Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

October Books 5) Pies and Prejudice, by Stuart Maconie

A couple of years back I read Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island and wasn't hugely impressed. This, on the other hand, is a wonderful book about the North of England, prefaced by the Ninth Doctor quote, "Lots of planets have a north", written with affection and humour, and occasional rage against Southern and/or London prejudices. As a non-English person myself, I don't have a particular stake other than cheering for the underdog; as someone who has a fascination for micro-cultures, I loved Maconie's exploration of the great cities of Northern England through pop music and football, even though those are both subjects which I am vaguely aware of rather than passionately interested in.

It is one of the few books where I actively wished I could hear the author reading it. Words on a page are all very well, but I imagine that Maconie had retained his Wigan accent, which would surely add colour to his delivery of lines like the way the Liver Birds are unlikely to fly away from Liverpool, because they are made of metal and nailed to the Liver Building, or the awful effects of his family's cooking tradition on his childhood morale. When his Golbourne Colliery relatives were sent tins of spaghetti in solidarity by Heinz workers during the miners' strike, these unfamiliar culinary objects "were regarded with suspicion. Rumour had it they'd become contaminated with flavour and tastiness and contained no pastry whatsoever."

Anyway, an excellent and enlightening book, for anyone with the slightest curiosity about Northern England.

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Tags: bookblog 2010

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