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Friday, February 29, 2008

February Débâcle

It’s the quadrennial February débâcle. I know someone whose birthday it is today, which makes him around nine. Somewhere in Yeats’s letters, I remember, is a missive dated ‘31 February’. That’s classy.

The inventor of the Anno Domini calendar system was a monk called Dionysus Exiguus, which sounds a whole let better than saying ‘Dennis the Short’.

The early Irish church threatened to go into schism with Rome over the date of Easter, which they felt very strongly about, for some getting drunk-related reason, I assume.

Features on the calendar in the papers have mentioned the disgruntlement among the masses when these parts skipped from 4 to 15 October 1582 in switching over to the Gregorian calendar. People thought they were being robbed of their time. Foula in the Shetlands still uses the Julian calendar, as did or do the Blasket Islands, which came in handy when people on the mainland wanted to get married (or drunk) and couldn’t because Lent had arrived.

The recently deceased president of Turkmenistan was always monkeying around with the calendar, renaming months and days of the week after his mother, the catchily monikered Gurbansoltanedzhe.

I like the idea of days on the year going missing though, or popping up when you least expect it, in a kind of calendar version of Whack-a-Mole. But if February gets an extra day instead of us just doing 28 February all over again, why don’t we get a twenty-fifth hour once a year instead of putting the clocks back? I’ve always thought that little stunt lent itself enticingly to the plot of a thriller I’ve so far proved too lazy to write.

If I became dictator for life and announced it was now the year 2028, or 1974 again, or better still the year ‘Frappucino’, how annoyed would you be? If I was dictator, though, every second of every hour of the day would have its own name, and the second in which you are reading this now would be called Sidney. This one is called Alfred. This one is Bert. And that’s enough seconds for now.

1 comment:

Mark Granier said...

What, no female seconds?

I have a terrible vision of the cosmos under your dictatorship, where everything gets renamed after the lads down t'pub.