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Nocturnal Emissions V: If I Were Prime Minister

After 30 years living here I can conclude that apart from the Lake District, NHS nurses, cake shops and certain aspects of modern culture, Britain is a load of rubbish.

Which isn’t to say that I hate the place, I’m just hugely disappointed at the way it is turning out. (Though cathedrals are quite good too, the way your voice echoes around all that stone space…).

I’m under no illusion that other countries are much better, but I don’t live in other countries.

Here then is a list of ways in which I think this island could be improved:

* Ban all indigenous English people for twelve months. Force them to live abroad in places like Germany and Botswana. It’ll give them/us a fresh perspective on life and a better understanding of ‘foreigners’ and, indeed, ‘food’. The Scots, Welsh and Irish can stay because they have better singing voices when drunk and big chips on their shoulders about the English. Big chips are good for eating when there’s a food shortage.

* Abolish St George’s Day. Everyone knows dragons don’t exist. Instead replace it with St. Cat Stevens Day. Cat Stevens definitely exists.

* Make sportswear compulsory on certain days of the week. Say…Tuesday? Nothing interesting happens on Tuesdays. Everyone feels better in a nice sweat-suit — the rustle of a trouser in a tryst, the brush of a silk-like trackie top against a bare nipple — and it is my opinion the world needs to operate on a higher plane of casuality than it currently does. Of course, when something is compulsory, everyone rebels against it — ergo, tracksuits will rapidly go out of fashion and the existing sense of uniformity that plagues my retinas will dissipate and diversify. Reverse psychology, see? Yes, I’ve read ‘The Prince’ too.

* Turn East London into a fun park. Or a death camp. Either is fine.

* Heighten awareness about the benefits of eating fish. Fish is really good for you — all those omega oils increase the brain’s capacity and I’m afraid taking cod liver oil tablets just doesn’t cut it. There’s a reason all Icelandic people are really smart and cool and that reason is: salted cod.

* Introduce a new national anthem. Maybe we could just go for an instrumental version this time? The British music scene is alive and well and any of the following artists would make good compositional candidates: Mogwai, UK Apache featuring Shy FX, Shaun Ryder, Squarepusher, Tony Hatch, Gallows, Ralph McTell, Black Sabbath (original line-up only please. Note: Ronnie James Dio-era Sabbath will not be allowed near this project). Cat Stevens.

* Recall all bombs and missiles, melt them down and make the world’s biggest bassoon. That would be funny. No-one would dare invade a country that’s armed only with a bassoon the size of Shropshire. I mean, that would just be cowardly. It might even boost tourism.

* Install Shane Meadows as Director General of the BBC. He’s good, is Shane Meadows.

* A selfish inclusion, this one: make poaching both legal and fashionable. It’s good exercise and teaches you a lot about rural life. I got arrested for poaching on Good Friday and it was just plain embarrassing. I’m now going to have review 40 heavy metal albums for an assortment of magazines just to pay off the fine. Some ‘Good’ Friday that was.

* Speaking of which, give Easter a fixed date. Seemingly, some years Jesus died in late March, sometimes its mid April. They’re laughing at us.

* Revert to calling all hats ‘titfers’ (“tit for tat”). ‘Titfer’ is a great word.

* Re-introduce fox hunting, but only in the cities. Then we can sit back and see how those red-coats deal with congestion charges and traffic wardens. Also, urban foxes are hard as fuck. Last night I had a staring competition with one in a car park and am ashamed to say I lost. It was most unnerving, and after sixty seconds I had to concede. The fox had a chicken drumstick in its mouth at the time.

* Legalise all drugs, obviously. Criminalisation isn’t working and nothing legal is fun. Apart from sex. Best make that illegal, then. (Note: this may be difficult to enforce).

* Religion. I’ve heard of it, but I have no solid opinions to offer on the subject.

* Abolish day-light saving time. Did you know it was introduced in 1916 as a means to preserve coal? Turns out it has nothing to do with ancient farming practices after all. No-one uses coal any more and the day always remains 24 hours long, which ever way you look at it.

* Remove all roundabouts. What’s the point of them? America doesn’t have them – I’ve been there to check. Perhaps this is the key to the rapid rise of their Empire?

* Introduce a democratic voting system.

* Ban all bans.

* And Bono.

* Shoot columnists on sight.

On reflection this reads as quite a negative list. As I’m essentially one of those unfashionable libertarians, I’m actually disappointed in myself, but that’s what happen when you get into power, even if it is only imaginary. In fact, reading this back I think I come across as a bit of a cock, but it’s too late to change it now. The shops close in an hour and I have nothing in for my tea. Anyway, as Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure deftly illustrated, all great leaders throughout history are cocks.


Genghis Khan.

Abe Lincoln.

Cocks, all of them.

And if it’ll improve things, I’m prepared to sacrifice my reputation for a greater cause.

Ben Myers is the author of the forthcoming novel The Missing Kidney, which is about “poaching, tarmac, lion-ghosts, surgical practices, Mozart and the ways ferns move in the breeze when viewed from a distance.”

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, April 25th, 2007.