Thursday, 23 February 2012

Streets Ahead

Streets Ahead is the occasional column from London Walks' Pen David Tucker


One of our best columnists, Simon Jenkins, hit yet another one for six earlier this week. (Swung for the fences and, er, connected if you speak American English.)

It was a piece about "the farce of border control". So, yes, you're in this ball game, potential visitor to London. Same as us locals.

And why are you - Mr. or Ms. Visitor - in it? The last line of Jenkins' piece, that's why.

"Airport queues will just get longer."

But us locals are "further in it." (I'm reminded of the old ham and egg sandwich distinction: the hen's involved, the pig's committed.)

We're "further in it" because we're paying for it with our (well, it was ours) money as well as our time.

One study Jenkins cites suggests "computer failure has wasted £26bn since 2000."

Now Adam, late of Fleet Street (where he acquired his taste for chilling with colourful maniacs), holds that "making connections" is of the essence. And no, not just with colourful m's. It's of the essence of good journalism. And good guiding.

So here's my (David's) stab at a bit of em ceeing in relation to Jenkins' piece. Well, in relation to that one point - £26bn of taxpayers' dosh in the toilet.

Figures like that get bandied around all the time. They're part of the white noise of our existence. Does anyone know how many ££s £26bn is?

Well, here's a yardstick for you. Think of each of those £26bn as a second.

26 billion seconds ago it was 622 AD. The year Mahomet fled from Mecca to Medina. The very beginning of the Muslim era.

Which was (if you want a couple of closer-to-home perspectives) right about the time (604 AD) the first St. Paul's was built; or about a century before the Venerable Bede described London as "an emporium visited by many people coming by land or sea".


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