Wrong number in book

A BOOK which poked fun at a string of British towns and cities has been hastily withdrawn by its publisher – because of its section on Ipswich.Crap Towns - The 50 Worst Places to Live in the UK shot to prominence after its publication at the beginning of October.

A BOOK which poked fun at a string of British towns and cities has been hastily withdrawn by its publisher – because of its section on Ipswich.

Crap Towns - The 50 Worst Places to Live in the UK shot to prominence after its publication at the beginning of October.

In the bestseller lists of humorous books, it was second only to Michael Moore's Dude: Where's my Country?.

But now publisher Boxtree, part of Pan Macmillan, has ordered that the £10 hardback must be removed from bookshops' shelves.

It is not because it caused such offence in such towns as Hull, Cumbernauld and Morecambe, which took the top three places in its light-hearted league table of places not to live – but because it contained a photograph of a pedestrian underpass in Ipswich.

Graffiti on the underpass included a telephone number and the suggestion to call for gay sex - apparently the mischievous or malicious work of youngsters trying to embarrass a teenage neighbour.

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The graffiti itself caused no trouble for the youngster or his family, and was cleaned off in August 2002.

But by that time, it had already been photographed by Sam Jordison, one of the two editors of the Crap Towns book.

Boxtree included the picture - complete with smudged but decipherable phone number - to illustrate the book's entry for Ipswich, which comes in at number 25 in the editors' list of places to avoid.

And after Crap Towns came out at the beginning of last October, the teenager's family started receiving a succession of unwelcome telephone calls from some of the 130,000 people who had bought the book or were given it from Christmas.

The family, whose telephone number was in the graffiti picture, do not want to be identified.

But the teenager's father, who lives near Ipswich, said: "Since the book was launched, we have had 40 or 50 phone calls.

"Some were obscene, and some people were just doing it for a laugh.

"To begin with, we couldn't understand where they were coming from. Then I engaged one of these people in conversation and I found out about the book.

"We had calls on Christmas and Boxing Day and over New Year. We have had calls from ten o'clock in the morning until two o'clock at night.

"This has upset my wife tremendously."

The family is now logging the numbers of callers to the number, and has had a second telephone line installed.

Boxtree confirmed the book had been recalled "because of a complaint". But the publisher would not discuss the case "for legal reasons". It said a revised edition was being prepared.

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