Counterpoint by Scott Freeman Not so much losing a day as Groundhog Day


It’s not often that my mind wanders to Polynesia – the Pacific islands about which I know little other than they are featured in Hollywood B-movies as populated by fearsome warriors and beauties in grass skirts and floral bikini tops. But enough of all that.

Samoa, one of the largest islands in the group, has entered my consciousness and that of news editors up and down the land this past week as it ‘lost’ a day. The populace went to sleep on Thursday night and woke up on Saturday. Not a monumental hangover, but a decision by the government to skip December 30 and jump straight to New Year’s Eve.

The move means that no longer is the nation the last place to see a sunset – reputedly an important factor in its tourist industry – but now the first to see the sunrise.

The BBC produced a fascinating feature explaining that the Samoans were turning their backs on a century and more of tradition during which time their calendar had been constructed round the need to cater for the needs of the American sailors, to switch allegiance to Australia and the emerging economy of China and the east.

On Friday morning I had my own Groundhog Day moment. A near identical report on the same radio show again revealed the dramatic turn of events in the South Pacific. I thought I had lost a day myself. Mrs F was required to sooth my fevered brow with a cup of strong tea.

Then it happened again.

Saturday dawned with yet another report from Samoa detailing in mirror-image detail what I had heard the two previous mornings. Interesting once, mind-numbing the next. Irritating at the third time of hearing – a bit like your elderly neighbour’s arthritis anecdotes.

But it isn’t simply one story a year. The Beeb never fails to annoy by announcing most mornings something along the lines of: ‘David Cameron is expected to announce today a tax on pensioners who go shopping at weekends’.

We then must endure a report the following day with an earnest reporter detailing exactly what we heard 24 hours earlier. Pinch me, I must be dreaming.