It rained all day here this past Sunday which is hasn’t done in a long time. There’s something about weather like that which makes you want to hunker down at home and do bugger all, which is pretty much what I did. It reminded me of the rainy weekends of my childhood (of which there were plenty in England) when you were stuck at home and almost crushed by boredom. The difference this time was that being an adult with a job and responsibilities I was more than happy to be doing nothing.
Having a black and white television with only three channels now seems like deprivation on a par with having an outside toilet, but our suffering was compounded by the lack of much to actually watch on Sundays either. This Radio Times listing for what was probably a wet Sunday in March 1972 is fairly typical for the nanny-like BBC at the time: Asian and Welsh news, programs about learning German and Tennis, a look at Swedish schools, and bloody Farming. (ITV wasn’t much better either). If that wasn’t bad enough, in the early evening we had the Government-mandated “God slot” when both channels showed religious programs and probably turned the whole country off God as a result.
Sometimes the BBC would show a decent old movie in the afternoon — Brief Encounter was one which I still think of as a “rainy Sunday” film — but mostly the day was a Dead Zone and I ended up exiled to my bedroom listening to the radio, reading comics, and drawing. When I got bored with doing that I just stared blankly out of the window at the gloomy sky, the lack of stimulation sending me into an almost dream-like state.
There was no point in braving the elements and going out either because everything was closed on a Sunday and, until the influx of Asian immigrants who took over the businesses in the mid-70s, this included local corner shops too. They’d open in the morning so you could get your Sunday paper but close at 12, so you were literally shit out of luck if you ran out of milk or bread. This might seem like a major inconvenience now, but I am a little nostalgic for Sunday closing because it was society stopping the wheels of capitalism for just one day and saying that commerce wasn’t the most important thing. That’s Communist talk now.
Having nothing to do has gone the way of the dinosaur now and there is stimulation at-hand anytime. When my kids say they’re bored I try to convince them that it’s good for the soul because it forces you to look inside yourself for inspiration and entertainment. But they just look at me like I’m crazy.
Download: The Day It Rained Forever – Nick Heyward (mp3)