2015年4月5日星期日

LIZ JONES: Our souls need hard work, not bank holidays and lunch hours 





ON Maundy Thursday, which in this column I will be referring to as ‘Thursday’, as I believe in neither God nor bank holidays, I went to get in my Land Rover to go and purchase grass seed (my gardener has, I believe, gone cross-country skiing), only to find the rear windscreen shattered (this has happened to my utility vehicle twice in two years; no wonder our troops struggled in Afghanistan).


I phoned Land Rover Insurance at half past two, and eventually, having been cut off and discovered that no one at Land Rover Insurance had the initiative – despite having taken down my mobile phone number four million times – to call me back, got through to be told: ‘I can give you the direct number for Autoglass.’ So I then called them, only to be held in a queue for 72 minutes; the call back service was not working.



Easter is merely seen as an excuse to eat chocolate and clog up the A1, due to the fact we have all been brainwashed (file picture)


Easter is merely seen as an excuse to eat chocolate and clog up the A1, due to the fact we have all been brainwashed (file picture)



Eventually, at about 7.30pm, I was told that ‘we are very busy because it’s Easter weekend’ and that nothing would happen tomorrow as it’s ‘a bank holiday’.


The earliest I can expect my windscreen to be mended is Tuesday. When I objected, the woman said in a rather patronising voice: ‘You can still drive your vehicle, it’s quite safe. It will be like having a window open.’


Why, in last week’s leaders’ debate, did no one talk about banning bank holidays, surely the worst pox on this country since VAT and the Congestion Charge. On Good Friday, or ‘Friday’, a procession of walkers ambled past my house.


The man at the rear – quite old – was carrying… a wicker cross on his back. It was quite large. The cross made my dogs bark.


But at least these people, who should really have been picking up litter as they walked to at least be useful, had some inkling of why Easter is celebrated in the first place.


Other than this rather exhausted group, Easter is merely seen as an excuse to eat chocolate and clog up the A1, due to the fact we have all been brainwashed into thinking bank holidays necessarily involve securing children into car seats and giving them diabetes.


On Friday evening, having failed to get a table at the normally deserted Thai restaurant in Richmond, here in the Dales, I drove (in my now very chilly vehicle) past fields slap bang next to the A road littered with tents, and people sitting round bonfires. This cannot be pleasurable: a wet field, next to a road.



Liz Jones was told the rear windscreen of her Land Rover could not be repaired until after the Easter weekend (file picture)


Liz Jones was told the rear windscreen of her Land Rover could not be repaired until after the Easter weekend (file picture)



Only the day before, we had had a blizzard. Maybe these people have lower pleasure thresholds than I do, but really, wouldn’t they be happier at work?


I haven’t had a day off since January 2014; I’ve never taken a lunch hour in my life.


On Thursday, in between being put on hold, I called the press office of one of the big firms whose CEO signed that letter damning Labour, only to be told the woman I wanted to speak to was ‘probably at lunch’. I asked to be put through to her boss, who told me: ‘She’s entitled to a lunch hour.’ No she’s not, I told her. She knew I needed information, so she should have asked a colleague to fetch her a sandwich.


Later that day, I called another big British company at a quarter to five, only to be told the person I wanted to speak to was ‘in a meeting’. You only have to browse Instagram these days to find out these late afternoon meetings are all a lie. She’d left for a long weekend!


Photos of houses clog the internet, with the inevitable caption: ‘Home, wine, bath, candles, bliss.’ This is dangerous.


We all believe the lies on Instagram (the country pile, which the photos omit to show us is next to a dual carriageway; the Aston Martin in the drive, which the caption forgets to say is borrowed; the table laid for lunch with the extended family of step-children and ex-husbands, the caption not telling us the marriage broke up because of the husband’s affair with a man), which means we all think we should be putting our feet up (‘chillax’ seems to be the most common epithet), when in fact leisure time is sorely overrated.


Hard work is much better for our souls, and for conversation over a poor dead lamb (poor lambs in the blizzard; why is no one knitting them tank tops?).


PS At last, a glimmer of hope! I can cash in my News International pension plan, which will only give me precisely £100 a month when I retire: not enough to cover cat food. So I wrote to them, only to receive this response: ‘I can advise the Trustees have at this time decided not to implement any of the additional pension flexibility.’ The companies administering these plans are not going to be helpful, as our pensions give them a job, and investment income; they won’t give us our money without a fight, clearly. I emailed back, only to receive an out-of-office response, due to it being ‘Easter’…











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