Saturday, 9 April 2016

On Being Sour About Southerners

THIS morning on 'Saturday Live' Stuart Maconie promoted his book 'A Pie at Night' which is a follow-up on his earlier work 'Pies and Prejudice' reviewed in an early printed issue of Northern Voices.  James Watson in his review in the Daily Telgraph last October argued that in the current book 'Maconie [is] unwilling to hear, or write, a word against the region' and that 'his fondness for the North is now unconditional'
On 'Saturday Live' today, while glorifying the Stalybridge Buffet Bar on Stalybridge railway station and even comparing it to George Orwell's ideal pub, 'The Moon under the Water', Maconie said that he was annoyed by Janet Street Porter expressing her dislike for Manchester and going on about 'Women dressed-up to the Nines going out on the Town!'
Maconie said 'These are my people you're talking about!'
As Watson writes: 
'Many memorable set pieces [in the book] rely on Maconie’s rare ability to convey the sense of people having a really good time. One of the best takes place in Southport on a hot bank holiday, and includes his visit to the town’s celebrated lawnmower museum where, among the exhibits, are Nicholas Parsons’s secateurs, Vanessa Feltz’s dibbers and a mower that belonged to the hangman Albert Pierrepoint.'
For Mr. Watson, accuses Maconie:
'Far too often he breaks off to confirm, inadvertently, the biggest Northern stereotype of the lot: coming over all chippy about Southerners. (Full disclosure: I’m a Northerner too.)'
And Watson argues:
'The chippiness leads him to appropriate anything he approves of – hedonism, punk, the urban working classes, even scientific achievement – as essentially Northern. It also creates a curious double standard. If people in Halifax tuck into, say, “ox tongue spring roll with cauliflower purée”, this is proof of Northern culinary sophistication. If people in London do the same, it’s proof of their irredeemable pretentiousness. '
James Watson concludes his review:
'To expect Maconie to give a fully-rounded picture of Northern life would be like asking Romeo to give us a warts-and-all portrait of Juliet.'
On today's 'Saturday Live' Stuart Maconie appeared alongside other studio guests such as Saba Douglas-Hamilton,   Radzi Chinyanganya, and Frederick Forsyth.

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