Monday, August 27, 2007

Thank God for Bank Holidays

August Bank Holiday. This is quite possibly my favourite public holiday. Then again, I love August in general. There's nothing quite like late Summer. Normal time seems suspended - the days seem longer and lazier, nothing at all is happening in the world to distract you from enjoying yourself. For me, August will always hold pleasant childhood memories of trips to the New Forest in my father's ancient Ford Consul (it had a bench seat across the front, column gear shift and was always reluctant to go up hills), driving past Balmerlawn Hotel and watching them play cricket on the green outside. To this day, if I drive past there in August, I'm disappointed if they aren't playing cricket.

Getting back to the Bank Holiday itself, when I was a child I hated Bank Holidays. Back in those far off days everything closed on a Bank Holiday. It was like having two Sundays in one week (yes, I'm talking about those ancient times before Sunday trading laws changed). It seemed so bloody boring. If it rained and you had to stay in, you could guarantee that all afternoon your TV viewing choice would be sport, Ben Hur or The King and I, (yes, there were only three channels back then). Now, of course, as a working adult I love Bank Holidays. Quite apart from giving you a day off work, they represent one of those rare 'shared experiences', when nearly everybody abandons their daily routine to engage in social activities, or just do something different.

At least, it used to be like that. Nowadays it seems that everywhere is open, staffed by spotty teenagers, and all that people do with their day off is shop. The very thing I used to hate, everywhere being shut, has been 'rectified', and now I hate the new situation. Having said all that, Bank Holidays still have one wonderful feature which never seems to change - early morning silence. Living in a town centre, close to a main road, I really notice the difference. It really is great, that lack of traffic noise. Outside of Bank Holidays, the closest you'll get to it is on a Sunday morning - but even that isn't as quiet. Ah well, back to normal tomorrow. Well, actually it isn't for me, I'm still off work for another couple of weeks, but despite not having to toil in the office, none of the days will feel quite the same as the Bank Holiday.

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