Monday, November 2, 2009

I want to become a Government supplier: X = 5,000,000

I have decided that I no longer care whether doing government work is boring. It is not. Nothing that makes you rich is boring - and becoming a supplier to HM Government or to Boris's London will make you very, very rich.

How rich? Well for painting a big "X" on a busy intersection you get five million quids. Yes, Five million quids.

Today saw the launch (or do I call it an opening?) of the new "Tokyo Style" intersection of Oxford and Regent Streets in London. These two very busy streets are at the epicentre of what must be Europe's busiest shopping district. The Tokyo style intersection will hold traffic going in all directions so that pedestrians can cross in all directions, including diagonally.

Judging from the aerial camera angles on tonight's London news, those people crossing diagonally all meet in the middle and dance with each other. Well, most dance. Others headbutt each other. Very curious. To help choreograph this new dance, the powers that be have paid five million quid to some people to come down with their lorries and surface the road with a special high grip substance, in the pattern of an "X" in a box.

My question is, why didn't they pay me just four million? Hell, for four million quid I would have made a much prettier design. There'd still be an "X" for that is what they would have asked for, but it would be a magnificent "X". It would have been an "X" with character, with flair. It would have been an ironic "X". It would have been slightly post modern with a twist of pre Raphaelite about it. I would have used a subtle palette of colours to help relax those who are stressed, yet also to excite the shoppers into spending money. I would have submitted a few carefully drawn options first and shown them to Boris over a long, boozy lunch, which I would have paid for. Hell, I would have done this job naked whilst smacking myself on my bottom with a rolled up copy of The Spectator if they wanted. I, for just four million quid, would give exceptional value for money. I would give my best.

Seriously though, where did five million quid go? The launch do?

I've been noticing this sort of ridiculous spending a lot lately. The Air Force decides it wants to give Flight Lieutenant Jim Jimminy McJimble a shiny new Eurofighter, so they go to the Ministry of defence who in turn go to Messers Thrust and Lift who quote a price of Some sixty eight million of her Majesty's shiniest sterling pounds. Yes, they pay sixty-eight million pounds for a single seater plane that doesn't even have room for a hostess and a drinks trolley.

At the same time as the Ministry of Defence is shelling out, actually, hosing away, £68 million per plane, British Airways decides Captain John Johnathan Johnstone is deserving of a new Airbus A320. That will cost between £40 and 50 million, depending on the layout configuration. And it carries lots of people and it has hostesses and a drinks trolley. And a kitchen - of which I approve.

It might be argued that the Eurofighter is hellish clever and pretty damn supersonic and all, and maybe it is, but I think that much of its cost lies in the fact that the government is the customer. I have a strong feeling that the makers would be able to sharpen their pencils a whole lot.

You hear it time and time again from government how this costs thousands and that costs millions if the government is paying, but if its private enterprise paying, see the magic as thousands turn into hundreds and millions into thousands.

America's not immune to this either. I read today that they are getting tired of the bicycles they provide as part of their free public transport initiative, getting stolen. The bikes cost $3,500 each. Each!!! Now, I know a thing or two about bicycles and I can tell you that a very, very good mountain bike can cost that amount, but there are very few of them about. I can also tell you that the commuter scheme's bikes are simple, uncomplicated and tough, but certainly not worth anything near even $500. It is ridiculous. Someone got rich.

Anyway, enough bitching. If you are Tony Brown or Gordon Blair or whoever is running the country, give me a ring and tell me what you want done. By the way, I have some military grade toilet seats, tested by genuine military bottoms in a simulated combat situation, that I can let you have for just £9,999 each. Military grade, I repeat.

Copyright © 2009 Paul R Davey. All photographs, text and artworks in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Paul R Davey unless otherwise stated. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.