Have a nice day off on Monday? Then you’re a passenger, pal...
Something’s not right, and it’s up to us all to put our heads together to sort it out and come up with something better. Ready for a bit of a brainstorm?
Here’s the conundrum. We’ve just had another bank holiday, but what do we mean by a bank holiday?
Let’s break it down, shall we? We’ll start with the second bit first, and it’s commonly agreed that the origin of a holiday is holy day – a saint’s day or other important landmark in the Christian calendar on which it is expected that we put work to one side, go to church, and generally bend the knee to a higher being. Sound like anybody you know? No, me neither.
And what have the banks got to do with it? They started getting involved about 150 years ago, laying down the law about specific dates when they wouldn’t open their doors.
Originally there were just four official bank holidays, but more have been added to the list over the years
They’re a bit random, too – I didn’t know until I looked into it that in Scotland they get St Andrew’s Day, in Northern Ireland they get St Patrick’s Day, but in Wales and England St David and St George are snubbed. I don’t know about you, but I feel short-changed.
What’s more, Northern Ireland helps itself to July 12 as well, to remember the Battle Of The Boyne, which is hardly likely to draw together all sides of the community, is it?
Anyway, a bank holiday is supposed to be a day on which the banks are shut. That’s not true these days – there are cash machines wherever you look, phone lines and websites buzz 24 hours a day, and some bright spark in braces is keeping an eye on international markets at all hours.
So it doesn’t seem to be a holy day and the banks aren’t closed. The name needs changing.
Some people alreadt refer to public holidays rather than bank holidays, perhaps to remove any association with the banking industry from something that we see as a benefit. Come on, they cocked up our entire economy, why should they get the credit when we have a day off?
But it’s not a public holiday, either – I’d guess at least half the working population is still hard at it, and the days when you’d bag double time or better for your trouble are long gone.
I’ve long believed that all the public holidays on the calendar should just be added to existing entitlement so that we could take them when we pleased, but that would probably just lead to even more people getting screwed.
What it boils down to is that anyone who gets a bank holiday free and clear these days isn’t pulling their weight in these tough times.
So let’s call them what they are – henceforth they will be known as passenger days. Sour grapes from a working stiff maybe – but I’ll bet there are millions who see it the same way.