They say all publicity is good publicity, but tourist officials in Northampton may well have been doubting this on Monday, after The New York Times published a lengthy article on the town’s violent drinking culture.
The colourful piece, titled “Drunk and Disorderly in Britain”, by the US newspaper’s London bureau chief, describes how “young Britons, often in packs, go out to get thoroughly, blindingly and often violently drunk”.
The writer goes on to detail the “gloriously incoherent” young men and women who dominate the Midlands town’s high street after dark, before reporting on a house party that had “gotten out of control” in “tougher” east Northampton.
In places the piece reads like a dispatch from a war zone – complete with a man whose arms were “nearly amputated by a meat cleaver” and another “missing part of his nose”.
The article was greeted with dismay among locals on Monday, with the local Conservative MP Michael Ellis telling The Independent it was an “over-dramatised characterisation” of the town.
He said: “Of course there are problems with young people binge drinking in this country but Northampton is no different from many other places around Britain. And in fact the crime rate is falling here.”
Anna Sawer, the manager of NB’s nightclub, which offers revellers five shots of tequila or vodka for £10, said: “Whenever there’s a story about binge drinking in town we’re always on the front page of the local newspaper.
“But we are totally against binge drinking and just want people to have a good time.”
Other prominent locals contacted by The Independent said the NYT piece was depressingly accurate. The actor Robert Llewellyn (Kryten in Red Dwarf), who grew up in Northampton, said it was “an impressively sobering description of my birth town”.
But Mark Floody, the Dean of Northampton Cathedral, was much more positive. “I’m sure Northampton has it challenges like every other town, but my experience here is of people’s generosity, their concern for others and their sense of community,” he said.