But who would choose the music?


NEW YEAR, New Society, same old… It beggars belief in an era where health, education and police are having their budgets slashed by up to 40 per cent that a British coalition government quango has now come up with the idea of musical stairs in public places to encourage people to take them, and so encourage exercise.

What kind of illicit substances are these people on?

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Apparently in Stockholm it has been tested where for some reason the German car giant Volkswagen, installed it on the cities metro station, with “motion-sensor piano keys” that played tunes with each step.

Why the Germans were fiddling with Swedish stairs is another matter, and this may work on the more blond but less musically inclined Aryan races.

But in multi-cultural Britain the stairs on London’s Piccadilly line would be a picture of anarchic mayhem as thousands of wannabe Fred Astaires jostled to make their own tune before it ran out.

I can see it now, and carnage is not a pretty picture. Let the government note, fighting is excellent excercise.

In Stockholm the scheme resulted in 66% more people taking the stairs in preference to the escalator. Perhaps the escalators were playing German music? If the government wants us to exercise, just turn off the escalators.

Who pays these people? The taxpayer. The report was compiled by the Behavioural Insights Team of the Cabinet Office.

“Making the stairs eye catching and fun to climb had a motivational effect” they said. I say it again.. turn off the damn escalators! The idea is “to change people’s behaviour patterns” without passing laws. It is simply the nanny state that the Tories abhor, but by the back door.

As Mr Cameron said, “the idea is for people to make their own choices”…in the required direction though, and thanks to a subliminally implanted nudge from big brother that is.

Who decides on the direction, and who chooses the music on the stairs is another thing.

This bending of behavioural attitudes has been used successfully in for example the USA, where when applying for a new driving licence you have to say if you are willing to be an organ donor. The best method is to get you to have to opt out of something, ie the question would be “Tick if you are a selfish person who doesn’t want to save lives”.

This is an exaggeration but you get the point. You do nothing, you don’t tick and you automatically become an organ donor. It’s a good thing. The alternative is doing something positive -ticking the box- to say what a bad person you are. It’s known as “prompted choices”, and it works. In the USA organ donor numbers have rocketed since the scheme was introduced.

Where the men in the Cabinet Office have gone wrong is how far they suggest we apply these methods. The report talks of yellow tapes in supermarkets pointing the way to fruit and veg. And paying children to walk to school. Gone are the ideas of the stick. All is carrot these days. As always the schemes are only half thought out.

“Sounds like a good idea” should not be the basis of a Cabinet Office paper for us to bounce around and do the detailed work on. It demeans government and raise the question as to why these schemes are still being paid for by the British public.

Back to the stairs. How would it work where there are hundreds of people on the stairs at the same time? How many tunes play simultaneously? Does each step set off another tune in motion? Or does one tune play when someone is one the stairs?…ie speakers play musack…just as they do now.

We don’t need German over-engineering. Just a set of tinny speakers cellotaped  at strategic intervals up the stairs, playing something that is vaguely familiar, but we can’t quite make out. Encourage people to take the stairs so they have seconds to “guess that tune!”, with a prize of some fresh fruit for the winner.

I should work for the Cabinet Office. I think things through better, and I am not barking mad. Go on, gizza job!



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