Il Sorpasso

The lastest edition of the Lonely Planet guide to Britain has had a change of heart about the country’s industrial cities.

David Else, the book’s coordinating author, said: “When it comes to great destinations, the north-south divide is a myth. Great Britain is now comparable to fine countries such as Italy, which boasts an array of unmissable cities like Rome, Venice, Florence, Turin and Milan.”

Well, Milan isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, particularly if you have little interest in fashion, but I’m not convinced that the Leeds to Liverpool Canal compares favourably with Venice’s Grand Canal in the aesthetic stakes.

Ian McMillan, Barnsley football club’s poet-in-residence, welcomed the guide’s verdict, but said it was a bit behind the times: “It’s a cliche that it’s grim up north. It’s not been grim up north since they did away with industry in 1984.

“Leeds is full of footballers shopping in Harvey Nichols, Sheffield is full of men in hard hats building things and Barnsley is the new Tuscany.”

Yeah, right.