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Friday, April 02, 2010

ECOST - a practical solution to the problem of school parties in London

After spending most of the the day in the West End I'm more convinced than ever the European Community ought to pick one of its less visitor-thronged cities - Utrecht, maybe, or Sheffield - and declare it the European Capital of School Trips.

This honour will be as keenly sought as the accolade of being European Capital of Culture. ECOST, as it will swiftly come to be known, will work as follows. All the massive touring parties of students who are currently clogging the arteries of Florence, Edinburgh, Paris and, now I think of it, London, would be diverted instead to wherever happens to be ECOST that year. Doncaster, Dortmund, Nancy, Poznan, wherever. Here the absence of world-famous cultural or historical sights would leave our adolescent visitors ample time to do the things they really go on school trips to do - shop at Primark, spray their hair a comedy colour, get off with each other and walk arm-in-anoraked-arm in a fog of self-involvement four abreast down the main shopping street while remaining oblivious to the efforts of the local population to get by.

Their presence would provide a huge boost to the local economies while leaving Europe's most thrilling sites free of the pall of puzzlement and disinterest with which adolescent school parties meet anything other than a new branch of the Apple Store or a rubber replica of a policeman's helmet. Once they become independent travellers they can visit the capitals of Europe for the first time, enjoying them all the more because they are making the visit on their own dime. And no longer milling around in their thousands above Oxford Circus station.