Cyprus Mail
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The most boring day in Cyprus’ history?

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‘Even in Cyprus, with tensions on the rise, things felt relatively quiet.’ ALIX NORMAN dives into the past 

70 years ago, Nothing Happened! Thursday was exactly seven decades on from April 11, 1954. Or, as it’s more officially known, ‘The Most Boring Day in History’…

No wars, conflicts, or riots broke out. There were no earthquakes or tidal waves. Hurricanes hardly happened. Nobody important was born – or died.

Even in Cyprus, with tensions on the rise, things felt relatively quiet. In Paphos, it was a balmy 21 degrees; light rain the previous day had given way to clear blue skies.

In fact, April 11, 1954 was an excellent day to be alive: the mail probably arrived on time; laundry blew in the breeze; and a kettle whistled quietly from the kitchen. The antidote, in fact, to the old Chinese warning ‘May you live in interesting times’!

But how did the day gain its moniker? (And, by claiming to be ‘The Most Boring Day’, does it not instantly become interesting? Food for thought!)

Apparently, in 2010, ‘True Knowledge’ (a sort of precursor to Alexa) ran through the 300 million facts at its disposal. It determined that Sunday, April 11, 1954 had by far the fewest historically significant events, births, deaths and other notable occurrences in recent history.

Of course, that’s not to say that May 3, 1701 couldn’t have been more boring. Or that June 12, 1338 wasn’t as mildly mundane as it comes. There have definitely been other dreary dates all the way back to the prehistoric era. Perhaps, on a quiet spring day in 3 million BC, no one was mauled by a mammoth, no brightly-hued berries wiped out an entire tribe, and nobody idly rubbed two sticks together to discover fire!

But back to the more recent past…

The Cyprus Mail has archives going all the way back to 1945: hundreds of huge tomes containing a copy of every issue ever published – right from the post-war single sheet up to yesterday’s paper.

And there are definitely a few things in the two-page issue of April 12, 1954 (which gives us the news of the previous day) that are worthy of note…

feature3 2The main stories for the day focused on the Mau Mau, and on various Allies’ views. But one small text on the front page details Greece’s rejection of a Russian protest against the granting of American Air Bases – a clear example of Greece aligning itself with the West during the earlier manoeuvrings of the Cold War…

‘Greece’s reply categorically rejects Russia’s contention that the agreement over the bases threatens peace’ runs the story. ‘It says that Russia’s assertion that the agreement was condemned by a large part of the Greek people did not correspond with reality.’

Another brief tells of the founding of Labour-backed initiative ‘The Movement for Colonial Freedom’ (today known as ‘Liberation’). Apparently, they were calling for ‘self-government and self-determination of all colonial peoples to freedom from external or military domination.’ Which could have been most interesting for Cyprus was the group’s focus not primarily on Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

However, while the world stage may not have recorded any monumental milestones, it’s the everyday occurrences, the small joys and challenges, that really resonate. The human stories that constitute the fabric of our lives…

In West Germany, a spy ring was uncovered. In France, the police seized a ‘red newspaper’ touting Communist views. And in Chicago, ‘the Gangster Wars’ were said to be continuing unabated.

In Egypt, the Minister of National Guidance called on workers to express confidence in the revolutionary leadership, promising that more than ‘1 million peasants’ would become landowners within the next year.

And in Karachi, a wife made a wild attempt to break her husband out of prison. (He was, it transpires, sentenced to hang for murder. His beloved went in guns blazing and engaged in a shoot-out worthy of the aforementioned Chicago gangsters. She was unsuccessful.)

In sports, ‘The Soccer Forecast’ put Wolves and West Brom neck-and-neck for the Championship title.

More locally, a report on the annual Junior School Sports Day suggests ‘200 adult spectators, many of whom had travelled from other districts, spent a most pleasant afternoon’!

(Just in case you’re in interested, the Wanderers won the title. And the Sports Day cup was shared equally between the houses of Gayford and Stone, with special mention made of the sporting achievements of one Norma Banta!)

Perhaps most fascinating is a lifestyle piece on why women should NOT be cooking up their husband’s favourite meal. Not a story that will ever change the world, it’s nevertheless fascinating when viewed through the lens of history…

‘Even the mildest of men become a menace when they sit down to a meal’ warns the text, before classifying male eaters into either Dogs, Peckers, Snobs or Boiled Cabbage Boys (which last are apparently ‘suspicious of any food Mother never gave them’!)

feature3 the front page of the cyprus mail
The front page of the Cyprus Mail

In the Personals, a 1951 baby Fiat is for sale at a price of £250. A ‘delightfully furnished house in Troodos’ is available for the summer season. And a chambermaid ‘of good character’ is required by the Carlton Hotel.

None of which are mind-blowing (though one does wonder what constituted a ‘good character’ in those days). But, in their own little way, each advert is quite fascinating from a vantage point 70 years in the future!

Let’s face it, if you’re over the age of 40 you’ve probably already experienced more than enough interest (Kuwait, Iraq, the Balkans, 911, Brexit, Trump, a haircut, a pandemic, Ukraine, Gaza). Over 50, and you can add the AIDS epidemic, the Falklands, Challenger, and Chernobyl. And those aged 60 and above would probably be quite happy if nothing much ever happened again – especially in Cyprus!

A future filled with unexcitement would be rather nice, wouldn’t it?

How great would it be if 70 years from now, some sentient supercomputer looked back through the decades and declared that actually, the most boring day in history was April 11, 2024?!

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