Back to work

The alarm goes off at 5.59am. This is because, picky as I am, I like to be awake before the pips and the headlines at 6am. Yesterday, my first back at work after 12 days off was cold and dark and January-depressing.

Breakfast was gruel. Or I like to think it was anyway – all because our vegan daughter, heading for a train, had run out of almond milk, necessitating porridge made with water, rather than with our normal milk/water mix. Virtuous as I felt, I won’t be repeating it!

A heated car to work, and a warm office to sit at my computer all day. I really struggle to do the recommended 10,000 steps since my job is essentially sedentary, so I’m always trying different strategies, such as visiting the bathroom 2 floors up, instead of the one on our level.  Today I was more radical and travelled to work by public transport. And it was fine, and I walked significantly further than I usually do, so I’m planning on doing this a couple of times a week all year. If I can do it in January, just think what early summer mornings will be like.

I was thinking about how our ancestors’ daily work routine differed from mine. Most people had physical jobs, from the Ag Labs so prevalent in rural areas to general labourers, even more skilled trades such as tailors must have had to do more manual handling than in our automated world.  A new occupation to me, from my current genealogy project is the job of a Carman. These were the delivery drivers or motorcycle couriers of their day, and their job was to move ‘stuff’ around, whether it was goods arriving by ship, train or canal boat, or making deliveries around a city. They would work 90-100 hours a week, usually on a casual basis. The ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ episode on Ricky Tomlinson shown recently had a similar occupation for some of his ancestors, and the work was dangerous too. It seems to me that they would have no need to count steps, or otherwise watch their weight – unless it was in terms of not earning enough money to provide food to fuel this demanding work.

And what of Bank Holidays? A quick Wikipedia search reveals that prior to 1834, the main observances were Saints days. There were 33 of them – but Saturday was a working day, and if you didn’t work you didn’t get paid. From 1834 four Bank Holidays were introduced: May Day, All Saints Day, Christmas Day and Good Friday, and in 1871 another 3 were added. It wasn’t until 1971 that the full 8 days were granted (less than in Scotland, Ireland, and just about every other European country!)

Back to the car tomorrow, because of other commitments, but the aim of 2x a week on the bus is perfectly achievable. Watch this space



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