Down with liberty – if it means the freedom to distress or disturb others – not to mention make free with other people’s money.
Here are, in no particular order, are ten things I’d ban to improve life for the majority. And I’d do it within twenty four hours of taking charge in an Elkin totalitarian state.
1. Announcements on trains and tubes except in a serious emergency. We can read the names of the stations, thank you. The name of the station could simply be announced ONCE as in ‘Crewe station’ to help blind people. We do not need an acutely irritating near continuous commentary.
2. Chewing gum. It makes a filthy mess all over pavements and elsewhere and is completely unnecessary. They’ve banned it in Singapore. I’d make it illegal in Britain to manufacture, sell or possess it.
3. Sunbeds. Why do we allow something which is strongly linked to cancer? Not only would it be better if fewer people suffered the horror of skin cancer for their own sakes, but it would probably save the NHS a deal of money if we outlawed all those tanning businesses and reduced the number of cancer patients needing treatment. We don’t tolerate other cancer-inducing habits such as tobacco much now. So let it be with sunbeds.
4. High volume on in-car sound systems. No one should be allowed to drive around with sound blaring through open windows so you can hear it half a mile off. It’s an aural assault to everyone else. It is also very distracting for the driver who can’t possibly hear, for example, an emergency vehicle approaching, or be able to concentrate on driving safely. I’d have a legal limit on the upper volume control - and it wouldn’t be a very high one.
5. The time to ‘clear a BACS payment’ insisted on by banks. We all know that you can transfer money from one account to another instantly at the press of a button. There is no excuse whatever for banks to snaffle your money for several days. Civilised countries do not allow this racket and neither should we.
6 Escalators. Put in lifts for disabled people and parents with children in wheeled conveyances. Everyone else can walk up the stairs. Escalators are not remotely green. They guzzle a lot of power and are costly to install. We’re told we have an obesity crisis. This would be a way of ensuring that everyone gets more exercise.
7. Music in shops and restaurants. It is often assaultingly loud and is designed to muddy your brain into buying or ordering stuff you neither want nor need. Ban it.
8. Hot food on trains and buses. No one should have to sit near another passenger eating some high smelling burger, chips, curry, Chinese, slice of pizza or any other heated meal. And it creates foul litter. In Hong Kong all food is banned on its metro. I might allow cold sandwiches and bottles of water… but don’t push me.
9. Bikes on town centre pavements. Pavements – footpaths, sidewalks - call them what you will – are meant for pedestrians. Bicycles are a form of vehicular transport and should be in the road. Pedestrians should not have to dive out of the way of aggressive, bell-ringing cyclists. Of course designated cycle paths are ideal where that’s practicable but in most town centres it isn’t.
10. Modified exhausts. I’d ban their manufacture, sale and use. I’m dead against anything which simply makes cars and motorcycles noisier because silly owners get their exhibitionist kicks out of deafening everyone they pass.
And what about all the people I’ve just put out of work? Retrain them as police to enforce the new laws.
Welcome to a much quieter, less smelly, cleaner, safer, healthier, pleasanter world. And you might even see a bit more of your own money.