WHAT could a Genie do for Yorkshire?
I have only ever done pantomime once. It was something that I always wanted to do. After four weeks of performances, I vowed it would be the last time. It is not every year that you can catch noro virus from one of the seven dwarfs, lose your voice, get wounded in a sword fight and still perform.
What I needed was the Genie from Aladdin. After all, everyone could do with at least three wishes at this time of year. Not that three wishes could solve all my problems, 10 would be more appropriate and hopefully could do some good.
This would be the wish that I desire the most. As a Yorkshireman it is the most obvious. I have never been able to understand why Scotland and Wales are allowed so much independence and we, in Yorkshire, are not. We have a bigger economy, more production, have a bigger population than those outposts of civilisation and yet we are not free to decide how taxes are raised and if our children can have free education at university. Yorkshire has always had a distinct culture from the rest of the country. Southerners know this and readily make fun of our flat caps and whippets, so couldn't the old soaks of Westminster grant us some form of independence?
I would ask the Genie of the lamp to make it impossible for politicians to tell lies. If they did, I would demand that they had to involuntarily break wind at the same time so we knew they were lying. It is annoying to think that these so called "servants" of the people will bend the truth and cover what they say with spin. Is it possible to have an honest politician who told the truth and was totally honest? How great that would be.
Common sense for those in authority. It is a simple wish, but one that could change the county. The principles of common sense are straightforward. If a street light is broken, then you fix it. If a road is icy, then you grit it. If rubbish is piling up in the street, then you collect it. Not too difficult and yet so illusive to so many people in local government. As the elections loom this May, let's vote for people with common sense, it really would make a difference.
This would be a wish close to my heart. I would wish for the abolition of Yorkshire's four police forces. It is time to have our own County Force. Gone are the days of the little gods with braided hats commanding small outposts. One force would save money and improve crime fighting. The officers would be better trained and have the opportunity to gain more experience. It would stop duplication of departments and cold put more officers on the beat. In the end it would cut crime and make our streets safer places.
I would ask the Genie of the lamp to put fishing boats back in our harbours. I would want to see them filled to the brim with the fish they have caught and put and end to the shameful practice of putting back dead undersized fish. In the same breath I would ask to put an end to the belief that fish stocks in the North Sea are finished – they are not – ask any fisherman. The only threat to fish in the North Sea comes from French and Spanish boats with nets with a mesh the size of a tart's stocking who tear up the seabed with industrial precision. A shot across the bow from a gunboat could put an end to them once and for all.
It would not be too much to ask for the European Union to implode and collapse. I would love to see the day when we governed ourselves and that Westminster had more power than Brussels. We could return to a time of sanity when our borders were our own and we determined who could live and work here.
This would have to be an end to political correctness and the "taking offence" culture. As a writer, I constantly have to think about what I am saying. This year I wrote a book that had a villain who was pretending to be Chinese and wore a mask. It was an Edwardian melodrama set in a Chinese theatre. The publisher became terrified about the character and said that it would have to be changed so that Chinese people didn't take offence. I protested that the man wasn't Chinese and was just wearing a mask. The answer was that they had to be politically correct so as not to offend – the villain is now a Lancastrian and no one seems to mind.
That when the time comes, Prince Charles steps aside to allow his son to be King. It would only be right for a man with so many skeletons inside the cupboard that tarnish the monarchy to give way to a new generation. The dark cloud of Diana hangs over the head of the prince and cannot be forgotten. I fear that this could be a decision he will have to make this next year.
That all eating-places had service and food like The Black Cat in Scarborough. This small bistro succeeds because of great food and even greater service. Yorkshire food served without fuss, with abroad smile in a friendly way and food that tastes as good as it looks. It is those little things in life that are so special. We have to remember how important tourism is to our economy and a Yorkshire smile with good service is worth a thousand words.
This is a simple wish… that every man in the world was a Yorkshireman. It would end all wars – as we never fight among ourselves. Everyone would be equal as we are so good at bringing the mighty down to earth. The trains would run on time, as we are more fastidious about lateness than the Germans. It would bring an end to religious extremism – faith to a Yorkshireman is a private thing and not something to get to excited about and certainly not worth killing someone for. There would be no worry for the future as our watchword is "It'll be right…" Everyone would know where they stood as it is only us who can call a spade a shovel and spin and lies would be a thing of the past.
Then, perhaps not even a Genie could do that for us.
Changing Britain for the Better, a five-part series, begins in Tuesday's Yorkshire Post.