Travel: The music business are turning vicious

TRAVEL - AS the music business has long realised, from Chuck Berry ("Route 66") and Cliff Richard ("Summer Holiday") via Prefab Sprout ("From Langley Park to Memphis") to the Fun Lovin' Criminals ("Korean Bodega") - helps sell pop records. Now some of them are turning vicious.

Elvis Costello's ascerbic new single is "Toledo". Is it, you may wonder, about the lovely Spanish town or the unlovely city in Ohio? In fact, it addresses the citizens of the former, about the latter: "Do the people living in Toledo know their name hasn't travelled very well?"

Such chiding is mild compared with the Welsh popsters Catatonia's blistering attack on the capital. "A black cab roars through the neon disease", warbles singer Cerys on the track "Londinium": "London never sleeps, it just sucks the life out of me and the money out of my pocket."

Most vituperative of all is Divine Comedy's "National Express". This hommage to the long-distance coach operator begins cheerfully enough - "Take the National Express when your life's in a mess/ It'll make you smile" - but then launches into a tirade against the prices of the in- bus catering, and the looks of the people who serve it:

"On the National Express there's a jolly hostess selling crisps and tea/ She'll provide you with drinks and theatrical winks for a sky-high fee/ Miniskirts were in style when she danced down the aisle back in '63/ But it's hard to get by when your ass is the size of a small country."

Hugh O'Shaughnessy has a kinder opinion of the bus company on page 25.

OLDER READERS may recall our Christmas competition. There has been so much going on in the murky old travel business that the winning names have had to be postponed repeatedly - along with their tie-breaks: "Where I would most like to be kissed..."

Paul Voogt of Whitstable nominates the Algerian town of Amour. He is one of the six winners of Lonely Planet's Brief Encounters: stories of love, sex and travel, along with JM Jennings of Watford ("The International Date Line, where a single kiss could last 24 hours"); Jim Horton, Tamworth ("In bed"); David Lloyd Rees, Swansea ("The Oval Office of the White House"); Bill Thackray, Croydon ("Up the Khyber Pass"); and C Callion, Durham ("Bashful Alley, Lancaster City, for the contradiction in terms").

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