Family time free of sleepy sermons

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The Independent Online
Kevin Thompson, 38, from Fife, almost yawns as he recalls the "boring" church services which dominated the Sundays of his youth.

"I was brought up in Northern Ireland and went to the Presbyterian church," said the North Sea oil worker, who has never sent his two children to Sunday school. "You could hardly keep your eyes open during some of the sermons. Now I see Sunday as just another day of the week. It's like Saturday - without the sport."

For Mr Thompson's wife Sue, 38, Sunday means the only long lie-in of the week. Her husband sees to breakfast for Samantha, five, and Cheryl, eight. The couple used to be keen on Sunday outings to the DIY store or the supermarket but they are losing theirenthusiasm.

"Up here Sunday shopping is getting so busy that we are beginning to avoid it," said Mr Thompson. "It's no different to Saturday shopping now. The big stores are mobbed and the car parks are packed and it's so much hassle."

Despite the crowds the Thompsons thoroughly approve of the long-relaxed licensing and trading hours north of the border. "They are still opposed up north," said Mr Thompson. "I pass through Shetland on the way to the rigs and the Free Presbyterian Churchup there is very much against any relaxation. I think it's ludicrous in this day and age that anyone should say what anyone else does with a Sunday."

To the Thompsons Sunday, like Saturday, is a time for the family. They often have a special day out and in the summer they take off in the caravan. But if it is wet and the kids are occupied with a couple of videos Mr Thompson goes down to the local. "Ironically we see it as more of a family day than my parents did. When I was young adults seemed to do nothing with a Sunday. To them it was just TV, Sunday roast and sandwiches for supper. I see nothing wrong with pubs being open all day on Sundays. Once you had to go to certain hotels in Scotland to get a drink and they were always packed out. Now in my local Sunday night is one of the quietest of the week."

Mrs Thompson also remembers family trips to church with dread. "I like to do my own thing. I have nothing against those that want to go to church. They have the choice. They shouldn't stop the rest of us having that too."