Four years ago today, Ed Balls changed the world.
Okay, fine, if you care about things like “facts,” then Ed Balls did not actually change the world on April 28, 2011.
He did, however, tweet his own name: “Ed Balls.”
— Ed Balls (@edballsmp) April 28, 2011
Every year since then, the Twittersphere (particularly the British part of it) has marked this day as “Ed Balls Day.”
But something about that moment — maybe it’s in the repetition of his surname — has helped the day to catch on internationally.
The New Yorker (!) has even explained how the tweet came to be:
At 4:20 P.M. on April 28, 2011, Balls was in a grocery store in Yorkshire, picking up the ingredients for his signature fourteen-hour pulled pork. Somewhere between the white buns and the watermelon, he got a call from an aide. The aide urged him to search Twitter for an article that mentioned him. Balls hit the wrong key on his Blackberry and tweeted the now immortal phrase: “Ed Balls.”
Just who is Ed Balls (the man, not the tweet)?
He’s now the shadow chancellor in the British government, which roughly means that the Labor Party politician is an opposition leader. He’s running in an election or something, and he has mixed feelings about “Ed Balls Day.”
In a lengthy March profile in the New Statesman, Balls said he had “no idea what to make of” the holiday in his honor, noting that “it’s obviously helped by the fact that I have a memorable name.”
“The trouble with the day itself is that there is a dilemma,” he said. “There’s one group of people who think if I don’t engage somehow on the day, I’m a bad sport. And if I do engage, there’ll be another whole group of people who’ll say, ‘Oh, God, he’s ruined it.’ I can’t win and I sort of know that, so I don’t really mind.
For Balls, there’s at least a thin silver lining to the whole thing: “Who in postwar British politics has had a day named after them? You take what you can, really, don’t you?”
In past years, Ed Balls has played along and tweeted something at more or less the same time of day as he did in 2011, at 4:20 p.m., lol.
Balls donated a printout of the tweet to an auction earlier this year. But the Independent was very, very unhappy with his choice of signature.
This year, Ed Balls celebrated Ed Balls Day by manually retweeting himself:
— Ed Balls (@edballsmp) April 28, 2015
As it has in the past, Britain celebrated Ed Balls day with vigor.
The Telegraph had a live blog with a countdown clock to 4:20 local time, and Twitter showed solidarity:
— Twitter UK (@TwitterUK) April 28, 2015
Others showed how to celebrate the day by seeing a little bit of Ed Balls in everything:
— Andrew Bloch (@AndrewBloch) April 28, 2015
— Brian Bilston (@brian_bilston) April 28, 2015