If I ruled the world: the best of – suggestions from the likes of Grayson Perry and Richard Dawkins
A musician ruling the world? Well, firstly there would be a lot less music and the music that remained would be lower in volume. Banished would be music as wallpaper, music to block silence, music to fill empty space—enough! Jingles in lifts, jingles on aeroplanes, jingles on the phone as you wait to speak to the bank—enough!
Speaking of phones, I would ban marketing calls from loan and credit card companies and I would make illegal their slick, brilliantined envelopes that thicken our doormats. They are a waste of paper, a waste of mental energy and lethal for a pianist who can suffer a paper cut ripping open their often-disguised contents.
I would launch other green offensives: solar power in every structure and lights off in all public buildings at night. The daily glitter of skyscrapers competing with the stars is an unnecessary, unforgivable decadence. Food waste is an atrocity that is reducible, if not completely avoidable. Restaurants should be forced to recycle their leftovers for animal consumption—and should create fewer leftovers in the first place. And please: liquid soap in hotel rooms not those fat tablets, which end up squished into rubbish bins, imprinted with one stray hair from one stray night.
Aside from the bigger issues of worldwide hunger, disease, conflict and inequality (I’d need to consult my team of experts on those) I would address some aspects of domestic education. I would make sure that every school day began with 15 minutes of communal silence, meditation, deep breathing or prayer… but no music. Out of silence is born concentration and from that comes learning. I would extend this to universities and to workplaces: bosses, secretaries and janitors breathing the same air of tranquility in a 15-minute truce.
And, back to school: languages. I remember begging one of my primary school teachers to let us learn French instead of wasting time digging around in the classroom sandpit. Forty years later I’m neither able to garden nor speak French. Every child entering secondary education should be able to speak two languages equally fluently. This is the case in many countries, except the English-speaking ones.
I would require an hour once a fortnight of music (classical, I’m afraid) appreciation. A gentle…