Thursday, September 08, 2005

Great Wyrley

It's pleasing to see Julian Barnes' "Arthur and George" shortlisted for the Booker Prize. I've not yet read it, but the reviews alerted me to the fact that it's partially set in Great Wyrley. For those who don't know (i.e. anybody who was not born and bred in the Black Country) Great Wyrley is a small village in between Cannock, Wolverhampton and Walsall. People from Great Wyrley still have an accent that is noticeably different than even those 3 great metropoli. It's kind of more sing-song than the usual nasal Black Country, a higher pitch. It's fascinating to think of Julian Barnes going there to "research" the novel, though I don't know that there would be much there left to research. One of my earliest memories is going on the egg round with my dad round Great Wyrley and thereabouts. My grandparents were farmers, but if you wondering what was so great about Wyrley, it possibly makes more sense if I tell you that they lived all their life in Little Wyrley. I could, of course, go on about this all night. It sometimes seems that novels are set in places very distinct from where I come from, so it was with a real frisson that I read about "Arthur and George." It's apparently about a notorious event - but one I'd never heard of, so it just goes to show.

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