Whatever happened to Weekends?

Jennifer Rodger
Friday 12 September 1997 23:02

It was the aftermath of World War Two and the advent of the mainstream leisure which created the weekend as we know it. Before this, the larger portion of the population were deeply deprived, far too busy contending with acute unemployment and widespread poverty.

The consumer boom in the fifties and the emergence of The Welfare State changed this. The mods were the first group of young people with a disposable income. They would dress up in their sharp suits on a Friday night and leave their drab office job with the smell of burning rubber fuelling them down the motoway. The weekender was born.

The disposable income and leisure boom was a marriage made in a bankers dream. Although it wasn't until 1993 that MPs finally validated the consumer weekend by legalising Sunday opening, the Sixties onwards saw many ingenious ways of expanding leisure hours.

Youth culture has extended leisure hours in clubs. Ravers know the weekend as something that begins on Friday and doesn't end until they get some sleep on Monday night. But when will it end? Supermarkets are experimenting with all night shopping. But what will happen to the working week? Mid- week blues, stress and extending working hours make an unhappy marriage with the hedonism inspired by the consumer weekend. The hangover could produce calls for a four-day week, a new ceremonious day for celebrating the pagan ritual of relaxation, away from the shops and away from the clubs. What would we do?

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