A rum do

Posted by Ian
What has eight legs, eight arms and eight eyes? Eight pirates, of course.
I offer you that defiantly unfunny joke by way of a singularly understated celebration of the latest in a seemingly neverending procession of ‘National Days’ to grace our calendar. Yes, today, 19th September, is International Talk Like A Pirate Day and arrrrrrrrr’ll be blown if I can muster any more enthusiasm for it than I can for many of the other similarly, er, colourful commemorations which now clutter up the year.
Amongst the gems to have graced 2006 so far have been Blame Someone Else Day (the first Friday the 13th in the year), National Throw-A-Cookie Day (16th March), No Pants Day (the first Friday in May), and Bagel Day (7th February). Most, if not all, of such occasions have their origin – with a certain inevitability – in the United States. Indeed, Talk Like A Pirate Day was conceived in 1995 by two American blokes purely as an inside joke. It was later picked up by a national humour columnist, and from there it was but a small step, or rather a one-legged hop, before it took off around the world. There’s now even an unofficial Talk Like A Pirate Day anthem.
This States-heavy saturation of our calendar begs the question why such an irreverent industry isn’t booming in this country. After all, Britain is the place where, as we all know, irony was invented and where cynicism flourishes with as much exuberance as a million helpful estate agents (SATIRE).
Why, then, aren’t some of our own national dishes commemorated in such a fashion as those of America? Where, say, is our Cheese Pie Day, or Chips And Gravy Day? Why no Bakewell Tart Day? Equally, where in the calendar is our official Pooh Sticks or Conkers Day? Who will join me in spearheading a campaign for a National Visit A Service Station Day, a Give Your Friend A Croggy Day, or even a Realising You’ve Given The Wrong Directions To Someone Day?
The UK has more than enough quirks and eccentricities to fill up 365 days of the year, if not 366. Moreover, with even people like Gordon Brown devoting entire speeches to mooting the possibility of a new national holiday, the time for such a calendar-concentrated campaign is surely now.
So who’s with me? Who will step up to the plate – or, to avoid another Americanism, step up to the oche – and join in calling for a nice round baker’s dozen of UK-specific novelty days? Send in your thoughts and suggestions as to what would really, ahem, shiver your timbers.
And for those of you not born in the East Midlands, a croggy is when you give your mate a lift on the back of your bike. Surely such a word deserves to be embraced nationwide!
5.00pm update
Lizzy has been in touch to point out there is actually a National Pooh Sticks Day, or as good as, in the shape of the World Pooh Sticks Championships which are held every spring on the River Thames at Days Lock, Little Wittenham near Dorchester. The next date has been fixed for Sunday 18th March 2007. Thanks for your mail, Lizzy; plenty of time, then, for us all to get whittling.
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