On the blog

Monday, 19 November 2012

What a day!

Some days are routine, even downright boring. Others can leave us reeling as we try to assess dramatic changes. We’d surely much prefer to borrow Shakespeare’s description of heaven and be ‘as merry as the day is long’.

Sometimes, time seems to run fast (weekends!) and at other times it copies the snail - especially when we’re in the dentist’s chair. We have no memory of the day of our birth, and are unlikely to know the day of our death. They are funny old things, days. The poet Philip Larkin seemed to agree, asking: ‘What are days for?’

Even animals, it seems, have bad hair days.  
Photo: Brian Snelson from Hockley, Essex, England (Bad hair day) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Many of us will have endured a bad hair day, and wages slaves often pine for a duvet day. But don’t let’s forget the red letter days - the term comes from the habit of marking church festivals on calendars in red ink - and halcyon days, those calm summer times we look back on nostalgically.   

Halcyon days by the seaside Photo © Louise Thomas

No doubt Mr Larkin would have appreciated World Poetry Day (21 March, since you ask) and as a librarian he might have marked World Book and Copyright Day (23 April). But World Toilet Day (19 November)? What’s that all about?

It may sound laughable or even ridiculous to those who don’t realise how many people have no access to a decent loo:  40% of the world’s population face a daily struggle to find somewhere private to use in place of a toilet. That’s 2.6bn men, women and children made vulnerable to the legion of diseases that come with lack of sanitation. Every 20 seconds a child under 5 years old dies because of dirty water and poor sanitation.  And women and girls are particularly vulnerable to rape and snake bites as they squat in the grass.  

Those are appalling facts that need publicising in order to bring about the desire for change, and having a 'day' helps gain publicity.

Philip Larkin continued his quest for the purpose of a day by writing ‘They are to be happy in’, and Dinah Washington sang ‘What a difference a day makes’. So this year, why not mark World Toilet Day by making a real and lasting difference to the lives of people living in poverty by twinning your toilet? And if you are on Twitter, please tweet when you have done it to pass the message on.  

Carpe Diem! Seize the Day!

You can hear Philip Larkin reading his poem ‘Days’ here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW7mecoPEBs