COLUMN: April 20, 2017

An accurate representation of Evel Knievel

I AM still trying to get over the Prime Minister’s recent proclamation that this country is totally united… apart from that lot over there, you know, the splitters.

Of course, she can get away with this self-evident illogical nonsense because she is the only party leader with whom you could imagine leaving your spare keys when you went on holiday.

This is why the polling gap between her and the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition is so wide Evel Knievel would cry off jumping it, claiming he had a verruca and carrying a note from his mum. Never underestimate the electoral power of the Keys Test.

But the fact is, Prime Minister, this country is hopelessly and hilariously divided. There is a crack that runs down this country, splitting communities and even families, and the people on the losing side are bitter and angry. And no wishy-washy wishy-hopey bilge about red-white-and-blue unity can heal that divide.

I am talking, of course, about the rift between people who have to work on Bank Holidays and people who do not.

I am very much on the wrong side of this divide, because newspapers now publish on Bank Holidays, thanks to Eddy Shah, the failed press magnate from Warrington, who started publishing on those days, forcing other papers to follow suit. Even if there were no newspapers on Bank Holidays, I would still have to work on Bank Holidays because there has to be a newspaper the day after the Bank Holiday.

But on my way to work during the last Bank Holiday, I passed through whole streets of people pursuing the traditional Easter Monday activities of shopping, queuing outside Nando’s, and conducting marital arguments.

And it occurred to me that I have no idea who actually gets to be off work on Bank Holidays. Obviously it cannot be the people working in the shops. They have to work so that the people who are off work can shop.

And it cannot be the people who work in the town centre car parks, or the bus and train drivers, because they are needed so that the people who are enjoying the Bank Holiday ā€“ the lucky few – can get to the town centre.

Similarly, it cannot be the employees of all the theme parks and cinemas, or the poor, haunted, polo shirt-wearing souls who work in soft play centres.

Nor can it be the police officers called into those soft play centres when one child pushes another child, and then their fathers get into a fight because it’s Easter Monday and they’ve already had a row with the wife on the high street and when do the kids go back, they mean, they’ve had four days of this.

And it cannot be the doctors and nurses at the hospital who then have to patch up the father who came off worse when it all kicked off at Happy Monkey Land soft play centre.

So who is actually off work? Who are these golden people who laze about on a Bank Holiday, while the rest of us wait on them hand and foot? Factory workers ā€“ and there aren’t many of those these days, along with back office staff, and teachers. Oh, and people who work in banks.

Now, I am not saying these people do not deserve time off with their families. Of course they do. They work hard doing whatever it is they do.

But so do I. And so do the people at Happy Monkey Land soft play centre. In fact, they probably work harder than the rest of us, because can you even imagine what they have to extract from those ball pools at the end of every day?

Also, can you imagine how much money is lost every Bank Holiday because of offices being closed for the day, and all the sandwich shops and dry cleaners around the offices which have to close on those days because there are no customers. It must be hundreds of pounds… at least. I do not know, I am not an economist.

There is only one way to correct this appalling inequity. We should abolish Bank Holidays (apart from Christmas Day, because I am not Ebenezer Scrooge). Then give the holidays to employees to use whenever they want.

If the Prime Minister is serious about uniting the country, that is what she will do. If she puts that in her manifesto, I might even forgive her for talking nonsense about everybody supporting Brexit.

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