Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

This Britain

Minor British Institutions: Sunday lunch

This traditional meal is a Major British Institution gone Minor. According to legend, there was a time when every British family sat down together round the Sunday lunch table to exchange hopes, fears, frustrations and aperçus when they were not listening respectfully to the sage counsels of their father or negotiating over-cooked cabbage.

And now: two-thirds of families just don't bother. Yes, well. Then, there wasn't anything else to do, as the country was closed, apart from a two-hour pub open window, often indulged in by Father while Mother was doing the cooking. Sunday, frankly, could be a bit slow, except for Mother.

Tony Hancock had it well in the episode in which he was waiting with gathering excitement for it to go dark so he could get up and turn the lights on. And now: we're a more mature society, everything's open, and we're free to make our own choices about meeting, eating or doing something else. Tesco, anyone?