PUGIL STICKS – MY FOUR YEAR OLD’S ELECTION REMEDY

My four year old has an amazing brain. Like a sponge, he seems to suck in everything he sees and hears, then regurgitates it all in a confused splurge.

This often expresses itself in bizarre imagined violence or threats which verge on the psychotic, which of course causes me untold worry. Only last night he threatened to squeeze his brother’s head until his brain oozed out of his eyes.

I was reading a lovely bedtime story to him on Thursday – the fabulous The Snail and the Whale.  At the end of this joyous tale of friendship and derring-do I asked him if he had any questions about the book. He looked thoughtful for a moment before asking: “Which would be the worst way to die – a chick hatching in your stomach which pecked a hole through your heart; or having a spoke which gave you a fire in your brain?” We decided death by chick was probably the most vile, though might also be quite ticklish.

Where all these thoughts originate is anyone’s guess. I can already hear the moral majority decrying the fact that I allow him to watch TV programmes aimed at older children. Horrible Histories, an absolutely brilliant CBBC programme, is a show he watches regularly with his brother, and which includes features about bizarre deaths and scary battles from times of old. The Simpsons also features scenes which are decidedly unsuitable for a pre-schooler – particularly the carnage inflicted on Itchy by Scratchy. And that Government stroke advert has clearly had an impact, even if my son mishears it as a part of a wheel.

But apart from these rather worrying observations, he also demonstrates a fabulous knack for seeing through complicated scenarios and coming up with a simple solution.

Which brings me onto the election, and specifically the hung parliament outcome. Before the election my four year old asked what was happening. In my best teacher-speak, I told him it was called a general election and it was like a big football match. There were three main teams – the reds, the blues and the yellows – and each one had a captain who wanted to become prime minister. “All the grown ups in the country will vote and the captain with the most votes becomes the prime minister,” I explained confidently.

The day after the election, he asked me if the reds (his favourite colour) had won. I explained that none of the teams had won – well, the blues kind of won, but only just. Now all the captains were having a chat to try to decide who would become the prime minister, and the blues and the yellows or the reds and the yellows might join together to become the…well, the purples or something.

At this point he did his thoughtful face again. “They should just have a fight. On a giant platform up in the sky so everyone could see them. And they could have huge sticks and hit each other with them until one of them fell off. The one who fell off would be splatted. Then the winner would become prime minister. And he might use his laser eyes to help the other one come back to life.”

“Erm, a bit like Gladiators you mean, with pugil sticks?” I asked him.

As I avidly follow the news and regularly update my Guardian and Sky News apps on my phone, waiting hopefully for any sign of a Lab-LibDem pact, I can’t help thinking his idea makes a lot of sense. After all, we want our prime minister to be agile, strong willed, sure-footed and fearless – all traits required to win the pugil stick battle on Gladiators. How about it, Clegg, Cameron and Brown?

On the same theme, my fellow Wyre Forest inhabitants have helped turn the entire county of Worcestershire a fetching shade of blue. We now have a new representative in Parliament – the wonderfully coiffured Conservative Mark Garnier (“because he’s worth it”). His election marks the end of the Independent era of Dr Richard Taylor, swept to power on a wave of local anger about the downgrading of Kidderminster Hospital back in 2001.

I’m not entirely clear how much Dr Taylor has achieved for the constituency since then, though I’m sure there are plenty of people who will tell me. But he seemed to be a thoroughly decent man, the type of person who would do his utmost to help deserving people with a problem to solve, and who genuinely wanted the best for the folk of Wyre Forest. He demonstrated no clear allegiance to one party or another, instead weighing up each issue in turn, and was one of only a handful of MPS who emerged unscathed and with his reputation untainted by the expenses scandal. I imagine he is sorry to be missing out on the current shenanigans, when I’m sure he would have been courted by both Tories and Labour desperate to count on his allegiance.

Now he’s off into retirement – but if he’s ever short of something to do, he could always help my son lobby for political reform. Together they could devise a sports-day style event for the next election. All the MPs could hang out together in their team shirts in huddles around a windswept athletics track, while their aides handed out jaffa cakes and orange slices. They’d all get a medal, wherever they finished – after all, it wouldn’t do to be too competitive. Sounds like a giggle. And of course it would all culminate in that face-off for the PM’s job. Hang Tough, anyone?

My four year old models the outfit all MPs could don for the election sports day

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