Monday, 2 June 2014


Today I read that international agreements about global GDP calculations had changed whereby money earning occupations like prostitution and drug-dealing, hitherto ignored, should now be included in the calculations. This is exceedingly good news for Mexico, Colombia and Afghanistan. This probably means Mexico has overtaken France (mind you at the moment everyone is overtaking France….sorry that’s very, very mean of me.)

The consequence is some £10 billion is added to the UK’s GDP. £5.5 billion of this is from prostitution. The calculations go as follow: there are just under 61,000 prostitutes with on average 25 clients a week, charging on average £67.16. Hmm…. it doesn’t seem much. And what, the mind boggles it really does, is performed for 16p?

But if you find this all mildly shocking I find the next disclosure truly awful. For years I worked very hard doing an honest, creative sort of job, oiling the cogs of industry, helping the wheel of capitalism spin. I thought hard about how to titillate, persuade and convert. I was a missionary of branding. I worked in advertising.

Yet it appears the economic value of prostitution in the UK is actually greater than advertising. Martin Sorrell will be horrified or, being smart, may change his business model. WPP will change to Whips, Panders and Prostitution.

It somehow seems deliciously appropriate doesn’t it? One in the eye for that old fraud Scott Fitzgerald who said of advertising:

 “You cannot be honest without admitting that its constructive contribution to humanity is exactly minus zero."

Advertising like prostitution enlivens the world, gives it colour and sometimes at its best has a sense of humour. Hugely useful…like farming …which is I gather a similar size. Now that is shocking.

Enough of this…we are off to Venice for some sun, some art and some Italian food for ten days. In the 15th century when Venice was the powerhouse of the world, it was four times the size of London and 10% of the population were prostitutes. This means that if you extrapolated their GDP potential to the UK on a per capita basis that would be worth £ 640 billion which is - let’s face it - a pretty impressive thought.

Enjoy the sun.

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