Genius thinks his time is worth £1 an hour



‘They were debating me! It was crazy. Everyone was clapping,’ he says, all pink and pleased. The reason? He’d posted a blog on a savings advice website in which he explained how he had made a journey from Sheffield (where he’d been advising members of a local WI group how to save money on their supermarket bill) to his home town, Shenfield in Essex.
Rather than go direct, he took a 1,017-mile detour via Berlin. It meant a day’s more travel — but it cost him £7.72 less than the train equivalent.

30 thoughts on “Genius thinks his time is worth £1 an hour”

  1. Rather depends whether he enjoyed his time or not.
    If he spent the day enjoying himself more than he would have enjoyed sitting on a train plus whatever else he was going to do then it was a good deal, otherwise not.
    Plus he did get his name in the papers, which he likely saw as a benefit.

  2. I find it hard to believe that he lasted nearly 12 hours on one currywurst. Can’t imagine he got fries with it for £1.50.

  3. I’m with Pat. Publicity is gold dust for a young blogger plus there may well be some added utility from getting to explore Berlin.

  4. Delaying your arrival in Shenfield may also be rational if you don’t particularly like Shenfield. It isn’t the prettiest of places.

  5. With a few days booking, which he could do as it was a speech, and a Young Person’s Railcard, he can do the journey in 2nd Class for about £17.


  6. I suppose he also got to visit Berlin, and if that’s something he wanted to do anyway…

    That said, if you’re 18 and spending time with the WI, and don’t have a GILF fetish, you need to get a life. I was working, shagging, drinking and seeing bands at 18. I wouldn’t waste my time with the WI today.

  7. I think you’re missing the point here. He’s said that it’s not an efficient way of doing it, nor one he’s likely to repeat.
    However, as he actually wanted to go to Berlin anyway, he basically got to spend the afternoon there for free. And save money off his journey home.

  8. Tom

    “And save money off his journey home.”

    I’m not sure he really did save money, in the sense that he could have done it cheaper by rail if he had wanted to.

  9. Stigler

    “…you need to get a life. I was working, shagging, drinking and seeing bands at 18. I wouldn’t waste my time with the WI today.”

    But utility functions are subjective.

    A rational utility maximiser might try to do that with a bundle that doesn’t come close to maximising your own, but it’s still rational.

  10. If I tried it:

    Train Sheffied to Derby: £4
    Bus Derby to EM airport: £4.20
    Flight Ryan air to Berlin: £11.83
    Train return from airport to Berlin city centre: £5
    Piss up in Berlin: £100
    Missed flight home: £9.54
    Last minute ticket: £250
    Bus home: £8

    Fuck should have just taken the damn train

  11. @MBE
    I was in a pub in Shenfield, last Sunday. Used to be my local, many moons ago. Those days it would have been packed tight to the doors & spilling into the car park. Free munchies on the bar & more fit totty than you could shake a sausage on a stick at. Apart from a few people in the re-purposed restaurant side gnawing on the extravagantly overpriced “pub lunch” we were two of six drinkers. Had the entirety of the old public bar (sans dartboard) to ourselves. WTF happened?.
    You’re correct. Shenfield’s not pretty. It’s not ugly either. It’s just ordinary. So ordinary, you could forget you’d ever seen it if you were still standing in it. I was in Berlin in the mid 70s. East Berlin, as well as West. On balance I’d have missed that return flight, if I’d have been him..

  12. Dongguan John,
    That’s hilarious.

    It also semi-reminds me of meeting a colleague in New York a while ago. The travel section of the European end of the organisation manages to combine terrible flight options with high prices (not bad for a huge logistics company).

    So to get from London to New York he went London-Warsaw-Washington DC-New York.

    He’s a keen drinker … by the time I saw him he was pretty much comatose.

  13. @bis

    Shenfield is one of the most “ordinary” places I know.

    I was trying to think of a slightly larger comparison that more people would know but couldn’t quite put my finger on one – best I can do is, Peterborough which is also a substantial rail junction and also notably ordinary, but probably leans a little too much towards “ugly”. Perhaps there is a size limit on “ordinary” places before they have to develop a more definite character. What is the largest “ordinary” place?

    Can certainly see the attractions of Berlin being overwhelming. To be fair, can even see the attraction of nearby Billericay (the most damning indictment of Shenfield being that it makes Billericay, or at least its town centre, look pretty in comparison) and certainly of neighbouring Brentwood (which I gather is where the nightlife has moved to, though the fitties be a funny shade of orange).

  14. I once came back from Blackpool to Bournemouth via Dublin; Ryanair flights, a night in a Dublin B&B and drinks all evening for less than the train fare.

    Best of all, I was up there to speak at a fringe meeting at the LibDem conference; a certain pleasure at them paying for the most environmentally unfriendly means of transport.

    But, as others have said, only worth doing because I enjoyed visiting Dublin.

  15. &MBE
    Even mid 70s Berlin’s attractions would overwhelm Shenfields, these days. I used to live in Billericay….but wasn’t Dickie…although I did have a Cortina.

  16. Flying via Berlin has other advantages than just a daytrip to Berlin. You can’t get a litre of vodka here for €10, but you can in the airport shop there. Cigarettes are also cheaper, although he couldn’t tell the papers that he bought a few sticks to sell on back home. Weed’s legal(ish) and there are never any customs checks at Stansted, so factor that in too – although he doesn’t sound like the kind of bon viveur who’d partake.

    Oh, one more thing not considered: some weirdo avgeeks actually like flying enough that a pointless flight suits their utility function. There are people out there who fly long-haul for fun, believe it or not.

  17. Dave said:
    “some weirdo avgeeks actually like flying enough that a pointless flight suits their utility function”

    Even Ryanair?

  18. Once had a company I was doing some work for tell me that my return trip they had booked was Pittsburgh-Chicago-Washington DC-LA-Vancouver all connecting flights so no stopover, once I pointed out my billing rate they reverted to my preferred option of via Denver

  19. Richard>

    From my perspective there’s less difference between Ryanair and (say) BA than between flying and not-flying. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people who take Ryanair flights for fun, given that there are people whose idea of a holiday is to spend longer on a plane than at their destination.

  20. The main difference between Ryanair and BA, is that Ryanair are quite cheerfully shit. BA still pretend they offer a premium service and price accordingly.

  21. As others have pointed out the 7 hours spent in Berlin, which was a want of the author, shouldn’t be added into the calculations for time value here. As the actual travel time difference stated is 1hr 10min then his time was worth £7/hr assuming he didn’t do any work while travelling.

    My question is how did the British rail system get so screwed up that it is cheaper to fly halfway across Europe to get home? I’m going to guess that there is far more taxpayer support for the infrastructure(airport vs rails) that will throw the market out of wack but I doubt that can make up the entire difference.

  22. Bloke in Costa Rica

    A rational thing for me to do would be to fly to Panamá, take KLM to Schipol, break my journey there to hang out with big bruv and SIL for a couple of days, then onwards to Gatwick. Not rational would be flying via Panamá and Schipol to save anything less than about $500. That would be mental. But as others have pointed out, one man’s mental is another man’s sane.

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