THE NORMALLY sedate Rough Guide people seem to have had a rush of blood to the head. In place of the attractive, idiosyncratic pieces of artwork which graced their covers for the first 10 years, photographs (albeit arty ones) are now being used.

You may also have noticed that the style is no longer The Rough Guide to Blah, but BLAH (in huge print), the Rough Guide (in teeny-weeny print).

The next Rough Guide to appear will be ENGLAND, which has a very rum cover photograph indeed. It shows four members of the Rough Guides management team on the Abbey Road zebra crossing, in imitation of a famous Beatles LP cover.

Mark Ellingham, who is pictured in the John Lennon spot, sheepishly explains this dreadful conceit was devised when they could not find a suitable image to sum up the charms of Britain while also reflecting the Guides' 'hip, no-holds-barred reputation'.