Wow, I do not know how I know this, probably my dad told me years ago and I've just retained it for an occasion such as this. In the times when there were town criers that brought beople the news, they would start at the town hall which would be at the center of the town, and they would work their way around the streets all the way out to the outskirts. This often took a whole day, and so those that lived near the centre found out in the morning before going to market and generally socialising. Those that lived near and on the outskirts wouldn't find out until evening, and so would be always talking about yesterdays news. But to them (and you must understand they were the majority AND the ones more likely to use phrases such as streets ahead) it seemed more like the others were ahead rather than themselves being behind. Therefore those close to the centre were 'streets ahead' of those that were literally streets behind. Hope that answers it for you, and until QI disproves it, good-bye Acey~Nz
The original term 'ahead-start' referred to a participant being allowed to begin a race in front of other competitors as part of a planned advantage. The modern idiom 'headstart' arose as the 'a' in 'ahead-start' became confused as a pronoun, which was subsequently dropped. This is where headstart came from.
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