Lee Child is the author of the global bestselling Jack Reacher series
I’d immediately investigate the abdication option because it sounds like an awful lot of work and responsibility to rule, and I’m sure that the world deserves somebody better than me in charge of it.
I’d make teachers the most respected and the highest paid professionals. I’d set up a situation in which people would be desperate to become teachers and compete for that qualification and an enormous salary. Looking ahead, we’re facing all kinds of problems and education is the thing that’s going to solve them for us. It’s all we’ve got. I want a reversal of the situation where, normally, as a teacher, you don’t get paid much or get much respect. I’d like to change that radically so that we’d look up to teachers as if they were movie stars and they all made a million bucks a year.
I’d abolish all political parties and develop some that would represent what [most] people want. When you get to know the population, both in Britain and in the US, most of them are this huge giant wedge in the middle: lovely people, perfectly OK, full of decency—and yet nobody’s representing those people. We only represent the lunatic fringes—the people on the right or the left—while the people in the middle are left to make their own way.
I’m sure [the royal family] are all lovely people, but a hierarchical structure like that, where you’re born to something, alters the shape of people’s expectations. Even now in Britain, there’s a feeling that if you’re born in the wrong place and the wrong class, you’re going to have a limit to what you can do. The royal family gives the country the wrong shape, i.e, the idea that the head of state is born rather than elected.
I’d fund the BBC with whatever it needed and let it do whatever it wanted. Everybody’s s so concerned with the British media, but when you look at it in relation to what’s happening in the US or other parts of the world, it’s actually pretty good. I think the BBC is really Britain’s secret weapon. It’s the very definition of soft power, so to in any way attack or undermine it is treacherous—it damages the country.
I would protect the book because it’s under a lot of pressure at the moment for very strange reasons. The high street retail situation is so pressured—landlords have been jacking the rent up to the point where only certain kinds of stores can survive and bookstores are not that kind of store. Not because people don’t want to buy books—they love them, but they don’t buy them quite fast enough and there’s not enough margin in each sale to compete. Books are really important and I think that even now, in 2018, there’s nothing better than getting lost in one: you’ve got the whole world in your hands.
I’d definitely make it law that Aston Villa could never be relegated and that if they finish in the bottom three, they get a special pass that protects them. I think that would be absolutely vital. I’m still a supporter even though it’s been an up-and-down experience…
I’d take away all those boring warning signs and trust people to be smart—and if they’re not smart then that’s Darwinism in action. When you live in the US and come back to Britain you feel nannied to death.
Lee Child will chair the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, July 19–22. harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/crime-writing-festival