Just One Day Out Of Life
As fond as I am of bank holidays, I find that the weeks which immediately follow them are the pits. Remember, this is one day, only one day, and yet as soon as you go back to work, the sh*t hits the fan. Trains will be late, and ridiculously crammed. Computers will break down. Half a dozen delivery men will think it’s a great idea to arrive at lunchtime (do they work any other hours?); and the general public will be frothing, slavering because your building was closed yesterday. You had the temerity to stay at home, when your bosses weren’t paying you, and lie in. Or go to the coast, or the cinema, or a walk around the park. They have had to organize their own activities.
If my council ever paid us to work on bank holidays, as shops do, I wouldn’t complain, in the same way that I never used to mind doing overtime on Sundays; it took the sting out of the week ahead. You’re ahead of the game, that bit more ready than your colleagues who took a rest. These days, when I know that there’s a bank holiday approaching, I feel dread, and try not to think about it. And even though my wife and I had a great time on Monday, I was mentally trying to prepare myself for Tuesday, anticipate the arguments and rehearse my replies. Like trying to play a game of chess that hasn’t started yet.
It isn’t the same as going on annual leave, because usually your building stays open and your colleagues carry on in your absence, if not quite so brilliantly and stylishly as yourself. I wish we could all have personal bank holidays. A budget of days off which we can arrange with our line managers, independently of our colleagues, so that you don’t get this unnecessary rest-of-the-week tension.
I find that, if we don’t plan anything for bank holiday weekends, we end up drifting aimlessly. For some reason, you can’t, on bank holidays, plan what you’re going to watch in the evenings; you have to watch whatever’s on. We never seem to get to the cinema, although bank holidays strike me as a good time to visit them. It’s a shame to stay indoors, but you have to decide where you’re going well in advance. The tension seems to build up even when you’re trying to think of nice things.
I’ve started sketching out a character. Again. I’ve taken three people I know, in real life, and I’m trying to assimilate bits and pieces of them into a composite. At the moment, he’s simply called Hero. And there’s a whole lot I don’t know about him. And I know nothing about what’s going to happen to him, or what he’s going to attempt, when the story begins. I’m hoping something will occur to me.
I thought it might be useful to sketch out his parents first, so I did that at the beginning of the week. Because their relationship will have affected Hero’s childhood. And I sketched in Hero’s sister and best friend, too.
I was going great guns on Tuesday, but the very next day, I stalled. I’m trying to think about what Hero’s parents will have argued about in the course of their relationship. But it’s become a blur, now, and it’s maddening.