The lovely Diane and her husband Keith have lent me Stuart Maconie's Pies and Prejudice, In Search of the North (in turn I'm go to lend them Up North! by Charles Jennings GUFFAW).
I'm a 150 pages in and it's enjoyable if a bit frustrating. I have this fear he will deal with stereotypical bit of the North from Blackpool to Liverpool in the west via Manchester and its satellies Wigan, Bolton, Preston through to Rotherham, Leeds, Hull and Sheffield.
Its what people down South think of as the North, in the same way I guess that people assume that the South is London and that Essex is Romford, Basildon and Southend. I do hope he'll show us the North in its glorious whole. I know Lancashire much less well than Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland, the later three have some delightful small market towns.
I mention this because I was in a meeting with a client yesterday (ooh get him) who was from Preston. I mentioned the book and she had read it. We agreed that Cheshire doesn't "feel" Northern. We chatted about Manchester (the city centre of which is quite nice I might add) and the like, one of the others in the meeting said that she hadn't got a clue what we were talking about. She had been to Manchester, Sunderland and Newcastle for meetings oh and a meeting in Birmingham and that was her experience of the North. I should add that I mentioned Birmingham was not the North.
Now I often find this, people can happily tell you about this lovely harbour in Kos or this idyllic chapel they found in the Tuscan hills but haven't been to and have a clue about Lincoln Cathedral or the wonderful bays of Cornwall.
I'm sure that there are lovely places overseas hell I KNOW there are but its amazing how the people who TELL me about them haven't got a clue about there own country.
Of course us English have a delightfully odd sense of Georgraphy us any Southerner where Workington is and I suspect they put it somewhere near Manchester. It's actually on the North West coast and is nearer to Scotland than Manchester. The North hides it glories, it pretends it is all Coronation Street, flat caps and whippets when it is so much more. I guess you have to get off your butt and go. But I'll give you a clue, the bit North of the steroetypical North is much nicer. Draw a line from Blackpool to Preston to Leeds and keep going out to the Yorkshire coast and head North, just make sure the line goes south of Beverley (home of two the best parish churches in the country). Its lovely !! honest. Go!
Oh and Essex is more than Romford, Basildon and Southend. As I think Diane and CP now know the bit North of me Saffron Walden, Thaxted is quite attractive and most of it actually is. Although it is a pity about Romford and the new towns. The Westcliff bit of Southend by the "front" is quite pleasant though.