When it comes to contemporary Northern voices, Stuart Maconie’s is among the most familiar – and not only because the voice in question can be heard most days on BBC 6 Music.
Alongside his broadcasting work, Maconie has maintained a successful career as a writer of non-fiction. His popular 2007 book Pies and Prejudice was a wry travelogue which sought to distil the true essence of the North of England in the 21st Century. Other fine titles have followed since but now Maconie has returned to this home territory – he grew up in Wigan – for his latest work, The Pie at Night.
Talking exclusively to Northern Soul, he explains that while it follows in the slipstream of his earlier book, it isn’t quite a sequel.
“Even though Pies and Prejudice never said it was an exhaustive guide book or anything like that, lots of people would say to me, ‘Oh, you didn’t come here’ and ‘You didn’t come here’ and ‘You didn’t go to Hull’ or whatever,” he says. “So I thought, well, at some point I will do another book sort of in the same vein. But I thought it’d be a bit lazy just doingPies and Prejudice II, and so this idea occurred to me.”
The Pie at Night, subtitled In search of the North at play, sees Maconie sampling a wide range of leisure activities popular around the North today, taking in rugby league, crown green bowls, bingo, comedy clubs, brass bands, Yorkshire tapas bars, Blackpool illuminations and all points in between.
“Its original title was Workers’ Playtime, and it was going to be about what people in the North and in working Britain have done for fun. Then I began to think more and more that we could could make this a companion to Pies and Prejudice really, and in a way totally unashamedly trade off the fact that that was a big hit and keep the idea going.”