Sunday 1 April 2007

Numbers on lifts and people

Which floor please? 13

You probably have heard it many times before; there usually is no 13th Floor in hotels, well, you do need to be in such a building to see that for sure.

Basically, superstition and irrational thinking is the not the exclusive reserve of uncivilized Barbarians or savages in the deep jungles of some faraway land, ever-present in the hub of the lands of liberty, freedom and godlessness, builders would not deign to number a floor 13.

In fact, One Canada Square, one of the somewhat imposing business offices in London does have a thirteenth floor, but it is uninhabited, rather it contains only air-conditioning equipment.

Well, I happen to be lodged on the 14th Floor of the Novotel Hotel beside the British Library and there is no 13th Floor. Oops! I let the cat out of the bag, I'm in London till tomorrow.

Lift numbers without 13

One of the lifts at Novotel Euston

Numbered people

This use of numbers also applies to another interesting but disturbing scenario; the Time Magazine takes us on a journey through a counter-insurgency raid just outside Baghdad where they had once cleared out insurgents but failed to keep free.

It transpires that they divided the village into numbered sectors and then issued a curfew or clampdown on the village; however, after they had written the sector numbers on the backhands of the women and the back of the necks of the men.

One would suppose this came out of the doctoral thesis of General Dr. David Petraeus on counter-insurgency measures.

The pictures did show distress amongst the family depicted, though, they sensibly did not append the numbers to the ladies necks because that would have involved undressing them by taking off their scarves. The indignity of it all was still evident.

History returning nicely

It is probably essential and expedient to ensure that none of the villagers are caught in other sectors of the town when there is a clampdown.

The writing is probably in indelible ink which would wash off, if the water supply is there in a few days since it would have been an overkill to hire Halliburton to tattoo the numbers on the people.

One cannot help but realize that numbers were part of the game in Holocaust Germany, the victims can still show you the number identifiers - amazing how history just creeps up on you without warning and because this is the War on Terror, it is not the same, only very different; thus, will go the argument.

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