After all: engineering toddlers

The UK's new toddler technology scheme makes E&T wary of infantile projects engineered by seemingly responsible adults.

I was thrilled to discover that the UK government had recently launched a new 'toddler technology scheme', the aim of which is to teach infants basic computer skills by the age of four as well as to make sure babies can operate the TV remote before (or shortly after) they learn to walk.

I wonder how our slow-witted children managed to learn these skills in the past, before the groundbreaking 'toddler technology scheme' was introduced?

From now on, we can look forward to the UK's National Toddler Technology Day (or Week, or Month) during which the nation's adults, armed with keyboards and TV remotes, will be trying hard to pass their precious knowledge on to their progeny. That would come as no huge surprise for, do you know, for example, what festival we just celebrated in the UK on 31 October?

No, I don't mean Halloween, the day of pumpkins with flat, degenerative crowns, kids' faces painted à la Batman and a warzone-like cannonade of home-launched fireworks in practice runs for Guy Fawkes Night on 5 November.

You will never guess. According to numerous annual directories and other reputable sources like, say, an organisation calling itself Future Events Information Service, 31 October in Britain heralds 'Bug Busting Day - Understanding Headlice', no less.

One can assume there are separate days dedicated to understanding lice dwelling on other parts of our bodies as opposed to those exclusively inhabiting our heads.

It is amazing how much you miss spending your life glued to a computer screen. Having wasted most of last September writing and editing, I totally overlooked the fact that it had been several years since the British Bathroom Council solemnly proclaimed September to be National Shower Month.

And there is some logic behind it. According to recently published statistics, the Brits take showers somewhat more frequently than some religious fundamentalists who are not allowed to take them at all, but much less often than, say, Americans or the sterile Swiss - hence the rising necessity of National Headlice Busting Day, I presume.

This brings to mind the memoirs of Gordon Lonsdale, a famous Soviet spy in Britain in the 1950s and 60s. Born Konon Trofimovich Molodiy, he managed to master English to such an extent he was able to pose as Lord Lonsdale, a member of the London glitterati, for many years. He became wonderfully adjusted to every aspect of the British high society lifestyle, except for its parsimonious water-saving approach to ablutions.

But I digress. Leafing through the annual directories, I was pleased to learn that on 13 August the UK marks National Left-Handers day (the slogan could be 'A Left-Handed Person is Always Right'); September hosts National Broccoli Week, National Cheese Week and National Go Home on Time Day.

In October, apart from the Headlice Awareness celebration, the space was found for National Take Your Dog to Work Day and National Day of Courtesy on Britain's Roads. In view of the recent epidemic of road-rage attacks, the latter could do with the following motto: "Motorists, be polite! Having run over a pedestrian, don't forget to say 'sorry'."

In Australia, a similar Road Courtesy Day would most probably result in changing the world-famous, punchy anti-drink-driving slogan, 'Drink, Drive - Bloody Idiot!' into a somewhat more palatable, 'If you drink and then drive - you are not a particularly intelligent human being.'

Brain constipation

There were two celebratory occasions in the directories, however, whose timing puzzled me slightly. I wondered whose idea it was to mark National Impotence Day on 14 February, to coincide with St Valentine's when men routinely profess their love for women. Or is there some carefully hidden meaning in this coincidence?

And another strange date - 16 April, National Constipation Day. Call me naïve, but I have always thought that constipation was rather a long-lasting condition, therefore national Constipation Month, or at least Week, would have been much more appropriate. I have firmly decided not to leave my house on 16 April next year just to be on the safe side, you know.

What is more, that's still a whole five months away from September and British Shower Month.

Here, it would be pertinent to confess that no such days exist in reality and that I have simply invented them as a result of a protracted writer's block (or brain constipation, if you wish).

The truth is that all of them are real, and one can easily - and free of charge - introduce and register a day of one's own designation to be entered into directories and then, possibly, into the official British calendar of events.

So now I am seriously thinking of initiating a National Free Drinks for Writers Day to coincide with my birthday. Or perhaps (and this sounds even better), a National Silly Days Cancellation Year.

Yet, with the toddler technology government scheme in action, I have reasons to believe that the latter idea is bound to be voted down by irreparably infantile and toddler-like officials in charge of the country's falling standards of literacy and education - as well as its constantly rising levels of spin, demagoguery and window-dressing.

For it is, of course, much easier to designate a Let's Do Something About It Day and tick off the appropriate box than actually do that very something.

Long live, therefore, the UK's National Day of Technologically Astute, Computer-Literate and TV-Remote-Control-Savvy Toddler Scientists and Engineers - the best date for which would be, undoubtedly, 1 April.

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