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Sitting around the lunch table with three generations, we wondered: Is the news mostly bad or sad these days?
Does it make us happy or grim?
My children have to do a sanctioned news quiz at school every Monday morning and there's always a cram to make sure they know enough of the right sort of populist things to get the ticks, rather than any wide-ranging gleaning or thoughtful analysis, so conversations like this are manna to me.
One piece of news that made me uber-happy, via the Times of India (because why wouldn't you read widely with the whole www at your pinkytips?), revealed the Minister of Railways had fallen asleep during a session with the new Minister of Yoga.
And it tickled me no end to consider a world in which someone in Parliament has this focus.
All right everyone, we'll take 10 sun salutations before addressing the next Bill.
After all, you can tell a lot about a country from its ministries.
Venezuela, for example, has the very Orwellian Vice Ministry for Supreme Social Happiness.
Hmm, think I'd feel more sociable and happier with yoga and railways.
Anyway, with the help of the three generations, I compiled this list of ministries that could make a positive and happy difference to our world and our news.
NB: I have not included the Minister for Pony Riding for Everyone or the Ministry of Kitesurfing because they will obviously be included in the Ministry of Sports and Recreation, since rugby is not everything and everyone knows it. Honestly.
MINISTER OF YOGA
As Wanaka now has more yoga providers than coffee shops (and that's saying something) we could definitely do with our own minister in this area.
The benefits would be countrywide, though.
Workplace disputes could be solved by sitting in the corner with our legs up the wall for some contemplative reconnection time.
Anyone spouting too much hot air could be directed towards a bit of Bikram to balance and challenge themselves beautifully.
Not that being the best or beautifullest is the point of yoga, which is something our Minister of Yoga could perhaps emphasise to all those intermediate students (and dare I say parents of intermediate students) who have fallen for the mostly false lures of the competitive sporting rat race.
MINISTER OF MENTAL HEALTH
Worried about the number of crazy gunmen carrying out mass shootings figuring in your daily news?
Feel powerless to do anything about it? Hear whispers about lockdown practices at your own school even though you live on the other side of the globe?
Then perhaps, if you were 11 years old, you'd suggest this as a solution for a specific ministry, too.
Yes, I know we've got an actual Minister of Health but perhaps with such an un-yogic imbalance in badness and anxiety, it's not such a silly idea.
MINISTER OF COMFY SHOES
Arguably included in the above portfolio because high heels, although doing great things for people's perceptions of your posture and making you feel as powerful as one of those Dallas Ewings, are all a little bit stressful.
Imagine how benignly productive the country would be if we all slouched around a little bit more.
Possibly there would also be some positive ramifications for ACC around claims for twisted ankle injuries.
MINISTER OF APOSTROPHES
You could argue this would be covered under Corrections or Intelligence.
But it's not.
Every day there are errant apostrophes stuck on to words they have no business in colonising.
And the worst thing about it is that people don't even care any more, even though apostrophes demonstrate ownership and ownership matters.
If you wanted to broaden the portfolio, it could be the Ministry of Manners, or of Standards, because it comes down to the same thing in the end.
MINISTER OF WEATHER
Not quite environment or climate change: weather is one of those massively undermarketed things the Government could be taking credit for.
I mean, how brilliant is snow?
Or those huge storms that bring epic surf.
Or that aurora I'm always missing because I read about it in the news the day afterwards.
The Minister of Weather could create buzz and leverage around all these events, taking total credit for the wonders of nature.
Yoga, snug shoes, snow days, wellbeing. See, the country's news is looking brighter and brighter already.
And not an apostrophe out of place.