Non-Bank Holiday breaks 130-year tradition

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The Independent Online

The last great democratic spree of the summer has been marked in an unusual fashion with an announcement that a bank will be asking its staff to work tomorrow. Lloyds TSB is to open some of its branches, breaking a 130-year-old tradition. Thus, presumably, will the last Monday in August soon be known as the Non-Bank Holiday.

Further evidence of the oddness of the British at play - when they are not queueing to get cash or lining up to spend it - came from a new survey. It said that, even in sunny climes abroad, many of us while away our precious holiday watching television in a language we cannot understand or viewing films on a laptop.

But, reassuringly, some of us still know how to have a good time. Nearly 70,000 flocked to the Reading Festival, and yet only 23 of them were arrested. Among those were two men who were allegedly posing as plain-clothed officers, asking revellers to empty their pockets and "confiscating" cannabis to sell on.

And, at Manchester's annual Gay Pride march yesterday, soldiers walked alongside hundreds of marchers, hoping to attract more army recruits from the gay and lesbian community. And no Non-Bank Holiday would be complete without Billy Connolly presiding as Laird of the Gathering at a historic Highland games, together with such temporary tartan tourists as Eddie Izzard.

Meanwhile, makers of their own entertainment may like to know that the public will from today have legal access to large tracts of two of Britain's most popular destinations. More than 370 square miles of land in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall will be opened under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. By the end of the year walkers will have access to around 3,200 square miles of newly opened countryside around Britain, 6.5 per cent of the total land area of the country.

The weather tomorrow, unless you are watching a DVD in Torremolinos or working for Lloyds, is looking good in the South, but a bit wobbly up North. Sun is forecast, with the possibility of clouds in the North and thunderstorms threatening all the while.

But are we downhearted? Apparently, yes. According to another survey released yesterday, 35 per cent of us want at least another four public holidays a year.

Research by Branka Damjanovic