The Third Leader: Serious relaxation

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The Independent Online

Thoughts, given everything else going on, turn to holidays. Indeed, it is alleged, not only thoughts, but actions: as the positive weather conditions continue, employers report a sharp rise in mystery bugs among employees, much bad news about their close relations and, in one case, emergency surgical procedure for a cat twice within a week.

Clearly, despite such unseemly insinuations, most of these cases will be genuine, and only a cynic would link this with a report showing declining standards of honesty in Britain; the rest of us, out of office hours, naturally, are either examining brochures or happily contemplating breaks already booked.

And our tastes, it appears, are changing. Previously, half of us were happy to lie on a beach; not any more. That sort of relaxed relaxation might be enough to cope with the stress of getting there, but tackling the pressures caused by our increasingly busy lives is now a much more "targeted" business, requiring specific treatment, be it spa, meditation classes or surgery, designed to produce a new you, often literally.

Sounds a bit, well, stressful; and what about the pressure it puts on those few left who are happy doing nothing, already subject as we are to twinges of guilt caused by the stout boots, ropes, duomi, galleries, paragliders, language courses, cookery schools, kayaks, bivouacs, oxygen tanks, machetes and the call of the road enjoyed by doughty types like Mrs Beckett?

And now, to cap it all, Bournemouth, despite the weather, is refusing to put out deckchairs in its parks until 1 May, the official start of Summer. Time, we say, for a stand.