solved... or was it?

The only problem with this story, according to the article, was that Norma could not remember the exact moment the photograph had been taken. Then came a further twist to the story - following Mrs Edmondson's appearance on television, another lady,Pat Stewart, came forward to say that she was the lady in the spotted sundress and had evidence to prove it.

When I read this story, I loved it immediately and decided that I wanted to write some fiction revolving around it. This resulted in my story 'The Girl in the Striped Sundress' which is about an elderly lady who sees a picture of herself on a seaside postcard which brings back memories of the young woman she used to be - at the crossroads of her life.

The People's Friend really liked the story but it wasn't until after it was published that I read the original article again, more closely this time, and you won't believe what I found. Pat Stewart gave the name of the friend who was in the photograph with her and do you know what her name was?

.... Wendy Clarke.

Spooky or what!


You can read the full Telegraph article, 'The Mystery of the Blackpool Belles' and view the postcard, here.

30 comments:

  1. I've got goosebumps now, Wendy! xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh wow, that really is spooky, Wendy x

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. I would have thought it strange even if her first name had been the same.

      Delete
  4. Oooh that's a real duh duh duh duh (spooky science fiction music playing!!!) moment isn't it. How incredible is that?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ooh yes, that is spooky, Wendy! Made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. You were MEANT to write that story...!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if the other Wendy Clarke reads The People's Friend, Helen!

      Delete
  6. As long as she's not going round telling all her friends she now has a story in People's Friend most weeks:))))

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oooh, yes - a bit creepy I think Wendy! Another story idea in there I reckon!

    ReplyDelete
  8. You must have received some sort of psychic tug from the newspaper story. Perhaps the other Wendy is an unknown relative. Love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unlikely, Lynne. Clarke's my married name.

      Delete
  9. Ooh I love to hear about things like this - made my spine tingle. Sounds a great story too. You do find inspiration from the most incredible places and thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just happened to see this article by chance, Tracy.

      Delete
  10. That's an absolutely amazing coincidence. You must have been stunned when you discovered it. It made me gasp!
    Congratulations on the publication - it looks like a fabulous story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As Sam said, it's a story in itself, Joanna.

      Delete
  11. A real 'Twilight Zone' event. I can't wait to read the story. Wish you continued success and inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Clearly you were destined to write that story, Wendy.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a fantastic story, Wendy - love those kinds of coincidence!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I prefer it when it happens to someone else, Rosemary!

      Delete
  14. Oo-er! Have you read The Coincidence Authority by J W Ironmonger?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No I haven't, Julia. I am of the rather sensible opinion that for every coincidence there are millions of non-coincidences each day (which puts it into perspective), It's all about the law of probability.

      Delete
  15. Kate Hardstaff30 June 2014 at 10:56

    I always seem to contribute about a week late! I thought it was a great idea for a story because I have often wondered if people recognise themselves in those clips they show as illustration on TV, groups of people in public back in the 70s or something!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's never too late to contribute, Kate. You're always very welcome and I always see everyone's comments - whenever they are written.

      Delete