Scientists are forever coming up with startling claims about genetics. They isolate genes for all sorts of traits — musical ability, obesity, fondness for Judge Judy and aversion to boy bands.
Just this week a TV documentary told us there's a gene for evil. So you're either born a bad 'un or not.
Don't worry if you ARE born “bad” you've still got a chance to be good, by not acting according to your genetic make-up.
So, you see a big cream bun, your genes tell you to steal it but something, perhaps your jeans, which are a bit tight around your waist, persuades you to walk on by.
However, one gene they haven't yet discovered, or, if they have, they're keeping quiet about it, is a gene for becoming a politician.
That inbuilt, tell-tale chromosome that will determine whether or not, in later life, you'll start wanting to be paid to tell everyone else to do things your way.
There must be a gene behind it all.
I mean, lots of us have waves of concern for “the way things are going” and lots of us donate some time/money/energy to “doing something about it”, but not many of us actually go the whole hog and stand for election, get elected and work full-time at it.
The Press and the public give politicians a hard time for not doing what the Press and the public think they should do.
Which is a bit odd really, since the public put them there and the Press rarely come up with alternatives.
So it can't be that people actively choose to become politicos can it? There must be some driver inside that compels them, against all the odds, to take on one of the most thankless tasks known to humankind.
Okay, they get paid money, but really, would money make up for having to appear interested in Poultry Meat Regulation, One-Way Traffic Amendments or Common Arrangements for Gas? (Those are just some of the more exciting items on our local Assembly agenda)
I take my hat off to them all. They care, so we don't have to.
Or at least, we might care, but we don't have to do anything about it.
We can take a back seat, complaining occasionally that we're not going where we wanted to go, but never actually offering to drive.
What amazes me is how politicians sustain a high level of optimism and enthusiasm for “making things better.”
Sure, the first time you hear that concept, as an idealistic teenager, all fired up on hormones and Che Guevara, you really do believe that yours will be the generation to wipe out world hunger, give everyone a house with running water and electricity and transfer power into the hands of the masses.
You get drunk (literally or metaphorically) on the lofty concepts of equality, fairness and global responsibility. You really believe that there's a simple, direct link between selling Socialist Worker and world peace.
But having seen our society on the brink of collapse several times now, I'm beginning to think that we, as a species, have learned very little from our past mistakes.
There's a new famine coming in Africa. The world economy's stalling, again. And wars that can't be won are still being fought.
It's like an 1980s revival.
And that's one party I don't want to attend. I don't have the right genes.