Dear Peter Lloyd

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I spent Sunday morning cavorting with my children on Hampstead Heath, joining their snowball fights, slipping and sliding down paths, delighting in the dazzling beauty of sugar-iced trees. Back home, we flopped in front of an enormous fire, chatting, arguing, laughing, pausing only to eat roast lamb, two veg and an indigestible amount of chocolate Mississippi Pie. It was my idea of a perfect Sunday, in which the usually disparate, separately occupied members of my brood were drawn into a bit of good, old-fashioned family communication, redolent indeed of a Victorian card. There would be a Brownie point for this from you chaps in the Tory party, I thought.

But it seems I am wrong. Far from wanting to encourage this kind of close-knit, thrifty, traditional family outing on a Sunday, you are wanting to zap what little chance there is of keeping this one day of the week as a sanctuary, a time so devoid of commercial temptations that children are willing to join with their aged parents and experience some of the basic values we cling to. You are, in fact, a zealot, eager to deregulate the laws preventing shops opening on Sundays and allow Britain to offer, as America does, the chance to spend, spend, spend.

So, if all goes your way, I can look forward to the insistent drone of young voices begging to be taken on expeditions to see Nintendo games and hunt down the latest trainers on the Lord's Day. Sunday lunch can be sacrificed to a hastily gobbled McDonald's as we scamper from one palace of capitalist temptation to the next. We can practise the art of family squabbling as conflicting interests assert themselves, and we can revel in that very special exhaustion that comes from feverishly tearing round stores determined not to miss a single goodie.

I know this is an entirely selfish perspective. I can manoeuvre my time in the week to get to the shops when those caught in offices eight hours a day cannot. But selfish I am. I don't want to spend one more day a week battling with my covetous alter ego tempting me, sotto voce, with the thought that one of these slinky, slippery dresses down the West End would be a vital addition to my wardrobe.

But most of all the idea appals me on an aesthetic level. Already the flickering box has reduced too much family conversation to neanderthal grunts, the pressures in people's daily lives make them tired and tetchy too much of the time, and children's out-of-school activities mean more time is spent hunting down missing basketball shorts and ferrying them here and there than sharing and caring. I know there's talk of a half-way house - a few Sundays in the run-up to Christmas as a trial run - but once you loosen up the rules a bit somehow it escalates. I beseech you, don't do it. Leave us Sundays when, faute de mieux, our kids hang out with their parents and even experience the outmoded pleasure of languorous time and occasional tedium.

(Photograph omitted)

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