Be­lief in val­ues and cul­ture of work­ing class at heart of Ma­conie’s long road talk...


STU­ART Ma­conie had passed up the screen­ing of his friend’s new film, Peter­loo, in Manch­ester to be at the Rochdale Lit­er­a­ture and Ideas Fes­ti­val, and so from the off he had the au­di­ence at St Chad’s on his side – and as an en­ter­tainer he was first rate.

He took us with him on his Long Road from Jar­row walk, mir­ror­ing the orig­i­nal 300-mile jour­ney in three weeks through towns such as Dar­ling­ton, Northaller­ton and Mar­ket Har­bor­ough. He re­served par­tic­u­lar scorn for Mar­ket Har­bor­ough, pos­si­bly be­cause he was un­able to get a real meat pud­ding there, but more likely be­cause it forms part of ‘the soft south’.

Stu­art shared cu­ri­ous facts such as dur­ing the march the men put on weight with a diet of sand­wiches and broth supplied by sym­pa­thetic sup­port­ers, em­pha­sis­ing how poor their usual diet was. At the heart of a Long Road from Jar­row is Stu­art’s pas­sion­ate be­lief in the val­ues and mean­ing of north­ern and work­ing-class cul­ture. He comes from the north, is proud of this and can demon­strate how we need to value this.

His favourite eat­ing and drink­ing place may not do gua­camole, but it of­fers ‘good value’.

Just like Stu­art did on the night.

STEVE Grif­fiths

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