Flying to Berlin last weekend, I was struck by how different the experience after landing at Tegel Airport is to that at any of its UK counterparts. Rather than a long walk from the plane to a snaking queue at a communal customs, another slog to a huge baggage reclaim area with its many carousels and a final push to customs before the fight for a taxi begins, the Germans have an alternative take.
Each arrival gate at Tegel has its own passport control, its own baggage carousel and its own customs - all within a 200-metre walk from the plane to the taxi you will be getting the other side. I had luggage in the hold and was still through the whole process in 20 minutes. The return trip via Heathrow took somewhat longer.
So, you may be wondering, what aspect of value investment will now be seamlessly linked with this upbeat introduction? The benefits of contrarianism or of bucking conventional wisdom? The advantages of thinking outside the box or assessing a business as if you were starting with a blank sheet of paper? The old cliché of German efficiency even?
All those themes and more could be tied in with the Tegel example - and, who knows, one or two still may be in a later article - but then a sobering thought hit home. Look at everything going on in the world - all the newsflow, Operation Twist, the latest eurozone rescue plan, everybody hanging on every utterance from Angela Merkel, the European Central Bank and the Fed and so forth.
And yet, what developments have happened in the last week or so that are truly worthy of comment. There has been an enormous amount of talk and noise but very little that merits active discussion on The Value Perspective - hence the subject matter of this piece being redirected through Berlin.
This is not to suggest there is nothing happening in the world - there is an awful lot going on that is interesting and has everyone talking - but merely to illustrate how hard it is for people to look at global events and concretely use this information to work out how best to invest. It is precisely the reason why markets are down 3% one day and up 3% the next.
There is just so much supposition and speculation and guesswork - rumours and smoke and mirrors - and that is why we keep coming back to valuation. Nobody can know the future but you can know the valuation of the market and the value of companies and you can benefit from this real knowledge by investing in the cheaper ones.