Monday 25 November 2019

Cake number . . . 2,392

I like these sort of calculations: how many months might I have spent standing in postoffice/tax offices/supermarket queues/waiting for a tyre to be changed; how many months in bed - or years, rather; how much time drinking tea? how many weeks listening to The Four Seasons while waiting to be connected to insurance companies/banks/electricity providers, etc.
Then there are the more interesting calculations: how many times must I have walked down our road into town and back? in thirteen years - say four times a week, on average - 52x4 =208, thirteen years  =2,704, probably round it up to 3,000. Considering the previous house-owners reckoned they had done the meander around fifteen times in eighteen years (they were very fond of their BMW) - I think we're doing pretty well, walking wise.
And onto Mark's cakes, at least since I've known him - twenty-three years.
Probably on average (very vague calculation following) he makes a cake twice a week.
104 cakes a year x twenty-three years = 2,392 . . . cakes. Not to mention all the bread, Parkin, flapjacks, etc.

This was one of his best, but then I often say that - they are nearly always amazing.

The only two failures I can recall: a beetroot cake and a Neanderthal version of a Battenburg.

Friday 8 November 2019

Visualising a billion

I've never intended my blog to be political but I felt I must try and write down a few facts on the wastage of money over this thing called Brexit.
I imagine most folk have difficulty imagining what a billion, for example, would look like or represent in real terms - especially if, like me, you got grade 5 in maths (ability to write ones name at the top of the paper).
Politicians do have a tendency to throw monetary phrases about . . . how many millions/billions/squillions they have/would have/will/should have spent on various building schemes, plans, roads, rail, hospitals, schools, or in the case of the present bunch of maniacs, how much was spent on the celebratory 50 pence piece (figures not available in this case - shame as it would have been fascinating to know) and the marvellous 'Get Ready for Brexit' campaign - A hundred million on posters that told the population to get ready for something as useless as getting ready for a mass seance to contact Churchill and ask his advise on how to get out of this pointless, time and money-wasting stalemate.

I just looked up some info on what Brexit has actually cost, as far as anyone can make a stab at the amount. sixty-six billion . . . or 1,000 roughly for every person in the country within the last three years.
So, what is a million or a billion in visible terms?
Say, imagining the amounts as hospitals, placed on a governmental, countrywide Monopoly board. A small one in Cornwall that was completed recently cost seven million, where as the reconstruction of St Barts in London cost around One billion. So, if we are talking about fairly expensive hospitals, say a billion a piece that would be sixty-six hospitals. Sixty-six hospitals, or many more schools, public swimming pools, new trains - versus Brexit. And not even Brexit. Lots of talk and hatred created by one word.
Still having difficulty imagining these amounts?
What about an MIR scanner - 895,000. Ah, that I can visualise. So, instead of Brexit we could have had . . . err, I couldn't work it out but enough scanners for everyone to have their own personal one had they have needed one.
What about a school? Very, very roughly, thirty million. Solar panels for every roof: 6000,00 or so for each house. New posts in teaching? An average salary is apparently about 70,000 per year. That would be worth investing in and relatively, a minuscule amount of money.
Anyway, the point being that astronomical amounts of money seem to be be magically available for spurious ferry companies, Brexit commemorative coins, parties, poster-splattered buses and a thousand other things when even fractions of these amounts could make such huge differences to education, infrastructure and above all tackling the climate nightmare.
Personally, I don't think this marmite, double-breasted blazers, cricket, crumpets, straw boaters, good old pint of British beer, Spitfires over the cliffs of Dover idea will ever actually happen - just a series of delays, transitions, arguments and more money-burning until Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and any other pissed-off county/region have split themselves from the mother rock and the UK is left on its own, complaining slightly about the weather and the price of tomatoes.