Boris Johnson needs some good PR. Why not borrow Turkmenistan’s dog day?

The central Asian republic has created a national holiday to celebrate the alabai breed. Sounds like just the sort of distraction our floundering PM might welcome

Turkmenistan may be a bleak dictatorship with a dreadful human rights record, but it certainly knows how to appreciate dogs. On Sunday, the former Soviet republic celebrated a new national holiday dedicated to its native breed, the alabai. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, a dentist turned despot who likes to relax by DJing and rapping, has already written a 272-page book about the alabai, AKA the central Asian shepherd dog, and erected a gold statue of one in the country’s capital.

Look, even an objectionable megalomaniac can have a good idea now and again. There ought to be more national holidays devoted to dogs. Perhaps the UK could kick things off by replacing bank holidays with border collie days. No one likes banks; everyone likes border collies: it’s a no-brainer.

Speaking of no-brainers, I am happy to give Boris Johnson my dog-holiday idea gratis. I have a feeling our esteemed leader may be in the market for a stunt that will steer the conversation away from the allegations that he said he wouldn’t impose another lockdown even if “bodies pile up high in their thousands”.

Turkmenistan isn’t the only place with wacky holiday inspiration. Every 27 July, Finland celebrates national sleepy head day. This isn’t a recent invention of the alarm clock lobby: it goes back to the middle ages and stems from the legend of the Seven Sleepers – a story about some young men who hid in a cave. Alas, Elon Musk wasn’t around to tweet about how he would rescue them, so it took 300 years for them to get out. Finns now celebrate by waking up the family member who is snoozing the longest by pouring water over them. In the city of Naantali (home of Moominworld), they chuck a celebrity into the sea.

Look, I love Guy Fawkes Night, but burning effigies of Roman Catholic rebels is starting to feel a little passé. So here’s a thought: let’s take a leaf out of Finland’s book and replace Bonfire Night with Throw-a-Politician-in-a-Fountain Night. Again, prime minister, you can have that idea for free.

  • Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist

Contributor

Arwa Mahdawi

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
My dear old dog won’t be around for ever – so I will cherish every last walk | Emma Beddington
I have loved Oscar since he was a puppy. Twelve years on, the morning stroll is a challenge for both of us, writes Emma Beddington

Emma Beddington

28, Jun, 2021 @3:00 PM

Article image
I’ve developed influencer envy – and the influencer is a dog | Emma Beddington
He has a nicer life than me, scuttling from deli to deli and snuffling through gifts from brands. And yet still I follow, writes Emma Beddington

Emma Beddington

16, Feb, 2021 @7:00 AM

Article image
Horny dogs: what can Boris Johnson do about his pet Dilyn’s romantic urges?
It’s important to remember that dogs don’t hump things only for sexual reasons – it could be that they are overexcited, attention-starved or have a bladder infection

28, Jul, 2021 @3:10 PM

Article image
Looking for a plastic-free way to discard dog poo? I have the answer | Adrian Chiles
When it comes to cleaning up after your hound, some leaves work better than others. I discovered this the hard way, writes Adrian Chiles

Adrian Chiles

28, Apr, 2021 @2:30 PM

Article image
Seven weeks in, what have I learned from my new life as a dog person? | Adrian Chiles
Our new puppy refuses to walk, has a joke name and won’t be toilet trained. I can’t imagine life without him

Adrian Chiles

24, Feb, 2021 @5:54 PM

Article image
Has the latest status symbol become a vegan dog? | Arwa Mahdawi
Lewis Hamilton posted a picture of his dog, Roscoe enjoying a plate of fruit, while apparently travelling by private jet. But he is not the only star feeding their pup a plant-based diet, writes the Guardian columnist Arwa Mahdawi

Arwa Mahdawi

18, Aug, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
‘Alice the rat was so special’: readers on their brilliant, beloved pet tattoos
During the pandemic, every pet became an emotional support animal – and many people decided they wanted to commemorate them indelibly and incredibly

Guardian readers

07, Jun, 2021 @5:00 AM

Article image
Small dogs: why are tiny hounds more aggressive than big ones?
Not only are little dogs more likely to lash out, they also tend to be less obedient and less well house-trained

05, May, 2021 @3:53 PM

Article image
Pet parties: the surprising – and occasionally dangerous – trend for animal birthday celebrations
An expensive extravaganza in honour of a dog’s birthday in China ended with the police being called, while three people were arrested after a massive knees-up for a canine in India

11, Jan, 2022 @4:18 PM

Article image
A moment that changed me: meeting the rescue dog who comforted me through unfathomable loss | Shirley Manson
When I first held my dog Veela in my arms, I was grappling with my mother’s dementia, which was followed much too soon by her death. The teachings of my little red dog helped me survive

Shirley Manson

21, Jul, 2021 @6:00 AM