All Points North, By Simon Armitage

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The Independent Culture

Armitage's northern rag-bag is an entertaining excursion through both memory and landscape. Armitage is better at being a poet than a probation officer (after rushing a baby to hospital with a suspected cigarette burn, a doctor pointed out "That's his nipple"), though his career switch was not without drawbacks.

Direct Line charges more for insuring poets than probation officers (explanation: "The public – nutters and all that"). This becomes understandable when you consider Armitage's all-male King Arthur in Bridlington: "It must look very weird, even for a pantomime."

From Headingley to Halifax, where a would-be record-breaker came down from a tree after a month "only to find that the world record was not 26 days... but 26 years", Armitage delivers a hilarious, spot-on view of the north.