If I Ruled The World: Kate Rusby

If I Ruled The World: Kate Rusby

Hailed as the “First Lady of Folk”, Kate Rusby is Mercury Prize-nominated artist and one of the best known contemporary English folk singers

National Smile Time

While I would like to ban quite a lot of things from general modern life, there are far too many to address so hopefully through some smaller positive changes some of my own concerns would be rethought. So firstly, I would instigate National Smile Time. It would be a once-weekly occurrence, perhaps at 3pm on a Thursday. The country would pause for one minute and just smile at who is around them.

Even better, try to make sure you are near someone who would really appreciate and feel the full benefit of that gift of a smile. Simple, easy, life-affirming—both for the smile generator and smile receiver.  

Free buses

When I was young, one could travel anywhere in South Yorkshire for the fare of 10p per adult, 2p per child. It opened so many doors to workers, families, the lonely, the explorers, quite literally everyone. As a result, I discovered weekly, the vast beauty of the music department of Barnsley library.  Music from around the world was available at my feet, and this was pre-internet!

"Adventures and opportunities lie at the end of a journey, so I would make that journey free to all"

Adventures and opportunities lie at the end of a journey, so I would make that journey free to all. Go discover, visit, work, learn, build, make good, all the things that make us better humans and therefore a better society.  

Free seeds

Everyone would receive free seeds once a month. Seeds mostly to grow salad and veg but also sometimes flowers, so we all have the opportunity to take pleasure in watching something grow. The mental health benefits of watching something grow have been proven time and time again, even in a pot in a window. Taking care of plants as they grow is such a calming, rewarding gift.

Kate Rusby © David Angel

Kate Rusby © David Angel

We are lucky enough to have our own allotment so completely understand and appreciate the peace and beauty of growing plants. My dad, our chief allotmenteer, has always said, “Everything wants to grow, we just have to give it the chance.” Seeds are little nuggets of life waiting for a chance, just like our human souls. Witnessing that first green shoot peeping is such a happy moment—we can all benefit from such a cheap, simple pleasure.  

Community gatherings

I think it would be so brilliant for villages and towns to have social gatherings at least once every two months, once per month if it would work. It would improve the mental wellbeing of so, so many people in the community. I have spent quite a bit of time in Mallorca over the years and have seen the lovely local gatherings, people from across the generations gathering to dance, eat, sometimes just off-the-cuff informal gatherings in the local square while the kids run around. Old meet young, they are comfortable with each other in a way I feel many places here have lost.

"Days full of long, warm evenings, happiness and security, everyone just having fun together"

I come from a small village that has a gorgeous community feeling, we all look out for the most vulnerable. We used to have May Day gatherings and a village fete with each area making their own floats in secret. Days full of memories of long, warm evenings, happiness and security, everyone just having fun together, with each other. Thankfully, we still have some village events that bring everyone together but I wish it were so for everyone.  

Instruments in schools

When I was at primary school, we all played the recorder and it was such a brilliant and free, introduction to music for everyone! Now many people hate recorders, each to their own of course, but what a fantastic and important part of school that was. “Hey everyone, let’s pause the academia and play music together for an hour!” How brilliant.

"What a fantastic and important part of school that was"

It gave us all a basic understanding of how to read music, I always went off-piste and tried to harmonise (sometimes successfully and sometimes not!). One year I was chosen to play Little Donkey for our swimming teacher at the local baths. I remember having to stand there at the side of the pool in my swimming costume playing the recorder while my class stared at the weird scenario! I was mortified but I did get through it!!

So many kids are missing out on music these days. Some schools have ukuleles I hear (fabulous idea), some have recorders still, but these schools who play music together are few and far between. So I say bring it back, let them play music…just not so much in a swimming costume!  

Mandatory Yorkshire tea in all hotels, services, etc. 

I cannot describe the pure joy and happiness when I walk into a hotel room, cafe, restaurant, wherever and see they have Yorkshire Tea! It is, without doubt, the best tea on the planet. I always carry a stash with me in my case, and even a smaller emergency stash in my handbag so wherever I am I can always have access to the drink of the gods! It should be mandatory—and worldwide. Just saying. 

 Banning the use of cutlery while eating "handheld" food

So I do have one thing I would like to ban. It won’t change the world but sandwiches, pizza, burgers, pasties, cake…so many foods do not require cutlery! Pick it up, enjoy the ancient pleasure of eating with your hands, feel the food, get food on your hands, round your face, wipe your fingers on your clothes—it all washes. There is great pleasure to be had eating with your hands! Come on, join in, get mucky!

Kate Rusby plays Cambridge Folk Festival, July 27-30 2023, as well as her own Underneath The Stars Festival, August 4-6 

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