Columnist Martin Freeman on cutting the February blues down to size
THE question is, "what's the point?"
The subject is life.
And the reason for asking it is February.
The final month of winter ought to be a time when spirits start to rise. Instead they sink like the heavy Arctic air that is currently creeping in under the door and in the gap in the lounge window.
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January I have no problem with. I'm full of enough New "this'll be a good one" Year energy to sustain me through whatever month one can throw at me.
By month two I'm starting to flag. Every year it's the same: the onset of the blues.
The only thing I can think in February's favour is that it has three fewer days than most months.
So having got one thing right, why do the calendar police add an extra day each leap year? Why pile on the winter misery?
Couldn't day no 366 be added to a summer month? Tacking it on to the end of July or August would bring some more joy into young lives by extending the school holidays.
Not that teachers should be rewarded. They already nick our holidays to cover their "inset" training days. So the extra day would be a working one for them.
February drastically needs cheering up and short of moving to the southern hemisphere to turn it into a summer month, there is nothing that can be done about the winter gloom.
We must turn to other ways to add a shine. Let's start with some comedy and move April Fools' Day to February 1.
With a minimum of fuss – and a minor name change – the mood would be improved immediately.
I don't advocate increasing the number of days in February as a result. Rather the move should be in the other direction. April should be boosted to 31 by subtracting one from Feb.
Repeat the trick to even things up for September and November and the dreary second month would shrink to a more reasonable 25.
I haven't forgotten the other 30-day month, June, which should be a special case.
42 days strikes me as a reasonable size for the first month of summer.
I am fully aware that June rarely lives up to its Flaming description. Last year the continual rain extinguished all hopes of a fire.
We can dream, though: adding another week and a half increases the chance that the sun might be spotted at some stage.
If my maths is correct February would by now be a slimline 13 days. Unlucky for some – and particularly so for anybody with an unreasonable, unfathomable liking for the month as I am happy to confirm that the cutting is only just starting.
On reflection, I've decided that November should be boosted further at February's expense.
This is for two, equally valid reasons. First, I wish to make it clear that I am not against dark, cold-weather months as such.
Four more days, and five full weeks in total, would give a bit more time to the general mists and mellow fruitfulness business of autumn, and to the great pleasure of bonfires (it's a male thing).
Secondly, November is my birthday month. Indulge me in the fun of having an extra few days at the beginning to add to the happy sense of anticipation.
February is now down to nine days in my work-in-progress calendar.
Subtracting four more and switching them to December and January would complete the process.
This is when the subject gets a little more complicated. Two of the says would be squeezed in before Christmas, two of them after.
You might have trouble with how the pre-Christmas numbering concept would work, but only if you have never been lost trying to find an address in parts of Leigham, Estover, Honicknowle and Chaddlewood where logic goes out of the window and posties pull out their hair: 12 is next to 15 which is nowhere near 16; that kind of thing.
December 12a and 12b would be down the steps and around the bend from December 12.
As for the post-Christmas days, these would fall after New Year's Eve and be public holidays to get the next 11 and a bit months off to a gentle start: January 1, 1a and 1b.
That leaves February lasting five days, which presents a final problem. To make them go quickly they would have to be conventional working days: there would never be a Saturday or a Sunday.
Finally, the spelling would be adjusted. Swap the e for an a and when the month was abbreviated to match its new size it would be just Fab.
IN LAST week's exploration of what it takes to look like a DIY god, two readers came up with the same helpful hint: a good stick.
Every man's garage or shed should have a stock of scraps of thin wood kept for the occasion of stirring a freshly opened tin of paint.
And after two encounters with professional DIYers in the last week I am reminded that if I ever stepped up and became a builder, I wouldn't only need acquire a battered white van to look the part.
I would also need to have a builder's dog occupying the passenger seat.
Essential: one Jack Russell-type wiry haired terrier to bark incessantly at all passersby.