Today is February 29th, so it’s a leap year or perhaps because it’s a leap year. You can always tell it is a leap year because you can divide the date ( of the year) by four. Or on a more pragmatic basis , it’s always the year when the World Cup is on. The news bulletins today, both locally and nationally have been replete with little happy filler stories of older people born on this day celebrating their 21st when they are 84 or enjoying their first legal drink at 72.
My favourite story about people born on the 29th February concerns the combination of these people and the International Date Line. The International Date Line is the line of longitude that runs almost down the centre of the Pacific ocean which is both 12 hours ahead of us in the east and 12 hours behind us in the westerly direction. Very confusing, especially for me as one of my celebrated blind spots is this sort of thing. (What is that happening next month, when the clocks go forward do we gain an hour ? )
The point about crossing the International Date Line is that the date changes , if travelling across in an easterly direction then a day is gained, the other way and a day is lost as the date advances. I was always fascinated by the idea that some poor sod who only has a birthday every four years makes a fundamental error in his travel planning and crosses the IDL from the Americas on the 28th and lands in Australia on March 1st losing the 29th.
I made this trip in 2010 and now I can never get back October 2nd, 2010. It’s now in the bin with the 8th June 1977, the day after the Queen’s last Jubilee when the pubs were open all day.
- Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone
Which has eight and one score
And every fourth year one more.