The Third Leader: Holiday hardship

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The Independent Online

One of the principal purposes of this space, dogged readers may have noticed, is to promote optimism, offer consolation and market harmony. That is why today, at the start of this uncertain period between the gloomy certainties of the old year and the nervous promise of the new, I want to appeal for unity in a divided nation. Yes, I know during the coming week many of you will be on holiday; and I know, too, many of you will be back at work: and I recognise this can cause tensions, feelings of injustice, and, in extreme cases, muttering. And that's just over the washing up.

But what I would like both sides to realise is that they have much more in common than they have grievances dividing them. For a start, if they are middle-aged men, you can guarantee the ones who are on holiday would rather be at work, and vice versa. And, for married, middle-aged women with families, I would suggest there's not a great deal of difference.

It's also worth pointing out that, in many ways, it's harder to be on holiday. Those going to work won't just have the satisfying sense of moral superiority that only feeling hard done by can give; they will also enjoy deserted roads, empty carriages and the opportunity to experience what it must be like living somewhere else, such as New Zealand, or Skegness in the winter.

If you are on holiday, my sympathies: all you can do is fight that feeling of guilt, and keep telling yourself you'll be back at work before you know it. If it helps, I shall be joining you. Happy New Year!