A UNICEF report claims that children in the UK are unhappy because they are obsessed with brands, starved of 'quality time' with their parents and never play outside. But the authors of the report are baffled by the high level of bullying experienced by their own child.
"We've done everything right", sobbed Martina Branks, mother of 11 year-old Toby. "We make sure he has none of the latest branded goods, we never let him watch TV, and we only buy Lidl's own biscuits. When his friends used to come round, we encouraged them to play in the garden in all weathers. But for some reason, they never come back."
Wearing a uniform knitted by his father, young Toby looks quite similar to his school mates. "Most of my clothes are the right colour", complained Toby. "But the other children seem to be able to see a difference. They quickly spotted that my 'home-made' trainers aren't Nikes, even though I tried to disguise them with my painting set. They reckon there's no 's' on 'Nike'. And real Nikes aren't made of wood."
Toby explained that while he has a tough time at school, it's not the only problem he faces. "I really want a Wii, but when I asked for one, my mummy started crying, and threatened to spend more time with me. I ended up being dragged to the canal with a fishing rod and a little bucket. It was really boring."
As the UNICEF report points out, Britain's children are obsessed with brands and consumer trends. "All the other kids play with 'Bumpeez' at lunchtime, but I daren't ask my parents to buy me any. I can't face another week of family board games. Why can't they just leave me alone?"
Toby's parents are taking radical steps to improve their son's popularity. "Our report on childhood identified Swedish and Spanish children as being the happiest, "said his father, Michael, "so we've renamed him Sven and we send him to school on a donkey."
"We've also promised him a fun, family-focused half-term, we're going dry-stone walling in the Peak District. But even that hasn't cheered him up, he still spends the evenings moping over the Argos catalogue. I'm beginning to wonder if we spoil him."