Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Bank Holidays and the rhythm of life

Maybe it's just me, but I find Bank Holiday Mondays consistently depressing. In fact I always have done, even as a child. It wasn't the forced visits to ancient aunts who made weak tea and never handed out enough biscuits or the absence of anything exciting on the telly. As an adult it isn't the voluntary visits to the now ancient daughters of the aforesaid ancient aunts (who also make weak tea and never hand out enough biscuits) or the absence of anything even vaguely watchable on the telly. Being British we like to joke about how it always rains on a Bank Holiday Monday, even when it doesn't, but it isn't the weather.

It's actually a simple matter of the rhythm of life. School weeks do not start on a Tuesday, they start on a Monday. At the end of term they might finish on a Wednesday or Thursday and that is a treat because the extra day(s) of the week away from school follow days when you were at school. Everything was normal with a Monday start.

When at my pomp I usually worked six or seven days a week, but the working week started on a Monday. I have always been self-employed and have been able to take days off subject to existing bookings. From time to time I would take Monday off, especially if there was gardening left unfinished over the weekend either in London or at the modest FatBigot annex in Sussex. It ruined the whole of the week because my flabby knees squeezed under the desk on Tuesday and I was doing Monday's work, it just felt wrong. If I also took Tuesday off the extra long weekend became a holiday and the rest of the week was like the first few days back from a real holiday, I was just fiddling around with a few things until proper work started again with the new week the following Monday. My habit became to take Friday off if I knew there were heavy gardening commitments so that I could be sure to start my next working week properly and make it productive.

Most courts do not sit on Bank Holiday Mondays. I could never perform as well during one of these truncated weeks as I did when the judge or jury heard my fluting tones on Monday as well. As I got older most of my working time was spent on paperwork and one might think that the intervention of a Bank Holiday should make no difference because I could still sit at the desk and do what I had to do. But it was never the same. Colleagues were not in, the Clerks' room had a skeleton staff, solicitors I needed to talk to about their cases could not be contacted in the office (and rarely enjoyed being telephoned at home on an official rest day), the rhythm was all wrong.

Curiously the long enforced period away from work following my cardiac incident did not change this feeling. I still had things to do which were very much work such as sorting out my tax affairs, jiggling around my pitiful assets to best advantage and keeping up with developments in the law. These were done on Monday to Friday. Unless Monday contained some work, perhaps just an hour or two, very little was ever achieved in the rest of the week. The same pattern is being followed now although I am only doing a little work here and there and do almost all of it from home so that I can smoke.

Dorothy Fields was right when she wrote "the rhythm of life is a powerful beat". Bank Holiday Mondays have always upset my rhythm. It would be far better if they were Fridays and far better still if we removed the absurd May Day Bank Holiday completely.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Mondays are truly shit days, and are best spent at 'work'. Even Xmas day feels a bit shit when it's on Monday.

Antisthenes said...

I am retired and have sod all to do but I still look forward to the weekends. Strange I know.

Jim said...

I concur. A Bank Holiday throws the entire week out. Its time we abolished Bank Holidays as a pointless legacy of the 19th century and gave everyone the same amount of paid leave days instead.

Then everyone could go on holiday when it suited them, we wouldn't get stupid traffic jams for no reason (other than 'its the Bank Holiday traffic innit?'), business could work better (I'm self employed and hate Bank Holidays - you can never get much done, cos other businesses are closed etc), banks would be open, public services would be open etc etc.

Why on earth don't we just do it?

delcatto said...

I had this conversation earlier this week with my wife and we concluded Fridays off would be much better.
The May bank Holiday should be moved to it Trafalgar Day to wind the French up!