I’m not a religious man but I did go to a church school until the age of 8, I like visiting churches and I like Sundays to be a bit different. But how different? If we delve into the Holy Bible, The King James version we find in the First Book of Moses : Genesis 2, the following;
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
In my childhood, and of course long before that, the seventh day, or Sunday as it became, was a day for rest. I well remember the silence of Sundays growing up in the North East. Everything was shut, shops, museums, places to visit, just about everything, except churches of course which, as a family, we never visited when a service was being held. My Godfather was a staunch Christian and I think he never ever forgave me for a failure on my part to be confirmed into the Church of England. I wasn’t against the idea, but as a teenager interested in other things, it never entered my head, and as such although I know he now lives in Norwich, I know absolutely nothing about him.
As a child I think Sunday used to last for about 3 weeks. Boredom and I are constant companions. I need to be stimulated at all times and Sundays of old were not stimulating. The silence which seemed to envelop Sundays also seemed stifling. My bedroom overlooked the 1st green of Boldon Golf Club in County Durham. I’d be reduced to spending hours watching golfers playing on the course, not the most exciting thing to do. Sometimes I’d wander out and sit on the fence and watch them, which occasionally got me into hot water from my mother who has the propensity to see errant danger in the most innocent of pastimes; so of course she visualised me being felled stone cold dead by a golf ball. Mind you our front room had a huge bay window overlooking the course and many is the time we have been alerted to a wayward projectile through the window by an almighty crash.
But I think on balance I miss Sundays as they were, but I’m not actually sure what or why I miss them. Clive Aslet writing in the Daily Telegraph wrote at length about this in March by asking the question “Whatever happened to Sundays?” It was interesting that a grocer’s daughter, in the guise of Margaret Thatcher, first broke into the sanctity of Sunday. Since 1986 and the initial relaxation of the Sunday Trading Laws, there has been a gradual drip drip erosion of the one day in the week many people, and I am one of them, feel should remain special. This year during the Olympics, full relaxation of Sunday Trading Laws will be rolled out. Why? What has shopping and sport got to do with anything? Well of course both are big business, but I personally do not see the relevance of making shopping even easier just because Britain is hosting the Olympic Games. And what about the people who will be working on those Sundays, do they not wish to see the Olympics too?
Sundays as they were were boring, that I have to admit. But looking back from the great height of my middle aged opinionated blogging, there was something special about a day when everything stopped, people could spend time with the family (with associated health warnings of being in a confined space with Aunt Maude) and just relax. After all this was the original meaning of Sunday, we work hard 6 days a week and then relax, properly relax on the 7th Day.
Now we seem incapable of relaxing. Sundays have become either a mad dash to the local supermarket, often to buy so much food we end up having to throw most of it away, or a mad dash to the DIY out of town shopping store to buy a BBQ we never need so we can spend quality time with the family; but in the chaos of getting to and from the DIY Superstores Maddening Crowd, we’ve become too tired to even light the charcoal, and of course it is now raining, so everyone has gone indoors to watch TV.
The brilliant film “Whisky Galore” based on the book by Compton MacKenzie which itself was loosely based on the sinking of the S.S. Politician, encapsulates the power Sundays once had in society. If you do not know the film, a ship packed with whisky runs aground off the Hebridean island of Eriskay. Eriskay itself due to World War 2 rationing has run dry of whisky. A calamity so enormous to the islanders they’d go to great lengths to rectify the situation by hatching a plan to ‘relieve’ the ailing ship of its cargo. About to set off, the clock strikes midnight – THE SABBATH. No one can work on the Sabbath and so the whole enterprise stops for 24 hours; even if their drive for the uisge beatha (pronounced 'wishge ba' ) the ‘water of life’, brings them almost to insanity during the enforced wait.
So should we keep Sundays special? Well I think that is a matter of personal choice. In a quickening world, maybe we should take time out once a week and slow down, as a society it may do us good. Do they not say “Good things come to those who wait?”
However I must finish my thousand words for the day because as I look out of the window, Julie is just driving up the drive after a mad dash shopping trip for food and I am in the middle of decorating so must head of now to the DIY store for another pot of paint.
The Madding Crowd awaits…………………