Luton is talk of the town - for all the wrong reasons

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The Independent Online

Of all the towns in all the country, Luton has never been at what you might call the cutting edge - unless you count Lorraine Chase's accent. But suddenly, the town immortalised by her famous voice is on everyone's lips.

Of all the towns in all the country, Luton has never been at what you might call the cutting edge - unless you count Lorraine Chase's accent. But suddenly, the town immortalised by her famous voice is on everyone's lips.

That, for this most modest and unfashionable of places, is the good news. The bad news is the reason why. For when 20,000 people were asked which was the worst town in the country, for some reason Luton came to mind. The survey, conducted by The Idler magazine as a slightly more scientific follow-up to its highly successful Crap Towns book, now puts Luton in the first rank of place-names that can raise a smirk merely by being mentioned. So step aside Slough, move over East Cheam, and clear off Croydon, you can't hold a rusty roadsign to Luton.

Its victory is due not to the airport from whence Lorraine was wafted all those years ago in a Campari ad, nor is it because the town is the birthplace of Arthur Hailey, author of that ultimate airport paperback, Airport. Nor even is it because Diana Dors once worked the beer pumps as a barmaid at the Rabbit in High Town Road. No, what won it for Luton was that it is, in the words of survey compiler Sam Jordison, "incredibly ugly".

Its devotees may contest this, but they can at least know that, for once, Luton is the talk of the nation.

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