True North: In praise of England's better half

by Martin Wainwright.

The Guardian's Nothern Editor explains why things aren't quite so grim up north.

True North

You won't find me disagreeing with the general thesis (and subtitle) of this book. Anyone who has spent any time in the North of England will already appreciate that it is indeed England's better half.

But, surprisingly, Wainwright doesn't make much of a case. Although he aims to eschew northern stereotypes, this book is full of miner's strikes, immigrants, steelworks, and mills, and many of his examples of reasons to celebrate the North fail to impress. His chapter on the northern landscape (The Green in the Grey), for example, might leave you suspecting that the North's green spaces are largely confined to patches of reclaimed land in city centres. The grandeur of the North's magnificent national parks barely get a look-in.

For all that, True North is still an enjoyable and entertaining read, and Wainwright hits the nail of the head with some reported advice to would-be fish & chips sellers: "Forget that skinless haddock is king in West Yorkshire and you'll be bankrupt in three days."

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