Geordies find space for an alien race

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The Independent Online
IF LITTLE green men really exist, the first people to entertain them may be residents of the town of Bedlington, in Northumberland.

To attract tourists, the former pit town's chamber of trade has replied to an Internet advert for material to be included on Nasa's Mars 2001 flight. A CD-Rom entitled A Guide to Bedlingtonshire will include special offers and possibly courses on Geordie. Aliens will find a land famous for its terrier dogs and television and may be fascinated by the FA Cup giant-killing exploits of the local team, Bedlington Terriers.

Malcolm Robinson, chairman of the chamber of trade, said the whole town was joining in. "We are using this to let aliens know about Bedlington - but God knows if they'll understand our accents. We'll offer any alien visitors a range of discounts, with pensioner rates for haircuts, discounts on food and clothing and they'll even be able to join our Christmas club. Who knows, now the pits have closed down here, there might be more jobs on Mars and we can make the return trip."

Bedlington has received a document from Nasa confirming that its details will be on the Mars flight.

On yesterday's evidence, villagers are taking the possible advent of aliens in their stride. A pub regular, questioned on the arrival of visitors from Mars, replied: "Aliens? I married one in 1947."