Jeremy Corbyn promises four new UK bank holidays if Labour wins the election. According to Ross Clark, “he fundamentally misunderstands modern work.” Paul Mason adds that work is often interesting. It defines us. We allow it to creep into our leisure time “because it brings a calculable financial reward and because, in our hearts, we secretly want it to.” Eva Wiseman reminds us that free time is expensive, holidays aren’t all they’re cracked up to be and when we’re on them we secretly “yearn for the spa-like calm of work, where you are allowed to have a cup of tea whenever you fancy, and talk to adults about things like Isis without cheerily pretending everything is going to be OK.”

Pre-industrial workers had a shorter workweek than today’s: “The medieval calendar was filled with holidays. […] There were often weeks’ worth of ales — to mark important life events (bride ales or wake ales) as well as less momentous occasions (scot ale, lamb ale, and hock ale). All told, holiday leisure time in medieval England took up probably about one-third of the year. And the English were apparently working harder than their neighbours. The ancien règime in France is reported to have guaranteed fifty-two Sundays, ninety rest days, and thirty-eight holidays. In Spain, travellers noted that holidays totalled five months per year.”

“During the first four days of World War II, over 400,000 dogs and cats — some 26 percent of London’s pets — were slaughtered, a number six times greater than the number of civilian deaths in the UK from bombing during the entire war.”


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