My novel, Flipside is set in Oldham, Lancashire, in the area I used to live. I liked Oldham very much, have very happy memories of living and working there, and made some life-long friends – the sort of friends who you can meet up with after a while, even years, and just take up the friendship where it left off.
I lived in an area called Lees, which has had a settlement for hundreds of years since the 1300’s, and this is the place where most of the events of Flipside take place. A couple of hundred years ago the springs in Lees attracted many thousand visitors and there were plans to turn it into a spa town… how different Oldham would have been if that had happened!
One thing which is commented on in Flipside, is the number of ‘watery’ names in the area, I lived on Spa Lane, which was just off Spring Lane, near Brook Street, not far from Wellyhole Street, and with the village of Springhead further on up the main road out of Lancashire and into Yorkshire.
Although I have used real locations, I have also created some entirely fictitious ones; Kiran and Des work in Spo Mill on Spo Street – there is no such place; Des lives in Thomas Allen Street… no such place, and they visit some entirely made up pubs, the Leopard and the Locomotive, for example. Jaz works in made-up school, James Kellog High, which is not like any of the schools I’ve ever worked in!
“I’m so glad you’re here, Jaz, I can’t tell you what it means to me,” Kiran said, heart-felt. “I’m only sorry you’ve taken this temporary job – you could do much better, you should be aiming at senior teacher posts now. You just rush into things without thinking,” and I thought of my friends word, impetuous.
I reassured him that I’d done the right thing; I loved teaching, I just wanted to teach and even at this lowly level there were more than enough meetings and bull-shit. It was a good career move. I really liked Oldham, I liked the school, I liked the kids and perhaps I’d get a permanent job.
Kiran was delighted at the prospect. “It’d be great to have my little sis with me. Des has kept me sane over the last few months, but, well, I never did want Des to give me a hug!”
We laughed as we crossed the road and into the Lees Spa Hotel. There’d once been a spa in Lees, and the whole area was full of watery names, Springhead up the road, Waterhead and Watersheddings nearby, Waterworks Road, and the curiously named Wellyhole Street.