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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Addicted to junk food and celebrities...Lonely Planet's damning verdict on England today

By Jonathan Petre

England has been damned as celebrity-obsessed with a ‘dicey’ economy and an addiction to junk food.

The verdict is in the latest Lonely Planet travel guide, which also portrays the Coalition Government as devious over spending cuts.

The guide, published this month and expected to be bought by 100,000 people worldwide, is regarded as a bible by many travellers.

Co-ordinating author David Else laments that the nation which spawned Shakespeare, Dickens and the Brontes has become obsessed with celebrity.

He writes: ‘It’s impossible to overlook the recent trend for scurrilous celebrity autobiographies – penned by everyone from footballers to reality TV also-rans – a reminder of the increasing importance of hype over merit in the modern market.

Whatever you make of the literary qualities of these memoirs, the British buy them by the bucketload.’

The guide claims England is still blighted by bad food and dismal dietary habits.

It says: ‘A culinary heritage of ready-sliced white bread, fatty meats and boiled-to-death vegetables, all washed down by tea with four sugars, remains firmly in place in many parts of the country.

‘Many English folk love to sit on the sofa and watch TV food shows, then, inspired, they rush out and buy all the TV-tie-in recipe books.

‘Then, on the way back, they pop into the supermarket and buy a stack of ready-made meals.

More junk food and ready-made meals are consumed in the UK than in all the rest of the countries of Europe put together.’

Mr Else adds that ‘nutrition rates are lower now than they were during Fifties rationing’.

The guide continues: ‘Most commentators agree that the Government will reduce spending and raise taxes more than it has admitted.’

It describes the economy as ‘looking dicey’ and warns of ‘choppy waters ahead’.

Dover is described as ‘down-in-the-dumps’ and a ‘sad introduction to Blighty’.

London’s Notting Hill, made famous by the romantic comedy film starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, is as ‘shabby as it is chic’, while once-swinging Carnaby Street is now populated by ‘chain stores’.

Mr Else said: ‘The point of a guidebook is to be honest. We are not a tourist brochure.’

Visit England spokeswoman Sarah Long said: ‘Lonely Planet gives a very colourful view, some of it good and some of it bad.

‘But I don’t think its critical comments will deter anyone from visiting this country.’

Author David Else said English people consume more junk food and ready-made meals than in all the rest of the European countries put together



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