Alan Dee: Another two bank holidays, two more next month – this silly system really needs sorting out
What? More bank holidays? Oh, please – do we have to?
Now I can put my feet up and enjoy a day of elegant idleness with the best of them, but I’ve never been a fan of the whole bank holiday set-up and it’s about time someone had the sense to sort it all out.
We call them bank holidays, of course, but mostly they’re dropped into the calendar for religious reasons which for most people are lost in the mists of time.
Easter, which is just around the corner, merits two days off, and so does Christmas.
We get a day at the start of the year which just encourages the entire nation to shut down for a fortnight, and a couple more in May.
The ‘early May’ day off – nothing to do with international workers’ rights, let’s not go there – has only been on the books since 1978 and there’s also the ‘spring bank holiday’ one at the end of the month. No need to refer to Whitsun, it’s not really to do with religion any more, is it?
Then there’s nothing until late August, and that’s your lot.
Now the whole idea of a bank holiday, or a religious holiday, was to release the hard-pressed populace from whatever yoke they were forced to wear to make ends meet and concentrate on their inner souls, or just have a breather. Everything shut down, everyone was in the same boat.
That’s not the case today. If you’re lucky enough to be in a secure corporate or public sector slot, if such things can still be said to exist, you might get your full whack but for most of us bank holidays are nothing but days in the diary reserved for despair and disappointment.
We’re either expected to work to keep the machine running – whether that’s in a coffee bar or a casualty ward – or we’re stuck in traffic jams wondering why we thought getting away for a couple of days at the same time as everyone else would be a good idea.
The ranks of the self-employed, which we are told continue to grow, pay little or no attention to statutory days off and those who don’t follow the Christian religion have to juggle other holiday due if they want to mark their special days, while being forced to stand idle at times of the year that mean nothing to them.
There’s a simple solution – give everyone their own allowance so that they can take another eight days holiday throughout the year, whenever it suits them. No more than two days at a time, mind, and if you really want to be out of the office on Good Friday off knock yourself out. I think it’s a winner, and once we get the long weekend out of the way I’m going to get right on it.