I think they are a bit touched

PUBLISHED: 15:33 09 November 2007 | UPDATED: 23:08 28 May 2010

They ve been at it again. Scientists have been spending money - our money - on research which seems to be of no real value to anyone. Apparently we don t get cuddled enough. To be more precise (more scientific?) a third of Britain s population does not

They've been at it again.

Scientists have been spending money - our money - on research which seems to be of no real value to anyone.

Apparently we don't get cuddled enough. To be more precise (more scientific?) a third of Britain's population does not benefit from a daily cuddle.

Boffins at Manchester Metropolitan University have discovered that the hectic pace of life in the 21st century has virtually wiped out the hug.

As well as a third of us missing out on our daily cuddles, three quarters of us wish we were hugged more.

The study also reveals that within families, younger members get hugged most, with parents regularly left out altogether.

Cuddles tend to decrease after the age of 11 but the trend reverses when the youngsters reach the age of 18. I just can't think why that should be so.

One of the psychologists involved in this stunning piece of research points out that hugging is an important part of life and that, partly because of political correctness, we have got out of the habit.

So clearly Conservative leader David Cameron was more on the ball that he could have realised when earlier this year he urged us all to hug a hoodie.

And with Prime Minister Gordon Brown doing his best to woo the nation's voters, and distancing himself from the ways of his predecessor Tony Blair, I would not be at all surprised if a new ministry was set up to put us all back on the correct path.

A Ministry of Touchy Feely Affairs seems an appropriate title in the circumstances, headed by a Secretary of State for Cuddles.

Nominations please to Gordon Brown . . .

I suppose all the publicity accorded to Immigration Minister Liam Byrne's conviction for using his mobile phone while driving will act a reminder to the public that this is a stupid and dangerous thing to do.

Also, of course, it's illegal, and from what I've seen in and around the Fens in the past few weeks, there are plenty of stupid people who need reminding.

It's now a week since Mr Byrne's conviction but one thing continues to bother me.

Part of his defence was that he was taking an important call about a deportation issue.

How did he know it was important until after he picked up his phone?

Or is this particular minister so arrogant that he assumes all is calls are about matters of life or death?

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