YOU HAVE to hand it to the Government.
Not content with slaying the dragons of debt, killing off quangos and battling students over university fees, the Prime Minister also wants to start measuring the happiness of the nation.
Quite how you quantify something as subjective as well-being is a moot point.
For Aristotle, happiness was the cultivation of virtue by maintaining a balance between extremes; for smokers, happiness was a cigar called Hamlet.
Still, if David Cameron is really set on this wonderfully batty task, I may have some data which will help.
Last month, in a rare burst of domestic activity, I decided to switch providers for my TV, Internet and phone. I won’t bore you with an analysis of the benefits, save to say that they included a Sky Sports package to arrive just in time for the Ashes.
And my decision to switch seemed vindicated when the welcome brochure arrived, offering me, verily, a “happiness guarantee”.
Eager for a few particulars of this appetising pledge, I began to leaf through the pages. It was not an instant panacea.
“Your first bill,” announced page six with pride, “may actually be more than you were expecting.”
Call me obtuse, but this did not strike me as a likely catalyst for an excess of unbridled joy.
Perhaps the next page would be better. “Get more loving,” it swooned, next to a photo of a curvy rock chick with seriously dangerous hair. That sounded rather more like it.
Within 12 hours, however, the only thing I would really have ‘loved’ was the chance to smack someone in the gob.
Not only had my new provider changed my phone number – contrary to my stated wishes – but it had left me with a TV remote on which the volume control was incompatible with the flipping TV. Nor could I navigate my way to Sky Sports.
I did, however, blunder innocently into Babestation Extreme, Lads’ Lounge, Viewers’ Wives and Swingers’ Nightly Extra – all of which, I surmised, must have had something to do with the opportunity to “get more loving”.
Thank heavens for the BBC – solid, reliable and always there at the touch of a button. Which reminds me.
Word from my sources is that the candidates’ house for next year’s series of The Apprentice is right here in our midst, in Sheen.
So, stand by for sightings of the 2011 versions of arrogant Chris, mouthy Stu and – rather more alluringly from a male perspective – leggy Liz (who, by the by, bears a more-than-passing resemblance to some of the types who pop up on Viewers’ Wives).
Whether having that lot in our midst will do much for the ‘happiness’ of the borough is debatable.
It could hardly be less joyful than the experience of changing service providers. Either way, the Prime Minister would be well advised not to spend too much time – or money – on this loopy scheme for measuring the unmeasurable.
Otherwise, the electorate might well send a message stating, with deep regret, that its happiness lies in throwing him out of office. Or, to put the point more succinctly: “Dave, you’re fired!”