Crime is down, they say. The numbers are bent, say others. So where does that leave you and me. As victims, or criminals, or both?

The truth has long left town. We don’t know what to believe any more. Our minds are fried with facts and stats and news and views. The only arbiter is within. You believe in you. I believe in I. We believe in we, unless a he or she is in the room upending our sense of what is right. Then you doubt you, I doubt I and we doubt we.

But is doubt such a bad thing after all? I doubt not. Who wants to be deterministic? Certainty is a fast-track to misery, whereas doubt keeps you guessing. This is where we script our own biopic and live it out, line by line, in real time. Every single event will change our state of mind, otherwise it hasn’t been an event and therefore we haven’t lived it.

Now, before you scarper for the nearest vortex, let me explain one more rule of how to wring more happiness per square breath than any pharmaceutical bullet. Lie. This is not a casual suggestion to get prostrate and eat grapes. It’s an order to fib. Disobey your instinct, give the finger to your morals, be a hypocrite, a contrarian, go against those who go against just to see the look of confusion and self-doubt creep into their brow.

If this feels like the kind of political party you might back, then start one. If it feels like the kind of mind-game you want to seduce weak minds with, then patent it. It it feels like a reason to ignore everything you hear, see and read from here on in, let’s get ignorant.


As I write, I keep looking up at the eyes of a chimp. He’s not in the room, sadly. He’s on the telly. Over the past hour he’s done pretty much all a human can, but with more elegance. It makes me wonder what they make of the hash we’re making of things as a so-called advanced species.

If he saw Syria unravelling as it has tonight, with images of war crimes within Assad’s cells of inhuman horror, he’d scratch his head, as chimps tend to do. But inside he’d be thinking that’s what pit bulls do to one another. And inside this thought, he’d be sheltering a feeling. This feeling sounds complex yet it’s primitive, the most intuitive feeling of a primate perhaps. The feeling he’d be feeling is to want to cuddle the hurt ones.

Cuddling isn’t the most obvious war deterrent, nor is it a best-selling cry for peace. What it does do though is take the view of a child, or a woman, or one of the blameless beings that are dragged into wars that are never won, only lost by all parties.

As my young daughters return home from school with their heads full of WWII matter to tick the centennial box of the national curriculum, it triggers a question of sensitivity: how long does it take to glamorise any given war?  A century, a generation, a decade? Whatever the timescale, it’s shrinking. By the time they leave secondary school, they could be sitting Skype exams on Syrian civil war.

So where does this leave us Roddy McDowell?

It tees up the possibility that it’s time for another higher ape to take up the reins of the UN and coax the world into getting on. Politically, they can sidestep the bunfight of nationality and simply be a citizen of earth.

C’mon Obama, c’mon Cameron, c’mon Merkel, let’s vote our cousin in to sort out the mess and put us all to shame.