One of the main images of the year in the Irish Times is the photo of the person holding up a cup to look for some change from Ajai Chopra, the head of the IMF delegation to Ireland. I suppose it is one piece of policy advice that if you are in a country that finds the IMF over for a visit - don't let them walk around. Position their hotel sufficiently far from meetings to make car-use an essential.
I have a scene in my head where Malcolm Tucker, the fictional press officer from the BBC series "The Thick of It", is informed that Dr. Chopra is intending to walk from his hotel over to the Central Bank. The scene contains far too many swear words and violent and offensive metaphors to write out but those of you who watch the programme could probably get the gist. Something like:
Malcolm(M): Have ya booked the Chopper's taxi for da mornin'??
Random Civil Servant (C): No, it's fine actually - he wants to walk.
M: He wants to do what?
C: You know..long flight, stretch his legs and all that...
M: I'll stretch your legs until you snap in two you dozy prat.
C: What's wrong with walking?
M: What's wrong with walking?? Are you a moron or something? Do you really want everyone of those predatory feckers lined along the route with cameras getting snapshots of some IMF functionary strolling down to the headquarters of our Central Bank like a mild-mannered conqueror claiming the spoil of a defeated enemy? Things are bad enough as it is looking after Cowen and his antics over the last few months. I don't need this crap.
C: He will only be walking by Stephen's Green and down Grafton Street. Fairly respectable looking places. Might project a good image of the country.
M: Oh feck, the beggers. Do not let him walk up near Stephen's Green. One shot of someone holding up a cup looking for change and we are screwed. Tell him it's several miles away and he will need to get a taxi.
C: He's got an iphone. He knows the route.
M: I'll stuff his iphone so far down his throat he will be puking user-friendly apps for the next five years. He's not walking. End of story. Book the taxi. Tell him there is a security risk if he walks.
C: I can't lie to him.
M: You wont be lying. He goes anywhere near Stephen's Green on foot and I'll break his legs...and yours.