Make the most of it, people, it’s your last break before Christmas….and that’s another four months away!

Bus Passengers Waiting in the Rain

Why do we always seem to draw the short straw here in England? We only get eight Bank Holidays here whereas most of Europe has at least ten and so do the USA and Oz, Canada and the Kiwis have 11. Even the Chinese have 11 and they always seem to be working 24/7/365….but obviously not.

We definitely could do with another break, it would make sense to have one in October, half way between now and Crimbo, and there’s plenty of excuses. Trafalgar Day on the 21st which celebrated Britannia ruling the waves over Napoleon in 1805 and Nelson kissing Hardy, or an even earlier day when we got another one over the dastardly French in 1066 on 14th October.  This was the last time these islands were conquered by another power (Starbucks and MacDonalds don’t count of course)

We all think that centuries ago we were all peasants working away in factories and fields and offices for Scrooge like employers on low wages with few holidays, but did you know, prior to 1834, the Bank of England observed no fewer than 33 saint’s days or religious festivals and took them as holiday? Well, fancy that?!  Then on a fateful day in 1871 Mr Gladstone’s Government introduced the Bank Holidays Act and in one fell swoop public holidays were reduced to four days – Easter Monday, the first Monday in August, Boxing Day and Whit Monday and this Act wasn’t repealed until nearly one hundred years’ later in 1971 when the Banking and Financial Dealings Act incorporated its provisions and this remains the statutory basis for our bank holidays today.

Anecdotally, and apropos of nothing in particular, it’s interesting to note that shortly after Mr Gladstone brought in his Bank Holidays Act in 1871, in 1972 The Licensing Act 1872 restricted the opening hours in public houses, regulated the content of beer and gave local authorities the power to determine licensing hours and gave boroughs the option of banning all alcohol. These policies were enforced by the police and this Act was generally so unpopular it led to rioting in some towns. Hardly surprising!

Anyway, back to Bank Holidays and other fascinating facts. A general round up of comments about our forthcoming holiday weekend. No doubt they will ring a bell with a lot of you:

“Hooray! A 3 day weekend and 4 day week in the office! Why don’t we have these every week?”

“FFS, it’s soooo cold. Why do we have the heating on in August?  How much is a studio flat on the Costas in Spain?”

“Oooh – what’s the Bank Holiday film on the telly?”

“Why is the supermarket shutting at 4pm? I need to get something to drink”

“How long will it take to watch the complete Game of Thrones box set?”

“Oh God, winter is coming. X Factor starts again on Saturday night”

“I can go out and get pissed on Friday, Saturday AND Sunday night and have all day Monday to recover. Magic!”

“What do you mean there isn’t another break til Christmas Day? That’s 4 months’ away. Kill me now”

“Where’s my brolly – and you might as well put the Barbie away – it’s a Bank Holiday weekend….”