Neil Gaiman, in his breath-taking American Gods, describes tourist traps and roadside attractions as America's shrines and centres of devotion in a society, if not Godless, is struggling for history and identity. The same could be said for the many attractions in Britain. They're God-awful.
How else could you explain the mysterious House of Fishes in Cornwall, not a million miles away from Flambards Theme Park ("Britain's 49th Best Tourist Attraction!") and the vastly overhyped, overpriced and desperately ordinary Eden Project. Which just goes to show that rewards and reputation count for little with an easily pleased public. Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester take note - a fine way to spend fifteen minutes in an old school house with a rubber Iguanadon.
I've been about a bit. I've seen some real shit. Blackpool Wax Museum for starters. It's up there in the "so bad it's brilliant" bracket, where every single waxwork, be they of Prince Phillip or Diana Ross all look like Paul Daniels with a hump.
When holidaying in Spain, I foolishly parted with far too much money to visit the Magaluf Sealife Park - a crumbling pile of concrete and miserable animals. The proprietors, with absolutely no sense of irony, advertised it as "the best zoo in Europe". In which case, I'd hate to see the worst, but then I've been to Newquay Zoo, a place so full of chavs and wankers, that the animals appear to be on the outside.
I'm going to be controversial here and mention The Mary Rose in Portsmouth. We all know that Pompey's a shithole to start with, but when all is said and done, the flagship of Henry VIII's fleet is just a lump of wood in an aircraft hangar. If I wanted to see wood, I may as well have gone to Jewson's.
Feh. Most brilliantest tourist attraction is one that is hardly advertised - the ghost walks in York. Meet up at a pub, and an actor - in our case, a "resting" pre-fame Kevin Whatley - will show you round creepy courtyards and alleyways scaring the shit out of you for a modest fee. Most towns now have one - I daren't go on the Weymouth walk in case it is a) crap or b) freaks me out.
Still, we've got a long way to go to beat the Museum of Slough. And the Hat Museum. And the Museum of Pencils. I heartily agree with our correspondant complaining that Paulton's Park is not a "hoot hoot". It's because the mascot owl isn't allowed to say "It's fucking awful, fucking awful". And Beaver World - what can I say? How many people have paid their money, only to find furry, buck-toothed river-dwellers. It's a rip off.
Model Villages. They're just shite. End of argument.