Sundays, what are they for? As a child I categorically hated Sundays; especially in the winter (summer Sundays are fit for picnics, playing out and are a prelude for the holidays). Dark, cold and filled with days keeping warm in a bed heated with an electric blanket (haha, as it! I wonder if people still use them?). and wrapped in what my mother coined as a ‘candle wick’ bedspread, was the only comfort to my misery.
We lived in a tiny village, no shops (not that they opened on a Sunday back then anyway), only only a few houses, church and a school. It was hardly an exciting metropolis of glamour and modernity…Our home was an old eighteenth century farmhouse with a Victorian extension. It was the epitome of living in Scrooge’s lodgings. Many a morning I’d awake with ice on the insides of the single glazed sash windows. When the wind blew it’d lift the carpet up like Jacob Marley had arrived…and whistle around the roof. This resulted in my inability to face reading Dickens for many years, as it was all too familiar and real to me. Especially the boring bits where the women would sit around fires doing nothing – that was me on a Sunday.
It wasn’t that my parents were religious, but we were surrounded by it. We had a pub next to a church (they usually are) and whenever my parents moved into a new community they’d make it their policy to get to know the local vicar. I mean who can blame them really? It brought a lot of money into the pub as they’d end up holding all kinds of church gatherings and religious shenanigans with us. The lovely old vicar used to like a pint with my dad (so much so he had his own stool and a picture hung on the wall above where he sat). Plus all the oldies would rock up after Sunday service for their three course luncheon. This lucrative move meant we had to occasionally attend important services (dressed in our best bib and tucker – usually, for me, a velvet M and S number with a bit of tartan on it) and this I didn’t mind too much as I liked the hymns (I went to a church school where we prayed twice a day and sang cracking hymns constantly – I never questioned this until later in life). However, I wasn’t so keen on all the prayers I didn’t know and the sermons. Plus if you got the stand-in vicar he always picked the rubbish songs that required no ability to sing but all the mastery of a linguist to be able to get the words to fit the music – all in a high pitched tone. But I digress, in the winter the old village church was on par with my icy bedroom. Therefore, a church Sunday could be a double whammy.
Luckily though (I say this loosely) most Sundays were spent by me being lonely and bored. Mum and Dad were so busy feeding the silver hoards, that I pretty much never got a look in. If I was good I got two dinners – a mini one at the beginning of service and then another at tea time (for those of you who have ever eaten her cooking will know this is jackpot winning gains). However, it wasn’t enough to liven up the dullest day of the week. Busy, overworked and stressed as they were, they had little sympathy. According to them, when they were kids they ‘had’ to go to church and Sunday school. They ‘had’ to wear special clothes and they weren’t allowed to play (this all used to come out in the same spiel as the one where they made their own games from sticks and tin cans, their world was all about horrible margarine and without butter, and they were forced to have baths in s sink…). Therefore, I was to think myself lucky I had a telly (one with four channels which only had Blue Peter and The Queens Nose on, on a Sunday morning), a fire (we had no heating so we developed chilblains from October to March by turning at the hearth every five minutes) and an ‘Acorn Electron’ computer which took half an hour to load, with the graphics verging on etch a sketch quality. So, in my true spirit and style, I had to reshape my Sundays into something wonderful.
So making wonderful i did. I requested a midi hi-if, blank tapes, vinyl, music mags, and created my own radio show (you see always wanted one). I’d DJ my way through the top 40, create playlists and mix tapes (way before Apple even thought it). Then I stepped it up. My ‘miserly Yorkshire’ father, ‘he who wouldn’t pay for Sky’ did buy me multipacks of blank tapes from the cash and carry. The deal was that I could have one blank tape if I spent my free time ‘taping’ (that sounds hilarious now) all the telly they missed when they’d ‘be packed downstairs’. So in return for recording ‘Cell Block H’, ‘Only Fools’ and ‘Corrie’, I was allowed to fill my tape with ‘Top of the Pops’, ‘Chart Show UK’, and other random shite that I’d spot and press record on (it was never instant because the button used to take five seconds to kick in so I’d always miss the best bit). From my producers chair, I’d create my own E4 style show and analyse the dances and clothing of various pop stars (my goodness, I’m wasted in education). I’d create dance routines and costumes to accompany them (I was so cool in my fingerless lace gloves). This all provided me with a panache for organisation, an ear for good music and an eye for a worthy trend (I tend not to try and follow flash in the pan silly ones – harem pants et al). But as time went on I needed cash to support my fledgling Vox Pop career. So I went All Sir Alan and started my own business. Sunday mornings through to lunchtimes would consist of me washing cars in the pub car park. This highly successful venture finally ended when ‘the miserly Yorkshireman’ needed his teenage daughter to serve the ‘silver hoards’ for slave wages in his restaurant.
So the wonderful Sundays turned to just another day…
Twenty five year later and I can tell you that I haven’t ‘been to work’ on a Sunday for about ten years. Since the dark days of living in Ebenezer’s Palace, the pace of life has moved on rapidly – mores the pity. Less people go to church, shops now open and no longer is it seen as a sacred day of rest (for the record it was never a day of rest in our house). And although I have what seems like a thousand channels on my telly (I can never find a thing to watch though…) strike me down now but I crave for the boredom of that seven year old sometimes. The empty day which made me creative and enabled me to discover who I was.
So I thought about this today (I was singing ‘In the Bleak Mid-winter’ to Little E) and Sunday self discovery, had today led me to:
identify with my old blusher brush – it’s hanging on in there even though it is old and has alopecia. Replaced my the middle one with a newer better looking model, I felt sorry for it and felt guilty ending its functional life. A glance in the mirror and a look back at old picture reinforced this feeling – I am definitely feeling my age and hope to God that doesn’t mean I have to stop wearing skinny jeans and start shopping at Bon Marche.
Am I replaceable by a newer and fitter model? This enlightenment has probably been triggered by my middle baby turning fifteen. The beautiful one who we all spent an uncertain half an hour today rooting for, when she decided to dye her hair silver (it was touch and go for a while but it didn’t work). All reminding me how uncertain i felt at that age, and how I was desperate to find my place in the world…And when she asks ‘can I go up town?’ I want to say ‘no because it’s Sunday’ and then I realise to a young modern ear this will sound ridiculous!
My final discovery was that as old and wise as I now am, Him deigns to treat me like a petulant and untrustworthy teen. There is no coincidence that I’ve been playing Happy Mondays very loudly whilst I cooked the habitual dinner (that they won’t come home in time for and won’t clear away) and the fact Him is refusing to buy us tickets to see them live next month because ‘it’s on a school night’. My ‘loud’ protest and my ‘silent’ dinner will provide a masterclass for the children in ‘How to Throw a Strop’ – y’ twisting ma melons msn’.
For the next two hours I will have to work (eurgh) although the bonus is that I’ve forgotten to bring some documents home – that’s given me an extra hour! I will have help Little E make a 3D model of Saturn and her rings. Then dinner will be served and Sunday night sick feeling will start to seep in. Is that where ‘no rest for the wicked’ originated from? They say careful what you wish for, but I wish for Sundays to regain their sanctity. I’d like us all to shut the world day on this old day of rest. Whatever you believe, whoever wrote the bible, they were very wise. Although creation is a fairy story, it’s worth thinking about what it’s ancient author was trying to say. Not about greed, not about temptation (they really knew what they were on with didn’t they?) but about on the seventh day he rested. Why is life so demanding now there’s no room for rest? Sundays, what are they for? They’re for doing nothing (if you want) so go and put your feet up…