Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that the potato is a very important thing, but do we really need to spend money having the United Nations celebrating the root vegetable for a whole year?
You see, I ask this because I find myself looking to the sky and screaming "why?" when I hear of the latest celebration. Let's get something straight, they're not celebrations at all, no one has a party, no one cracks open the bubbly and toasts the potato (they'd do it with vodka I imagine).
No, what actually happens is that a bunch of politcos and bureaucrats funded by politico decision makers splash out cash on a fancy logo, put out some press releases, or raise a motion in a legislature, telling us to celebrate. The result is that everyone either ignores them or just shrugs their shoulders and thinks "whatever".
Thus when I read a motion in Parliament that
notes that 13th July marks the birthday of the much loved English poet, John Clare, who was born in the village of Helpston in 1793; further notes that there is at present no date on which England's rural heritage is celebrated; and therefore calls upon the Government to establish 13th July as the day to celebrate both John Clare's life and the English countryside in summer.I couldn't help but think "that all sounds very lovely but what's the bloody point?". I mean, John Clare may very well have been an important poet. He may have written wonderful pieces of sublime poetry. But seriously, how many people in normal culture (or what the intelligentsia might see as "low" culture) actually give a crap or know who he is?
What's more, how many people living in the back end of Shitsville UK are going to wake up on July 13th and think "oh my, we must celebrate the English countryside today!" without first being told they have to celebrate by their newspaper?
Putting aside the fact that once every six years the 13th of July would be a Friday, all these sort of things do is provide copy for newspaper editors to fill some missing column and give some politician the ability to get quoted about how marvellously dandy something is.
Of course, with the the example there is the problem of there being 365.25 days in each year. Quite a few are already gone with official celebrations already. Then there are those days that cannot be used for anything lest it be in poor taste, 11/9 or 7/7 for example. We couldn't use the 4th July because it might cause a diplomatic row with our brethren across the pond. What next, celebration by the minute?
What we actually get are MPs being seen to be doing something and celebrating something that in reality no one is actually going to celebrate at all. It is telling is it not that for all the "Year of the X" and "Day of celebration for Y" that the big ones like a monarch jubilee are the only ones that draw attention.
Has this desire to cherish and celebrate the obscure and conceptual been born out of the collective myopia, and the wholesale collapse of social camaraderie that once existed? I don't know the answer but I'm off to make a speech and toast to the humble potato now... gawd bless it!