What is a weekend? For many centuries it barely existed as Sunday was the only day of rest and for most people, hardly that: church attendance was practically compulsory and then the women or servants had to have been up since 6 preparing the Sunday roast. Only once it had been eaten and the plates washed could you then grab a snooze for an hour or so. Sunday was hardly a day of rest in our house either since my father had to lead a minimum of three services a day and sometimes four – 8 am Communion, Family Communion, Mattins and Evensong. At one time, before the Great Rebellion of ’72, we were made to go to at least three of these which I think constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Saturday was not much better as during my teens I had a Saturday job of one kind or another, mostly in shops and generally involving being on your feet all day. My first job was in a greengrocers, the old-fashioned sort with sawdust and cabbage-leaves on the floor. A man used to stand out the front all day crying ‘All ripe ter-maaaar-ter!’ and I learned to shove fruit and veg in a paper bag, weigh it and then twist the corners all in one fluid movement. It was a very popular shop with long queues out the front and we were busy all day. I ate my lunch sitting on sacks of potatoes – a crusty roll from the baker’s with a thick wedge of cheese in the middle, followed by a Number 6.*
But later on a weekend meant only one thing: the pub! I considered the time wasted if I had not been to the pub for at least two sessions, Friday and Saturday night and preferably Sunday lunchtime as well. Sunday afternoons were for sleeping in front of the TV and sometimes a Sunday evening could involve a gentle folk session but the pubs closed at ten so there wasn’t any scope for much more.
But what of nowadays? Since I am deeply reluctant to come out of lockdown too soon the pub is the last place I shall be going, particularly after reports of people going mad after a few beers and completely forgetting to socially distance (well, you would wouldn’t you?) So nowadays a weekend involves first and foremost a rest from writing and thinking. Well, not from thinking exactly since you can’t stop the brain from working, but a rest from deliberately thinking. I don’t try to think about anything, I just allow the river of thought to flow gently along.
In any case since I am officially an Old Fart I don’t go out much at the weekend. Pre-lockdown a Friday night might have involved a political meeting or folk club, and on Saturdays OH and I might go out for a drink or a meal, though we’d usually be back in time to catch Casualty before bed. My rock’n’roll life, I’d think to myself as I swallowed my tablets and took out my teeth. I might have the occasional ‘proper night out’ – a gig or a party – though nothing compared to those of my youth as I’d still usually be in bed by midnight. Then Sundays are usually Quaker Meeting of course and I’ll usually do a few household chores, go for a walk and then sit in front of the TV for an hour or so. If I’ve got a good book on the go I’ll spend several hours with my nose in it.
All of this is very therapeutic. Most weekends I have nothing to do and I do it beautifully. You know what they say – don’t just do something – sit there!
*Number 6 were a brand of cigarette, the cheapest on the market. Just in case you though it was some kind of bodily evacuation…