The Third Leader: The other tower

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The Independent Online

Go on, then, laugh: Blackpool wants to join the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal as a Unesco World Heritage Site. But why not? Why shouldn't the world's finest example of the potency of popular culture be celebrated? Outstanding ancient, royal, religious, natural and industrial achievements have been recognised, so why not more than a century and a half of providing roaring, rollicking fun? And fresh air, of course.

After all, Paris is included, and many of us consider its tower a pale thing beside Blackpool's, particularly as it has never had Reginald Dixon at the organ. I can't see anywhere on the list that offers donkey rides on the beach, either, and Venice certainly doesn't have trams lit up as gondolas.

If more conventional cultural credentials be required, you should know that Sarah Bernhardt performed at the Winter Gardens. In French. True, she stormed off in the first act, but that says much about Blackpool's exacting entertainment standards. (And its attitude to airs and graces: when Peter Lilley, there for a Tory conference, enquired about the bathroom, his landlady rejoined, "Didn't you have one before you came, love?")

This might well also be the time to confide that Sigmund Freud visited Blackpool, twice (he was staying in Manchester). The second time, he sent a postcard with the Tower on it: I leave you to ponder on Blackpool's crucial role in his theories. Other claims are crowding in. Harry Corbett, for example, bought Sooty on the Golden Mile.

My favourite endorsement, though, comes from Bill Clinton: "I like Blackpool. The weather's great. And the town's... kinda sleazy, isn't it?" Bring it on, Unesco!

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