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Cider With Roadies [Paperback]

Stuart Maconie
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Review

"The English Bill Bryson" (Tony Wilson)

"The perfect pop fan's life ... effortlessly articulate" (The Times)

"Stuart Maconie is the best thing to come out of Wigan since the A58 to Bolton" (Peter Kay)

"An heir to Alan Bennett ... stirring and rather wonderful" (Antony Quinn Sunday Times)

"If you only read one personal music odyssey, make it this one" (GQ)

Book Description

The hilarious coming-of-age memoir from the bestselling author of Pies and Prejudice

About the Author

Stuart Maconie is a journalist and writer, and is familiar to millions as a TV and radio presenter. He is the host of Stuart Maconie's Critical List on BBC Radio 2 and Freak Zone on Radio 6, and has written and presented dozens of other shows on BBC Radio. He presents the DVD Collection on BBC Four and has made regular appearances on Never Mind the Buzzcocks on BBC2. As well as a popping up in Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights, he is a favourite on hit nostalgia TV series such as the BBC's I Love the 1970s. His other books include the acclaimed official biographies of both Blur and James as well as the bestselling Pies and Prejudice, published by Ebury. He can name GQ Man of the Year and Sony Awards Radio Broadcaster of the Year amongst his accolades. He lives in the West Midlands and is happiest when fell-walking with his dog, Muffin.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

With The Beatles

George Orwell wrote that 'only by resurrecting our own memories can we realise how incredibly distorted is the child's vision of the world'. If you've read The Road to Wigan Pier you may remember Orwell also claimed that people who drank orange juice were the henchmen of Satan so he wasn't always right. I have read The Road to Wigan Pier, partly because of a keen interest in socio- political British class analysis and partly because it's got 'Wigan' in the title. That's where I'm from, you see, and that's where a lot of what follows takes place. Not this first bit though. Excitingly, that takes place in Swinton.

I'm in bed in my auntie's house in Swinton, a suburb of Manchester. The room is airy and filled with light. It's a sunny day, the windows are open, curtains are billowing and the bedspread is fluffy and white. Of course, bearing in mind Orwell's words, it's possible that I've mentally mixed the whole thing up with a Daz advert. For instance, in my memory the bedspread is a duvet although logic dictates that this can't be true, the duvet not making its incursion into British bedrooms till some years later, along with other racy innovations like radio alarms and the works of Dr Alex Comfort.

In the room though, definitely, are my cousins Eileen and Elizabeth. They'll be about eight or nine I'd guess. They're obviously teasing me in some pleasant girlish fashion as I can picture a smiling blonde female face above me and some tickling under the chin. But most memorably, and this is the one element of this tableau that I can't have subconsciously filched from a Daz advert or George Orwell, Laurie Lee or A Taste of Honey, somewhere nearby a record is playing. And the effect is utterly electrifying. Even I, a romper-suited toddler, can feel the sheer visceral thrill of it. Every time I've heard it since, a shivery echo of that first encounter grips me.

The Beatles recorded 'Can't Buy Me Love' on 29 January 1964 at the studios of EMI Pathe Marconi in Paris; knocking it off swiftly in an hour remaining at the end of a session that was devoted to German language versions of early hits. I didn't know this. But I was in love.

Instantly in love, and I've never been the same since. I loved it so much that I decided to 'check out the buzz' and catch this hot new band live. The fact that I was three years old, and almost certainly not on the guest list, would not deter me.

We didn't live in Swinton. We lived in Wigan and the trip to my aunt's must have been some glamorous, cosmopolitan weekend break. Throughout my childhood the Mancunian branch of the family would always seem exotic and thrilling, particularly when, a few years later, Eileen was asked out by George Best. Blonde, pretty, stick-thin and a girl about town, it's not surprising she caught George's eye, although in the family legend George 'must have felt sorry for't lass and thowt she could do wi'a good feed'. That's what they were saying over in Wigan anyway where we weren't quite as steeped in showbiz.

From the earliest of ages, I was dimly aware that there was something funny about my home town. The name cropped up in all kinds of seemingly unrelated contexts on telly. Mirth would always be evinced when it was mentioned and once I saw it referred to as a 'music hall joke' in my dad's Daily Mirror. Even today, comedians will say things like, 'It was like a wet Wednesday night in Wigan', with that chortle in their voice that is the trademark of the chillingly humourless.

Mention Neasden, Wilmslow or Cirencester and the mind is a blank slate. Mention Wigan and a host of images flash across the screen of the mental multiplex in quick, grimy succession. Darkened mills belching smoke, men in flat caps hawking up phlegm into spittoons in pub vaults accompanied by the maudlin clack of domino on Formica, scrawny whippets, hard-faced women in aprons dolly-stoning the steps of terraced houses in a thin drizzle, dirty-faced urchins eating tripe in the street, shin-kicking contests, canal boats, rickets, possibly a ukulele.

I don't know when our last case of rickets was in Wigan, but I know that factory chimneys haven't belched smoke for about two and a half decades. I can understand why the image endures though; it's a great deal more poetic and evocative a visual cue than, say, the car park of a software company or the reception area of a leisure centre or any of the other ways Northerners are more likely to be gainfully employed these days. The only way blokes come home sooty-faced from work these days is if the toner cartridge had leaked while they were printing out their presentations on stock control innovation or the future of portable air conditioning.

If these conceptions of my home town are wrong then, what is Wigan truly famous for? Rugby for one. Even though our utter, unquestioned dominance in the sport has ended, all Wiganers secretly believe that we are really just indulgently letting the other teams win for a while in order to make it more interesting. When I say rugby of course I mean rugby league, not the other sort wherein wheezing off-duty policeman, solicitors and dentists bite each other's noses off, watched by retired headmasters in driving gloves. A friend of mine once said, perceptively, that rugby union has but one saving grace, namely that it's always nice to see coppers getting knocked about a bit on their day off.

Rugby then ... and pies. Wiganers are known to the rest of Lancashire as 'pie eaters' for their prodigious enthusiasm for this noble foodstuff. Lobster thermidor, kangaroo, lychee, truffle; there is no foodstuff so unusual or arcane that Wiganers

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