Over the weekend the Telegraph broke the news that the levels of cocaine use in London are 15 times higher than official estimates would have us believe. And how do they know this? Well, the Thames told them.
Yes people that's right: Old Man River is a narc'!
Because cocaine does not break down easily, even after sewage treatment processes it means scientists (if they are so inclined) can test water samples for traces of the drug. So that's exactly what mebers of Milan's Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research did recently.
From their trusty ship the 'Watchdog', Doctors Chiabrando, Castiglioni and Zuccato took samples from downstream of Mogden sewage-treatment plant near Twickenham and "Europe's biggest sewage plant, at Beckton,". The data was then flown back to Italy where it was analysed:
Tests found that 37,638 doses of cocaine, or 150,552 lines, are consumed in London every day, nearly 16 times more than the government figure of 2,397 doses. Astonishingly, scientists even found that water from the Thames already treated by sewage works still held an estimated concentration of 20,000 doses, or 80,000 lines, of cocaine.
Shocking figures, we'll think you'll agree. But bear one thing in mind: the last time you watched a crime drama on TV or at the cinema and someone wanted to get rid of a large quantity of cocaine in a hurry, where did they put it?
In a drawer under the sink? Down the back of a radiator? No, they flushed it down the toilet, directly into the sewage system. Think about it, all it takes is one panicky drug runner and all of a sudden half of Twickenham is on the charlie.