It’s unclear how much research has gone into the Sunday feeling; it’s probably too depressing to stare directly in the eye. One moment you’re enjoying the grand prix on ITV (if that’s possible), down the pub, or pruning roses, and the next you’re floored by a crushing sense of doom. Like anyone who isn’t Morrissey, researchers probably ignore Sundays, preferring to use their professional expertise by predicting election results wrongly instead.
Around Sunday teatime, the approach of Monday is impossible to ignore, as a kind of despondency familiar to climbers who have mistakenly conquered the wrong mountain, descends. Sunday is Ying to Saturday’s Yang, and ensures people actually make it home after a Saturday night in time for Monday. You have to admire Sunday for preserving its melancholia. It flirts with boredom, while the rest of the world is busy, with phones smarter than we are, boxsets, and cookery books putting NASA operational manuals in the shade; yet that Sunday feeling prevails. There’s probably small print banning one-way Sunday flights to Switzerland on the basis of diminished responsibility.
I’m unsure if researchers have proven that Sundays in the 1970s actually were longer, wetter and duller, but they felt it. The only things left moving in the house at 6pm were that week’s highest climbing singles in the Top 40. That and your finger hitting the record button, attuned to Bruno Brooks’ incantation for when he might shut up and the song begin.
The hardest thing about Sundays, part from the panic-enduring closed shops, was the lack of anything on TV other than white noise, and the eerie testcard that still gives me nightmares. Strangely enough Sunday night TV is actually creeping into midweek schedules. BBC4 is constant Sunday night programming, while BBC1 has increasingly annoying personable celebrities accosting museum curators while brandishing a Victorian guidebook, before they’re driven around an obligatory race track in a classic car saying ‘gosh’. That’s the celebrity saying ‘gosh’, not the car.
Of course nothing screams Sunday quite like ‘Bus Replacement Rail service’; 4 words that will strike dread in the heart of anyone that’s pressed their face against the window of a 3 hour journey that would have otherwise taken 20 minutes.
It’s a good thing songs aren’t written on Sundays, unless you’re the aforementioned Morrissey. If so we’d have songs so sad that the DJ will have hung himself before they end, and tunes such as the Doobie Brothers’ Long Bus Replacement Rail service Running, Jim Weatherly’s Midnight Bus Replacement Rail service to Georgia, and the KLF’s Last bus replacement bus service to Transcentral.
You can’t even escape that Sunday feeling if you work from home, even if your Monday commute is delayed only by meeting someone on the stairs. There remains an inescapable sense of dread marked by the beginning of Antiques Roadshow; like mortality just walked through the room. You can be without a calendar on a beach in Bali, or in a shopping precinct in Cardiff, yet once every 7 days an inexplicably low mood will indicate it’s a Sunday. Although a more pressing question might be what you were doing for 7 days in south Wales. Even Dr Who knew better than to land on a Sunday, and probably never has in Cardiff. A month of Sundays is how depressed people experience life, but are Sundays so bad?
Sundays are for no plans, a rarity these days. Pubs brim with couples enjoying Sunday roasts with a smugness born from avoiding 2-days of washing up afterwards. Like computer games, breaking down on the Chiswick roundabout, or being sacked from work, perhaps Sundays are there to help prepare us for dying. A reflective day, allowing for your life to flash before your eyes, before falling unconscious, hopefully not from crushing disappointment at all you’ve failed to achieve. It’s a chance to make amends, or at least plan them.
The only thing thicker than a Sunday newspaper might be your hangover that’s incapable of reading it, but long may the day of rest reign. In a world of distraction, hesitation is needed.
My novel, The Life Assistance Agency – selected by WHSmith Fresh Talent 2017 – is available to alleviate that Sunday feeling here – http://myBook.to/lifeassistance
and on ebook here –