Hooray, hooray! It’s a leap year! The occasion when, every four years, we get given an extra day! Yes, that’s right – a whole bonus day! And what do we do with it? That’s right, we treat it like any other day. Indeed, if it falls on a week day, we work through it. What a bloody travesty. We should be celebrating – an extra day added to our lives! OK, I know that it isn’t really an additional day in that sense, but I do feel that, as it only comes around once every four years, we should make more of it, it should be a public holiday at the very least. After all, we don’t have enough public holidays as it is – we’re still short by a few compared to the rest of the EU. But, of course, ‘we’ don’t like the idea of more public holidays here in the UK, do we? There’s increasing hostility toward the very concept of them from the business community. According to them, public holidays affect productivity and reduce profits. (Not that they ever explain why that isn’t so in countries which have more public holidays than us – countries which often boast higher productivity than the UK).
The ‘problem’, as these kill-joys see it, is that public holidays mean most of the population being off work simultaneously, meaning that industry and the financial sector shut down completely. They’d much rather people simply took their meagre annual leave allowances at staggered intervals so as not to interfere with their profiteering. Indeed, I’ve even heard suggested (and not just by greedy bosses) that the whole concept of public holidays should be abolished and that, instead, employees should have a certain number of leave days mandatorily added to their annual leave allowance by their employers. Which is to miss the point of public holidays entirely. Which is that they provide us with a communal experience, which, in turn, provides us with one of the many threads that go toward making up the linking fabric of society as a whole. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve grown to love bank holidays – to love the quiet they bring due to the lack of work-related traffic, and the fact that I know that the majority of other people are, like me, just relaxing and forgetting about the trials of work. But the opponents of public holidays aren’t interested in communal experiences or society, they’re just interested in profits. In recent years their stance has been strengthened somewhat by the increasing reliance of the UK economy on the service and retail sectors, many of which continue to operate on bank holidays, thereby weakening the sense of a communal experience.
But getting back to the glorious 29th of February, I think we need to start a campaign for it to be a made a bank holiday. A proper bank holiday of the old school, where everything closes down and everyone is on holiday, (OK, I know that in reality emergency services, hospitals and public utilities would have to keep running, but that’s true even at Christmas, seemingly our last remaining ‘total’ public holiday). But what should we actually do on this day of complete and utter abandon? Now, generally speaking I’m not in favour of imposing themes on people’s holidays. I remember a few years ago there were suggestions that the August bank holiday should become some kind of ‘armed services day’, with soldiers marching about the streets whilst we all waved flags at them. Which would have been wrong on so many levels. Not least because the August bank holiday is meant to be when everyone goes to the beach, build sandcastles, lounge in deck chairs with knotted handkerchiefs on their heads and get sunburned. Any of which would beat displays of rampant militarism. That said, as this would be a holiday that came around only once every four years, I feel that we should mark it by doing something really special.
Picking up on the idea of public holidays providing the communal experiences which bind us together as a society and a nation, perhaps what we should do is engage in some kind of activity that reflects and reinforces our native culture. Over on Sleaze Diary lately I’ve been going on about the UK’s true cultural and spiritual values, which are pagan in origin rather than Christian, as the God botherers would have us believe. So perhaps that’s what this hypothetical every four years holiday could be: Pagan Day. Personally, I can’t help but feel that a pagan-themed public holiday would be a damn sight more entertaining than, say, the average Christmas. We could all go around doing pagan things, like painting ourselves in woad and running through the streets naked. Alternatively, we could all have street feasts, where everyone gets blind drunk on mead and ale and eats roast wild boar in huge quantities. Possibly followed by an al fresco sex orgy. But over indulgence in alcohol, food and sex aren’t the only pagan stuff we could do – we could get some druids in to cook up some psychedelic potions using mistletoe and shit.
Of course, if we wanted to go all the way, we could lure some innocent policeman into a huge wicker man and burn him alive, whilst we all sing and dance around it. In fact, a human sacrifice to try and appease the gods and ensure the return of Spring, could be the culmination of Pagan Day celebrations up and down the country. They could be held in municipal parks and village greens, possibly as part of a fete – names could be drawn out of a tombola to decide who is lucky enough to actually wield the sacrificial knife. Finding victims wouldn’t be a problem – just use the local vicar or Catholic priest. It’s no more than the child-molesting, homophobic, misogynistic bastards deserves. Not only that, but what better way could there be to appease pagan gods than by knocking off a priest from the religion that tried to repress them for centuries? Surely a few toasted vicars would be a small price to pay to guarantee a ‘barbecue Summer’. In fact, we could burn them on barbecues. Perfect! So, there you have it, my plans for a new public holiday that can be enjoyed by all the family. I reckon that if we start campaigning for Pagan Day now, by 2016 we might just get it. Then, at last, we can start the task of taking the country back to its true cultural roots and start embracing things like binge drinking and gluttony and stop condemning them out of hand. Write to your MP now demanding that the next 29 February is a Pagan Day! That’s all for now – until the next time, keep it sleazy!