To use the outline of a joke from a comedy one-man sketch-show from the 1970s/1980s; what occurs about 5 times a year, always on the same week-day, and have we recently had two of in three weeks? — I’m talking of course about Bank Holidays. (1).
Whatever one’s situation I’ve recently got to thinking that much like the Leap Year is described in a certain US sitcom about a radio psychiatrist as ‘a free day, a gift’ by the eponymous hero (2)., the same can be said of Bank Holidays. Indeed depending on a point of view, they truly could be seen as similar blessings. More often than not the sun is shining and the demeanor of people you might meet is instantly lifted. You sometimes get the feeling that people are generally happier because it is a Bank Holiday, and what’s more its sunny out.
I personally feel that it is gratifying to consider that on Bank Holidays almost everyone is on the same page. It is nationally expected in England that ‘the postman won’t come until Tuesday’ or ‘they won’t be open today, it’s Bank Holiday’. There is a breeze in the air, a familiar yet longed-for scent of fresh-cut grass, not to mention the added interesting yet forgotten element of surprise when it is remembered that buses on Bank Holiday Mondays work to the Sunday timetable.
A mysterious change happens literally overnight once May sets in, that sees over-coats changed miraculously into nothing more than a cardigan, and heavier boots of the warren-of-winter transform into those sandals which have served so well for 20 years. Of course fashions may have passed through your wardrobe and then out the other door, yet still those shoes still bear those unique foot markings inside; the proof of your ownership.
Then of course there is the feeling that the whole week stretches out in front of you. It’s like watching the Olympic Torch shimmy past your crowd one glorious Sunday evening in June, when you’ve got an early start for some reason on Monday. I personally always find the thought of a roast dinner particularly exciting on Bank Holiday Mondays, the smell of the lamb wafting through the house and sticking to the fabric of the curtains like a fond memory. As a matter of fact and speaking of memories, on a Bank Holiday Monday there is always the chance that some terrestrial TV channel controller will decide to show that one film you remember seeing before, but not in entirety.
How a person spends Bank Holidays varies as much as the difference in music listened to between individuals. I believe taking walks is particularly common among people I personally know. Another past-time might well be making use of the time to sort out the garden you haven’t seen since last summer, an activity inspired by the busy car-parks at gardening centres. I remember that this time on one Bank Holiday last year I personally volunteered, and the year before that when the UK was celebrating the Golden Jubilee with a 4 day weekend in 2012, my university work was in its final stages of completion.
I chose to write about my personal take on Bank Holidays, since two have recently surfaced in the UK and we’ve another one due on the horizon towards the end of May (26th). Much like Philip Larkin wrote in a poem about an ‘August Bank Holiday lark’ (3), so too these anomalous days inspired this blog piece. Some might relish in making these days their own, look forward to that rare meet up with another. Though perhaps for others, Bank Holidays are still the weekly Mondays with the added feature of fewer services. Bank Holidays then are there to use if one so wishes, it really is people’s choices what they do with them. On a similar topic, weather help or hindrance, I’ve been thinking something else about the recent frequency of Bank Holidays. They are so much like a proverbial bus lately; ‘three’ really have ‘come along at once.’
By Amanda Lynsdale
1.Based on a joke made by Kenny Everett in a The Kenny Everett Video Show / The Kenny Everett Video Cassette episode.
2. Frasier episode ‘Look Before You Leap’(1996) – Grub Street Productions.
3. Philip Larkin’s poem- MCMXIV (1964)