Saturday, 20 October 2007

Give us back our 31 days!

Yesterday, I was almost early for an appointment. Well, I'm usually early, so why was this unusual?

I was almost a month early - I had written down the right day, but put it in the wrong place in my calendar. Only an obsession with double-checking things saved me from embarrassment and a waste of my time.

But it got me thinking about fast-forwarding in time - Not really in time, you understand, but missing days or months out of the calendar. This is sort of the opposite to what Bee did when she lived through the same month twice.

There are plenty of times in history when this was done. It looks like altogether between 1751 and 1752 they skipped around 3 months - which I think explains at least partly why our financial year starts in April rather than January - after all, you couldn't expect accountants with their years of training and high numercy skills to be able to cope with a shorter year, could you?

So, had I not realised my mistake, I could perhaps have got out of it by persuading everyone to skip the 31 days between the 19th October and the 18th November. Then no-one would have known.

In fact, the only people I'd really have to persuade would be the media, who could publish their papers with the new date, and the people who do the clocks on the internet. Many years ago The Daily Telegraph got the date wrong on its paper and an amazing number of people lived out the wrong day (not sure what that says about Torygraph readers).

But how would I have sold it? Well, I can see quite a few advantages:

  • An early Christmas - the day would be longer, and we wouldn't have to endure quite so much of the shop's Christmas campaigns.

  • No Bonfire Night - That would please the country's dog owners.

  • People who didn't miss their birthday would be 31 days younger in reality than their age.

  • People who did miss their birthday would lose a year of theirs.

  • The football season would be a month shorter.

You'd miss Halloween, but that could also be an advantage - you'll have eleven months longer to prepare.

In fact there's only one thing that stopped me doing all this - someone has a milestone (as in high mileage) birthday coming up and we wouldn't want to miss out on the "getting old" taunts - I mean the celebrations, would we?

The picture above by Hogarth includes references to the "Give us back our eleven days!" campaign of 1752.


Bee said...

Is too late to talk you into skipping thru to 11/19 (because the 18th would be skipped right? not sure how time travel works)?
I know a certain someone who would love to remain 29 uh... 34!

And the old jokes, there's a cool little thing I learned when I was knee high to a Cicada.

Are you ready?

I know you are but what am I?

Bee said...


Bee said...

Also, I didn't re-live the month of August, being the glass half full type of person I am, I skipped the month of September.

I'd like to think of it as suspended animation.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Bee Day:

The problem is that you're only fiddling with the number, not with the ageing process. People will look at you with pity and say "only 34? She's had a hard life..."

However, if you want to go down this road, you should choose an official birthday, like the Queen. Perhaps November 31st.

Suspended animation: Yes, of course you skipped September. I should have thought of that. Otherwise you'd be a month behind the rest of us.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Oh, I've just thought of another way of looking at the "skip a birthday" thing. If you skip your 35th, then all that would happen is that you'd go from 34 to 36 - and your 36th would be a month earlier.

You may want to think this through carefully...

Bee said...

Um... people look at me and say "Wow! You're 34? You don't look a day over 25!" so your statement regarding my "hard life" is out of line!

Bee said...

Also, if this is my imagination maybe I should think of time as going backwards as opposed to forwards. For example, this year I'll be 33 next 32 then 31, etc.

Yeah! I like that!

Can you make time go backwards?

Brian o Vretanos said...


I'm sure they say that, and I'm sure they're right - I mean, no-one ever says things like that when they're just being nice...

In the supermarket last week the checkout assistant said sarcastically as she put my Retsina through the barcode reader "Yes, I think you're over 21". Funny, because I'd picked her checkout because she was obviously no spring chicken (the younger ones often need to get approval from a supervisor to serve you alcohol).

Back in Time:

My limited understanding of Einstein's theories (I've only read his book about 4 times) is that you can't go backwards, though you can change the rate at which you move forwards.

Do you really want to get younger? I know I don't.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Back in Time:

Anyway, after 13 years you'd be too young to drink, and what would you do once you got beyond 0 years old???

I think Einstein had a point...

Bee said...

You've read Einstein's book 4 times!!??

I've read 10! I just try not to brag about it.

Chicken, chick, egg:
I'll stop going backwards and forwards @ the age of 25. Don't know how yet but I'm sure I'll figure it out after I read Einstein's book another 2 times.

I actually dressed up like him for a school project one year, the other options were Helen Keller, Mrs. Reagan and Eleanor Roosevelt... Yuck!

Bee said...

Clearly that's supposed to say "I've read it 10 times!" can you tell I have? Can you? Huh, can you? ;op

Jean Knee said...

oh no, hell no
no no no no

no way are we skipping Halloween, ever, no no no

Nancy27 said...

I would totally like to skip January, I just don't like that month.

Nancy27 said...

I think Bee would just like to skip one month that way it will be one month closer to the new baby..

Jean Knee said...

I can tell both of you have read it,
what? oh Eintein's book, not,Springsteens...
never mind

Nancy27 said...

I love October

I love Halloween

We have one of the most special days in October and that is MY Birthday! I will be 25 again :)

Jean Knee said...

no no no no way in hell we are skipping Halloween. I didn't even have a Halloween party last year because I was writing that dreadful Halloween book thAT CAN'T get PUBLISHED, IT RUINED THE WHOLE hALLOWEEN EXPERIENCE FOR ME!!


Brian o Vretanos said...


[Assming you're serious]

It's boy! :-)

You'll have to think of names.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

Don't think of it as "skipping" Halloween, but rather allowing you a whole eleven months of anticipation and preparation. Otherwise you'll have it in 10 days or whatever, and then it'll all be over for a whole year.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

The book I'm referring to is Einsteins' book "Relativity" which is for non-scientists. It only has 2 or 3 equations, and you can skip them.

Jean Knee said...

yeah? well relativity in my house is when my family gets together and rubs each other the wrong way, cries, has a bloody fight about the metric system, then wishes time would bend itself.

I'm the stodgy prude in my family

you can imagine the rest

Brian o Vretanos said...

Blimey! You have fights about the metric system?!?

Next time, suggest that the US adopt the FFF system (Furlongs, Firkins, Fortnights).