Review of ‘Flash Back’, by Margaret Parker

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

FLASH BACK

This new publication centres around a small village with a long history, five miles from Buxton in the parish of Quarnford. This is Flash, and that clever title echoes the extensive delvings of Margaret Parker, who intersperses more than 100 photographs and documents with distant events and inhabitants' memories that range from fast-fading to fresh.

Flash seems to have been left 'at the back' more than most. Electricity for the school was generated by a windmill until 1962, while the Travellers Rest (once a place of strange ceremonies and illegal oaths) was lit by Calor gas. It was a further 22 years before mains water reached the village.

Farming has always been the mainstay around here, in fact Flash had a cattle market until thirty years ago. Other hands have turned to coal mining, button making, growing watercress and ochre preparation. All this in the face of Flash's infamous weather - 'nine months of winter and three months of bad weather'. One modern-day vicar, referring to the vicarage, complained that he 'never had such a miserable and uncomfortable three months in my life ...' At least a distant predecessor enjoyed a clutch of distractions, to the point that his flock pleaded for his removal on account of his 'bad morals'.

Bad morals of a financial kind clung to some of the many hawkers and pedlars based in the locality, known as Flash-men.

Whilst Margaret Parker has clearly spent an enormous amount of time amongst the archives, her attention to personal reminiscences brings the story into the present. The famous Flash Tea Pot Day has latterly been revived as Teapot2 and nowhere have volunteers worked harder or more hands-on to provide themselves with a village hall.

Flash Back is on sale at Flash Bar Stores near Flash village, priced £5, or by post at £6.50 from M.E. Parker, Ball Stone Farm, Quarnford, Buxton SK17 0SZ. Every book sold will help towards urgently needed roof repairs to St Paul's Church.

Review by Julie Bunting


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