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    Northern Pied

    2.5 Stars It's not all flat caps and whippets - unless you're in Yorkshire where they still don't have electric light or fitted carpets (sorry Lancastrian, so not sorry) - and this is what Stuart Maconie is hoping to prove here. At least, that's what I think he's trying to prove. It is very hard to tell between his frequent forays in to locations that are decidedly NOT the North (Sorry but Birmingham, Wolverhampton et al are in a Metropolitan County called the West Midlands - the clue is in the name for goodness sake!) and his constant references to Socialist and Sociology texts. It all managed to make it rather tedious reading and just as you are thinking things are getting better he meanders off again. I had a love/hate relationship with this book and found it very hard going. It didn't help that in many ways this was a North that I genuinely didn't recognise and I have lived in Lancashire all my life. Yes, he does manage to point out that we have a wide and varied cultural heritage up here and we know how to celebrate it BUT (yes it's a big one) somehow the whole tone felt kind of patronising. Yes, he's from up here but it felt as thought he was a Professional Northerner rather than a Real Northener. We didn't get off to the best of starts when talking about Crown Green Bowling - I am semi-affiliated with this peculiar phenomenon because my 26 year old son plays for two league teams. League teams that compromise a wide age range but are mainly under fifty and I was waiting for this to be acknowledged but it still seemed to be the preserve of old men. Then we get on to Football and Rugby League (always League round here, not of that Southern Softies garbage for us where they cuddle on the pitch - sorry have a scrum) and at least he gets the atmosphere at a game right. What I couldn't agree with was his stance on entrance fees - ticket prices are simply ridiculous and are pricing the game out of many people's purview. The thing about the North isn't what we do for play so much as how we try and make work play. I see it daily in our office and have done in my past 20+ years of work. There is a camaraderie and a sense we are all in it together - even with that annoying apprentice in Finance or the slightly weird guy that nobody knows what he does but he turns up every day so we tolerate him. He does at least attempt to recreate some of the bizarre conversations that people round here have - trust me the things you hear on Blackpool Prom are pure comedic bliss. I've been told that Pies And Prejudice is a much better book but after reading this I'm not entirely sure I want to dip my toe in to those waters.
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    Humble Pie

    A good book, but not a great one. There are factual errors and misperceptions by the author. As a northern boy myself I still enjoyed it overall.

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