So, the story of the week this week, must be the rather strange proposal issued by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to the public to come up with a name for a new research ship currently being constructed at the Cammell Laird shipyard on Merseyside, England.
The ship (cost £19 million) is being built at government expense and will go to Antarctica in 2019 to carry out scientific research. NERC asked the public to visit their website and choose, and vote for a name for the vessel.
Some names were eminently sensible. Many suggested The RRS Shackleton, after the great British explorer who almost made it to the South Pole in 1909. Some came up with RRS David Attenborough, the famous naturalist, who will be 90 this year while others suggested more esoteric names such as RRS Polar Dream.
However, the out-and-out winner at this moment is the RSS BOATY McBOATFACE which has polled over 27,000 votes, ten times more than its closest rival, RRS Henry Worsley.
Doesn't this tell us something about the great British public? I think it tells us that no matter how many times authorities try to impose sensible authority on us, it usually backfires. The British public like nothing better than something to smile about, rather than something boring and grand. It fits in with our rather cynical attitude to authority in general.
It remains to be seen whether the public's choice of name will ultimately succeed, as a) there is still 16 days of voting left, and b) NERC has made it clear that it has only asked for suggestions, and that the final decision rests with it. I can't help hoping that, in three years time, as the plucky research vessel arrives in Antarctic waters that the crew will raise their glasses and drink a toast to BOATY McBOATFACE!