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Nudge, Nudge – lets have fun

February 21, 2010

I have wittered on about this many time before but I will make the point again and I hate to side with one David Cameron.  But he has signed Richard Thaler, co author of Nudge, onto his policy team.  That in my book is a smart move.  Theler along with fellow academic Cass Sunstein have been championing the cause of fun carrot over stick for some time. His goal is to regulate peoples behaviour without regulation.  In a recent interview on the Today Program he sited the example of the litter bin that makes great noises when people drop litter in it.  The noise is some much fun that people go and scavenge for other peoples litter just for the fun of hearing the noise.  The Fun Project explores a wide variety of ideas to get citizens to do good things for fun rather than because they have too.

My personal favourite is the staircase piano, the healthy alternative to escalators.  Yes, I know it would not work in every location but it would work in many and is better than another obesity preacher in our lives.

It is obvious to most that any activity that is fun and /or profitable will normally be a success.  If one wishes to be successful with activities that are neither than some for of regulatory stick is normally needed.  Hence the wide range of financial incentives dreamt up by policy makers to encourage all participants in society to travel down the road less easy.

And yes we will always have taxation and fines for not behaving but this should not be the first choice when looking to modify behaviour.  Pay as you throw may work to encourage domestic recycling and having an Environment Agency with real teeth to keep business in line is essential but the best and cheapest way to see lasting change is to make it beneficial and better still enjoyable.  It’s a no brainer, I should know I have very little brain left and I can work it out.

So how do we move my beloved Labour Party and its faltering hand of government away from its default Nanny State, regulate first think about the electorate second position?  God only knows, pointing out the bleeding obvious is a good start.

Living in the UK mostly an enjoyable experience.  Most people stay because its not that bad and the effort of moving is greater than the annoyance of staying.  There area few Hedgies who are considering setting up a week day home in Switzerland, most it would appear come back to London for the weekend as it is my understanding that there is a strictly enforced maximum time limit on smiling in most Swiss Cantons. Just in case a smile might progress to a laugh and disturb the tranquillity of the dullest nation on earth. A few plumbers who like cheap booze, fags and sunshine drawn to Spain but in general we all stay in Blighty because we want too.  Almost anybody could get on a ferry or train and get across the channel to start a new life in Europe or further a field.

So its not than bad here, sorry red tops it really isn’t.  Lets keep it that way and start to overtly preach fun, enjoyment, smiling, get on with people and do a good think because it feels great not because you were told too.

I was very old last week, its an annual occurrence and M took me a way for the weekend to the big smoke, no not Tisbury (Wiltshire joke) London.  Had a great week end seeing friends, catching up talking rubbish and just chilling.  E & H went to have weekends tormenting multiple dogs at their cousins and we took the train up to town. All very grown up, well at my age I suspect I should at least try it.

Stayed at The Waldorf Hilton on Aldwych, wandered around Covent Garden, saw Warhorse, brilliant, more later and had fun.  Came back feeling fantastic, Thanks M a great birthday treat.

Warhorse is just fantastic.  What is it that theatre people do in staging a performance.  The New Theatre in Drury lane is new and quite small as such the audience are up close with the actors and the show.  In our case we had people running over our feet.

I knew that this was going to be an emotional experience after all we are talking about a play that features horses and the First World War, blubbing was to be expected.  The thing is it got me before it had even started. The first act is the birth of the foal, the development of the characters and the start of the War.  The staging is incredible, very minimal but very effective the puppets are life like and I cannot beginning to understand the dedication  to the art that the puppeteers have.  Their evocation of everything equine is unreal.  If you are a horse person you will know the shiver that ripples across a horses flesh when it is touched by a human hand.  This is perfectly recreated by three puppeteers and a collecting of aluminium tubes and bike pars.  The swishing of the tail, the flicking of ears all brought together in such a way that these inanimate baskets become living breathing animals in front of you.

At the interval M and looked at each other and she said and thought the same word, harrowing.  The sound of the auction, the conversational asides all spark memories of my youth and markets in Pershore, Evesham and Worcester.  Standing with my Grandfather whose dress was aped perfectly by the actors, right down to the market day shirts and caps.

The second act seeing the battle field and trenches from the German perspective and the stage fills with more horses.  The hope of short war that was found in act one has gone and the solders on both side are into the long slog of trench warfare looking for anything to add colour or compassion to the daily slaughter. The horses provide both sides of the equation with perfect pitch

By the end there are only losers, it’s the degree of loose that varies rather than any sense of victory.  Standing ovations for all were the order of the day.

A great show with nothing to pull it down.  The West End had a very successful year in 2009 if the quality of all the productions is a high as this it is no wonder.  If you want to see Warhorse, and I cannot recommend it highly enough, then book now for the summer as that’s how long the wait is.  I left the theatre exhausted emotionally but having had a truly affecting live experience.

I had fun, it was profitable for many.  Tick the box marked successful.

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