Spring 2001, and the countryside of the North East of England resembles Fitzgerald's 'valley of ashes': the air is choked with the stench and smoke of the pyres which are burning in an attempt to contain the epidemic of foot and mouth disease. After forty years away, Ray Cruddas, a comedian with a national, considerably faded reputation, has returned to the North east to live. He has a new wife, a new club and a house close to a stand of trees that has haunted him from childhood. But he still believes he is living life at one remove, thrrough the more vibrant, seemingly less complex and conflicted person of Jackie Mabe, the former boxer who, in his capacity as driver, drinking partner and gofer, has always stood between Ray Cruddas and the world. Jackie Mabe performed this role once before: for Jack Solomons, known as 'Jolly Jack' and 'the potentate', who ruled British boxing in the decades before and after the War.
"The best british writer there is." - David Peace
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Used availability for Gordon Burn's The North of England Home Service
February 2003 : UK Hardback
March 2004 : UK Paperback
June 2011 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition