Leading article: Homage to Wigan

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The weather may indeed be "grim" in the north of England from time to time, but its people can never be accused of lacking a sense of humour. As if to prove this point, Wigan's tourist board is issuing a line of merchandise advertising some of the more exotic examples of the town's local dialect. T-shirts and mugs will carry phrases such as "He's brackerts" ("He's not too intelligent") and "As't feckl't it?" ("Have you fixed it?").

This is yet more evidence of Wigan's growing self-confidence. Their football team finished 10th in the Premiership last year. The Wigan International Jazz Festival continues to go from strength to strength. On Wigan Pier there is even a restaurant called The Orwell. One has to admire a town's spirit when it can use the name of a man who made Wigan synonymous with crushing poverty to flog scampi and chips. Wigan has come a long way. They're clearly not as "brackerts" as outsiders sometimes assume.

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