Ian Clayton column: Prime minister for a day

Royal Festival Hall
Royal Festival Hall

I have been working at The Royal Festival Hall on and off for the last couple of months.

My work involves running workshops with a group of year six kids from various junior schools in South London on a project called Imagine.

They’re really bright kids from all sorts of different backgrounds and it’s been some of the most rewarding work I’ve done in ages.

Recently we have done a presentation called ‘Imagine if I was Prime Minister for a day.’ I got them to consider the various departments in government: transport, education, housing, environment, defence and so on and come up with some suggestions they would like to bring about for a change in these areas.

We got a flip chart and on it we wrote the beginnings of our joint manifesto.

Here are some of the things we came up with:

A free toy cow to any child who wishes to be a farmer; a free bottle of mango lassi for those who walk to school or work; shops that will swap nectarines for doughnuts next to all railway stations; any visitor to Downing Street to be given a hug and told they are loved;free trainers to those who walk instead of taking the car; paint a rainbow over the sign to each street in the country; smile at your neighbour every morning and invite them to join you for dinner at least once a week; all citizens to pick up one piece of litter before lunchtime and give clothes you no longer wear to someone on the street.

We had a democratic vote to find a prime minister from our gathering, because when I asked who should be prime minister they all put their hands up.

We also appointed some ministers of departments. The little girl who I asked to be defence minister came up with some heart-warming proposals.

I asked her to file a report on weapons. She said: “We have to be realistic and realise that people will always manufacture guns. However in future all guns must be able to produce bubbles.”

My housing minister was equally thoughtful. I asked him to come up with a solution to the problem of homelessness.

He said: “We need to make sure that nobody sleeps out on the street in this day and age.” I said to him: “That’s all well and good, but can you put a time scale on this?” He said: “What do you mean?” I said: “Well, can you tell me when you expect to have everybody currently on the street into a warm safe bed at night.” He said: “I think that is obvious, it should be before it rains!”

You can’t get better than that can you? But it was my social service minister who brought a tear to my eye.

I said to him: “Do you know what social services is?”

He said: “Yes, they are people who are kind and give love to children when children don’t get the love they deserve from their parents and they will help you when you are struggling.”

We also wrote a poem about peace in the form of a recipe. Here’s the first verse:

Take two spoonfuls of honey and a handful of love

Mix in a bowl made of hope and stir for two minutes

Add a pinch of kindness and a sprinkling of rainwater

Place the mixture beneath a rainbow in the glow of a day

When the mixture turns golden brown, decorate with pearls

And dip the whole thing in friendship

Serve it up with a good heart

Everything seems to make sense when children say it doesn’t it?

Politicians take heed, there are some new kids on the block and they’re full of ideas.