A few months ago I shared with you some of the thrilling numberplate-spotting games I've been playing to keep me occupied during daily exercise. I suspect from your minimal feedback that none of you are doing likewise, but that won't stop me outlining the latest addition to my oeuvre.
Last year while spotting registration letters I noticed that E reg cars were more plentiful than they ought to be, certainly more frequent than the adjacent Ds and Fs. I put this down to local car owners being keen to display their postcodes as a badge of identity - not many, but enough to nudge the E prefix above the average.
So I decided to see how long it'd take me to spot one of every E postcode on a car numberplate. There are 19 altogether, from E1 to E20 (excluding E19), a range which just happens to coincide with car numbers issued only as personalised plates. I started looking on January 1st and kept a list. Four weeks later I'm only missing three.
I haven't seen E19, but that isn't a postcode so that's precisely what I predicted would happen. I also haven't seen E2 which is Bethnal Green, nor E20 which is the Olympic Park. E20 is by far the smallest postcode district and has by far the fewest residents, which I suspect is why I haven't seen one of those. And I know E2s exist because I saw one in December, but last year doesn't count. I have walked the streets of Bethnal Green purposefully since, particularly the gentrified ones where the personalised numberplates lurk, but there was no sign of E2. Maybe residents don't have the same pride in their postcode as other East Londoners.
And that's not all I've been looking out for. I also kept a record of whether I saw a car with a particular postcode numberplate within the boundary of its relevant postcode. Let me colour those a darker shade of blue and then rejig the boxes into something more geographic.
It didn't take long to spot an E3 in E3, and it turns out E14s are super-abundant in E14. People must be particularly proud of their 'hood on the Isle of Dogs. Altogether I spotted nine personalised numberplates within a relevant postcode, that's half the possible total, either driving round the streets or parked outside some young buck's house. I'd only been in E17 for three minutes before I spotted an E17. E13 cropped up pretty swiftly too. I saw an E12 100m outside E12 so grrr, that doesn't count. I'm surprised not to have seen an E15 in E15, given how local it is to me. I'm not surprised not to have seen an E4 in E4 or an E18 in E18 because I can't walk that far.
Random sampling may have disrupted the underlying distribution but what I think I've confirmed is that several East London folk like to shell out for numberplates which reflect where they live. This may be the deprived side of town but drivers with disposable income exist and like to splash it around, in some neighbourhoods more than others.
I haven't ticked off any new postcodes in the last week so I suspect the game has pretty much run its course. It was fun while it lasted and a fascinating insight into socio-spatial economics. It's also helped me to understand how East London's postcode districts fit together. This game probably won't work near you, sorry, because it's very rare to live at the heart of a cluster of single letter postcodes. But if you too are out walking 70 miles a week, I hope you're keeping yourself similarly occupied.