Monday, 5 December 2011


The world seems to be in a bit of a mess, or at least the capitalist swathe of it. With all the wealth increase over, say, the last 30 years in the UK – we are no happier despite the bigger television and the increase in takeaway meals. So why then does everything the government does, answer to the mantra of economic growth? Is it not time for a new breed of politician to step forward and declare this measurement outdated & defunct, perhaps replaced by a “smiles recorded per week index” on any of the trillion CCTV cameras we have in this country?

I am a bit lax on figures, but aren’t we caught on CCTV some ridiculously high number of times per week? Facial recognition software is now available and really, judging society by the number of grins recorded would be an all-encompassing measure of happiness and of course, progress.

There are flaws, granted, not least the ridiculously poor quality of footage available. Aside from this, there are those who smile incessantly for no reason and those who have trouble bearing their teeth at all, despite all that inner elation. That good old law of averages should see those two problems off, though. Babies with wind was a concern, but their toothless nature should ensure they don't trouble the scorers. Weather conditions and other overriding factors would also need consideration, such as World Cup fourth round defeats and without doubt, Shane Warne’s grin should be multiplied by 58 million and subtracted from the overall tally.

This “Grin Index” would be in harmony with the Government’s big society ideals, as local peaks and troughs could be ascertained and analysed. Instead of the state of livers in the North East, we would understand the happiness index of every county, city and even street with alarming precision. Twitter updates and live blogs could follow. This comparison does raise the issue of alcohol/drug induced grins, but I am assuming the face recognition software would cross check the smile against the eyelids and shut these out.

Of course the Government might look to massage these figures. Comedians with Sour gum sweets would be stationed under cameras in our high streets and any late trains would be counterbalanced by mobile dental technicians roaming the platforms. Perhaps even free magazines distributed to certified miserable areas, what with their proven ability to make people happy. All this would allow politics to continue unhindered, just as we know and love it.

So there you are, the Grin Index Network (GIN) Committee, would obviously need meet on a fortnightly basis to consider, consult, confer and ultimately confabulate the various variables and potential pitfalls of doing something, anything or nothing at all to improve a situation.

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