Magazine article The Spectator

If Western Islander Want Miserable Sundays, What Right Have the Rest of Us to Interfere?

Magazine article The Spectator

If Western Islander Want Miserable Sundays, What Right Have the Rest of Us to Interfere?

Article excerpt

Sunday was a fairly dismal time for me, as a kid - and indeed for our dog, Skipper. Church I could just about put up with, but Sunday school was an embarrassment too far: I would scurry home from it in fear that my friends might see me, wracked with shame, like a Tory MP on his way home from a visit to the rent boy. Attending Sun - day school did not do much for you with your mates, in the way of kudos.

But then home wasn't much better. The television was allowed on only for Songs of Praise at about 7.30 p.m., and I wasn't allowed out to play because it was, of course, the Lord's day, and He didn't approve of football. Even kicking a ball around in the garden was beyond limits. I was permitted to read, which occupied me for a bit. The rest of the time I flicked elastic bands at Skipper's balls and gave myself points for how often I hit the target. Or, if he was asleep, filling his mouth up with marbles, which made him growl in an hilariously confused manner when he woke up. Truth is, I resented Skip - per on Sundays - he was allowed out twice a day, for a crap. For me the day stretched out long and brown and miserable so that even a visit from very old relatives was welcome respite.

I never thought of my parents as being especially religious and in truth quite a few of my friends were confined in exactly the same way, so it didn't seem weird, just miserable. It all changed when I was about ten years old, partly I think because we were a little more affluent than we had been and somehow felt that the old laws didn't apply to us quite so severely; and partly because they started showing one-day cricket matches on the television, which, for my dad, trumped anything Jesus Christ might have to say on the matter. And if cricket was OK then logically so was football.

This was 1970 and I don't look back on it with much in the way of nostalgia, those deadened Sundays. The Sundays I have now are no less hideous, mind, and I have no dog to torment. But everyone seems so frenetically busy on a Sunday these days, buying stuff, loading up their cars with rubbish from garden centres and Sainsbury's. I am an agnostic, then, on the Sunday trading laws. I was in favour of reform back in 1994 but now I am not so sure that we were right.

It's most likely age, I suppose, but I do think there is something to be said for boredom.

All this being said, though, I am fair - ly unequivocal about the bloody Equality and Human Rights Commission poking its big nose into the affairs of the people of the Western Isles, with its relentless demands that everybody should be allowed to do anything always, regardless of tradition or the Bible. …

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