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Pies and Prejudice - In search of the North

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Has anyone read Pies and Prejudice by Stuart Maconie? I picked it up in a Costa Coffee in Waterstones yesterday and read a chapter. It seems pretty good.

The premise is that the author wants to establish what exactly 'the North' is. He does this by travelling all across the north in search of evidence of distinct cultural differences to the South and also examines whether the cliches stand up to scrutiny.

He writes in a very sardonic, dry manner and it seems entertaining, but before I part any cash on another book for the TBR pile, I'd like to know if the rest of the book is any good.

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I read this recently and enjoyed it well enough. I like Stuart Maconie and I'm a big fan of the radio show that he does with Mark Radcliffe, which is why I bought the book. I felt that it lost a bit of momentum towards the end but I'm sure that this was because I'm a diehard Southerner and have been to very few of the Northern town that he mention. This meant that I lacked any connection to his subject matter and therefore the point that he was trying to make was a bit lost on me. The book itself was very easy to read and Maconie's personality came across really well. Given that the book is on offer just about everywhere at the moment, I'd say that if you're a Northerner give it a go.

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This meant that I lacked any connection to his subject matter and therefore the point that he was trying to make was a bit lost on me.

I can understand that. I read it recently and enjoyed it, but mainly because I knew many of the places he was writing about and recognised the fun that he was poking at them.

 

I remember thinking that the book was so blatantly prejudiced that it would not help any North/South divide heal . . . and some of the differences were to do with time and a 'remembered North' rather than a geographical place, but the humour was good and the tone light and accessible.

 

Of course, in the North (of England - I haven't forgotten the Scots - just following the book) we are all warm, friendly and caring and in the South you are all cold and ambitious. We live in Coronation Street and you in Albert Square.

 

PS - just come back from a meeting with lovely people in Beckenham; had friendly taxi drivers in Croyden and unbelievably helpful tube staff in central London.

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This is on Mount TBR. I've been reading Maconie since he was an NME hack more years ago than I care to remember.

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I was back in the UK for a few years until last summer, and in a radio nation full of self-obsessed talentless clowns, Stuart Maconie stood out as a genuine guy with opinions and views worth listening to. And as a Scot, I automatically identify more easily with people from the north of England -- it's surely something to do with relative isolation from the seat of power and the wonders of working class humour -- so I will keep an eye out for this book.

 

ron mcmillan

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Have just started reading this myself. I was unsure, but I got in in a 3 for 2 so I thought I'd give it a go. It's okay so far - there's some interesting bits of information about a few places, but like already mentioned, it's easier to feel a connection with it if you're familiar with the towns he talks about. It seems to have a bit of a North West bias to it, which is a shame.

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Had previously read "Adventures on the High Teas - The search for Middle England" by Stuart Maconie, and had been aware of his stuff on radio prior to that, so thought I would give this a go too, having quite enjoyed 'High Teas' without necessarily having been blown away by it.

 

As previously outlined by other posters, Maconie the clearly stated Northerner sets off on an almost autobiographical trip around the north of England in order to find out exactly where that begins and ends, and how it defines the people who live there. So begins a North v South debate which, for a large part of his trip, appears to be not so much geographically based as class based. OK, so I happen to live in the south of England, although as I am north of Watford that could comedically render me as Northern!

 

I am pretty certain that, over time, southern-based authors/poets/journalists etc. have waxed lyrical about the South and rubbished the North, and VICE VERSA. However, Maconie does seem to labour a point that suggests this is almost entirely a one-way street, that all Southerners are called Tarquin and Arabella and loll about all day drinking frappacinos. Lazy stereotyping, in much the same way that we are led to believe that all Northern folk are gritty, salt-of-the earth types who are rich in humour and thatn only one half of the country ever does an honest day's work.

 

I have no axe to grind against anyone from North or South, but Maconie does lay it on with a trowel about the South where, despite his continual references to his left-wing politics and love of all things Northern, he has managed to harvest a fairly good living.

 

I find a lot of the content contradictory in that, when describing how Wainwright wrote about, and fell in love with, the Lake District, by all accounts all he did write about for the most part, yet when describing how someone like John Betjeman wrote pieces eulogising London or the South, manages to make this come across as the North being ignored yet again. Many authors/poets write about what they know, just because they don't write about the area you want them to write about doesn't make it wrong or disrespectful.

 

There was material to like about the book, Maconie produces some laugh-out-loud moments along the way from what are essentially some very ordinary humdrum aspects of day-to-day life, but overall the 'class' thing just gets in the way too much.

 

Will I go in search of more Maconie? I've followed him in HIS search for Middle England and The North, but jury is out at present.

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