Columbus Day

columbo1signedYesterday was  October the 12th and it was Columbus Day. Columbus as in Christopher, not as in the detective because that’s Columbo you’re thinking of. Different man entirely.

When I first head about Columbus Day I thought nothing of it. I mean, he didn’t discover my country and I’m not even sure he ever set foot in Blighty so who cares (there’s that apathy creeping in again). But surely it’s an ostensibly fun day for the countries that do celebrate it? There are parades in the US and it’s generally a day off for everyone to mull over just how brilliant good old Chris was, and to get round to watching that episode of that show you’ve been meaning to watch. Or something.

But then I really got to thinking. Christopher Columbus didn’t even discover America in the first place. That accolade goes to some random Viking or other doesn’t it? Olaf Ameriksson? I don’t know. Oh ok so Columbus is generally credited with selling the idea of the Americas and the New World to 15th Century Europe (I’ll leave a little time here for you to catch up with me while you all figure out when the fifteenth century was… 15th century means not the 1500s which means 16-no-1400and let’s carry on) and so he was generally a better salesman than Some Random Viking who I guess really wasn’t that much of a salesman because we don’t know his name. I’m guessing said Viking marketed the continent as "It’s really far away and they have potatoes there." Not the best pitch ever. But hey – if a Viking discovered America, why were there already Native Americans there? Now there’s a thought.

So people celebrate a guy who managed to convince a load of Europeans to go over to the Americas and bring stuff back. What’s wrong with that eh? Well many things really. Chief among them being that Columbus killed hundreds of thousands of the people who lived in America just so he could have their stuff, he sailed back home and then told other people "Hey come over to America, there’s loads of gold and new shizzle and all you have to do is kill the people who own it with your superior technology and it’s yours." A better sales pitch, if ethically flawed.

Also on the books is the fact that Columbus wasn’t even looking for America, he was looking for China. So it’s ok kids if you don’t achieve what you wanted or in fact do the exact opposite to it and to what your monarch tasked you with doing, just take the next best thing and people will go nuts for it.

So he didn’t discover America, he failed in his goal, he killed and lead the way to the killing of millions of people and the destruction of multiple entire civilisations and we celebrate him? What’s next? A Hitler day?

Knowing all of this, how exactly does one celebrate Columbus Day? By marching into someone else’s house, declaring that you own it now, giving the inhabitants syphilis and then killing their families before taking their stuff? As fun as it sounds, I think I’ll pass.

Actually, you know what would be a brilliant idea? A Columbo Day. See, it’s almost the same spelling and it’s far better. Ok so it’s based on a fictional character but Lieutenant Columbo is the greater man by far I think we’d all agree. I’d rather celebrate a man who always perseveres until he catches the bad guy and may not be real instead of a guy who is real and in fact was the bad guy. Anyhow, Columbo day sounds fun. We could all walk round in beige coats squinting at each other, pretending to be a lot stupider than we really are and start every sentence with "Just one more thing…"

P.S.V.
Well I said he was fictional but here he is making fun of Frank Sinatra

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