These things are endlessly fascinating, I imagine even right now many people are pouring over maps trying to work this sort of thing out, with particular reference to trying to create the next Silicon Valley / Glen / Swamp / Lake / Gravel-Pit / Badger-Sett etc. Of course, if you believe 'Before The Computer' you would be about 110 years too late - Silicon Valley won because the U.S. was pre-eminent in office equipment in the 1890s, but it doesn't stop people trying.
Which leads me to my CD of historic statistics from the OECD which I have finally got round to loading. This seems to confirm my theory that the UK was much poorer than much of continental Europe before the Industrial Revolution, which, I guess, is probably the main reason why our cities look so different from those there e.g. G(h)ent where we spent the weekend via Eurohole. Of the years it has data for, it seems that we had passed everyone else to have the highest per-capita GDP in 1870, with the US and Germany then surpassing us by 1913. Sadly (well, not sadly really, obviously) I don't have a copy of Excel at home so I can't look at the spreadsheet here.
This is, of course, not something they tell you at school. Well, not at my school if you gave up history at 14 due to lack of interest in the battles and the bestiality.
Ah, school. Wikipedia tells me that a long abandoned school song had something about 'Buckinghamshire's four mighty men - Challoner, Hampden, Milton and Penn'. Frankly this sound more like a rather camp music-hall number, possibly a refugee from The Boyfriend, which may not be so inappropriate really. I like to imagine at the end of term, the head-master, the senior master and the two deputy heads in black-face in the manner of the Black And White Minstrel Show singing it.
Anyway, I recommend G(h)ent and Eurohole, I am not usually one to praise, with enthusiastic tone, all centuries but this, and every country but his own, but I have a soft spot for Belgium, I think because it it slightly shabby and the people look about as scruffy as the English. Well worth a trip for the vegan all you can eat buffet http://www.komkommertijd.be/index.php. There is actually another all vegan restaurant we didn't get round to going to, due to going to this one three times. Could probably be done from London as a day trip for lunch, if there were cheap day returns. 'I'll have a 293 zone one day Travelcard please'.
I have to say though that the redone St. Pancras has been rather overhyped, the comparison with Grand Central can only have been made by someone who hasn't been to Grand Central. And the famous champagne bar looks like they thought 'we have a long thin space here, what the f**k can we do with it?'. It looks like it has all the atmosphere of a very long thin thing at the side of a main-line station. I like the statue of Betjeman though. Although I thought the inscription should read 'si monumentum requiris, circumspice'. And I am pleased to see that the bloke with the back-pack on the large tasteless statue is being referred to as 'The St. Pancras Bomber'.
Meanwhile, although I have personally seen no sign of a Web 2.0 bubble I commend this to you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fi4fzvQ6I-o