Americans given rough guide

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Writers from all over the world gathered in London yesterday to mark the International Day of the Tourist Guide.

Travel experts took a tour through London to help them compile tomes for future influxes of tourists to Britain.

However, there is a problem lurking on the Internet for the purveyors of such respected publications. The Guide for Americans Visiting Britain originated at Cornell University but has attracted the attention of tourists from all parts of the globe. It apparently purports to be a serious entrant into the market but it may prove disastrous if its users take too much of its advice.

Particular fun is to be had with the beef crisis. The guide offers these words on the difficulties of ordering in a restaurant: "The best cuts of meat, like the best bottles of gin, bear Her Majesty's seal, called the British Stamp of Excellence. Tell the waiter you want BSE beef and don't settle for anything less."

It also says that black cabs are sponsored by the state and cost only pounds 2 no matter how far you travel. Buses are even cheaper with three pence being good for any journey to your stated destination.