Hap­pier times when lunch meant real break

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - New Arrivals -

I’m pretty sure you’ll have no­ticed that we’ve been hav­ing some hot, sunny weather re­cently. As al­ways it has given rise to inane front-page sto­ries – this year by the not-too-bright Daily Ex­press, which dumbs down any­thing that might pass as national or global news (un­less it’s a piece knock­ing im­mi­grants) and rel­e­gates it to the in­side pages, choos­ing to in­form its read­ers that we’re en­joy­ing – or en­dur­ing, as that pa­per would have it – a heat­wave.

As though we hadn’t al­ready no­ticed the fact for our­selves.

Any­way, it was last Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon that I was chat­ting to a pale-faced but no less beau­ti­ful for that check­out lady, who was be­moan­ing the fact that she and her col­leagues were un­able to take full ad­van­tage of the sun­shine (maybe she’d caught sight of the Daily Ex­press front page).

“It’s all right for you,” she said, “we’re stuck in here all day…” Well, you know how it goes. You’ll have heard it a hun­dred times your­self over the past cou­ple of weeks.

I said: “Per­haps they ought to re-in­tro­duce early clos­ing day.”

The young lady looked blank and then to­tally amazed as I went on to ex­plain, with the help of a lady of about my own age who stood be­hind me in the queue, how, in more civ­i­lized times, shops didn’t

‘We all had proper lunch hours, al­low­ing staff to be hu­man be­ings, rather than mere Bob Cratchits’

open on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noons. Nor did they open on Sun­days, apart from a few newsagents who would open for an hour or two on Sun­day morn­ings.

Those were the days, of course, be­fore cor­po­rate greed be­came the norm and turned us into all­con­sum­ing ter­mites.

In those hap­pier days, too, we all had proper lunch hours; shops and of­fices closed be­tween 1pm and 2pm, al­low­ing staff to be hu­man be­ings, rather than mere Bob Cratchits; eas­ily re­place­able cogs in the com­pany ma­chine.

Nowa­days, I’m told, “lunch” no longer en­tails a visit to cafe or pub but is more likely to be a snack and a drink con­sumed at high speed in the work­place.

What makes mat­ters worse is the fact that the snack is of­ten a sand­wich or a plas­tic pot of some­thing barely ed­i­ble which has been bought from a cooler cabi­net and cost­ing sev­eral hun­dred times more than the value of the in­gre­di­ents.

Work­ers of the mod­ern world, I pity you.

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