I wake up to the sound of hysterical laughter. I’m tired, I’m hot and I am dusty, the dust has gathered on top of a layer of sweat and dried to form a crusty shell, it has been a long day. Slowly in the front of the Land Cruiser my head had dropped, my eyes had drooped and I had nodded off. It is a good skill to acquire, the ability to sleep, whilst being shaken about along the pitted and potholed roads of Africa, or pitted potholed roads anywhere for that matter. It involves taking a good firm grip of the handle on the roof above the door, resting your head in the crook of your arm, closing your eyes and away you go, easy, well it is if you are tired enough. It is very useful indeed, especially if the journey is 11 hours. This journey was only an hour and a half. I guess I’ve got about 30 minutes shut eye, as we are still a good distance from home.
“His trousers fell down?”
“They did I tell, you, he wears a string for a belt and they fell down!”
“What happened? What did the old lady do?”
“Oh, she took a broom, and do you know what? She began to beat him with it!”
“She did I tell you! And his friends where running away, and he ran down the steps to join his friends, trying to pull his trousers up and she is chasing him and beating him with the broom and shouting”
And the hilarity began again at the mental image of a man with his trousers around his ankles being beaten about the head by a broom wielding old woman.
Hang on a minute. That sounds familiar. I turn in my seat to see my travelling companions crying with laughter, the story teller clearly happy with the response of his captive audience. The remainder of the journey passed quickly as through roars of laughter the adventures of Compo, Cleggy and Foggy were played out and repeated in the back of the car. I don’t know whether I was laughing more at the scene of a Zimbabwean, explaining to South Sudanese about the comedic antics of these three old men from Holmfirth, or of the actual stories being told. Though there was no mention of wrinkled stockings, I guess they might have too difficult to describe. I laughed and listened with everyone else, although we were all creating very different mental images I’m sure. By the time we made it back to the camp it felt decidedly like a Sunday.
Oh those Sunday nights: Highway, All Creatures Great and Small, Antiques Road show, Songs of Praise. All deliberately broadcast there on that night on that day to calm us down from our weekend exertions and ease us back into the working week, or in my case interfere with my last gasp attempts to complete my homework. It would be no good showing Gladiators, or Knight Rider or the A-team on a Sunday, they are far too exciting and people all over East Anglia might suddenly stand up and say:
“No, I won’t do it, I just will not go to work tomorrow, for I am too pumped up, the blood is flowing through my veins, I feel alive! That Macgyver has got me all wound up with his can-do attitude, and boy-scout trickery, don’t try and stop me darling, you won’t talk me out of this one, let’s do it, let’s throw a sickie tomorrow, let’s drive to the seaside!”
Those television schedulers knew what they were doing, and I imagine they still do. I would bet a large sum of money that if Heart Beat is no longer a feature of Sunday evening broadcasting, there will be some similarly mundane and dire (safe and non-stimulating) period program with the odd comedic character thrown in, and lots of greenery and a policeman on a bicycle, or a vet with their arm up a cows arse, or something equally stereotypical of either the 40’s 50’s or 60’s (*select applicable decade)
What is it about Sundays that can so easily tempt us into making them an absolute waste of a perfectly good day? Has it been drilled into us from birth that Sunday is a day to do nothing, or at least nothing productive? We might take a walk, or go and watch the Rugby or visit our Grandparents, but deep down at the back of our minds is the mantra “steady now, don’t use up too much energy or get too excited, it is Monday tomorrow after all.”
I’m writing this on a Saturday, and with all this thinking of Sunday I am already feeling lethargic, and limp and listless. If I live to be 88, then I’ll have spent 70 years as an adult, with equates to 10 years’ worth of Sundays. Imagine sitting around, eating and drinking and watching crap TV for 10 years straight. What an incredibly destructive waste of a large portion of my life.
Although I guess this “day of rest” doesn’t apply to everyone, not everyone sits around on Shakletons High seats drinking tea at their grandparents watching Songs of Praise. It’s an important working day for anyone generally involved in the Christian Church related environment. But it’s also a busy working day for the petrol station attendants as the world descends to queue, to fill up and wash their car. And it is a really busy working day for those in the supermarkets who due to our archaic retail laws have to fit the same number of customers into four and a half hours as they would on a normal day. And it’s a bloody busy day for those working in restaurants and pubs, as millions flock to get their
weekly dose of Beef and Yorkshire puddings with gravy.
It’s a stressful day in casualty departments (or are they called A&E now?) dealing with the plethora of bloody, muddy injuries sustained in the combat zones of football and rugby pitches up and down the land. And it’s a tough day for those tasked with delivering the mammoth piles of Newspapers and supplements, meticulously feeding them section by colourful section into tiny slivers of letter boxes. But for many of us, the most work we do on a Sunday is putting our slippers on the right feet, and fishing the toast out of the toaster.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not always been like this. I used to work Sundays, in fact I worked Sundays for about 10 years, and I loved working Sundays; it was like a day of calm after a frantic Saturday night. I used to come down at around eleven o’clock, and wander around the pub, the smell of last night’s hedonism clinging to the air, stale smoke, spilled beer and debauchery. Sorting my till out and checking the barrels, setting the bar out with fresh towels and giant ashtrays, getting the place all nice for the first of the hangovers in search of the hair of the dog to arrive; I would observe them waiting patiently for the doors to be opened at twelve on the dot. The seal would be broken and fresh air and punters would flood in. The tales of Saturday’s excess would be regaled, exaggerated and elaborated upon over warm ale and beef dripping on bread.
Since I left the hospitality and then retail trades, my level of effort on a Sunday has declined dramatically, up to this stagnant point I find myself at now, (on a Saturday as well!) I have decided this cannot continue; I don’t even have the luxury or the excuse of watching Sunday television to drag me down into a pit of immobile sluggishness; I have nothing but my upbringing and cultural norms to blame, and it has to end. So from tomorrow I am going to do something about it, for tomorrow I will stand up a say loudly and proudly:
“No, I won’t do it, I just will not sit around all day chatting and snoozing. For today is a Sunday and I will find excitement, today I will learn something new, or meet someone new, or try something I have never done before. Today I will use energy, and awaken my brain. Today I am alive; I will not continue to waste the collective years of Sundays of my life. Tomorrow I will work, and today I will live!”
And do you know what? I don’t think Monday mornings would be such a dreadful thing if Sundays were filled with a bit more energy and excitement. I wonder if all these years I have been repeating the famous answer of Brenda Ann Spencer when she was asked why she had just killed two of her classmates, and wounded eight others, (the same sentence that has paid Bob Geldof’s mortgage off many times over), because of Sundays. Perhaps if she’d had a more productive day on the first day of the week she might have been less inclined to attempt mass murder on her first day back at school, who knows. Although I have no inclination for shooting sprees, maybe by instinctively hibernating for a day, we create a void in our minds that when filled by Mondays is problematic, causing negative thoughts, and thus continues the apathy of Sunday well into Monday afternoon. And I am not for a minute suggesting that Compo, Cleggy and Foggy could be described as the catalyst for extreme violence, (though I have often considered that Nick Berry may well be,) they could be a part of the problem.
So here’s to Sundays.Comrades let stand up together and enjoy the day. Let’s fight against lethargy and apathy, let’s turn off our televisions, get out of our Shackletons high seats and get outside and explore. Let’s make Sunday a day of adventure, of new learning, of new skills and having new experiences. Let’s not waste our years; let’s celebrate Sunday and look forwards with renewed energy to Mondays.