Tuesday 20 March 2012

The Lost Counties of Merrie England

About a week ago the Environment Agency announced restrictions on the use of water in the south of England. The television news displayed a map of the areas affected – Anglia, Thames, Southern, Veolia Central and Veolia South East. Some of my close relatives live in Veolia Central and they seem to be in complete denial on this point, clinging desperately to the mistaken belief that they live in Hertfordshire or Buckinghamshire. In what used to be known as Kent there is little recognition of the fact that they now reside in Veolia South East. This must be what the Prime Minister means when he speaks of transformational change – the ancient, obsolete and economically unproductive county names can safely be retired and in their place will be the illustrious names of our finest businesses. It’s another win-win, publicity for business (and recognition of their enterprise and achievement) and a handsome contribution to the local exchequer in return – more good news for the hard-pressed taxpayer. This is only a draft of what might result but we have tried to recognise some of the hidden hands that drive our economy whose innate modesty is reflected in their choice of names that entirely conceal their activities. There’s a place for the consultocracy – the companies that selflessly advise our great institutions on how to improve their performance by dismissing their employees, in return for a nominal sum. Some of the more obscure names belong to a new breed of companies (unkindly known to some as outsourcing vultures) bringing the disciplines of the private sector to tasks that used to be carried out at great expense by feather-bedded public sector timeservers with gold-plated pensions. Of course there are massive implications in terms of mapping, signage and postcodes but all too often this country has been held back by the special pleading of vested interests – this is a time for putting economic interests first and foremost going forward. Traditionalists can be expected to resist but their views can be disregarded as victims of false consciousness.


RobinJazz said...

Very good, but what happened to Tesco?

Phil Beard said...

Sadly, none of our great retailers made the cut and Tesco are no longer as triumphalist as they were only a few years ago. There may be a good case for renaming the Royal and Ancient County of Ivensys as Waitrose.