About the Author
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According to a poll, the vast majority of people questionedas they struggled back to work last week thoughtthat England should have followed Scotland’s lead andmade Tuesday a bank holiday.Two things strike me as odd here. First, that anyonecould be bothered to undertake such research and,second, that anyone in their right mind could think thatthe Christmas break was in some way too short.I took ten days off and by 11 o’clock on the first morningI had drunk fourteen cups of coffee, read all thenewspapers and the Guardian and then . . . and then what?By lunchtime I was so bored that I decided to hang afew pictures. So I found a hammer, and later a man cameto replaster the bits of wall I had demolished. Then Itried to fix the electric gates, which work only whenthere’s an omega in the month. So I went down thedrive with a spanner, and later another man came to putthem back together again.I was just about to start on the Aga, which had brokendown on Christmas Eve, as they do, when my wife tookme on one side by my earlobe and explained that buildersdo not, on the whole, spend their spare time writing, sowriters should not build on their days off. It’s expensiveand it can be dangerous, she said. She’s right. We have these lights in the dining roomwhich are supposed to project stars onto the table below.It has never really bothered me that the light seeps outof the sides so the stars are invisible; but when you arebored, this is exactly the sort of thing that gets on yournerves.So I bought some gaffer tape and suddenly my life hada purpose. There was something to do.Mercifully, Christmas intervened before I could doany more damage, but then it went away again and oncemore I found myself staring at the day through the wrongend of a pair of binoculars. Each morning, bed and theblessed relief of unconsciousness seemed so far away.I wore a groove in the kitchen floor with endless tripsto the fridge, hoping against hope that I had somehowmissed a plateful of cold sausages on the previous 4,000excursions. Then, for no obvious reason, I decided tobuy a footstool.I took the entire family to the sort of gifty-wifty shopwhere the smell of pot-pourri is so pungent that it makesyou go cross-eyed. Even though the children were lyingon the floor gagging, I still spent hours deliberatelychoosing a footstool that was too small and the wrongcolour so that I could waste some more time taking itback.The next day, still gently redolent of Delia Smith’sknicker drawer, I decided to buy the wrong sort ofantique filing cabinet. But after the footstool debacle mywife said no. So it seemed appropriate that I shoulddevelop some kind of illness. This is a good idea whenyou are at a loose end because everything, up to andincluding herpes, is better than being bored.