Sometimes I have ideas. I never do anything with them. In many cases this is probably just as well – I am thinking here of the Zimmer frame/pogo stick hybrid that would never have got funding from the Dragon’s Den. Other ideas get ridiculed by everyone who hears them but years later I find that somebody else has actually gone and done it – like with the see-through toaster so you can see when your toast is done.
From now on, I think I shall put my bright ideas here for discussion/public ridicule. If one of them turns out to be brilliant and somebody else makes a few million from it I will be very surprised, but not too bothered because I was never going to do anything about it.
Today’s bright idea: a UK Expo.
I’m currently reading a book set at the 1958 Expo in Belgium and it got me thinking about why we haven’t had one here. Britain basically invented the idea with the Great Exhibition of 1851, which was then copied by the French. We had another one in 1862 but nothing after that.
Since that 1862 exhibition there have been Expos or World Fairs 13 times in the US, 6 times in Belgium, and multiple times in Japan, South Korea, Spain and Italy.
There is an international body that sanctions ‘official’ expos every five years and we could apply and take our chances, but we could also just decide to do it on the build-it-and-they-will-come principle.
So why would we want an Expo? Well remember the Olympics? Remember the day or two of shock and surprise at getting awarded the 2012 games? Remember the 7 years of cynicism and dread that it would all be a disaster, all wiped out when the opening ceremony turned out not to be shite after all and then we had a month of feeling good about everything. We could have all that but in something that lasts a couple of months or more.
There would be opportunities for employment in creating the Expo site, and running it during the event. There would be increased tourism, including lots of free-spending people visiting on expenses on behalf of overseas businesses and governments.
There would also be loads of opportunities for volunteering, which was a huge success last year, and opportunities for British companies to show off their products and capabilities to a worldwide audience, as well as the prospect of improving an area, as the games were supposed to do to Stratford.
It would cost money of course, but a lot of that would be getting spent on the sort of infrastructure projects that would boost jobs and boost the economy anyway, and that would be measured against how much money such an event could bring in (albeit in less measurable ways). Do it right and you could get other countries paying to build their pavilions, some of which could be adapted for other uses afterwards.
In the years leading up to it there would be Olympic levels of cynicism, which would be a boon to the comedy and satire industries.
The whole thing would preferably not be in London again, but regenereate some other area that needs it.
It could work, as long as G4S are not allowed anywhere near it.