In the introductory chapter of Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North, Maconie notes that whilst there is a North of England correspondent working for the BBC, there is no southern equivalent. This is because the south of England is not identifiable as a region in the same way that the north is. But where is the north? What is the truth about the north and what are the myths? What sets it apart from the south? Pies and Prejudice takes us on a journey to find out.
Maconie begins his search for the north in Crewe, and with each chapter takes us further north until we reach the North East. As he visits each location, he provides us with a range of anecdotes about the towns as well as historical facts. This means that whilst the overall tone of the book is lighthearted, it is also very informative; telling us, for example, of the origins of vegetarianism in the West in Salford, the first bombing by the Luftwaffe in Middlesbrough and the history behind the rivalry between Yorkshire and Lancashire. In doing so, Maconie also draws upon quotations by well-known northerners, such as Alan Bennett and JB Priestley. I enjoyed Maconie's style, as he mixes the factual aspects of the book with humour, which makes Pies and Prejudice easily accessible to the average reader.
At the beginning of this month, I saw Maconie on tour with the sequel to Pies and Prejudice, entitled The Pie at Night. During his performance, I appreciated his dry sense of humour, and this translates easily to his written work. As a Bradford City fan, I took particular enjoyment from his description of Leeds United as "Nazis in Umbro." I was also able to recognise many of his anecdotes from my own experience, having grown up and lived in the north for most of my life, and this allowed me to relate to the majority of the book.
Maconie was a child of the 1960s and 1970s. This means that whilst some of his stories will resonate with readers of a similar age, there were some cultural references in Pies and Prejudice that were outside my frame of knowledge. However, this did not detract from my enjoyment of the book, and I look forward to reading the sequel, The Pie At Night, and Maconie's other work.
Pies and Prejudice is available from Amazon.