Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

October 18, 2019

Clayton Hall: The Feather in the Hall

On 14th September, I was at Clayton Hall as writer-in-residence for one of the annual Heritage Open Days. I was writing flash fiction about the hall, based on one-word prompts given by visitors. I asked everyone who popped in for a visit that day to add a word to the board (an adjective, an object or a person), and then I wrote a few short pieces inspired by these words.

Here’s the first one – the prompt word was ‘feather’.

The Feather in the Hall
by Hannah Kate

The girl stood by the fireplace in the wood-panelled room. In the grate, an electric heater cast orange lights, and a flutter-scrap of cloth danced in imitation of flames. To her right, a man in a Tudor ruff and cap sat at a wooden table, sharpening the end of a feather quill.

“Is this room haunted?” the girl asked.

The man in the ruff looked up from his feather. “I’ve never seen a ghost here. And I’ve never felt anything bad in this room, either.”

The girl crossed the floor in front of the fireplace and ran her fingers over the broom propped against the wall. “What’s this for?”

“It’s to give you a feel of what it would have been like to live here. In the old days.”

“When?”

The man in the Tudor costume stood up. “Have you been in the children’s bedroom yet? You can get dressed up in old clothes in there.”

“I’ve been.” The girl walked slowly across the room, letting her hand rest on an open book lying on an old bible box.

The man watched her for a moment, but when she didn’t say anything else he sat back down and busied himself with his feather again. He laid the scalpel against the stem and pushed lightly to shave another layer off the point. It was probably already too sharp, to be honest, but it was something to do to pass the time while the majority of visitors were in the history talk next door. Including, he presumed, the girls’ parents.

He laid down his scalpel and smoothed the point of the quill between his fingers.

“What are you doing?” the girl asked, suddenly turning around from the bible box and looking at the man with curiosity.

“I’m making a pen out of this feather.”

“A pen?”

“Yes. This is how they used to make pens, in the olden days. They’d sharpen one end of a feather quill, and then…”

But when he looked up from the feather he was holding, the little girl was gone. He hadn’t heard any footsteps on the wooden floor—or any creaking floorboards—so she must’ve moved very quietly. And he couldn’t help but frown at her lack of manners.

The man in the Tudor costume sat back down at the wooden table and picked up another feather. The history talk in the next room would be finished in a few minutes, and then the group of visitors would be through to look at this room. He tucked his scalpel away for safety and twirled the feather between his fingers.

“Is this room haunted?”

He looked up from the feather in his hands. But there was no one else in the room with him.

October 15, 2019

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 15 October, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week, I’m taking a trip to Strangeways.

Inspired by a conversation at the Cheetham and Crumpsall Heritage Society recently, I felt like taking a closer look at the history of Strangeways. This area of North Manchester – often discussed as a sub-district of Cheetham – fascinates me, but it’s not somewhere I know a lot about. I decided to delve in and find out more. And I’m going to share my favourite story about the area on Tuesday’s show!

So far, the story that has most interested me is that of Mrs Margaret Taylor, a woman whose family leased Strangeways Hall in the late eighteenth century. Mrs Taylor operated a boarding school for genteel young ladies at the hall, but she also wrote a book outlining what she believed were the important aspects of education for charges such as hers: An easy introduction to general Knowledge and liberal education; by Mrs Taylor: for the use of the young ladies, at Strangeways Hall, Manchester. I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned about Mrs Taylor (with the help of some ‘easy introductions’ from some excellent books and websites) on the show!

In addition to this, I’ll also be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers. And I’ll have a special announcement about a new show on North Manchester FM as well!

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

October 8, 2019

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 12 October, 2-4pm

Catch Hannah’s Bookshelf on Saturday at 2pm on North Manchester FM. When my guest will be the fab Denise Beddows (aka D.J. Kelly).

Retired Chief Immigration Officer Denise has a background in research, investigation and intelligence analysis. Writing both as Denise Beddows and as D.J. Kelly, she publishes books on local history, biographical fiction and true crime. Born and raised in Manchester, she has worked in numerous overseas locations but nowadays lives in Buckinghamshire.

Denise is the author of The Cheetham Hill Murder – A Convenient Killing?, Odd Man Out – A Motiveless Murder?, and Homes for Heroes – Life in a 1940s Prefab (ghost-written with Joan Brant). As D.J. Kelly, she’s written Bulstrode: Splendour and Scandals of a Buckinghamshire Mansion, Buckinghamshire Spies & Subversives, The Famous and Infamous of The Chalfonts and Gerrards Cross, Chalfont St Peter and Gerrards Cross at War, A Wistful Eye – The Tragedy of a Titanic Shipwright and Running with Crows – The Life and Death of a Black and Tan.

If you listen to A Helping of History, you may remember that I spoke to Denise back in March about her book The Cheetham Hill Murder. It’s a pleasure to be able to welcome her to Hannah’s Bookshelf to talk about some of her other books, and her writing more generally. And, of course, Denise will be sharing her selections for this week’s Apocalypse Books.

Catch the show on Saturday at 2pm on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

October 7, 2019

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 8 October, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week, I’ll be talking Citizens Advice! In a bit of a crossover show, I’ll be joined in the studio by Rosi Avis (who you may have heard presenting the Citizens Advice Manchester show on the station).

Manchester CAB turns 80 years old this year. Started in 1939 to assist people with enquiries and problems of wartime, Citizens Advice Manchester continues to provide free, impartial advice to people in Manchester. I’ll be talking to Rosi about the history of this organization – sometimes called the ‘Poor Man’s Lawyer’ – and the ways it has developed since it began in 1939.

In the second hour of the show, I’ll be sharing a few of my favourite stories from the early days on Citizens Advice Manchester – from clothing coupons to chimney sweeps.

In addition to this, I’ll be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers!

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

October 6, 2019

North Manchester FM: Crowdfunding Appeal!

North Manchester FM is 10 years old this year! The station has been broadcasting on FM (for North Manchester audiences) and online (for international audiences) for ten years, producing great radio content and supporting hundreds of volunteers with training, work experience and apprenticeship opportunities.

But we need a bit of help…

North Manchester FM is moving from its studio in Harpurhey soon – hopefully to a new studio down the road. This is an incredible opportunity for the station to develop its output and the opportunities it offers to local volunteers. But we can’t do it without some support. The station doesn’t receive any core funding (its income comes from SLAs and project funding), and as a truly community station that doesn’t bombard listeners with advertising, commercial income is limited. So we’re crowdfunding to help with the move and to secure the future of the station.

I have been a volunteer presenter on North Manchester FM for five years now, and I can honestly say it’s been an incredible experience. Not only has it offered me really interesting and unexpected creative opportunities that have allowed me to develop my own work, but it’s given me the chance to meet an amazing range of people and projects that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. I’ve had over 200 guests on Hannah’s Bookshelf alone – interviewing people from almost every continent (just South America and Antarctica left to go!), as well as a huge number of local poets, authors, comedians and publishers. But I’ve also been part of a diverse, enthusiastic, passionate and slightly bonkers volunteer team, all from different walks of life and different backgrounds, who have come together to create something special for their local area.

We have an ambitious target to reach, but it would be wonderful if you could consider pledging to our crowdfunding appeal. North Manchester FM needs your support to keep producing its unique, original content and offering a voice to communities that are so often overlooked.

Please consider donating something (no matter how small) to our appeal. Anything you can give will go towards helping the station continue to offer local radio with an international appeal.

October 1, 2019

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 5 October, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm on North Manchester FM for another episode of Hannah’s Bookshelf. This week, I’ll be welcoming the wonderful Jack Nolan to the studio.

Jack, age 23, has had many challenges to overcome along his short journey, from being bullied throughout his school days, getting mugged at knife point, suffering with unknown dyslexia and battling with his mental health from anxiety, to the extremes of psychosis and bipolar. Thankfully Jack has come through these troublesome times which have made him stronger and wiser. From an early age Jack became fascinated by the world of story-telling, from watching movies, acting and especially listening to his father’s childhood stories. These gave him the inspiration to write his first novel at the age of 15. Best-selling author Karen Woods was also a great influence on Jack’s writing journey. After his mental health breakdown, Jack was inspired to create his own personal brand to help others who may have also been through similar experiences. You can find this channel on all social media, ‘You Can Become’.

I’ll be talking to Jack about his writing, his work with ‘You Can Become’, and his love of story-telling on Saturday’s show. And, of course, he’ll be sharing his selections for this week’s Apocalypse Books.

Catch the show on Saturday at 2pm on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

October 1, 2019

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 1 October, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week, I’m going to be talking about some of the little villages around the periphery of the (wider) North Manchester area, like Bowlee, Simister and Rhodes. Nowadays, we link these places with Middleton, Heywood and the Borough of Bury, but once upon a time they were linked with another name… Heaton.

Today’s show is about the Heatons – not the ones near Stockport, but Great Heaton and Little Heaton. I don’t think I’ll need to say much about the later life of the Heatons – Heaton Park is one of North Manchester’s most iconic landmarks – but I’m going to look at their earlier incarnations, before the construction of Heaton Hall and its estates.

Were Great Heaton and Little Heaton part of Prestwich? Or Middleton? Who owned them? What do we know about them? What about Bowlee, Rhodes and Simister? How do they fit in? And why are there so many places called ‘Heaton’?

Tune in on Tuesday to find out all about the Heatons before Heaton Park. In addition to this little journey around the edge of North Manchester, I’ll also be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers.

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

September 25, 2019

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 28 September, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm on North Manchester FM for another episode of Hannah’s Bookshelf. This week, my guest will be the brill Michael Forester.

Michael is 62 years old. He lives between the southern edge of the New Forest and the sea. Michael is close to being profoundly deaf. He is a full time author and public speaker, travelling both in the UK and internationally, speaking inspirationally and signing his books for readers in locations as far apart as the UK, Thailand and the Philippines. On graduating from Oxford University in 1977, Michael first taught economics, before spending over thirty years in the world of business consultancy and management. In 2015, he made a fundamental change himself, leaving management to concentrate full time on creative writing and public speaking. He is the author of nine published books to date, on subjects as diverse as business strategy, spiritual inspiration and epic fantasy poetry.

Michael has travelled around the planet to over forty countries, from the Amazon Rainforest, encountering ecological devastation, to South Africa, experiencing post-Apartheid forgiveness; from a personal pilgrimage in search of the singing bowls of Nepal, to a first-hand examination of the darker side of economic modernisation in the Philippines, besides many other destinations.

I’ll be talking to Michael about his writing and his travels. And, of course, he’ll be sharing his selections for this week’s Apocalypse Books.

Catch the show on Saturday at 2pm on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

September 24, 2019

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 24 September, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week, I’ll be talking about those notorious figures of Manchester’s history: the scuttlers.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, gangs of young lads (and lasses) terrorized some of the poorer areas of Manchester, committing acts of violence and vandalism (and even murder) as part of a territorial gang conflict. Known as the scuttlers, these gangs were known for their distinctive dress and particular use of weapons. Although gangs of scuttlers were active in various parts of Manchester and Salford, Rochdale Road (and the areas between Rochdale Road and Oldham Road) was a key territory for scuttlers. Lots has been written about the scuttlers and their place in criminal history, but I’ve never talked about this bit of North Manchester history on the show… until now!

This week’s show will look at a selection of reports of scuttling activity around the Rochdale Road, and the way the popular press responded to it. What does this tell us about the scuttlers? And, perhaps more interestingly, what does this tell us about the world in which they operated? Find out more about these gangs of rough young people, their crimes and some of the proposed solutions on the show.

In addition to this little look at scuttling on the Rochdale Road, I’ll also be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers.

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

September 19, 2019

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 21 September, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm for another episode of Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM. This week, my guest will be the fab Leanne Beadle.

Leanne is a children’s author and former nurse, currently based near Hull. Having previously worked as a nursery nurse and qualified with a Diploma of Higher Education in Nursing, Leanne worked in the paediatric intensive care unit at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. She was dealt a blow in 2001, when she was diagnosed with an eyesight condition called Autosomal Dominant Optic Atrophy, which is wasting of the optic nerve. By 2009, she had a guide dog called Ceris, as her eyesight had deteriorated, and she was placed on the partially sighted register, meaning she had to give up a career she loved.

Leanne’s writing career began in 2015 when she wrote and self-published My Naughty Little Guide Dog, a touching memoir of Ceris and her antics. Since then she has written and self-published William’s Wonderful World of Gaming. She has also had three books traditionally published by Simply Inspired Words: Sophia’s Wonderful World of Gymnastics, Jet and the Great Snoozie Heist and The Forgotten Secret. She is currently working on The Creature in the Well, Lola’s Wonderful World of Horse Riding and the sequel to Jet and the Great Snoozie Heist. Leanne lives in Keyingham with her husband, her retired guide dog Ceris and her current guide dog Roxy.

I’ll be talking to Leanne about her books and about writing for children. And, of course, she’ll be sharing her selections for this week’s Apocalypse Books.

Catch the show on Saturday at 2pm on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield.)

Missed the show? You can catch it again here: