My dad once told me that his Bury Grammar friends nicknamed him Sheep’s Arse, on account of the fact that he lived in Ramsbottom. Kids are cruel. I was called Nutty at my school, on account of a lack of imagination on the most part (most people were nicknamed the first syllable of their surname, with an appended Y), and I endured Ballet Dancer for a few months, after I leapt very high in the air during a games lesson.
So, I spent quite a lot of time in Ramsbottom as a child, visiting grandparents on Bolton Street, at the top of Nuttall Park. Their house was a child’s dream come true—all funny angles, mysterious rooms, passageways, outbuildings, pond and a spinney. I’d be absolutely knackered after a day at Nanna and Grandad’s, and would eat my triangular ham sandwiches in front of Doctor Who with a warm glow in my cheeks.
So, it’s quite weird going back to Ramsbottom, decades later. The house is still there—albeit extended, modernised, missing the wildness, and enclosed by a high brick wall. I visited Peel Tower on top of Holcombe Hill, for the first time! The town itself seems to have gone upmarket. Almost posh, I might say.
I wonder if the Ramsbottom kids still get called Sheep’s Arse at school, or if school kids are nicer these days.