The Ministry of Nudge

With nowhere to go of an evening and a vested interest in domestic affairs over the Christmas period, we are all now arm chair politicians. I refuse to believe that I am the only person who renews her pledge each day to ration her intake of daily news and to stop swearing at Boris during his briefings, and then to fail so dramatically.

I sneak in a news fix on the commute home from work and shout loudly at the radio from the comfort of my car; duly limbered up, once home I tune in for some armchair one-way sparring with any politician brave enough to appear on a TV news channel. I know that watching ‘Bake Off’, or ‘I’m a Celeb’ would be more effective in getting my blood pressure down, but I am satisfied to learn that these days even ‘Goggle Box’ gets the best reactions from its resident sofa critics when they respond to news items. Perhaps I could join the ‘Goggle Box’ crew and make my responses less ‘F’ and Jeff’ and more belly-laugh to suit their target audience?

Favourite Man (FM) who struggles with insomnia, insists that Alexa shares news throughout the night via the soothing tones of the World Service. Although I apparently snore like a rhino and could sleep through an apocalypse, I must still be tuned in at some level because FM says that I swear at BoJo in my sleep and that I curl my lip viciously when Gove opines that, ‘it’s up to the public to make Christmas work.’

Thankfully, my new interest in politics has been bolstered in a more productive direction by my virtual kitchen cabinet -or Chumocracy (#lastweek’sblog) – and while I have been distracted by venting at the radio and TV, my Chumocracy have established a new portfolio in the shape of A Ministry of Nudge – a Christmas equivalent of COBRA, if you will (Christmas Optimism Boosts Real Attitude).

The findings of this Ministry have already nudged me to accept that:

  • to date I have come up with no useful alternative to the tier system Boris has introduced.
  • Test & Trace are getting more effective and faster (reader I have turned my app back on).
  • The Government has not personally ‘got it in for me’ …or for teachers
  • there really is a vaccine – or three – on the horizon
  • I am really very blessed

Admittedly, before accepting these Ministry rulings, I allow myself another little ‘F’ and “Jeff’ over the fact that their public enquiry is of course quite correct, it has highlighted my immaturity and its ministers have displayed more grace and optimism than I will ever be able to shake a fist at. Although I do not remember commissioning their report, I accept Their Principle of Nudge and have already gone back to COBRA with the following recommendations:

  • As I will be carrying round my own mood wallpaper – and mask – throughout the festive season, I might as well make it a cheery print to lift the mood of those who are forced to celebrate the yuletide with me. I am thinking of a Cath Kidston mistletoe dragonfly pattern and have convened hasty talks with Cath to get my new line of wash bags, card holders and cups on sale to make up for my previous black cloud range. I am too late for Black Friday but feel the connotation would have been wrong – COBRA will expect something more upbeat to boost festive sales; I will think about my marketing strategy over a glass – or two – of mulled wine.
  • a relaunching of a favourite family board game in time for the five days of unbubbled festive fun that Boris is gifting us. We will brand it ‘Tiered Snakes and Ladders’; players will roll the dice to decide on a lottery of local Covid numbers and NHS capacity to move up a ladder or down a snake accordingly. If the Cabinet refuse to play, I have a standby version of Covid Frustration waiting in the wings.
  • Instead of standing in the cold clapping for the NHS (worthy though they are of this love) we will have a national screening of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ across all TV channels so that we can collectively remember that ‘each man’s life touches so many other lives.’
  • There will be a Terry’s chocolate orange in every free school meal hamper that the Government will offer to families over Christmas. We have got this Rashford.; ‘tap it, unwrap it and share a little luxury.’

On a more personal front I am nudged once more to acknowledge that I need to limit my news intake. I am detoxing down to media bulletins only twice a day until my blood pressure recovers and my swearing subsides. I may need to have a word with Alexa about her nocturnal addiction to the World Service; it can’t be healthy in such large doses. Harsh though it sounds, I feel that Alexa may not be my best ally as I wean myself off this toxic news cloud – there may have to be a parting of the ways. Just yesterday, with a slight of dulcet tone, she segued from Classic FM to Times Radio without permission; I think she is definitely FM’s lady. I will appeal to her festive spirit, ‘Alexa, please play some white noise for Christmas, oh, and can you start a shout out for teachers please?’

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