Adventures on the High Teas is about Middle England, Leamington Spa and the like. It is a respectful, relaxed, funny exploration of towns across the midlands. Stuart eschews northern triumphalism and embraces the love of life he finds in less fashionable, more ‘ordinary’ places, wherever they happen to be. In counterpoint to the pleasure he discovers in adventures On The High Teas he has this to say about the worst of the north:
‘… the worst of the North. who bang on about it being God’s Country. It isn’t. There is no God’s Country. Unless it all is. Or unless it’s Einstein’s Country. Merely coming from the north per se is nothing to be proud of. You have to do something, go somewhere, be clever and beautiful and charming and yes, maybe northern and share it with the world….the England that made Vaughan Williams and Shakespeare is dearer to me than the England that made Bernard Manning and Liam Gallagher.’ (p341)
Good Companions celebrates achievement, not because is is northern, but because it is clever, beautiful, charming or, I would add, brave.
With the exception of Kirkcudbright, Good Companions could be said to be ‘northern'. But they don’t have to be. I just happen to know something of these places.
Stuart Maconie is a fine writer, and if you have a spare ten minutes, nip into a library and read a couple of pages, any pages. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.