.... and Saturday Morning
by Harry Calver
I suppose that the topic most frequently discussed at all levels in the Banking profession over the last few months, has been the decision to close on Saturday mornings.
It is not for me to pass judgement on the decision of the top brass; but they cannot have imagined, I am sure, the effect it has had on my private life.
I must confess that the impact took a little time to register. Thirty-six years of Saturday morning work is not lightly forgotten. No more would I breathe a hopeful prayer that everything would come good at the last reckoning, the cashiers would balance (myself included), the telephone would remain mute, and the last ten minutes or so would be devoid of complication. Even with all the stars in favourable conjunction, I have frequently been involved in a frantic dash homeward, done scant justice to a hastily-despatched meal (under the disapproving eye of the First Lady), feverishly changed into more sporting attire, and fled from the house in a vain bid to be present at the opening salvoes of some sporting battle, at which, incidentally, my opponents or colleagues had been present for some time, clean, bright and slightly oiled.
If things went ill, of course, I suppose I became unbearable. I recall one Saturday when, on arrival at the office, I discovered that due to a plumbing debacle, the floor was three inches deep in water, plenty more of which was on the way through a hole in the ceiling. I had acquired a ticket for an F.A. Cup Tie that afternoon. I left the branch at 16:30 hours, short of both temper and the price of the ticket.
But the worry and frustration were now things of the past, I envisaged a Saturday morning more fitting to my advancing years and sporting temperament. (The two are surprisingly compatible.) A later rising, of course, 9-ish or so, my soporific state hardly disturbed by the noisy departure of my son for school, a Contemplative Breakfast in Stately Fashion, the Morning Paper my Iron Curtain against the verbal bombardment of my wife and daughter, a casual stroll in the garden perhaps (I might decapitate a dandelion or so, if the fancy took me), a deck chair on the lawn if fine, a deep armchair if wet, a leisurely lunch, and off to join the aficionados with some dignity.
I should have known better, of course. My wife pounced on the news. "Saturday off, eh?" she mused. "I'm delighted for you: you thoroughly deserve it after all these years". I murmured my appreciation in my customary deprecatory manner.
"Needless to say I shall have to be up at the proper time, Chris must have his
breakfast." (My son is a trencherman in the best traditions.) I agreed, with condolences - my wife opened the throttle of her train
"You won't want to lie in late will you? You'll be able to do an extra stint in the garden and in the winter you'll have a whole weekend ahead of you for the decorating. I am pleased for you! And by the way, on the first Saturday, I thought we might pop into town - we all need some new holiday clothes." I began to see the 'Seven-days-a-week worker's' point of view; after all why should Banks close on Saturday? At least my work there was more or less predictable.
Help came from a totally unexpected quarter. My son's school, after 400 years of tradition, had bowed to the inevitable. I was presented with a letter from the Chief Master.
As the Banks are now closing on Saturdays, and the trends are more and more towards a five day week, the Governors and I have decided that after this term .
My son, realising to whom he owed this beneficence, almost choked with emotion and held out his hand. "Thanks, Dad!" he said, "I owe it all to you". I gave the letter to my wife and waited anxiously.
"Ah!" she said at last. "Well, then, there won't be much point in getting up at seven, will there? We can have a long lie-in, a latish family breakfast, and who knows, I might even get a chance of seeing the morning paper before late evening."
I held out my hand to Christopher:
"Thanks son" I said, almost too full for words: "I owe it all to you"