four-fathers1I rang Dexines, which is the rubber parts manufacturing plant Dad used to work at; they make aircraft and computer parts among other things, and actually blend rubber compounds at the plant. It was a strange phone call explaining I was writing a story involving the factory and who my dad was, repeatedly from the telephonist to the general manager, until I got someone who could help me. I think it was this little retelling of my father’s existence that changed something in my neural pathways as I said it over and again, starting off scared in the first telling of it, then almost bored of it by the time I found the man I needed to talk to. In the mantra and shortcutting and repetition, my dad came back to me. I don’t usually think much about my dad as its been so long since I last saw him, but here I am a forty year old man with an excited six year old beating inside him, and I’m going into work with my dad today, I’m going to get to stand next to him and say, ‘Dad, what does this machine do, What was it like to be here in 1962? Was it a racist nightmare? Dad I love you.’ Both the boy and the man are thrilled and sad at the same time. Driving over to Lancashire I whoop with the energy of it all and I weep a little as I crossed the border by the yellow hills, and the calm canal water, descending past the Junction pub at Littleborough Summit into a possible past.

Dexines is famous for its blue gates. The dourness of Rochdale doesn’t decrease their vibrancy, in fact makes them even bluer. Driving west into town, its industrial past gives way to red brick houses. The town is interspersed with an amazing amount of landscaped green, so it has that stretched thin feeling, immature trees next to council sculpted estates. The town centre is over-shadowed by College Bank flats, seven big tower blocks overlooking everything. Turning down Spotland Road, moving on the industrialisation begins again and then Dexine’s, big and red and blue.

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