Southend MP has enlivened competition
Let's be honest. We journalists love a good row. So we are grateful to Southend MP David Amess for providing one with his remark about some of the places contending for the city of culture title being "absolute dumps."
Up to this point, the contest had been a little sterile, with everybody making respectful comments. Not any longer.
Our own mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, could not resist a few jibes in response.
"Someone once remarked to me that they had been to Southend and even after three washes they could not get the smell of mud and fish out of their clothes," the mayor told our reporter.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
And he went on to recall a charity walk from Southend: "We left at midnight but I am assured that was the best time to see it."
For the record, here's some of Southend's cultural highlights, as gleaned from Wikipedia: the world's longest pleasure pier; the London to Southend classic car run; an annual air show; the Southend Carnival which opens each August with the lighting of the Southend illuminations; the Southend-on-Sea film festival; a contemporary art gallery; and three theatres.
It sounds all right to us; a nice seaside resort with some interesting things going on.
Obviously, Leicester's miles better. But we would say that.
Anyway, the good thing about Mr Amess's remarks is that they have created quite a lot of extra interest around the whole topic of the city of culture competition and enlivened the debate considerably.
And the Southend MP continued to do so when he spoke to us last night with his interesting suggestion that Leicester East MP Keith Vaz should lead our bid with his karaoke version of You're The One That I Want from the musical Grease – as performed recently in a local pub and filmed by the Leicester Mercury.
"Keith is a great friend of mine but I almost fell off my seat when I saw him singing," said Mr Amess.
All good fun and great for increasing the profile of the city of culture competition and the contenders.
As Mr Amess says: "Let battle commence!"