Top critical review
Silly pettiness spoils an otherwise great book
on 24 June 2014
Let's get the basics out of the way, I love Stuart Maconie's writing and I'm half northern myself (Mum from Lancashire, Dad from Kent) and I know he's put the word 'Prejudice' in the title, as if to allay criticism but it's not enough, so I think I've got some insight into the issues here. Stuart Maconie's writing (and broadcasting) are marked with a genuine warmth and appreciation of diversity, be it music, writers or towns. His book 'Hope And Glory' should be a set text in all British schools, such is its comprehensive and contextual view of British history.
'Pies and Prejudice' by contrast can be disappointingly petty and unnecessarily snarky about, well, anywhere that isn't Wigan. It's a misnomer to say the book is about 'the North' when so much of it is concentrated on Manchester and its surrounding towns. It may be too much to expect a Lancastrian to gush too much about Yorkshire but it's a hell of a large county to dismiss as a mire of miserliness and introverted thinking but Northumbria is virtually limited to a discussion about Newcastle's hellish nightlife and the bridges over the Tyne. Cumbria is only defined by the pleasures of walking in the national park or the bleak horrors of its west coast towns.
Amazingly, the north's relationship to Scotland is barely discernible, such is Maconie's bias against all things south / London he fails to recognize that the residents of Carlisle, for example, are far more effected culturally and economically by Glasgow and Edinburgh than they ever are by London.
Indeed, the constant melding of the whole of southern Britain with London, as if they were one and the same, is both lazy and grossly untrue. His view of the capital is again, rather one dimensional - it's not all like Kensington and Islington and I think the residents of Redruth, Wisbech and Solihull feel just as disenfranchised from London as do the people of Huddersfield, Wigton and Wearmouth.
If he'd called something like 'My North' then the whole book would be a lot more comfortable to read, but calling it 'In Search Of The North' and then only bothering with a few pubs in a few towns does a great disservice to half of the country.