Half a lifetime ago when I used to have a regular sort of a job and led a different kind of life I used to dread this cluster of Bank Holidays around Easter and May. Other than not having to turn up at work, a definite plus in my late days of 9 to 5, I couldn’t work out what they were for? You couldn’t go anywhere because everyone else was off anyway. And so a day out would be a day mostly in the car and mostly in traffic jams. Meaning these close together April into May Bank Holidays mostly seemed to become second class Sundays spent doing, well, I can’t remember what. Certainly they weren’t the golden and treasured worker’s holidays they will have originally been intended to be, back when Bank Holidays were the only holidays most workers ever got.
So what I do remember wishing, now that we workers did get holidays, was that all the Bank Holidays could simply be added to our annual total so we could have extra and self-decided real holidays any time we liked.
And I still wonder that. More especially now the ‘everyone’ of half my lifetime ago isn’t off on Bank Holidays anyway. The shop workers, delivery drivers and everyone else we’ve learned to call ‘essential.’ I bet none of them are off work today are they? And as for the banks, whose holiday this nominally is, well they don’t have all that many workers anymore anyway, do they?
So what and who are Bank Holidays for? For fill-in DJs to get a go on radio stations? To boost the sales of garden furniture at B&Q? Or for the likes of me and maybe you to wonder, when each of them rolls around year after year, what exactly are Bank Holidays for?