Sunday, 2 December 2007

Enter the House of the Lord (at a price)

In London for a couple of days selling investment books at the World Money Show. The venue is the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre - just across the road from Westminster Abbey - a perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself with that huge hulk of a place of worship. I can only spare myself 15 minutes or so, enough time to have a quick muse by Poet's corner and to take in the vastness of the place.

There is a slight catch however - an obligation to part company with a tenner in order to gain admission. Okay, so there is some small print to the effect that if you simply wish to pray then you can enter free, but I reckon that my fifteen minutes would be primarily spent as a tourist (although I might take a quick kneel-down if the knee joints can bear it). I do not enter.

London is a very expensive city, and tourism is vitally important. A hotel room is £100, a short taxi trip can cost more than a month's wages in Petersfield, and the cost of a couple of theatre tickets plus dinner for two is enough to try the bank balance of half the visitors to the World Money Show (many of whom were being exhorted by fellow exhibitors to invest in US property - going cheap with a wonderful exchange rate to help you).

Westminster Abbey is a major tourist attraction and, like the British Museum and National Gallery, should not depend on tourist money for its upkeep. The abbey receives funding from neither the church, or the state, and personally I think that is absolutely wrong. If a building is used (famously) for state occasions, then my tax money should go to support it. Then tourists (many of whom are British) could walk proudly through the great doors without forking out £24 for a family of two adults plus two children (special offer).

Oh heck! I'm ranting again.