SUPPOSE you had a visitor from Outer Space and you wanted to give him a laugh. I reckon I might take Zarg from the Planet Ultron down south and show him the daily commute into London.
We would witness the 750,000 plus people who pour out of crowded trains and buses or crawl in their cars through the congestion zones.
They spend the next seven hours doing whatever it is they do at their desks and then they all pile back into trains etc and set off home again, as far away as Bristol or Grantham. I have even heard of people who commute to London daily from York and I wouldn’t die of surprise to learn that there were people from Calderdale who parked up at Wakefield Westgate every morning to catch the 6.52 to King’s Cross.
On witnessing this weird daily migration, Zarg would ask: “Why do so many earthlings gather in the same tiny space day after day when there is plenty of room in other towns of this realm?”
I would find it hard to answer. Just habit and prejudice, I suppose - the irrational belief that everything has got to be concentrated on a couple of square miles of London, no matter how costly and plain stupid the arrangement is.
The need to deal with the absurdity of economically and environmentally wasteful London-centrism is why the BBC’s decision to relocate parts of its TV and radio operations to Salford is wise. The Shadow Culture Secretary Ivan Lewis was quite right this week to blame refuseniks for their “outdated prejudices and one-dimensional view of Britain”.
This BBC move is a massive step in the right direction. Mind you, in few years’ time we will be moaning about Lancashire-centrism …