FLAT EARTH: Europe on fifty insults a day

NASTINESS abounds, now that the season of goodwill is over. Across the Atlantic, in the land that spawned PJ O'Rourke, a tome called Don't Go Europe! written for the "ugly American'', tells potential visitors to the Continent: "Europeans don't li ke you.They know you; thousands of pot-bellied, Polaroid-snapping, extra-ketchup- asking-for, polyester Hawaiian-shirted ambassadors from our nation have preceded you.''

French chefs, author Chris Harris writes, ``give animals like snails, pigeons and frogs fancy names, thus transforming common backyard pests into expensive delicacies'' that are served to ``gullible tourists who will eat anything they can't pronounce''. He advises against travelling to Pisa to see the "faulty architecture'' of its tower, or to Venice, "whose major attraction is a flooded sewer system''.

It's only when Harris turns to Switzerland that a Europhile can feel a twinge of understanding. The only thing to do in places like Geneva, he writes, is look at your watch - which explains the huge popularity of Swiss timepieces.