The piece itself is based upon Macconie’s great love for the north; discussing the places, people, experiences and general nomenclature that differs there in comparison to that of the rest of the UK. The overall tone is established very quickly with the writer comparing Wigan to many other cities. These cities all have something in common, they are regarded as somewhat of a joke. “Hick towns that are somewhere to be laughed at. However, this being noted there is still a sense of pride suggested we are the only town in Britain to have a Premiership football team and a Super League rugby side.
” So, although the text suggests dry humour as writer may make fun of the places or people, it is done with pride and sincerity. This is because the writer is from that area and feels he can make fun of it as he has grown up there, understands and feels his knowledge gives him the allowance to do so.
The tone is set about those “southern gourmands” amongst whom “food is often chief”. As a child the writer was taught to have suspicions of those who got too excited about food. However, this will show how the writer has changed from that child into the adult he has become. Food becomes a common theme throughout this piece displaying how excited he is when he comes across different delicacies from the north and beyond. This provides an interesting conflict, as he has become just the type of person he was once taught to be suspicious of.
Slightly contradictory but also shows how his mind and context for his beloved north has changed. Food is no longer just a fuel as it was in his childhood. This change can show reflection, growth and appreciation all things that come with time; both in the culinary and personal aspects.
The writer creates a tone of fondness for the nightclub Pemps. At first the descriptions sound negative, “nuclear bunker, hellhole,” but he goes on to say it is “the greatest nightclub in the north”. Barbara being formidable, enormous queues and feeling blessed to be allowed in the club build a very positive impression. When the writer takes Tony and Anita around a very positive tone is set through imagery. Highlighting pleasant images by use of similes “the women having smiles like the sun”, and also describing the beauty of the nature “the blossoming gardens all seem very light, colourful and bring joy”. The tone is again well-established for Bury Market in the phrase “arcane delicacies await”. The writer knows what lies ahead and accepts but also defends the “off the market” slur that is synonymous with buying inferior goods. Quick to point out where the market excels, its food. Preparing the reader in that the more disgusting the food the more exuberance was required to sell it. Bury Market is later compared to an orchestra to elaborate just how grand and diverse it was, with the word great used extensively.
J. B. Priestly said that “It challenges you to live there and they are on active service”. This makes the people sound like they are soldiers, soldiering on through difficult circumstances. Eddie Waring was a local man who embellishes what the writer has previously said about the area, he was considered a cheap laugh. The word choice used to describe him emphasises this as he was unequivocally daft with a bizarre voice. George Orwell is considered the man who made Wigan famous with his piece The Road to Wigan Pier. The word choice illustrates the harsh conditions he found upon arrival, vile, dangerous, hovels and slums.
The writer appreciates his honesty and does not read it as a southerner having a go at the north. Instead realises he was deciphering his subjective opinion on the place. This is confirmed by the statement that The Road to Wigan Pier is a call to arms, not a hatchet job. He believes Orwell was sticking up for the people rather than putting them down and calling for change. Although Charles Kenning’s book was interpreted from entirely the opposite viewpoint. The writer regarding this book as sneering at and mocking the area, he found it as funny as leprosy. Although he also states that he might not be clever enough to understand the humour. In a way he is mocking Charles Kenning himself by describing its withering wit. Maconie also notes Bill Bryson who personified the town centre by describing it as handsome.
Many northern town names resonate with Viking origins. The writer uses imagery to establish to kinds of sounds made when saying place names. Quoting driving hail on a tin shed and clacking of ill-fitting false teeth are referred to and give and impression of what these places may sound like when spoken. Skem goes back to the 9th century, settled by a Viking called Skjalmar. The writer personifies the M58 that sits aside Skem by referring to it as Ghostly. Whilst using the metaphor of spaghetti strands to build a picture of this motorway system. We are given a brief history of the black pudding. Taking us back to the origins of Greek generals, then the Roman’s and how German Bludwurst is now the closest cousin of the famed black pudding. Whilst Bury remains the undisputed capital of the cult pudding.
Lancashire cheese is the first food to be described, anaemic, crumbly and tasting faintly of soap it doesn’t sound very appetising. This description offers something we can see, feel and taste/smell. This is then backed up with the description of the cloud of sulphurous cabbage. This imagery sounds toxic and leads toddlers to consider the gentle consolations of suicide the toxic cloud is deemed so bad that suicide becomes an option to escape it. Descriptive language alike this states the writer’s feelings towards the food. The first time the writer experienced Heinz Spaghetti Bolognese he thought his head would explode. However, upon recently trying the same food he uses the metaphor of cold rancid fishing bait as a comparison.
Again, this highlight change over time and use of reflection. Wiganers just really, really like pies. This statement is confirmed with word choices such as real connoisseurs and cult mavericks. The scale of The Wigan Pie Event Horizon is compared to that of space a huge calorific supernova, shrinking into a black hole. The writer uses similes to conjure up images of the black pudding. Claiming that Chadwicks are the Leonardo da Vinci’s of the blood sausage. This put them in high regard which is then shown thrown through admiration when considering interviewing the proprietor. Claiming it would be like interviewing Pele mid-dribble or Mozart mid-sonata relates these blood sausages to only those at the top of their profession. Impressions of how the writer feels about Indian food are determined through word choice. Delicacy, smoky, fluffy, juicy, spicy, rich and aromatic create a very positive image. Whilst his parents first impressions were the complete opposite, extreme caution, pungent, fear of poisoning all very negative attributes. Alike this sharing the duration that he shared the lustre of Indian cuisine from his mother’s boss Charlie Chapati. Linking the food to his feelings sharing how much he loved them.
The writer shares many feelings throughout the book, both happy and sad. When sharing memories of a place you love it is only natural to suffer feelings of homesickness, Maconie shares this as he talks to Alan. This also offers insights into the past and his present life. Eating hot pots watching Frank Sidebottom compared to now waiting in queues for a lift at the Tube Station. This is also reflected in Alan’s claim that the writer has media superstardom. He loved Skem, the college, the people and the great memories he had created whilst in Skem had stuck with him. However, he did feel self-conscious at the reception of the college, most likely due to the time that had elapsed since he last ever stood there. This was confirmed by the lack of anyone he knew still working there. Skem would now have to be reserved for memories only.
The writer also shares his feeling of his disapproval of the kids on the tram through word choice, unruly, raging, vile little oiks. This is continued with the old ladies description and the words mutinous, bulging, fleshpots. However, the girl who works as the Transport Monitor clearly makes a different impression. Words such as tall, clever, cute, worship, impress and genius are combined to create a positive affirmation of her character.
The writer uses the word Bliss to describe his feelings about a mug of scalding, dark tea a buttie and the sports page. Whether this is him reminiscence of fond memories is not established. However, this thought and how he feels are conflicting. He feels at bit out of place, like he no longer belongs at Big Jim’s. He is dressed slightly too smart, carries a man bag and notebook and the fact that he is the only person not smoking singles him out even more. He becomes very self-conscious which is reflected in the word choices of plump, glum reverie and feels inside like he is silently weeping. This reiterates the central theme of growth, change and reflection. The writer is reflecting on the past whilst showing his change both physically and mentally.
Although Maconie notes the difference in the northerners these simple changes characterize him as out of place now. Feeling slightly queasy as he left the market is emphasised in a negative manner through word choice carrion, gore and carnage. Leaving Bury even more burdened with exotic fare. The writer shows his appreciation of George Kasouris through words such diligently and paternally, even referring to him as a treasure. Reflecting upon the changes he can see in pub names shows how he feels about such things. Using words such as evocative and obscure to describe old names. Whilst the new names are described as weird and unattractive, feeling they all become homogenised and are practically the same. Somehow, he feels they have lost their identity. This statement could also be reflective of how he feels internally. Pride is also prevalent throughout the writing; this is brought to our attention through the librarian in Oldham. Her unfailing courtesy as she gently advises with everyday acts of kindness reminding him that people of the north are friendlier and more helpful. This makes him quietly proud inside.
The writer comments on the Transcendental Meditation headquarters, noting how it is not signposted and shy. Not judging the followers and their belief of Yogic Flying. Instead condoning those who do judge as often the religion they follow has even more absurd beliefs than that of the possibility of Yogic Flying, which seems more believable and humane by comparison. In fact, the writer goes on to show admiration for TM and the school. Using words such as dazzling to describe its academic record, or that Anna Selby watched in disbelief. Using an anecdote of his friend’s daughter who attended the school to reiterate that point of its successes. Showing throughout the perceived judgement of things in Wigan is wrong, using examples of religion, food, people and the area itself.
Mills and Bhuna offers us an insight into the town of Wigan and its surrounding areas. Brought to us by a native who comments on both negative and positive parts in a humorous manner. The writer feels he can make fun of and laugh at the people and places because he himself was brought up there. However, the piece shows how the writer’s life has changed since he was a boy living in this part of the world. He often uses food as a theme even though he was brought up to be suspicious of those who overly discuss the topic of food. The tone is often set through word choice as he describes each town or place and even the people he meets on his travels. Whilst seeing many things he dislikes about these places he still has a great sense of pride about coming from this part of the world. Although some form of distance has now emerged and becomes evident in how he feels in place such as Big Jim’s cafe where he is more of a tourist than a local now.