You Are Awful (But I Like You) – Tim Moore

You Are Awful (But I Like You)

It began with an accidental day trip to an intriguingly awful resort on the Thames Estuary and ended 3,812 miles later: one man’s journey through deep-fried, brownfield, poundshop Britain, a crash course in urban blight, deranged civic planning and commercial eccentricity.

Here’s a new genre to add to your collection, anti-travel.  Tim Moore chooses to visit all the rubbish parts of Britain as voted for by various online polls, his own personal and ill found prejudices and other sources. Not only that he chooses a Bulgarian built Austin Maestro to drive around in, whilst listening to the worst pop music ever and he stays and eats at the worst hotels and restaurants as voted for by online commentors on that glorious tool the internet.  He boldly goes where no one wants to go.

It’s a noble idea, taking in the parts of Britain that are unloved and never get any sort of press but the wrong kind.  Especially in these times of recession, it seems more important to share the pound around.  In fact anyone voluntarily travelling around for any length of time with Ozzy Osbourne’s voice on their sat-nav telling them which ‘effing’ way to go is downright heroic.

Be in no doubt that the places he picks are grim,  Tim’s going to the places with industrial estates, soviet style council houses, dying industry and unemployment.  there is none of that war-time Blitz spirit just depression and stagnation.  This is thankfully not an ad asking people to holiday in Britain.

There is a melancholy air to most places he visits and it does beg the question how can we have become so poor as these places are now (in our respective nations), the book depresses as much as amuses, from the worrying growth of huge warehouse sizes supermarkets to sitting in a tavern in the middle of Scotland that featured on Britain’s Toughest Pubs and is renowned for its dislike of strangers.

It’s not all bad though, there are the odd success story or interesting histories about the towns visited  (Gateshead has three Talmudic colleges and is recognised as the most important centre for Jewish learning outside Jerusalem and the US).

Tim has done some great books, his earlier ones especially, (Frost on my Moustache, Continental Drifter and French Revolutions), this one is not up to standard though.  His target audience is naturally the Brits but to my mind it  may be impenetrable to anyone outside these shores unless they have an arcane knowledge of fairly obscure British culture (Orville the Duck, The Chuckle Brothers or Jim Davidson, anybody?).  Maybe it can be followed without express knowledge of these Titans of entertainment or maybe I am to optimistic.

There is much swearing in this book which I don’t recall from earlier books, perhaps this is just me but it seems like he is trying to appeal to the people in these places he writes about (i.e not the South of England) in doing so it comes across as talking down to or at least aiming his book at the lowest common denominator,  Maybe this is unfair but the language is pretty needless unless quoting Ozzy or some local person. The authors commentary seems to move from the gently ironic to the almost offensive at times, which makes the tone of the book hard to work out.

Sadly he didn’t come to my town Mansfield, although he did travel to the cities either side, Sheffield and Nottingham, so coming soon I shall review my town and possibly offend local people (purely in the spirit of Tim Moore of course).

24 Replies to “You Are Awful (But I Like You) – Tim Moore”

  1. Interesting. I tend to pick up his books as standard, as have loved all of them so far; this one doesn’t sound so great and I’m glad of the warning. I think there was some swearing in the other ones, but don’t recall right now …

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    1. He kind of lost me after Nul Points, it just didn’t grab me, I missed out the one between that and this one so not sure how good that one was. These days I seem to be quite wary of authors new books. Maybe my standards are just to high…

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  2. I just read three quarters of this after seeing it on your shelf. It is a bit tricky for non-Brits, but not too hard. the reason I put it down is that there seemed to be chunk of his travels (through the mining belt, I think) where all the places he went seemed to be very similar in economic decline, architectural features and unsavoury characters. And bridges – there seemed to be a lot of talk about bridges.I prefer a bit more variety in my unrelenting agony if you please Mr Moore.

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    1. yeah it is a bit repetitive and miserable. Bridges are the one thing we did well, although all those cables in the Humber Bridge are snapping,they set up some sort of recording device and could hear them snapping. fascinating and worrying at the same time. Don’t be put off though Tim’s earlier books have more depth and it’s always fun to read about him bewilder and be bewildered by foreign people.

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  3. This sounds REALLY cool! But I would never want to do it! It just sounds like such a unique thing, to take the unloved and show the good (and bad) of it. Guess it would be good for those who are looking for some excitement (or boredom???) in unexpected places!

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    1. People who do this are either mad, or bored and mad i think. Having said that they go to the boring places so we don’t have too and I think for that they deserve a medal.

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  4. Hmm the title of this post, and the book as I later noticed, is interesting. At first, I thought it was something romantic, but well… I would love to read this book, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to relate much. I like reading historical fiction based in UK and heard about those towns, but I’m not sure about Mansfield. When you get an inspiration and write something about your place, I hope I will be able to read it and get a glimpse of where you live.

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    1. I’ve written a lot about Mansfield, but haven’t quite finished yet but it should be posted soon. I think the impression of modern Britain it gives is not the most favourable one. I will have a hunt around and see if I have anything romantic that I can review or historical, either goes.

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      1. Come on and post them -> spoiled reader. Today, I saw a book titled Mansfield Park and immediately remembered this conversation. However, when I saw who the author was I suddenly fear that I won’t be able to read or finish that book. It’s from the Austen woman.

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        1. Haha, it will be up soon, I enjoy being a tease, I thought of some other things I could add so I have had to put it back. I have never read any Austen, i don’t think it’s my type of thing but I may have to at some point just so people know that I am as well read as I claim…

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          1. A tease! I will forget you said that. Anyway, I will look forward to your future posts.

            Yeah. Come on and frustrate yourself reading Pride and Prejudice.

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              1. What a horrible thing to think about one’s self. Whatever/whoever killed you? This may warrant a new blog post.

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                    1. And what are the benefits of that career path, eh? Hehe. I sometimes feel the same way, and I feel disgusted with myself.

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                    2. Benefits include always having something to aim for and stuff to do. Meeting all you people of course, that is better than a lottery win.

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                    3. Now, I won’t go that far. Winning the lottery sure has its own benefits. Hahahahaha

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                    4. Aha! A world tour. That would totally be awesome. I hope we can make it possible.

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