Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

October 7, 2018

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 13 October, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm for another Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM. This week, my guest will be the brill Paul Robert Mullen.

Paul is a Southport-born poet, who considers himself a ‘scouser’, since his whole family were born and bred there. As a young boy Paul was often in trouble at school. He found it very hard to concentrate, preferring to doodle in his notebooks and write stories about weird and wonderful characters, aliens and monsters. A former shelf-stacker, catalogue boy, barman, window cleaner, labourer, mobile phone salesman, and van driver for a hair and beauty company, Paul eventually settled on the idea of pursuing his love for literature by qualifying as a college lecturer.

Aged 30, Paul accepted a job at Guangxi University, in a relatively unheard of city in China called Nanning. After a chance meeting with American writer, Kate Evans, who was poetry professor at Guangxi University in China, Paul started to get serious about pursuing publication. Kate was very encouraging, supportive and inspiring. Weekly meetings in a coffee shop in Nanning led to the publication of Paul’s first collection of poems, curse this blue raincoat (2017), to positive reviews. A follow up collection, testimony (2018), came out in February, also to a very lively and encouraging reception. Another concept collection, including poetry, prose and photographic images (titled 35) was published in August 2018.

I’ll be chatting to Paul about poetry, and about his published work. 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 7, 2018

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 9 October, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week, we’re going to be ‘remembering Moston’, as I find out about a collection of photographs taken by the North Manchester Camera Club.

Tricia Neal has acquired a wonderful collection of photographs of Moston and surrounding areas that were taken by members of the North Manchester Camera Club in the twentieth century. She’s been exhibiting these pictures at various venues in North Manchester, most recently the Cheetham and Crumpsall Heritage Society. I caught up with Tricia, and other members of the Heritage Society, to talk about these snapshots of Moston’s past.

Listen to my interview with Tricia on Tuesday’s show to find out more!

I’ll also be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers. And you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s landmark buildings?

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 1, 2018

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 6 October, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm for another episode of Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM. This week, my guests will be the fab Emily Oldfield and Helen Darby.

Emily is a writer and poet from Burnley who now lives in Manchester. She is currently the Editor of HAUNT Manchester, and loves revealing the mysterious side of the city. She also is the Editorial Assistant at I Love MCR, and writes weird and wonderful words about music at Louder Than War and Bitter Sweet Symphonies.

Helen is a curator, events manager and poet based in Manchester. She writes poetry about love, sex, family, gender, philosophy, recovery and cake.

I’ll be talking to Emily and Helen about poetry, writing and events. And, of course, they’ll be sharing their 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, 2018

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 2 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 returning to Booth Hall (the house, not the hospital) and talking about some of its interesting and influential residents.

Booth Hall (the house, not the hospital) was built in 1635 by Humphrey Booth. It was a large two-storey house surrounded by an estate that had been part of the medieval Blackley Deer Park (now Boggart Hole Clough and Bailey’s Wood). The Booth family had the house until the end of the seventeenth century, after which it passed through quite an array of owners, before being pulled down in 1908 to make way for Booth Hall Hospital. I’m going to be talking about some of these owners on the show – including Thomas Bayley, William Henry and the Taylor family (that’s right… more Taylors!).

Booth Hall – who’d live in a house like this?

As well as this trip to Booth Hall, I’ll be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers. And you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s landmark buildings?

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, 2018

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 29 September, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm for another Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM. This week, I’ll be welcoming the fab Hilary Walker back to the studio. (You may remember Hilary was one of the performers on my live poetry show back in March.)

Hilary Walker is a Manchester-born poet. She works as a funeral celebrant and lives in Up Holland, Lancashire with her musician husband and their four pets. She began performing her poems in the early days of the Bolton-based poetry performance group Write Out Loud in 2004 and gained experience reading her work at open mic events around the North West. She has also travelled with the group to poetry festivals, including Bordeaux, and on a personal level she has performed in Greenwich Village, New York and more recently this year, in San Francisco.

Recently, she has performed as a featured artist at various local poetry gigs, has made a video/poem with Mark Mace Smith of Thud Dub Films, and has collaborated with her jazz pianist husband, Paul Walker, to produce pieces of piano poetry. In September 2018, Hilary had her first collection of poems published – Saving Lives by Preeta Press.

I’ll be chatting to Hilary about her collection, and about the power of poetry and performance. 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:

September 25, 2018

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 25 September, 12-2pm

Tune in to North Manchester FM on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History. This week, we’re going Up the Junction (Middleton Junction, that is).

Bordering Mills Hill, Alkrington, Foxdenton and Greengate, and named after a now closed railway station, Middleton Junction is an area rich in history. I’ll be talk about some of my favourite stories from the area’s past, including the now-almost-forgotten Bradshaw Hall estate and the influential Jumbo Farm Tea Party. Find out more on Tuesday’s show!

I’ll also be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers. And you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s landmark building?

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 23, 2018

Winter is Coming… An Autumnal Reading List

It’s time to face it… Summer is over, September is here, and Winter is just around the corner. I’m not complaining though… I really love autumn, and so I devoted Saturday’s episode of Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM to a selection of seasonal reads. Halloween and Bonfire Night are on the horizon, but we’ve got a lot of autumn to enjoy before then. September crackles with new terms, harvest festivals, Michaelmas and Days of Awe. To mark the eve of Mabon (the autumnal equinox), I took a look at a few fictional celebrations of the season.

You can listen to the show again on the player at the end of the post. But, as promised on the show, here are the details of the books I talked about. Did I miss your favourite? Let me know in the comments!

A Mind to Murder by P.D. James (1963)

This is the book that really kicked off today’s theme, as I love the descriptions of autumn in James’s book. A Mind to Murder is the second of James’s fourteen Adam Dalgliesh whodunnits, and it’s very much in the classical Golden Age mode.

At a psychiatric clinic in a converted Georgian townhouse (it’s an NHS clinic, but feels more ‘exclusive’ by today’s standards), the administrative officer Miss Bolam is found murdered. But which of the staff was responsible? Could anyone else have got in or out? Alongside the murder mystery puzzle are some interesting (though a bit disturbing for a modern reader) glimpses into treatments and attitudes towards mental illness in the 1960s, including electro-convulsive treatment and lysergic acid therapy. While A Mind to Murder isn’t as meticulously clued and plotted as Agatha Christie’s novels, it’s an evocative page-turner with loads of atmosphere. And I’ve said, the descriptions of the natural changes that come with the change of seasons are really wonderful. This Baroness of Crime certainly knows how to create a sense of time and place.

The Twins at St Clare’s by Enid Blyton (1941)

For many of us, September still conjures up the feeling of a new school term. Autumn is the start of the school year, and so I thought it would be appropriate to have a book that begins with a new term. I chose the first of Enid Blyton’s St Clare’s books, as I really enjoyed these ones as a kid.

The Twins at St Clare’s is the first of six books in Blyton’s series. It introduces the twins Pat and Isabel O’Sullivan, who have just left the prestigious Redroofs school to begin senior school. While all their friends are heading off to the elite Ringmere, the twins’ parents are worried that Pat and Isabel are in danger of becoming snobs (of course, they still send them to boarding school!). Pat and Isabel are keen to make their mark at St Clare’s and become ‘Somebodies’ – unfortunately, starting at the bottom of the pack is tougher than they anticipated. Determined to get their parents to change their mind, the twins resolve to behave as badly as possible at St Clare’s – but will they learn a valuable lesson along the way?

Blyton followed this book with five more St Clare’s titles: The O’Sullivan Twins (1942), Summer Term at St Clare’s (1943), The Second Form at St Clare’s (1944), Claudine at St Clare’s (1944) and Fifth Formers of St Clare’s (1945). Pamela Cox alos wrote three continuation novels in 2000-2008.

Day of Atonement by Jay Rayner (1998)

In the northern hemisphere, the Jewish High Holy Days are autumn holidays, as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (Yamin Noraim, the Days of Awe) fall in September. This year, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) was sunset on 18th September to sunset on the 19th.

Before putting together this reading list, I had no idea that food critic Jay Rayner had also written novels, so this was a bit of an unexpected find! Published in 1998, Day of Atonement is Rayner’s second novel. The book opens with a man (Mal Jones) sitting in a bedsit in Herne Bay after being released from prison. It’s the day leading up to Yom Kippur, and Mal’s niece Natasha has arrived with some shopping he’s requested: ‘the feast before the famine’. As they start to eat, Natasha asks Mal to tell her a story, specifically the story of how he met Solly Princeton. Chapter 2 is a flashback to Rosh Hashanah thirty-five years earlier, and the portentous meeting between two lads at Edgwarebury Shul. Mal and Solly’s friendship grows, and the two end up going into business together, marketing Solly’s Pollo-Matic chicken soup machine and creating a restaurant and hotel empire. Day of Atonement is the comical and often bawdy tale of Mal and Solly’s relationship and the Sinai Corporation, and of the dramatic demise of both. It’s book that’s full of food (though it was published a year before Rayner got his first critic gig) and friendship, but also one that reflects on a lot of Anglo-Jewish culture and politics in the latter part of the twentieth century. It’s definitely of its time, but worth a read nevertheless.

The Reluctant Cannibals by Ian Flitcroft (2013)

In the Christian calendar, the September festival is Michaelmas (or the Feast of St Michael and All Angels), though it is not observed much anymore. Michaelmas is also one of the quarter days of the financial year (with Lady Day, Midsummer and Christmas Day), and was traditionally the day on which servants were hired, school terms started, and rents were due. Nowadays, Michaelmas is most significant in the legal calendar (as the first of four terms of the English court), and in some older universities who retain ‘Michaelmas term’ to describe the beginning of the academic year. I couldn’t think of a novel that revolves around the festival of Michaelmas, so instead I chose a campus novel that begins at Michaelmas term (and which has a couple of evocative descriptions of a college in autumn as well).

The Reluctant Cannibals is Flitcroft’s first novel, and the title really lets you know what you’re in for. Set in the fictional St Jerome’s College, Oxford in 1969, the book is about a ‘fine dining’ club set up by a group of food-obsessed academics, who name themselves the Shadow Faculty of Gastronomic Science. The Shadow Faculty are working their way through obscure foods and endangered animals, but when an experiment with Fugu goes horribly wrong, the future of the society looks a little unsure. The first chapter introduces the group and the puffer fish disaster; the second chapter begins at Michaelmas term with Professor Arthur Plantagenet, an enthusiastic member of the Shadow Faculty, devising a plan for fully committing himself to the project – when he discovers he has a heart condition, he resolves to leave his body to gastronomy. Well, the title of the novel gives you an indication of how the rest of the society feel about the plan! But when they discover Professor Plantagenet has left a will, it seems they might not have much choice in the matter.

I know that there are loads of campus novels I could have chosen here, but The Reluctant Cannibals is such a curious book that I thought it was a good addition to this list (and it really does have a great description of autumn at the beginning of the second chapter). I’ll admit to finding some bits rather squeamish (weirdly, it was the consumption of non-human animals I had the most trouble with – go figure), but it’s a really unexpected and strange tale so I’m counting it as a recommendation. Just don’t read it right before dinner!

Devil’s Day by Andrew Michael Hurley (2017)

And now for a different type of autumn festival… Harvest Festival (in the Christian calendar) and Mabon (in the neo-pagan Wheel of the Year). While I’m sure there are plenty of positive fictional depictions of these intertwined festivals, I’ll admit I mostly associate them with folk horror.

On the show, I mentioned an early example of Harvest Horror: a short story called ‘Randalls Round’ by Eleanor Scott (1929), which features an academic taking a break during Michaelmas term to investigate an old custom associated with an ancient barrow. Things turn out to be somewhat darker than expected. Scott’s story hits all the notes of true English folk horror and is well worth a read, but I decided to go with a more recent title for today’s reading list.

Hurley’s second novel is the story of John Pentecost, who returns every autumn to the farm in Briarvale Valley, Lancashire (the ‘Endlands’) where he grew up to help gather the sheep in from the moors. This year, he is accompanied by his pregnant wife Katherine for the first time. John’s grandfather – known to everyone as the ‘Gaffer’ – has died, and John becomes responsible for ensuring his rituals are followed. The Gaffer had a series of traditions that he enacted every autumn to bring the sheep safely in and redraw the boundary lines of the village. He did this to keep the sheep safe from the devil, as the villagers believe they were visited by the ‘Owd Feller’ a hundred years earlier and are keen to ensure it doesn’t happen again. John and Katherine now have to decide how many traditions they’re willing to take on, and what sacrifices they’re willing to make. The story is intertwined with flashbacks and John’s memories – there is definitely a real darkness in the Endlands, which unfolds with Gothic creepiness. And, of course, with some wonderfully evocative descriptions of the season too.

Persuasion by Jane Austen (1817)

Where would an autumnal reading list be without a book that takes ‘autumn’ as a metaphor for a life stage? And how could I not include what is undoubtedly one of the best-loved autumn-as-metaphor books?

Austen’s last full novel (which was published shortly after the author’s death) tells the story of Anne Elliot, a woman considered to be past her prime and on the shelf (though she’s only 27!). Once, Anne received a marriage proposal from a naval officer – but, on pressure from her family, she turned him down. Now she’s considered an old maid and, as the readers deduce right away, bitterly regretting her decision. But things are about to change… Anne’s father is deeply in debt, forced to rent out the family home and move his family to Bath. This chain of events brings Captain Wentworth back into Anne’s life, as well as bringing together a typically Austen assortment of friends and relatives, snobs, schemers and confidantes. It’s a really wonderful book, and I fell in love with it when I first read it as a teenager (though Anne seemed a little older to me then than she does now).

As well as being a book ostensibly about an ‘autumnal’ romance, Persuasion has some great scenes set amongest the ‘tawny leaves and withered hedges’ of the season. However, again in typically Austen style, we get a few slightly cynical comments on the treatment of the ‘thousand poetical descriptions’ of autumn, and so this seemed like a great place to end my discussion of fictional autumns!

To find out more about all of these books, and about my reasons for choosing them, you can listen to the show again here:

September 17, 2018

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 18 September, 12-2pm

Tune in to North Manchester FM on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History. This week, I’m going to be talking about a near-forgotten but utterly captivating figure of North Manchester history – Miss Mary Taylor of Moston. (You may remember that I introduced Miss Mary very briefly at the end of last week’s show.)

A member of the Taylor family of Moston, Miss Mary lived much of her life at Crofter’s House on what is now Moss Brook Road, now the home of the Manchester and Cheshire Dogs’ Home. A lover of the countryside, and of the health-giving properties of fresh air, Miss Mary was a well-known figure around nineteenth-century Moston. She was also a very intelligent woman: she studied for a time with scientist John Dalton, who spoke highly of her ‘mental abilities’, and was known for her botanical knowledge.

I’ll be introducing Miss Mary and talking about what we know of her long and colourful life. I’ll also be reading a few excerpts from a 1905 book: Moston Characters at Play, by John Ward. The first chapter of Ward’s book includes an unofficial census of Moston taken by Miss Mary in 1841 – an invaluable snapshot of the area at the time.

There’s definitely something about Mary…

In addition to this, I’ll be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers. And you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s landmark buildings?

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 11, 2018

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 15 September, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm for more Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM. This week, I’ll be welcoming the brill N.J. Cartner to the studio.

Born and raised in Manchester and heavily influenced by music, film and literature, N.J. has aspired to work in and around the creative arts since his teenage years. It was only when he hit his late twenties that life took a fortunate turn and gave him the opportunity to fulfil those dreams. He was invited to write for a local online music fanzine, naturally jumping at the chance to review and interview underground bands on the rock music scene. It quickly became apparent from feedback that he had a natural flair for creative writing within the industry, and he continues to be a writer and reviewer on the scene to this day.

Over the years, his involvement with music continued to progress and he now co-hosts and co-runs the Sonic Bandwagon radio show on Stockport radio station, Pure 107.8FM. This enthusiasm for music has become an integral part of his writing, very evident in his first novel, Lost in Manchester, Found in Vegas.

I’ll be talking to N.J. about the novel, his music writing, and his influences. 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 7, 2018

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 11 September, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week, I’ll be chatting to Robert Hargreaves and Alan Hampson about their new book, Beyond Peterloo: Elijah Dixon and Manchester’s Forgotten Reformers.

Elijah Dixon, of Newton Heath, played a key role in the Blanketeer’s March of 1817. Arrested, chained in double irons and imprisoned without trial, the episode set the stage for the Peterloo Massacre. Everybody in Victorian Manchester knew of Elijah Dixon. Over a period of sixty years, he was an ever-present force in the tumultuous politics of the town. An early apostle of votes for women, Temperance advocate, Christian convert, Dixon rose from poverty to make a fortune as Britain’s first mass-producer of matches.

In Beyond Peterloo, Robert and Alan bring Dixon’s previously overlooked yet vital contribution to social reform to life. Set against the backdrop of the Blanketeer’s March of 1817 and the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, they reveal the fascinating story of his life and work as Manchester’s forgotten reformer.

As well as sharing my interview with Robert and Alan, I’ll be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers. And you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s landmark buildings?

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: