Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reverie 'Leisure' or What if we hadn't invented weekends?

When my dad - almost 75 years old - talks about his childhood he always tells that back then they had to go to the primairy school on Saterday too and had to go to the church on Sunday twice a day. Holidays? Never. Parties? Funfair in summer was the highlight of the year. Leisure? He had to help his mum and dad with their peasant farm: milking cows, weeding the garden and picking eggs.

His childhoodmemories came back when I read the next quote, in Haffner, 'Kanttekeningen bij Hitler en Churchill' from Churchill (july 1953): "If we can disarm (...) we can give the workers something which they  never had before: free time. A four-day week of work and then three days fun!" This quote made me think and wonder. For my generation in Western Europe leisure is naturally and obvious. It feels as if there always were holidays and time to be free to do "something" or "nothing" for ones own pleasure.

Where did leisure came from? What's it's historical background? According to wikipedia 'leisure' can be translated “to be permitted” or “to be free”. Leisure or free time on Saterday and Sunday is born in Britain around 1870: "Early factories required workers to perform long shifts, often up to eighteen hours per day, with only Sundays off work. By the 1870s though, more efficient machinery and the emergence of trade unions resulted in decreases in working hours per day, and allowed industrialists to give their workers Saturdays as well as Sundays off work." 

OK now I get the big picture. Leisure is a spin off from our Western 'industrial revolution'. It's the time trade unions have captured - nothing comes for free - from the factory owners. First there was hard work 18 hours a day and on Sunday to church. Then the "weekends" were born.  What would we not have had if we hadn't invented weekends - and the whole leisure industry coming with it?
  • No foolballclubs and Football World Cup - no Cruyff nor Maradonna
  • No movies and moviestars - no Victoria and David Beckham nor Oscars
  • No radio, music and diskjockies - no Elvis Presley nor Beatles
  • No TV and TV-stars - no Berlusconi
  • No travelindustry - no Richard Branson
  • No personal computers - no Bill Gates nor Apple
  • No internet 
  • No webbrowsers
  • No Twitter, Buzz or Google
  • No blogs
  • No readers that could read THESE WORDS

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