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Monday, December 29, 2003
On 23 February, have a happy Pollard Day

Stephen Pollard can usually be relied upon to pooh-pooh whatever is currently being hyped in the news, and he has done that especially well in today's Independent when it comes to New Year's Eve. All his points make sense, and one really is tempted to be as defiant as he suggests and find some friends to celebrate the random date of February 23rd. We could all go to the pub in party hats, drink to excess, and then count down each of the final ten seconds before February 24th arrives.

And why not? How is that any sillier than doing the same thing eight weeks earlier? Every time I see such celebrations, I want to ask the same thing: what are you cheering? I can understand commemorating a birthday, a death, Christmas, Easter, an independence day and a dozen other things of meaning, but what on earth does the change from 2003 to 2004 represent that should provoke any such feeling? I don't dread the next year, but I can't for the life of me see what it is that could motivate someone to cheer its arrival. Indifference seems the only justifiable response to the last hours of December 31st, just as it is to the passing of, say, August 31st and the arrival of September. But as Pollard notes, it's those who aren't interested in the non-event of New Year's Eve who are viewed as the peculiar killjoys.

Of course, one need go back only a few years to remember the most puerile response to the click of zero hundred hours on the clock. The year 2000 wasn't even the millennium, of course, but that didn't stop anyone. I remember Peter Hitchens noting just how strange political debate became in the closing years of the 1990s. "Surely on the eve of a new millennium you cannot still go on believing in fox-hunting/hereditary peers/tax cuts/military intervention/marriage/punishing wrongdoers ... ?" would come the sneer, as if ideas that were sensible and fair could become otherwise because of the stroke of a clock. If there's one consolation for conservatives bemused by 31 December 2003, it's that we won't have to face that degree of nonsense for another 99 decades. For the next three days, we can do little but start planning ahead for Pollard Day and how we are to spend it. At very least, I am now determined to make it a date to remember in the Britblogger calendar.

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