Hello and welcome to a site that’s going to accompany my next book project. Maybe I should quickly introduce myself; my name’s Stuart Maconie and I’m a writer and broadcaster. You might know me from my books or writings or radio or TV shows. If you think Bob Holness played the saxophone solo on Gerry Rafferty’s Baker St, I am the man to blame. But that’s not important right now.
To be more serious and pertinent, this October sees the eightieth anniversary of a famous and still contentious piece of British social, cultural and political history. On October 5th 1936, a couple of hundred men (and one woman) set out to march from Jarrow in the North East of England to London in protest against the economic plight of their town. The Jarrow Crusade, as it was known, has become part of the folklore of modern Britain.
So for my next book, starting as the marchers did on October 5th (but in 2016, eighty years later to the day) I intend to retrace their epic route. I don’t propose to walk every step of the way, not every day at least. That wouldn’t leave me time enough for exploring, eavesdropping and chatting; the very point of my book (provisionally entitled Long Road From Jarrow) is to visit the places they did on their march and compare the nation in 2016 to that of 1936. I’m going to retrace their route day by corresponding day, comparing then and now as October unfolds and I hope the book that results will be a look at England/Britain’s changing social, political, geographical and cultural landscape over these last eighty years. In some ways, our modern nation is very like the England of the thirties; austerity, political upheaval, new forces on the rise in Europe and new challenges for us in the world. But in other ways, it’s utterly transformed. I hope to encompass all this, and to come up next year with a book thats entertaining, thought-provoking, funny, contentious, informative and maybe invigorating. But that’s up to me of course
If you’d like to share any ideas, tips, steers, nudges or stories with me (maybe you have connections with the original March or the stop off points today) then you can share them here soon. Or I’m on twitter @stuartmaconie. Now there’s a sentence that would have perplexed the Jarrow marchers straight away.