I have just finished reading Stuart Maconie’s The Pie at Night, a companion piece to the much loved Pies and Prejudice. The new book offers a look at how folk in the north of England spend their leisure time, mainly after dark, and is a nicely written, breezy series of essays which entertain and inform in equal measure. To a northern reader it reinforces a sense of worth, to a southerner I can imagine it comes across as a little self-congratulatory in parts. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it, as Mr Maconie references a myriad of places I know well and not only does he put them in a historical context, he brings them vividly to life in the present day (or night).
He had me in line one, page one: Stalybridge (not Shillingstone!) Station. He had me in the first paragraph of chapter 7: Hyde United and the list of Northern Premier League teams Wigan Athletic played against in the early 1970s. I saw them all, and many under the brand new floodlights at Ewen Fields. But mostly he had me late in chapter 8: admiring the view from the cenotaph on Werneth Low (“the finest war memorial in Britain”, according to the writer), a mile or so from the bit of Hyde in which I spent the first eighteen years of my life.
It’s the first time I have ever seen its name in a book of this kind, and he beat me to it: I daydream that one of these days a collection of my short stories will be published which will include Just the Way it was / Memorial, written in 2012, a dialogue between two women set on top of the (unnamed) Low. The view I describe is my interpretation of the similar picture painted by Mr Maconie.
Meanwhile I have recently completed the new draft of Bailing Out, a revised, extended, improved (I hope) version of the story I originally wrote in 2011/12. It is currently going through the proof-reading and editing process. Watch this space.