So they tell me that 2008 is the year of the Scout. If you see a scout, tell him to take five while you start pulling your weight and help an elderly woman across the street yourself.
I say good on them. After years of wearing geeky uniforms and lighting fires underwater, they get their own year. Of course, I can’t say too much about the Scout movement because I never was one. Duke of Edinburgh yes, Scouts no.Why am I troubling you then?
Well, I wonder if you have ever wondered how they come to decide these ‘years of’. Well, I was supposed to keep this to myself, but I guess I can tell you…
I helped to make them up.
This all started way back in 1978, which was the very first year of. I was watching an episode of Seseme Street – it must have been an early one because Snuffy was still Big Bird’s imaginary friend. I got to thinking, if Big Bird can have an imginary friend, why can’t I? And to that end, why does it have to be a friend. I had plenty of friends, what I was short of, as a toddler, was people I just knew well enough to say hi to. And so I decided to invent an imaginary passing acquaintance. His name was Blake and he and I used to catch the same imaginary bus (yes, the bus’s number was the square root of minus one). I can’t tell you much more about Blake because I didn’t really know him that well, he was after all, just an acquaintance (and an imaginary one at that).
Anyhow, what I didn’t know about Blake was that he actually worked for the newly formed Year of Bureau. Trouble was, they couldn’t think of anything to be commemorated for that, or any, year. Blake and his team were all brilliant guys, but certainly not ‘details’ people. Years 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981 were to be the years of the paperclip, the calculator, the half-eaten devon sandwich and the sticky-tape dispenser, which turned out to be the first four items Blake’s assistant thought of after glancing around his desk.
Well, it’s always a delicate matter to offer one’s opinion to somebody so desperately in need of it, but I was not one to shy from the task. “Brad”, I said, (he corrected me). “Sorry, Blake, what about instead of random things in your office we commemorate important aspects of our culture. How about the elderly or libraries?”
Blake’s superviser spoke up, “That’s a fine idea, what about volunteers or seeing eye dogs?”
“That’s the spirit.” I gave her an encouraging nod.
“Telephones,” this time it was the creative director, “or dairy farms!”
“Half-eaten devon sandwiches!”
Before long we had compiled a list of enough years of to see us through until 2015.
I was pleased with myself for having bettered the world in some small way. But at the same time there is something to be said for the serendipity that occurs when ignorance and a lack of creativity is allowed to florish. (Did you ever see the Kevin Rudd interview on Rove?) We may never have the opportunity to celebrate the year of the stapler or the year of the paperclip. Is that society’s loss? I don’t know. Anyway I have to go and sit around a campfire and play Kum-Ba-Ya on my guitar. And by campfire, Kum-Ba-Ya and guitar and mean couch, Scrabulous and MacBook.