Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Mediaeval ExeterCas-Av links to a BBC article on clone towns. Apparently Exeter tops the list for depressing chainstore-dom. Except, unless it's undergone radical change since I was last there (and bear in mind it is in Devon, so that's fairly unlikely) it's not true. Sure it could do with a Heal's (who incidentally seem to have lost their way a bit recently) and a Dyas's (and a SCATS, and a bigger House of Fraser), but it's not that bad.

Ah, I think I see the problem. The survey only examined the High Street. Now let's look at Exeter. Found the High Street? Good.

Now, notice how the same road continues in both directions under different names - Fore Street and Sidwell Street. Even looking at only this axis, it might become apparent that the High Street isn't the entire town. Uber-chain-department-store Debenhams is in Sidwell Street. What does that say about about the accuracy of the survey?

Now add in the surrounding streets, alleys, yards and shopping centres. Shopping in Exeter involves quite a lot of time not on the High Street. Want cards? Try Queen Street. Want skater clothes? Try South Street. Want really cheap stuff? Try Sidwell Street (or Fore Street, or North Street, or...). Want really expensive stuff? Ditto. Want odd hippy stuff? Try Gandy Street, and every single alley. Want maps? Try by the Cathedral. Want unidentifiable Indian vegetables? Try towards St James's. Want material to make a toga? Try Sidwell Street, or that odd market off South Street. Want mobile phones and coffee? Ok, maybe try the High Street.

And some of the High Street chains are West Country chains, so it's not like they're proper every-other-block chains.

Actually how did Oxford Street escape condemnation? Now let's see (thinking purely in terms of places I went to whilst looking for clothes): H&M, Bennetton, BHS [used solely as a short cut to] John Lewis, Next, Gap, Debenhams, House of Fraser, Burton. Chains, each and every one. I didn't get as far as Selfridges, but that's a chain now too.

So basically surveys aren't what they used to be. As further example I present a Torygraph survey from the weekend. The make a great play out of the answers to one question:

"How confident are you that, if governments and people in richer countries donate more money to Africa, the money will be spent wisely rather than either being wasted or finding its way into the pockets of criminals and corrupt governments?"

Is it me, or does this sound like a slightly leading question? Firstly asking How confident, not are you confident? This immediately suggests you ought not be completely confident. Then stressing the donations of the West, which includes you, poor survey taker, with your crippling mortgage, giving more money whether you choose to or not. This is followed by the abstract notion of spending (note spending, not using) money wisely, which is immediately countered with waste, criminal and corrupt illustrating the alternative (and, given this is YouGov, the strongly affliated with the Telegraph survey group, I wonder what the influence of the phrase corrupt goverment might be?).

Instead of asking Do you like A? it asks Do you not like A because A is bad?

Now all I need to do is find something in the Guardian to pull to pieces. Or we could just take it for granted that there's something completely spurious in the dyslexic's paper of choice.

On an entirely different subject, the results for the race the weekend before last are out. I, and my distinguished helm, came [ahem] out of [ahem]-five. We may not be very good. But the corrected time gets us within ten minutes of the leader (which, if one thinks of it in proportion to the total time, is quite a wide margin).

So I'd just like to say for the record, I don't do racing.


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