Interest in ‘innovation’ seems to just get stronger and stronger in public policy circles. Whether it’s about the NHS, social investment, policy making or the whole concept of ‘social innovation’, we seem to spend more and more time agreeing that it’s the one way to save us from fiscal meltdown.

Let's jump to a relatively prosperous and peaceful medieval village. You are one of the more respected village elders. What problems are on the agenda for the monthly campfire discussion?

Well, taxes are going up but the villagers are unhappy they don’t see anything for it. The road to the village is breaking up but the new church steeple is so pretty and almost finished. That argument Carsten had with Fred the moneylender kicked off a right fuss that almost closed down the market hall for a few days. Fred got his money in the end, of course.

That fence went up where Arthur used to graze his sheep and he doesn’t look like he’s eaten properly for months. Magda and Bethany are complaining how they are so busy with washing, teaching and looking after the kids yet the men get all the easy jobs. Frank and Ethel don’t have anywhere to live and are crowded into their parents’ room. Yet the Duke’s castle is still empty as he spends most of his time in the city.

Apparently the King is talking about a new Crusade but Stephen doesn’t think it's fair he has to go to war. Just because his father was always away too so he never got to learn a trade. But he knows the Crusades are important so he'll go in the end.

Luke and Martin are always drinking since their sister was butchered by that vagrant in the autumn. Last week they burned down a cowshed. There’s been talk of a new plague in the next county and the spots on Harriet’s legs are getting worse by the day. There's always something to sort out...

So how should you use the spare coins from the villagers’ monthly contributions? Where to focus attention?

It’s obvious of course. Ed the Blacksmith has this crazy new idea about linking up the watermill to a loom and needs some more metal from the mine to try it out. Of course that's where the money should go. We don't think enough about innovation.

Ok, back to today. Now where’s my ipod? It's going to be a long bus journey to the doctor, the traffic is awful where they're building that new multiplex and the kids on the bus are a nightmare. I want to listen to that podcast about innovative ways to alleviate poverty in the developing world.