Yesterday was World Book Day. Rather confusingly, according to the website, you can have a World Book Day in England and Ireland only. Clearly the days of empire are not entirely gone and forgotten. In Australia, so far as I can gather, we’re waiting for April the 23rd for World Book Day Australia. I have no idea why. If it’s going to be a global phenomenon, I would have thought that settling on one date for the whole planet (time zones notwithstanding) would have been a pretty good idea.
Howmsoever that may be, I confess that World Book Day (U.K. and Ireland) slipped past me unnoticed. Entirely unnoticed.
I was too busy reading.
But a rather sweet blog on The Guardian website was brought to my attention, in which Victoria Barnsley resists the usual temptation presented by such an event. She refuses to take it as a heaven-sent soap-box from which to denounce television, video games and yob culture. Instead, she makes a plea for the celebration of literacy, and embraced the new possibilities presented by various technologies, including the Nintendo DS.
To be perfectly frank, World Book Day doesn’t make much of a difference to me one way or the other. I read every day. Without fail. I react to World Book Day in much the same way Long John Silver might to Talk Like A Pirate Day.
Yesterday, for instance, on World Book Day (U.K. and Ireland) I struggled through ten more pages of Ulysses (I learned that Fiacre was an Irish Saint, and that it can take twenty minutes to figure out one of Joyce’s puns) and I read about two hundred pages of Martin Amis’ The Pregnant Widow. On World Book Day (Australia) I fancy I’ll be doing something similar.
What I’d really like to see is a public holiday for World Book Day. A paid public holiday for all and a voucher for all, redeemable at any bookstore anywhere for $50.
Now that’s an initiative I’d get behind.
Are you listening, Mr Rudd? Just think, how could that be more of a disaster than anything else you’ve tried in the past couple of years?
But, in absence of a really sensible idea like that, I’ll just go on reading. Every day is Book Day for me.