There are somewhere near 60,000,000 people in Britain, so I'm told. Might be more, might be less.
Huge number, isn't it? If you got 60m penny chews and laid them end-to-end, they'd stretch across 75,000 cricket pitches and cost £600,000. That's a statistic. It's there to put things into perspective.
The government is responsible for these 60m people. It's a huge job. Or is it?
Even if you could put all the information about each person inside a penny chew, think of the room it would take up?
Er, actually, you can. And quite quickly too. And it's not the size of a penny chew, it's teeny-weeny.
I have a system here, which I wrote when I was pissed 12 years ago. It puts the equivalent of all the information necessary to know about a person onto a thing called a database round about 10 times a second.
In fact, it puts it onto two simultaneously. Maintaining referential integrity and creating logs for recovery purposes, if anyone knows WTF that means.
It could quite easily put it onto 10 or 100 if it wanted to, but we were a bit skint at the time.
This database thingy runs on things called computers. One of them is 12 years old. The other packed up once so is only 8 years old. Neither cost more than £200.
See all these statistics?
Here's another one. If I put all the information about everybody on these things at the same rate as I do now, it would take 69 days, or 10 weeks, to get all the information on.
And it wouldn't even get warm. The only reason I do this about ten times a second is that I haven't got enough decent information more often than that. It would work much faster. And still not get warm.
And it would cope with dozens of people accessing it simultaneously which is all that's required. And given something worth more than £200 and a bit of airconditioning it could do considerably better than that.
There's a thing called Twitter. It has a few more than 60m users. And some of the noisy sods are plastering it with information at an obscene input rate. Bizarrely, it manages to tell anyone who's interested what these people have said, too.
Now, Mr Government, particularly Mr HMRC, which band of muppets built the piece of shit that still doesn't work? How much did it cost? Anyone looked carefully at the procurement officer's new garden shed/swimming pool/mansion on Venus?
I think we should be told. Or let me do it. I'll do it for a new barbeque and a holiday in Portugal. In a month.