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First-time visitors to England should expect a land of 'tatty glory', says a new book, reported The Mail on Sunday ...
First-time visitors to England should expect a land of 'tatty glory', says a new book, reported The Mail on Sunday (p43). The latest edition of the Rough Guide to England - which claims to describe the country as tourists really see it, pulls no punches.

It describes Dover, the first town many visitors see, as 'grim', and the Bronte sisters' Haworth in West Yorkshire as 'wretchedly over-visited'. It dismisses the whole of Northamptonshire as 'somewhere you pass through on the way to somewhere else'.

Southampton should be 'pretty low on your list of places to visit', Bedford 'need not detain you long', and Lacock, in Wiltshire, has been 'gentrified by the National Trust to within a hair's breadth of its natural life'.

Two top tourist attractions a panned. Of Land's End the guide says: 'Although nothing can destroy the potency of this extreme western tip of England, the colossal theme park built behind the majestic headland in 1987 comes close to violating irreparably the spirit of the place'. And the recorded commentary supplied to vistors at Stonehenge is 'misleading and patronising'.

On the coast, Blackpool is 'brash', Southend has 'little to raise the spirits', Weston-super-Mare is 'moth-eaten' and Torquay reflects its most famous fictional inhabitant, Basil Fawlty, 'whose jingoism and injured pride encapsulate the town's adapatation to the demands of mass tourism'.

Many of England's beaches get a health warning for failing to meet EU pollution standards.

London has 'spiralling extremes of ostentatious public affluence and increasing public squalor'.

But Birmingham is singled out for praise. It has 'outgrown the squalor and misery of its boom years' and its 'cultural initiatives...have no equal outside the capital'.

The harshest criticism is reserved for the Isle of Man - 'A tax haven for greedy Brits and a refuge for the sort of people who think that even Victorian values were a bit on the lax side'.

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