New book by local Author – Dancing to the beat of the tide
Remember Angela France (Angela Norris), Garstang Courier reporter in the mid 1970s and 1980s? She’s just published a book about her childhood and teenage years in Over Wyre. It is an excellent read.
Title: Dancing to the beat of the tide
Author: Angela Norris
The proverbial “sleepy backwater” of Over Wyre has produced several first class writers over the years – eg R G Shepherd (one time deputy editor and country writer of the Blackpool Gazette) and J E Bowman (author of “When every day was summer”).
Now another name needs to be added to the handful of talented writers whose tales of being brought up and living in the flatlands of north Fylde, between the countryside and Morecambe Bay – Angela Norris.
Angela, one-time weekly newspaper reporter who quit journalism for a career in the health service, has returned to her first love – writing – to pen a part-autobiograpahical / part- insightful documentary of her early years in Preesall and Pilling.
It’s all fairly recent history, but with a very personal twist. Despite the times of her tales being only a few decades ago, her reminiscences and delightful prose jog the memory of those who lived through those times in this area. The focus is as sharp as the writing is incisive.
Angela’s portrait shows a countryside district in state of transition. She describes the change in character of Knott End and Preesall, via the 1960s building boom, from separate communities to what is effectively now one somewhat urban mass.
It’s tempting to describe the book as nostalgic in tone, which is partly true, but Angela avoids the sentimentality often associated “local” autobiographies. Few topics are left unmentioned – boyfriend issues, the onset of periods, teaching troubles (she’s not afraid to name bullying teachers), teen fashions and music not to mention the activities on the back row of the movies (at Knott End’s Verona cinema).
One topic on which she expresses understandably strong views is the 11+ exam. Angela failed and went to the local secondary modern (St Aidan’s). Her description of the education system of the 60s, and how she believes it failed numerous young people at the time will be read with interest by many readers.
Similarly Angela’s burgeoning feminism and emerging opinions stand out, without making the book “preachy.”
She is brilliant at describing village personalities, of which Preesall and Knott End still has many.
I’m hoping there will be sequel in which Angela will shed light on her years as a roving reporter on the Garstang Courier and her later decision to move into the health service. An analysis of her involvement in regional journalism and the health sphere
I hope Dancing to the Beat of the Tide becomes of a local classic. It’s the first time a book of this kind about the Over Wyre community has been published. It will be appreciated by those, like Angela, who are children of the 60s and 70s, as well as by “incomers” to the district, keen to learn more about its recent past.
*Dancing to the Beat of the Tide, published by Matador, is available from Knott End News and Knott End Post Office or through the author’s Facebook page. It is also hoped it will be on sale at the Visit Garstang tourist office, near Booths, Garstang, soon.
Reviewed by Anthony Coppin