four-fathersI made one final trip to the town, on this story mission a few weeks later. I sat in the local history library, which used to be the main library I would escape to every Saturday when I was a boy, and the man and the boy sits there again, not seeking out sci-fi and magical stories now, but looking for the route’s around the town in the early nineteen sixties, looking for photos of the shop fronts, and looking through the microfiche of the Rochdale Observer from around the time I thought Dad would have asked Peter to support him. The paper is full of summer stories; I get the weather report for the wakes weeks. There was a spate of burglaries going on, and everyone had to be vigilant, there had been a car accident on the high street, and there were also reviews of what was on TV. I could hear the men at Dexines talking in the boiler room.

‘Are you going away for the wakes? Did you see that thing on telly?’

Stories making a new story, a miraculous phone call unlocking a lost street, and the possibility of literature allowing love to exist where I had been told there hadn’t been any. Words fall into my little silver Apple Mac, scanned newspapers fly fast under the reading lens. Maps contain the footprints of everyone who has walked their lines and contours if we will just wait and look, and the past is in the hands of the present, asking us to try and get our facts straight and more importantly, to tell a good story.

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