Lord Layard, Emeritus Professor of something terribly brainy at the LSE, is popularly known as ‘the happiness tsar’, because of the sterling advice he’s provided for the government on the vexed question of happiness – or more precisely our apparent lack of it.
Now he’s going to be chairing The Good Childhood Enquiry, a two-year national independent investigation, managed by The Chidren’s Society, into exactly what constitutes a ‘good childhood’ and which ‘aims to renew society’s understanding of childhood for the 21st century, to inform, improve and inspire all our relationships with children’. Apparently this is neccesary because Britain’s 12 million children and teenagers are the unhappiest and unhealthiest in any wealthy European country. So it seems money can’t buy you love – who could have guessed?
Gosh! Is it just me, or is there just a tang of 1984 about all this? Legislating for happiness – even quantifying it – how’s that going to work, I wonder? It’s clearly no laughing matter. And who’s going to head up the Ministry of Happiness – cos it’s only a matter of time til they set one up? Could I nominate Jack Dee?
One thing they are doing in this enquiry is taking evidence from interested parties – parents, professionals and children – into what constitutes a good childhood in today’s society. Hmm. Hope they don’t ask my kids who, last year, said they wished they could go to live in a children’s home because on the TV show ‘Tracy Beaker’, Justine got to have a TV in her room – unlike them, poor, deprived little mites.
I’m sure this all very worthy and necessary. But legislating for happiness? Heck even trying to analyse it seems a tiny bit like pulling the wings off a bumble bee to see how it flies. I wish Lord Layard and his exalted colleagues the best of luck. In the meantime, here is a link that might make you laugh .
Have a happy weekend!