Phil: I see that I’m somehow responsible for chosing the location for the main action in the book. If it was me, I’m sorry. Except if March ends up with a Holmfirth style tourist industry in which case it was my brilliant idea and I will be claiming my payment in tea and cake.
Truth be told, I can’t really remember why I picked on March, I probably just looked at the map and thought, “That looks like an interesting name”. If you are going to pick a place where a sleepy agriculture based quango could exist without anyone in government really noticing it, the options are simple:
- No-where in London
- No-where in the South East of England
Apart from that, the country is your oyster. In the UK our government, major offices of the executive and main broadcasting organisations are to be found in London, specifically within the ring of the M25. Should anything happen outside of the motorway, it better happen in Kent or Sussex or no one in charge gives a toss. Sorry to break it to you, but Birmingham being destroyed by an asteroid wouldn’t make it to the first item on the news if a man in Hoxton stubs his toe on a paving slab on the same day. During the recent MP’s expenses crisis, I bet many of them were surprised to find that they had a house outside London. Every five years someone drags them around a town they don’t recognise, makes them stand on a stage in a town hall to make an acceptance speech and then they head back to the safety of Zone 1 on the underground map and the members tea room.
All this meant we could pick pretty much anywhere, but, we needed rural and while there are plenty of suitable areas across the UK, it had to be close enough for an MP to visit, meaning it can’t be too far from London. Heaven help our legislators if they had to spend a night in the sticks ! The big skies of East Anglia seems a bit mysterious when you are sitting under flourescent lights in office near Coventry, even if the former is a much nicer destination for a holiday (trust me, I’ve been to both and only one is lovely). Root vegetables thrive there there (we could have gone for Worcestershire for example but apples aren’t as funny as beetroot) so there we go.
As Candice has said, in the book, the location isn’t that important. Many institutes such as Universities, have sites that are pretty much self-contained and don’t interact with the world outside very much. This gives rise to a close-knit community providing even more comic potential for us. They feel aggrieved at interference from outside as well as being apprehensive at being forced to leave their comfort zone. It also gives the opportunity to introduce certain very local traditions that wouldn’t pass muster in the wider world…