The Third Leader: And the wheelie bins are purple...

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Liverpool is not a city that excites indifference. It's also fair to say that, in the rest of a slightly bemused country, its detractors have rather tended to dominate.

Liverpool is not a city that excites indifference. It's also fair to say that, in the rest of a slightly bemused country, its detractors have rather tended to dominate.

So, in one of those attempts to redress the balance for which this newspaper is renowned, let me quote an admirer: "I've always liked Liverpool, the fizz and the buzz and edge and the action of it, the great grey grandeur ... I've always liked Scousers, too, with the admiration of the timid for the daring, of the man below for the high-wire artist; in this case high-wire artists of the over-dramatic, the anarchic and the riskily sentimental."

Excellent; but then I wrote it. I should have added, too, that there is a striking unpredictability about the place which resists any attempt to corral it into clichés.

Ergo: having last come to national notice in the legislative area for plans to legalise red-light zones, the city has now turned to chewing gum, proposing a levy of a penny on a packet to pay for cleaning the used mess up.

Red-light zones. Chewing-gum tax. Amsterdam or Singapore? Neither: just Liverpool, a glorious, stimulating antidote to unimaginative order and the strait-jacketed tyranny of joined-up thinking, a national treasure of the alternative. Did you know that the wheelie bins in Liverpool are bright purple?

Targeted tax is not a bad idea, either. Terrific grumpy old man potential: out-car entertainment systems, cold telephone callers, Tetra packs, mobiles, midriffs, footballers, gastro pubs, coffee shops, charity canvassers, pavement cyclists, cheerful weather forecasters, draught lager and being recorded for training purposes.

Sorry? Boris? Boris Who?

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