In the Land of Wishful Thinking
Hedgehogs, bees, pot-luck suppers–and common sense
IT’S been a quiet autumn here in the Land of Wishful Thinking, twinned in our hearts with Lake Wobegon, where ‘all the women are strong, the men are good looking, and all the children are above average’. Maybe it comes from being surrounded by wheat fields and sugar beet, but ours is a place where common sense prevails.
In the Land of Wishful Thinking, all the dogs are loyal and good-natured. They are also registered and wear a dog tag to prove it. We pay £10 per dog, but for that our hound gets a chip. The cats all have bells round their necks and, I’m glad to say, the songbirds are back and singing again.
Everybody who drives around here carries their driving licence when they’re behind the wheel, just like in Lake Wobegon—in fact, like everywhere else in the world. It’s an instant identity card without all the expense and bureaucracy of identity cards and it saves a lot of time if there’s an accident. We also keep our insurance papers in the car at all times and the little paper car licence is back on the windscreen, because getting rid of it was a big, expensive mistake. Admitting mistakes is the badge of common sense, so we don’t mind doing it.
In the Land of Wishful Thinking, all the houses are designed for human habitation. We brought back the old Parker Morris standards, which decreed that all rooms had to be a minimum size. The developers huffed and puffed about that, but nobody is proud of the fact that Britain is building the smallest new houses in Europe. A kitchen ought to be big enough to have a table, a bedroom needs a bedside light and putting people in rabbit hutches makes them crazy. We’ve also put a moratorium on David Cameron’s Right to Buy policy. We reckon that was a mistake, ‘cause we’re pretty short of houses in these parts.
Actually, in the Land of Wishful Thinking, you have to be resident in the country for five years before you’re allowed to own property. We’re grateful to Denmark for that idea. It’s annoyed folks who want to get their money out of dubious countries and see property in Britain as an investment, but, frankly, we don’t give a damn. We have a pretty poor opinion of ghost towns and absentee owners.
In the Land of Wishful Thinking, most children go to the local schools, which are pretty good. Home schooling is closely monitored and parents who want to do it have to pass an exam that is tougher than the 11-plus. The way we look at it, teaching is a hard job and should be left to the folks who are dedicated and trained.
I have to admit that there are no longer any badgers in the Land of Wishful Thinking, but the cows are free of TB and the hedgehogs and the bees have made a miraculous comeback. We got fed up with the supermarkets screwing the dairy farmers, so we brought back milk in bottles, delivered to our front door. The milk is from the local Jersey herd and seeing cows in the fields makes us all happy.
The churches in the Land of Wishful Thinking are no longer derelict since we got rid of VAT on repairs. That tax really was a dumb mistake. We also transformed the churches from being bat sanctuaries into real sanctuaries and we spearheaded a movement to sponsor Christian refugee families—one family for every five parishes. We got that idea from Canada and wish we’d done it sooner.
The local surgery has diet and exercise classes two nights a week because some of us aren’t the size we used to be. The local library holds free English classes two nights a week and a book club/pot-luck supper one evening a month.
The local GPS were amazed when we did away with parking charges at the local hospital. They agreed with us—paying when you’re sick or visiting the sick is no way to finance the NHS. We think that idea’s time had come.
By now, you may be thinking that the Land of Wishful Thinking is nostalgic and provincial, but our hearts beat with hopes and dreams beyond these wheat fields. We’re a long way from Hinkley Point, but we hope it will never be built by the Chinese. Common sense says, if it’s really worth building—and not a big expensive mistake—we should do it ourselves.
Surrounded by wheat fields, common sense prevails’ ‘The cows are free of TB and the hedgehogs have come home
Ditto HS2. We love trains in the Land of Wishful Thinking, but we think it’s pigheaded and ignorant to rip up the countryside in order to shave 20 minutes off the journey between Birmingham and London. What we want are better trains, not faster trains. As for that third runway at Heathrow, we’re on the side of the folks who live, work and pay taxes in London. We think they should be able to sleep and breathe. Sleeping and breathing shouldn’t be wishful thinking.
Politicians tell us that folks in Wishful Thinking live in a dream world. They mutter about green papers and say that much depends on the Chinese, market forces, the bat lobby and the banks. We say that it’s wishing that allows us to hope and hope has wings. Or something like that. I do know this: we who dwell in the Land of Wishful Thinking have an unstoppable will to make real that which others only dream of. We’re here to stay.