If, like me, you dislike work, but have bills to pay and a need to do something with your day other than sit around watching the horrors of the Michael Ball Show and Deal or No Deal, then you'll know the feeling of being in work and not entirely enjoying it. I've written about bank holidays before, in this post here, which you might like to read, although I didn't, but then it's sometimes hard to read your old stuff, and it makes you feel like one day you'll look back on this and think, Christ, that was bad, wasn't it?
There's something saddening about setting foot out of the house in the morning, something spirit-sapping about getting into the car for the long and tedious commute, where the only distraction from an otherwise unremarkable few minutes of driving from one place to another might be some chinless berk in an Audi trying to kill you or passively-aggressively flashing his lights at you, and you swear a bit and hope he's got a tiny cock, or might crash into a concrete wall, and you end up driving slowly past, waving at his burning corpse and giving him the finger - but that never happens, and you'd probably feel a bit guilty if it really did.
Don't get me wrong, by the way, if you don't have a job and you'd love to have one. I appreciate that it's a good thing to have a job, and I am pleased that I have one. I like the idea of being able to earn money to buy goods and services, and it's not as if I have to do anything strenuous or life-threatening in order to get a monthly cheque in the bank. That does give me a sense of fulfilment and pleasure - I have a series of tasks to do, I do them, and then, when they're done (or occasionally when they're not) I can go home, back on the motorway, letting my brain softly tune out of the cars around me until it all looks like some kind of bland computer game in which no-one ever wins anything. Please don't think that I'm complaining about being employed, because I appreciate it can be much more awful not to have a job at all. But still. I think I can be grateful to have employment, but at the same time feel slightly weary about it nevertheless. And I am just that: slightly weary.
Working on a bank holiday only serves to increase those feelings of weariness and gentle despair, even when you're pretty sure there's nothing good on the telly and you'd probably be sitting at home picking your nose or listening to your next-door neighbour making random banging noises and gargling throaty coughs, half-hoping that the banging noises are cries for help and they've fallen down the stairs and are bleeding to death, rather than - as your more paranoid brain might think it - them just hammering on a piece of wood, not to build anything, but just to make a noise that pisses you off.
Apparently we have John Lubbock, among others, to thank for bank holidays, although I am not so sure we should be thanking him. I find bank holidays tediously insufferable at the best of times, even when I'm not working - when I am, there's a sense of repressed anger and misery that permeates everything. You end up just gazing out over all the empty desks, wondering if everyone who isn't in is having a wonderful time, doing a conga down the street in a feather boa and giant sombrero, thinking that they probably are, and doing it just because you're not there.
I think the timing doesn't help. In this country we have two bank holidays in May, then one in August. And there's the thing of it just being one day, one solitary island of nothingness in the middle of all the rest of the crap - and for a lot of us, that just means having to catch up with all the work the next day. Why not just have three days off in one go - you know, really go for it, rather than fiddling around with a day off here and a day off there? I think I'd really prefer that. In fact, just five days off, in the middle of summer, where no-one's allowed to work, or do anything. A proper holiday. No shops open, no pubs open, no nothing. Just bin everything. If anything, it might drive people screaming and tear-soaked back to their offices, beating down the doors and demanding to be let back in - it might make us appreciate the things we take for granted at work that we miss at home. Like being able to sit quietly, or drift off into daydreams.
There is a gentle hum in the office. I can hear someone typing - in fact, it's me - and someone not too far away eating a bowl of soup. And that's about it, really. The traffic sounds are quiet, and I can't hear any people at all. I half expect to look out of the window and it to be Day of the Triffids - but it's not. It's just an ordinary office, in an ordinary place, where nothing much of any great consequence is ever going to happen. And while that's a comforting level of familiarity, it's also pretty dull. Tomorrow, it will be livelier, and more full of people, and I think I'll prefer that. For now, it's just counting down the hours till I can go home.