Scottish master of crime fiction Ian Rankin (58) has 25 novels to his name, including his much lauded Inspector Rebus series. He was awarded an OBE for services to literature in 2002 and is a regular on BBC Two’s Newsnight Review
I’d focus on inconsiderate parking and people who make life difficult for pedestrians. It’s partly down to the fact that the younger of my two sons is in a wheelchair, so when cars park on pavements it can be very tricky for us when we’re pushing him down the street. Little things like that can make a big difference and if people were just a bit more sensible, everybody could get on a bit better.
I’d introduce life lessons to prepare kids for the adult world. As well as academic lessons, I’d focus on IT, coding and languages so young people can communicate better. The outside world is changing rapidly and the education system isn’t keeping up.
More kids would go outside and have adventures. Parents nowadays want their kids to be safe, so would much rather they were in the living room playing computer games than outside, where it could be scary. A lot of it’s to do with the parents saying to them, “Look there’s a big wide world out there, let’s go and explore it.” Get off your phones and go and spend some time with your children.
Parents would talk to their children about social media and the fact that not everything you see online is the truth. There’s not really enough research and social media hasn’t been around for long enough for us to have a real sense of what it’s doing to us, but I think that we can now acknowledge that, as well as the benefits the internet has brought, there’s a real dark side that we need to be aware of.
I’d do away with political parties. I think that party politics is the enemy of progress. I would have a people’s parliament with lots of independent thinkers who are focused on their communities but who also have a view on the wider world problems. I think solutions would be easier and a consensus would be easier to arrive at if politics didn’t get in the way and you didn’t have to toe the party line.
Tickets to concerts would be sold in height order. This way tall people would be at the back and shorter people at the front. I’m 6ft 1in and yet, when I go to a gig there’s always a taller person standing in front of me. You go to the cinema and there’s always a taller person sitting in front of you. There must be a better way.
Literacy would be next on my list. It’s a particular bugbear of mine. Being a writer, of course, I need a literate readership and there’s an ongoing problem with literacy. I would encourage parents to read to their kids and to be seen reading by their kids. I would also make sure libraries are well funded and celebrated as family spaces where reading is seen as a pleasure, as well as the foundation of knowledge.
Global warming and climate change are a major problem and I’d want to see world leaders tackling it head-on. That would mean focusing on the economic benefits of going green, giving incentives to companies to become more carbon neutral and designing more green technology.
I would name, shame and boycott brands who play the tax system. At the same time I would give breaks to independent shops in the hope that we might be able to re-populate the high street and regenerate neighbourhoods.
Ian Rankin will appear at the 2019 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, 18-21 July. Visit harrogateinternationalfestivals.com