Comedian Danny Wallace is the best-selling author of Yes Man (turned into a film starring Jim Carrey) and Awkward Situations for Men. He’s also an award-winning presenter on radio and television, and writes a regular column for Shortlist
I would create a voting test
It’s not enough simply to be of a certain age in order to vote. People must also show a basic understanding of what it is they’re voting for. I’d create a test which, like the driving licence, must be aced before people are permitted to wield such power over their fellow citizens. It would need to be taken every decade to ensure changing political policies are understood. After passing the test, voting would become compulsory and, in order to encourage greater engagement, be rewarded by a lovely morning off and a sandwich.
I would rid the world of rudeness
All confrontations would, by law, begin with the words “I’m so sorry to say this, but…” in order to mitigate the likelihood of any subsequent anger. So much can be accomplished—and so much anger dissipated—by approaching our interactions with basic politeness.
I would rework all websites
so that people would only be able to post comments underneath articles if they can demonstrate that they have read and understood the entire thing. People say that all opinions are worth the same but this is nonsense. Opinions based on facts are worth a thousand times more than those based on feelings.
I am in favour of a merit-based system of immigration
But, because countries rely so heavily on immigration, I’d judge the descendants of immigrants rather than the immigrants themselves. That way, when we have the likes of Donald Trump trying to send doctors back to where they came from, we could say, “Donald, you are yourself a descendant of immigrants, let’s look at whether you’ve earned the right to be here”. And if it turns out he hasn’t done enough to make his ancestors proud, create a positive environment and prove his worth, we could simply send him back to where he came from: the Outer Hebrides.
I would ban pompous phrases
No longer would we be allowed to say, “Let that sink in!” after making a statement. It’s like saying “You’re too simple to understand my point straight away. You must dwell on my wisdom!” Nor would I allow anyone to say, “Enjoy!” after handing over a coffee. You might just as well claim that “This is my masterwork! You will now enjoy”. Saying either of these phases will result in a £5 fine.
Every Friday would be a Good Friday
Random acts of kindness are insanely powerful. They make the stranger feel good and they make you feel good. Making one day a week particularly special would give people courage because they know they’re not acting alone. So this Friday, buy an old man a cup of tea. Make sure you hold the door open for a few extra people. Give a nun a doughnut. Perform a small act of rebellion against selfishness.
I would allow kids to write from the heart, not write to be scored
I have literally no idea what a subjunctive coaxial adverb twice-removed is and being told I’m not allowed to write a story until I can use one properly is the death of inspiration. Kids should never be constrained by a set of rules when it comes to creating, writing, painting or thinking. The next generation should be a generation who can paint, and never one to paint-by-numbers
Danny Wallace’s fourth children’s book, Hamish and the Baby Boom, is out now, published by Simon & Schuster.