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Victor Lewis-Smith's column: Telly trail? I've scenic all before; HE'S KICKED HIS ADDICTION TO COLD TURKEY - BY GOING COLD TURKEY.

Byline: Victor Lewis-Smith

I HAVE always thought there's something slightly unhealthy about doctors.

Years ago, I learned to avoid the ones who have dead flowers in their reception areas, or who have fat women entering their surgery and thin women leaving.

But I recently discovered they also have a secret code, which they use on their referral notes to alert colleagues to patients' peculiarities.

A medical friend of mine (who claims that, as a student, he once travelled on the underground with a freshly-severed penis from the mortuary attached to his trousers) has explained the system to me, and here are a few choice acronyms.

ATS: Acute Thespian Syndrome (for overacting patients).

UBI: Unexplained Beer Injury.

FTF: Failure to Fly (for attempted suicide victims who've jumped from a window).

GROLIES: Guardian Reader Of Limited Intelligence in Ethnic Skirt.

TEETH: Tried Everything Else, Try Homeopathy.

TF BUNDY: Totally F***ed But Unfortunately Not Dead Yet.

Lastly, there's NFN: Normal For Norfolk, which means your GP considers your IQ to be equivalent to your shoe size, probably as a result of centuries of inbreeding.

That's grossly insulting to the fine people of that county, although I might make an exception for the female Norfolk councillor who revealed herself to be a classic NBF (Needs Bumps Felt) last week, when she suggested setting up an Alan Partridge Heritage Trail.

If she succeeds, her scheme will allow tourists to visit a local travel tavern, Alan's favourite all-night petrol station and sportswear shop, and the studios of the mythical Radio Norwich.

CLEARLY, the woman is a classic GROLIES, and (mentally speaking) appears to have sustained a massive UBI, and to be TF BUNDY.

Norfolk would be by no means the first area to try to cash in on its telly fame but her suggestion reminds me of the old saying that history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce.

Over the past decade, I've been appalled at the way many a scenic town or county has eagerly sold out its history after being used as a backdrop for a popular series.

According to local tourist boards, we don't talk of North Yorkshire, Devon, or Cornwall nowadays, we speak of Herriot Country, Lorna Doone Country, and Poldark Country.

That's bad enough but there's something doubly pathetic about an area celebrating its connection with a famous media failure (albeit an hilarious one). And triply pathetic when you discover that most of the series wasn't even filmed in Norfolk.

What these councils don't realise when they rush to cash in on a TV series is that they're opening a Pandora's box, and releasing an evil they cannot control.

I've seen this for myself in places such as Nottingham and Stamford (that's Robin Hood and Middlemarch Country to you), where centuries of tradition were thrown away when the "as seen on TV" signs went up, as part of the local authorities' quest for a quick buck.

Never mind about a town's authentic history. The coachloads of tourists who arrive only want to see the place where the fictional Mr Darcy kissed the fictional Elizabeth in episode four of the BBC series.

Before long, the residents invariably start to regret their greed, and yearn for traditional values.

But, once invited in, cultural tourism becomes an unstoppable force.

What next? If the Alan Partridge Heritage Trail catches on, perhaps some enterprising Mancunian politician will rename Saddleworth Moor, Hindley Country, and set up a hairdressing salon specialising in "the Myra cut".

Or maybe Gloucestershire could remarket itself, so instead of just being part of the West Country, it could become Fred West Country?I WAS delighted to read that chef Antony Worrall Thompson's table was graced this Christmas with a traditional stuffed pig's head. What a coincidence. So is his neck.
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 28, 2002
Previous Article:Victor Lewis-Smith's column: JAKE, THE GENIUS THAT TV FORGOT.
Next Article:Victor Lewis-Smith's column: HI-HO, WE'RE LOW.

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