Britain’s “Minister of Loneliness”

Mead-Britain-Minister-of-LonelinessRebecca Mead at The New Yorker:

When it was reported, last week, that the British government had appointed a “Minister for Loneliness,” the news was greeted by observers on the opposite side of the Atlantic with fascination and a certain amount of knowing humor. The title, Aimée Lutkin noted at Jezebel, might denote “a character from an alternate Harry Potter timeline where wizards battle ennui instead of snake magic.” Monty Python, which almost fifty years ago parodied Whitehall officialdom with its “Ministry of Silly Walks,” was invoked. Stephen Colbert, on his TV show, suggested that “Minister for Loneliness” sounded like “a Victorian euphemism for ‘gigolo.’ ” (Actually, the Victorian euphemism for gigolo was “Casanova,” but points for effort.) Colbert went on to riff upon the comedic implications of the appointment. “This is so British,” he said. “They’ve defined the most ineffable human problem and come up with the most cold, bureaucratic solution.”

While one might take issue with Colbert’s grasp of broad transatlantic national stereotypes—surely the nation best known for brisk bureaucratic compensations for the deficiencies of human nature is Germany—his performance of wonderment at Britain’s Minister of Loneliness is understandable.

more here.