Once upon a time, storytelling was the only way of conveying history, common morality, cultural identity, education and political thought to our offspring. Then this new fangled cave painting and the dangerous ability to write stuff down came along and made things more complicated.
In an age of 24 hour television and eight-year-olds with the pod that begins with “i” (did you see what I did there children?), media savvy rug rats might be ambivalent to the launch of National Storytelling Week. But parents wishing to expose their little darlings to myth, fable, legend and allegory need not fear. We always have politicians to make things up to keep the feeble minded amused.
Sadly, the stories that our elected representatives tell us are almost invariably untrue and are based on the premise that the audience is less than 48 month old. The assumption is that the electorate believe what they are told and can still be easily terrified by the bogey man. The intensity of falsehood, half-truth and lies being broadcast by the current crop of storytellers is worthy of the Epimenides paradox. The great ancient Greek storyteller famously stated that “all Cretans are liars”. Unfortunately, Epimenides was a Cretan so his statement must mean that all Cretans always tell the truth. But Epimenides is a Cretan and a liar so…are you sitting comfortably?
So how did our politicians garner the skills required to tell such huge porkie pies? The indispensable Sue Marsh on the wonderful Diary of a Benefit Scrounger blog, gives us something of a clue.
Floella Benjamin might not have been elected, but as a member of the House of Lords, she plays an important part in law making and it seems odd that a mother and champion of Barnardos and NCH Action for Children should decide to stay away from a vote to preserve National Insurance contributions for severely disabled children. Perhaps Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham is more at home in the company of Hamble, Jemima and Little Ted rather than her fellow Liberal Democrat peers who defied the party whip.
It could well be that Playschool was not the only children’s television programme offering training in storytelling duplicity. Five-year-olds subjected to the first series of Balamory are now engaged with GCSE’s. What’s the story, university? They couldn’t afford to go.
You may wonder what Danny Alexander did before becoming a cabinet minister. Lacking the remotest scoobie doo regarding economics, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury continues to invent excuses for increased government borrowing, negative growth and a debt that has increased to £1trillion. Now then, children. That’s a big number. Does anybody know how big a trillion is? Here is Danny in a former life.
It’s not the first time Danny the Inventor has worked with David Cameron. Danny and Dave told stories to pre-school children as long ago as 2002. Dave is currently playing Simple Simon in Panto in Davos before embarking on a tour of Trumpton, Camberwick Green, Chigley and Greendale.
Having been forced to endure patronising rubbish on television, the under fives head off for school with the idea that all adults are stupid. The little darlings are, of course, quite wrong. Puppets can be stupid too. Here is the Secretary of State for Education forcing Academy status on an unsuspecting bear.
If that is not enough to frighten children witless, Eric Pickles will have them cowering behind the sofa in sheer terror. Dave’s trophy northerner turned up in Dr Who before the scripts disappeared up the black hole of unfathomability as the producers ran out of ideas.
Meanwhile, on NHS Cloud Base, leader of Spectrum Andrew Lansley has gone completely bonkers. The wheels are coming off his wacky race to sell off the NHS to his chums and although Captain Scarlet might be indestructible, Gideon Osborne, who plays him, is not.
It’s not as if the other lot are any better at telling stories. Since grumpy Gordon, the big engine, was scrapped, the Island of Sodor has never been the same. Ed Miliband can hardly function since Grommit broke up the double act citing artistic differences and Ed Balls is about as relevant as Noggin the Nog.
Locally, Walsall once had its own magic roundabout. The roundabout was so magical that it let traffic come and go with relative ease. The storytellers in the Big House on Lichfield Street tell us that digging it up to make a canal when it rains has boosted regeneration and that the town is booming.
The storytellers tell fantastical tales of openness and accountability. As we wait for live streaming of council meetings, here is a preview of what goes on inside the council house.
And everyone lived happily ever after. Sleep well.