I was talking to a friend the other day about Sundays and how they’re not like Sundays any more. It’s partly that we’ve changed — we’re not easily bored kids who need entertaining any more. Or, in our cases, we’re not parents with easily bored kids who need entertaining. But, also, the world has changed and now Sundays are more like every other day.
Most shops are open on Sundays. The Internet’s always there. And as more of our TV watching becomes time-shifted, even Sunday telly is more like normal telly.
So we’re losing — or have already lost — the hours of sitting around, with nothing to do but “make our own entertainment”. Reading the papers. Watching old films on TV. Doing the gardening. Having a bash at some DIY. OK, we still do many of these, but only in the knowledge that these Sundays we could be doing other things. We don’t do these things because there’s nothing else to do.
You could impose a “day of rest” on yourself: avoid the Internet, do no shopping, that kind of thing. But even then, you can’t escape the knowledge that the rest of the country is busy. On a Sunday! It used to be that not only were you bored, but you knew the rest of the country was also bored, filling up their time with cooking, eating, pottering around, making phone calls, avoiding homework, breathing in before another week begins.
All of which is a pre-amble to A Sunday Afternoon At Home, an episode of Hancock’s Half Hour from 1958, featuring Tony Hancock, Sid James, Bill Kerr, Hattie Jacques and Kenneth Williams. If you ever need to describe the feeling of a classic English Sunday afternoon to someone who’s too young or too foreign, play them the three parts on YouTube.
When I was a kid we listened to this quite a lot, on a record. It’s one of those bits of culture where phrases enter the family lexicon. I can’t pretend that it will mean as much to you as it means to me, and I can’t even promise you’ll like it, but it still makes me laugh out loud, which can’t be bad.
Ideal listening for a Sunday afternoon.