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Thursday, 12 July 2012

Day 7 - Bank Holidays

Todays original prompt was on a UK Bank Holiday - and I wondered about whether or not to use this  - as its not a Bank Holiday in either the UK or Singapore today! When I checked the Earth Calendar which looks at days when cultural events are observed (not necessarily when businesses are closed), this is what I found! Its here if you get the urge to check yourself

Aniversario Puerto Maldonado Peru
Battle of Boyne/Orangemen`s Day United Kingdom
Battle of the Boyne Day Ireland
Independence Day Kiribati
Sao Tome & Principe
Micronesian Day Micronesia
Orangemen's Day Canada
Petrovdan (Orthodox) Bosnia-Herzegovina
Petrovdan Serbia

However when I thought about it it made perfect sense to talk about Bank Holidays when it isnt a Bank Holiday - if you know what I mean! As a child Bank Holidays were days when everybody was off work, the shops were all closed and it rained! If it didnt rain, everybody went to the beach because everywhere else was totally closed.

After sitting in traffic for four times longer than a normal trip would take, you would pay an arm and a leg to park on a farmers field full of fresh cowpats, this gave the farmer a reason to smile, as he watched us townies tiptoeing through the cowpats carrying windbreaks, kettles, deckchairs and a weeks worth of clothes, walking at least four miles to the beach, for the afternoon because you couldnt get parked anywhere closer! If you did happen to stand on a concealed cowpat, you would only be able to find an old tissue the size of a postage stamp between you and everybody who was with you, when what you really needed was something the size of a large bathsheet, to wipe the unmentionable stuff off your new white summer sandals,  your mother would be hurrying you up through your tears and shame saying, you'll be fine, you'll be able to wash it off your feet in the sea - Yuck!

When you got to the beach it was full and you would struggle to get a 'pitch' big enough for the whole family. Usually, the beach was full of people trying to get a Cote d'Azure tan in one afternoon in Bridlington - to do it lots of people stopped millimetres short of laying on tinfoil, basted with a layer of olive oil, cooking oil or if they were really posh 'Ambre Soleil' trying to accelerate the burning process, and catch as many of those golden rays as possible - and they did this even if it was freezing - as long as the sun was actually out, it wasnt raining and the wind wasnt blowing the kettles, deckchairs  and probably even their children out to sea.

Childrens entertainment consisted of building sandcastles, burying siblings and paddling in The North Sea, which is FREEZING ALL YEAR ROUND, even the waters around the English Riviera (Torquay) are only fractionally warmer! Ive paddled in both! If you didnt drown, get stung by a jellyfish or die of hypothermia, you could look forward to a dry down with a sandy towel, before exfoliation was fashionable or necessary. This was followed by sandwiches with real sand in them!

The sign of a good Bank Holiday was the peeling skin that followed, and a night in the loo following that dodgy kebab from the seafront burger van! Oh yes we knew how to have a good time!  I remember beaches looking like this, when the first rays of sunshine broke through the clouds on a bank holiday (photo courtesy of the BBC)

As I got older,  I was living at the seaside myself - Bank Holidays were an opportunity to make some serious money! Working on a market stall, working in a fish shop, or waitressing I earned double money on a Bank Holiday so even then, Bank Holidays were not 'holidays' for me! If it rained people decided if they couldnt get on the beach, they might as well have a nice meal and the posh ones might even have a bottle of Blue Nun or Mateus Rose to go with it!

This was as we were coming to the end of the British Seaside's heyday, the famous 'factory fortnight' when whole organisations shut down and EVERYBODY went to by train to the coast, was becoming a thing of the past! People were travelling on package holidays, often to stay in unfinished hotels in exotic places like Lloret de Mar, Benidorm and Salou on the Spanish Costas - to lay in guaranteed sunshine, and get seriously brown (or burnt), drink cheap Sangria, eat English food, bring back their duty free and a bad dose of diarrhoea! They would blame this on foreign food (English food cooked abroad and served by Miguel the Spanish waiter their 16 year old daughter had fallen in love with)  not on overexposure to the sun and a fortnight trying to consume the European Wine Lake!

After school when I started work proper - I worked in the emergency services - and bank holidays didnt exist there either - the holiday entitlement was added to your leave, and if you worked, you got paid double time, if you worked overtime on a bank holiday - you got double overtime rate! This meant you could afford to go on holiday when it wasnt a Bank Holiday, when you can get the best deals, in the best places when the rest of the country is at work - now that really is my kind of holiday!

These days Bank Holidays are on different days in the two countries I call home which is confusing as we come home for some of the English Bank Holidays, which are not Bank Holidays in Singapore - These are the Singaporean ones

2012 Singapore public holidays calendar
New Year’s Day 2012                     Sunday*, 1 January
Chinese New Year 2012                 Monday, 23 January Tuesday, 24 January
Good Friday 2012                           Friday, 6 April
Labour Day 2012                            Tuesday, 1 May
Buddhist Vesak Day 2012              Saturday*, 5 May
Singapore National Day 2012        Thursday, 9 August
Hari Raya Puasa 2012                    Sunday*, 19 August
Hari Raya Haji 2012                       Friday, 26 October
Deepavali 2012                               Tuesday, 13 November
Christmas Day 2012                        Tuesday, 25 December

and here are the English ones!
England and Wales 2012     
New Year's Day             2 January*
Good Friday            6 April
Easter Monday            9 April
Early May Bank Holiday            7 May
Spring Bank Holiday            4 June*
Queen's Diamond Jubilee            5 June
Summer Bank Holiday            27 August
Christmas Day            25 December
Boxing Day            26 December

So for me I guess today is as good a day as any for it to be a Bank Holiday - except Im in the UK and the sun is shining - so I might just keep quiet about it! Oh and if you fancy a trip somewhere different - you could always try Micronesia - It looks lovely, but it will probably be all closed up today - I guess you could always go to the beach!!!! 

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