A couple of days ago I was driving around town when the hourly radio news demanded my attention like a spoilt child. The bulletin was home to two figures which on the surface of things appeared to be entirely unrelated. The two numbers did have one very definite thing in common: they were both were very, very big numbers.
The first number came care of the United Nations. Their experts had calculated that the bill to put earthquake wrecked Nepal back on its feet was going to run to £270 million. Would the world please help?
The second number was even bigger. The men and women of HM Customs had boarded a trawler in the North Sea and bagged themselves the greatest ever haul of illegal drugs in the long history of Britain. Three tonnes of cocaine. A street value of £500 million.
Now that IS a big number. A massive number.
Five worth years of Bedroom Tax savings
Thirty five years of Wayne Rooney’s salary.
A year’s worth of average wage for 25,000 Brits.
A year’s worth of dole money for 150,000 Brits.
Christ there would be heads rolling all the way from the streets Bogata to the icy waters of German Bight.
The news duly moved along to sports and then weather and my mind drifted. An for some reason the two big numbers started to dance around each other. To eye each other up. To become suddenly attracted to each other like a couple on the dance floor of a weekend nightclub.
Could one number provide a solution to the other number?
The thought of it put a smile on my face. It goes something like this.
There is a huge earthquake in Nepal.
The devastation and loss of life are truly hideous. The UN fly in their best guys to work out how much it will cost to play the part of all the king’s horses and all the king's men and duly put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
It’s big. Massive.
A few thousand miles away in 10 Downing Street, London, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland watches the pictures of flattened buildings and dusty body bags with a concerned frown.
How awful. Truly horrid. Is there an angle here to blame Ed Milliband? Or the SNP? Or both?
Probably not. Bloody shame really.
But should we step up to the plate? Should Britain don a suit of white armour? Is there any moral imperative for us to dig deep into our pockets? These are tough questions indeed for Dave, the old Etonian.
Well. I guess we did rule the place for the thick end of 200 years.
And then of course there are the 3400 men of the Regiment of Ghurkhas who have been our best soldiers for years and bloody years.
And then of course there is an election coming. Hang on a minute. Maybe there is something in this whole natural disaster thing......
It would be nice if Britain could go out there and play it large for once. Just imagine. The Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland takes to the airwaves and rolls back the years. I have a message for my friends in Washington and Moscow and Beijing and Dehli. Oh, and Paris of course. Especially Paris.It’s about this nasty business out in Nepal. I know. Jolly rotten and all that. Well here’s the thing. We have a tad of history in that neck of the woods. Maybe the best thing is for us to pick up the tab on this one. Oh yes, all of it. Oh, it’s not a problem really. Broke? Us? Don’t be so silly. We’re Britain remember. We’re good for it.
Fine words. And fond memories of the good old days when London ruled the greatest Empire there ever was. But the money is a bit of an issue. Well. A bloody massive issue.
Maybe the Prime Minister could take to the TV screens wearing his very best concerned face and ask his fifty million people to stump up £5.50 each…..
I nice thought, but quite frankly pigs might bloody well fly.
Now there’s an interesting thought……
“Samantha!! Come here a sec…. let me run this by you….”
The next day the TV screens of our green and pleasant land give up the very primest of prime time to a special emergency broadcast from our Prime Minister. Images of the ravaged streets of Kathmandu. Images of generations of Ghurkhas complete with their Victoria Crosses. Images of Edmund Hilary atop Everest in 1953.
“My fellow countrymen. We have all watched the appalling pictures from Nepal. And we have all felt the urge to do our bit and help out. Well of course we have. We’re British when all is said and done. The United Nations has asked the world for £270 million to sort things out. And of course £270 million is an awful lot of money. But we must also remember that Britain is a rich country and things are going especially well right now thanks to the Herculean efforts of my best pal George. So I am going to pick up the phone to the the UN and let them know that Britain will be taking care of this one. Nepal was part of the Empire back in the day. And of course for years we have had those terrific Ghurkha chappies to stick in the front of the frontline when the going gets really tough. And I don’t’ mind admitting that I wouldn't like to meet any of them on a dark night…
Anyway. I digress.
Can we really afford £270 million? Of course we can’t. Duh! Not when we are borrowing £100 million a day from the bloody Chinese and Arabs. I mean, as if! But maybe there is another way. Maybe if we pull the cushions off the sofa and root around a bit, we might just be able to dig out some change. Luck money, right?
So here’s the thing. A few days ago the heroic men and women of Her Majesty’s Customs bagged themselves 3 tonnes of cocaine from a trawler in the North Sea. Lots and lots of lovely Charlie. As things stand, we will be loading the whole lot of it into an incinerator. And burning it! Every last gramme! What a crying bloody shame! What a waste! For goodness sake, this particular three tonne ball of Colombian snow has a street value of £500 million. And we are planning burn it!
Well, not this time. This time we are going to do something different. My fellow citizens, tonight I am announcing that every last gramme of our newly acquired cocaine will be put up for sale by Her Majesty’s Government.
OK? Oh yes. You heard it right.
Let’s go over the details, shall we? We have tested the product and it is 82% pure which is at least twice as good as you’ll buy anywhere on the street. Even my pals in Canary Wharf struggle to get hold of any Charlie better than 60%, and they pay top dollar. We have reached out to our partners at GlaxoSmithKline and Amazon and they have agreed to help. GSK will package up the product and Amazon will deliver it to your door.
So here’s what you need to do. Go onto Amazon. Type in ‘Government Coke’. It will pop up in the ‘Kitchen and.Home’ section. Then you simply do your normal Amazon thing. Choose how much you want to buy and pay for it. Every purchase will arrive complete with an 'immunity from prosecution certificate' personally signed by my good self. Well. It’s a copy of course. As if I could sign every certificate individually!
Any other questions? Oh, there will be lots of course. I will try to answer one of two of the main ones.
Will there be VAT? Of course there will. We are the dealer here remember and what self respecting drug dealer would punt out 250 million quid’s worth of Charlie without having a bite out of it? Come on guys. Who do you think we are? The bloody SNP!
Will GSK and Amazon get a bite too? I think you can guess the answer to that one. This is the drug trade. There’s a way for doing things. There is a chain. These are my blood, right? They need to get their slice.
Will anyone die? Of course they will. Our chaps reckon somewhere between 25 and 50. But that will be less than the number who would die after using street Charlie which has been cut with all kinds of dodgy rubbish. And the £270 million we will be sending out to Nepal will save tens of thousands of lives. So we’ve weighed it up and decided it’s a no brainer.
How will it affect the drug cartels? Well, if you'll excuse my French, it will be a complete kick in the bollocks for them. Think it through. First we take half a billion's worth of coke off them. Then to add insult to injury, we undercut them and steal their market as well. How can they compete with me punting out 82% pure Charlie at half the street price complete with an 'immunity from prosecution certificate'? Ouch!
What will the Americans say? Well they’ll be pissed of course. Seriously pissed. But what can they really say? We’re the good guys here. We’re saving lots and lots of lives.
How badly will it hurt the City of London? Well, I’ll be honest with you, this one is a bit of a bummer. Thee tonnes worth of coke would normally generate at least £100 million in laundering fees for the chaps, but for once they’re just going to have to live with it.
So. I think that’s about everything. This is a one off and when it’s gone, it’s gone! Remember it's 82% pure and it's on sale at nearly half the street price. Log on now, fill your boots and with every snort think how the great people of this great country of ours are helping to save the mountain kingdom of Nepal.
Nearly forgot! Remember to vote Tory next Thursday. They can’t possibly call us the nasty party now. So you all have a good one. This is Dave signing off….”
Ridiculous, I know. But then….
How many lives might be saved if we chose not to incinerate the three tonnes of Colombia’s finest? Tens of thousands. What are those lives worth? How can such a thing be measured? A moral dilemma.
I’m buggered if I know. But it’s a hell of a thought.