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


Arwa Mahdawi

The GuardianTramp

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