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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly Quite Brilliant
I first picked this book up with a smug air of satisfaction: I was going to enjoy ripping this one apart. I had had enough of doing nice positive reviews, it was time for some good old fashioned vitriol and this tome- another road trip around the UK by some poncy metrophile southerner- would do the job perfectly.

And the first few pages appeared extremely...
Published on 14 Feb 2012 by Zipster Zeus

versus
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Witty, very funny
Side-splitting laughter at first - so much so that I had difficulty in breathing! Unfortunately the style and content becomes very repetitious so that one flicks ahead for relief.
Published 23 months ago by Mr. A. Mason


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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly Quite Brilliant, 14 Feb 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I first picked this book up with a smug air of satisfaction: I was going to enjoy ripping this one apart. I had had enough of doing nice positive reviews, it was time for some good old fashioned vitriol and this tome- another road trip around the UK by some poncy metrophile southerner- would do the job perfectly.

And the first few pages appeared extremely promising in this regard; the prose came across as aloof and solidly within in the ageing, middle brow `Daily Mail' zone of humour. The sense that a precious, condescending take on the nether-regions of our battered Britain- dragged over the coals as they have been and left out to wither and die by the establishment elite for the last three decades- was in the offer only reinforced my sense of inverted glee. I was going to love tearing this one to pieces.

And then without any warning it all suddenly changed. Tim Moore started describing his purchase of an Austin Maestro and the history of the car with such affectionate pathos, coupled with a relentlessly funny narrative that literally had me in tears with laughter. And from thereonin, the book just got better, and better and better...

Now then, it has to be said that Moore's book unashamedly goes for laughs as its base point; but what's so good about his book, is that it isn't laughs at any cost and the humour isn't used as a shallow gloss to hide the experience he is really having. Nor, importantly, is his humour used to belittle the places and people he meets. It is in fact very cleverly, used to the opposite effect.

Moore's overall idea is wonderful in its simplicity- he decides to go to what are catalogued as the worst places in Britain, travelling in one of the worst cars we have produced, listening to the worst music we have ever knocked out, staying and eating in the worst places wherever possible.

This sets the scene for some wonderful but also extremely poignant set pieces throughout the book. Tim Moore never loses sight of his own pretensions and failings, and to my mind never loses sight of the humanity and grace- both past and present- in the places he visits either. This is a terrific accomplishment that the awful cover and title of the book doesn't do credit to, although I can understand the marketing executive demands for a book in this terrain.

Being from the North East originally myself, I found his journey through that region particularly good, although that is probably more personal bias than anything else, as all the areas he trundles through in his Maestro are treated with the same level of fascination and- dare I say it- more than a little bit of love. And I'm indebted to the author for explaining the origins of one of the NE's most peculiar fast food inventions- the parmesan or `parmo'- which was a complete education for me.

So without gushing on anymore, I would just say this is a great book well worth a read. His journey around the lost margins of the UK is affectionate, at times painfully acute and, by the end, actually quite moving. In fact behind the accomplished humour, there is a rich vein of some deeper issues to intellectually mine and mull over, and makes you realise that much of Britain these days is like the places described in this book, when you actually think about it. Beyond the hype and gloss of the London-bound media and it's luvvies, away from the Cotswolds and other gentrified pockets of provincial cities and shires, much of the British population are looking, numbed and a little shell-shocked, at the world around them and wondering... what the hell has happened to us, and why? Very much like, perhaps more than we'd like to admit, the seasoned citizens of Hull and Middlesbrough.

As an end note, I would just point out that this is an analysis of the UK that Jeremy Paxman would not be able to write. On that consideration alone, I think you should immediately get hold of, and read, this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Laughing!!!!!!, 29 Jan 2014
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Great for a laugh.
Could not agree more with Tim Moore's sentiments.
Was so sorry when I came to end of book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusually Funny., 20 Jan 2013
By 
D. White (Dorset UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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The sheer horror of some places in Britain is well portrayed, with an overriding humour which helps to ease the pill.
Don't know how some of the residents feel about it though!.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 11 Dec 2012
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Bought this for my husband, he thinks it the most hilarious book ever!! Friends who have borrowed it either love it or hate it though.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to take "a crash course in grubby discomfort", 17 Feb 2012
Setting on impulse out for a day trip "in that faraway time before such whimsy was dashed away by parenthood", Tim Moore ends up by accident in Leysdown-on-Sea, and is amazed at "how a fog-smothered mudbank in the Thames Estuary had ever become a holiday resort in the first place", and, more importantly, how he had being living his life entirely ignorant of its existence. Memories of that visit had "matured over the years into our yardstick for seaside misery, a metaphor for any truly terrible place".

But could it have really been that bad? And what about all those other places which by reputation had become a byword for the truly awful?

So Tim set himself a challenge: the Road Trip From Hell. "If I was to visit the worst British towns, then it seemed only appropriate to stay in the worst hotels. To go to the worst restaurants and eat the worst food. Drink in the worst pubs, see the worst sights, drive the worst car while listening to the worst music."

His vehicle of choice was that design classic the Austin Maestro, a car with wheels that would randomly detach themselves, leaks everywhere (in bad weather some drivers had to resort to wearing a raincoat) and a permanent oil stain in your driveway. His in-car soundtrack was 358 of the very worst of British music, as voted for by us in innumerable polls, "The tuneless, the endless, the cloying, the Wurzels".

He assaults his digestive system with a succession of culinary challenges, including Grabits Original Chicken on a Stick, "75g of impaled poultry, reduced to clear at 90p ... the most tasteless substance I have ever willingly put into my mouth, and that included the many strips of the Guardian newspaper I chose to ingest during childhood"; spam fritters, "those battered roundels of mechanically recovered meat which absorbed whatever it was they were fried in with rapacious efficiency: you pressed one flat with the side of your knife and a shiny, viscous puddle seeped out across the plate"; a Middlesbrough Parmo, that regional fast-food phenomenon which is "a cheerfully dumbed down take on an Italian classic"; and Chinese Lemon Chicken, whose chief ingredients are lemon curd and chicken powder. And he soon realises that, in Scotland, the word 'supper' as in 'pizza supper' simply means 'and chips'.

A regular phenomenon in the places he visits is the proliferation of tanning salons, which "seem to echo an inter-war builder's attachment to pebble-dash: a cost-effective way to conceal exterior shoddy work, especially in weather-beaten places". In Middlesbrough in particular he soon becomes "well acquainted with the city's curious two-tone populace: half the young women hewn from waxy lard, and half from a solid block of microwaved bacon".

Tim's comic odyssey takes in Merseyside, where he warms to the buildings more than the people. "I find Liverpudlians a rather contrary bunch," he observes. "Their default civic mentality is a strange blend of chippiness and superiority ... Liverpudlians remain convinced that it is the secret and dearest wish of every world citizen to have been born a Scouser." But he is impressed to learn that Hamilton Square in Birkenhead is home to more Grade 1 listed structures than any address in England except Trafalgar Square. In Cumbernauld he is chased out of town by a 'ned' (defined as a "young man in a baseball hat who hangs about the streets drinking Buckfast") as a suspected paedophile, his protestations of innocence not helped by having a two pairs of damp underpants smeared in hand cream on the passenger seat of his Maestro. Hawick, "famous for knitted socks, being pronounced 'hoick' and ruining the Borders". And Merthyr Tydfil, which "stands alone as Britain's capital of blank-faced, empty-headed, chip-fed loitering" and where a pub visit was "like Last of the Summer Wine scripted by Irvine Welsh" -- but which is also the birthplace of Viagra.

But do not think that this book is simply a humourless, misanthropic rant at the poor and the disadvantaged. It is a celebration of finding the good in the bad.

Tim grows to admire the dedication of the ordinary man and women in the pursuit of pleasure, which seems to increase the further north he travels. In the North East his fears on a night out in Newcastle are soon allayed by the bacchanalian excesses around him ("Geordies aren't so much hard as incorrigibly debauched, to the point of derangement"). He reserves particular admiration for the Scotland, where the passion for tanning salons, fatty food, smoking and drinking are "Scotland's determined one-nation assault on global trends in human life expectancy", and he soon realises that "when it comes to exploring novel and dangerous means of inebriation, no one puts in the R&D hours like a Scotsman".

These ordinary folk, Tim realises, have just been doing their best in the face of a destructive tide of postwar decline, the town planners' love of concrete Brutalist architecture, and Thatcherism laying waste to traditional heavy industries. As his tour progresses, Tim comes to value their outlook on life. "I had taken a crash course in grubby discomfort, and relearnt the lost native skills of taking the rough with the smooth, looking on the bright side, making the best of a bad job."

"How glad I was to have celebrated, and in the nick of time," Tim concludes, "an age when this country of mine wasn't afraid of doing things its own way, even if it meant doing them really badly."

Homour writing is a rare skill to get right, and humour travelogues are particularly difficult, but Tim is a master of the genre.

A book to make you cry - with tears of laughter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very funny, Tim's anarchic descriptive use of the English language, 3 Sep 2014
This review is from: You Are Awful (But I Like You): Travels Through Unloved Britain (Kindle Edition)
Very funny, Tim's anarchic descriptive use of the English language, provides a very wry stance on the eccentricities of a bygone age in which I grew up. It left a lasting impression on me, that is missing from the Englishness of today. The, family car only coming out of the garage for strictly essential journeys, in case it would and did,frequently go wrong. The cheap holidays to crummy places,(yes I did spend a rainy week in a caravan at Leysdown-Upon-Sea), that encapsulates the hop picking, charabang post war descendents who, putting on a brave face in the holiday camp caravan, dreading the coming night's entertainment in the camp clubhouse, whilst trying to ignore the bickering, bored, parents. The days when a day trip to Hastings was thought of as a long journey, a journey that many people do as their daily work commute today. In short terms, many of these places and people still exist, in places like Burnham-On-Sea and it takes a writer like Tim Moore to dredge up a past that many still remember and are desparate to forget, whilst others, blissfully unaware of their heritage, continue to enjoy this crap experience, year after year!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Time travelling back to a grotty Britain from the past..., 28 April 2012
By 
Uncle Barbar (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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Firstly I must say I've already read six other Tim Moore books and enjoyed all of them - French Revolutions, Continental Drifter, Spanish Steps, Frost on My Moustache and Do Not Pass Go. OK so some of them have been better than others (the first two are my faves) but he writes in a smooth, witty way and has a way with words that few travel writers can match. I particularly like his metaphors - which he has sprinkled throughout this book.

The premise of the book - which you will have gathered from other reviews - puts More in a rubbish old car travelling around the country (though it hasd to be said very few places in the south) sampling the worst that Britain has to offer in the way of towns, villages, pubs, buildings, car parks, restaurants and food. The music he plays is "eclectic" and awful. At times he has a miserable time, at times so does the reader. I felt he lost his way about 1/3rd of the way through the book but then got back on track for the second half of the book - and like others have said there were some "laugh out loud" moments.

Parts of the book are sad, cringey, scary and it is difficult to see where it is going at times. Overall I must say that I enjoyed the book DESPITE its content - probably because I enjoy Moore's erudite language. A hit for me but I suspect a miss for many others. Hey Tim - how about doing another trip abroad - they are my faves!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best of the Worst, 19 Dec 2012
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"Travels Through Unloved Britain" is now a whole book genre rather than a specific book title, and there are lots of people desperate to find the worst town/hotel/meal/entertainment our nation has to offer. Despite that, Tim Moore's contribution to this over-crowded market place is a strong contender for "Best of the Worst". It easily makes mincemeat of books like "To Hull and Back", partly because it has a much better title (the "You Are Awful But I Like You" bit . . . ) and it is much more entertaining. Moore cleverly adds further levels of crapness by travelling around in an awful car, listening to terrible music, and finding the naffest possible SatNav to direct him. There are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments and we can thank him for visiting some of these places so that we don't have to, but overall it's his tone of bemusement (rather than the disdain of some of his fellow writers with this subject) that ultimately makes this a warm, funny book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In some ways it was rather sad. A few of the places that Tim Moore ..., 8 Sep 2014
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This book was more serious than you would expect from the title. In some ways it was rather sad. A few of the places that Tim Moore visited were ruined by the dreaded local planners but the majority had the heart taken out of them by the closure of the pit, the fishing industry or the largest employer. The people who live in these places have no work and no hope. Read this book and it will open your eyes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud & tragi-comic, 14 July 2014
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This review is from: You Are Awful (But I Like You): Travels Through Unloved Britain (Kindle Edition)
I like Tim Moore. Ever since reading his torturous travels along the route of the Tour De France his books are always worth a gamble. This, again, did not disappoint with many a guffaw and chortle along the way it's also peppered with some very pertinent and painful observations of the country I call home. It's also an excellent resource of 'places to avoid at all costs'. Well written, funny, sad and highly recommended. Back for some more Moore soon I'm sure.
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