Amy Jenkins: Easter? It's just chocolate eggs

The seeming loss of life’s meaning on a bank holiday brings on existential angst
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The Independent Online

Is there anyone out there who actually likes bank holidays?

When I was single I thought they were the worst thing. Either I went "home" (to see the parents) or stayed put, but that was often lonely because everyone else had made the reverse decision. The nightclubs were shut and the only dating to be done was online.

So I'd go for a desultory walk in the park and suddenly there were families, families everywhere. Families – in all their coupled-up, nuclear glory – are never so much in evidence as on a bank holiday. The day's just made for smug marrieds with kids.

Or so I thought. But now I've got a child, I know that bank holidays are no good for parents, either. With young children, bank holidays are hard work. You're the one who has to provide the jolliness and fun.

People warn you that there's no such thing as a holiday when you have kids – but you don't really take it in. I remember just before I became a mother chatting to a consultant oncologist who explained that she continued to work because treating terminal cancer patients in a large London teaching hospital was a welcome respite from having three kids. "You get to have a moment by yourself, you see. You get to have a coffee – in peace."

So that leaves working childless couples as the only ones enjoying bank holidays. And I suppose I might confess to having eked some enjoyment, looking back to my courting days.

But that's assuming I wasn't cooped up in a car bickering in a monumental traffic jam. That's assuming it wasn't raining or doing that uniquely dispiriting bank holiday drizzle thing. That's assuming the charming country tearoom with the red checked tablecloths wasn't full or didn't close just when we most desperately wanted a cup of tea.

(We hadn't had lunch, of course, because the pub stopped serving at 2pm. "But it's only 1.55!" we'd cried. To no avail. They use a radio-controlled clock at the pub, you see. It guarantees the kitchen shuts promptly. Did you know, by the way, that radio-controlled clocks lose less than a second in a million years?)

To make things worse, bank holidays will inevitably jog painful memories of bank holidays of yore. For me, as a child, this was traipsing round public monuments with the kind of ennui and empty hollowness that only comes with hiatus. We either did reluctant sightseeing or sat outside pubs in a damp and draughty porch (no kids allowed inside then) drinking R White's lemonade.

Be warned. When adult, the seeming loss of life's meaning on a bank holiday can bring on existential angst. You start to wonder – should you really have married this particular partner, shouldn't you really be living in Brazil/California/Marrakech, shouldn't you, in fact, be pursuing your life-long ambition to be an avant-garde installation artist?

As for Easter in particular – well, Easter is a bad case. Because it always falls at a weekend, it's far too long and it has none of the excuses offered by Christmas. At least at Christmas there's the whole business of presents and turkey and in-laws. Not to mention the television specials. Easter is just chocolate eggs. The fun is over in a couple of mouthfuls.

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