There is something about Sunday afternoons that drains the soul. From childhood onwards I have associated them with boredom a lethargy inducing languor and even now there are days when I have to fight to shake that feeling off.
Perhaps it was the contrast with going to church in the morning, which meant getting dressed in best clothes and having a brisk twenty minute walk to get to Our Lady of the Rosary where we would sit through a mass lasting about an hour, before we had to walk home again.
Once back in the house the rest of the day stretched endlessly before us. After lunch my sister and I helped with the washing up and then there wasn’t very much to do. None of our friends lived close by and unless Mum and Dad were prepared to go for a walk up the woods at Blaise Castle there was nowhere to go.
In the early days we had no TV only a radio. I remember listening to “Round the Horn” which I kind of knew was funny but had no idea why.
The whole of the estate seemed to shut down, everyone keeping themselves to themselves. I suspect the adults wanted a rest from the working week and the kids just had to entertain themselves. The streets were quiet, few people had cars and the buses were on Sunday timetables. The assumption being that no one was going to be going anywhere so the service could be cut to the bone. All the shops were shut, the cinemas showed Sunday programmes so that the big features would be replaced by some B movie that no one really wanted to see.
There was greyness about everything that must be a reflection of my conviction that out there beyond Lawrence Weston was a world full of life and colour where exciting things were happening.
Once I’d left home and gone to London, Sundays as a student were day for recovering after Saturday night dances or parties. There was still that air of quiet and withdrawal but it felt peaceful and therapeutic rather than boring.
Later with a small children of my own, Sundays developed a rituals which involved proper Sunday lunches with pudding and a quiz, with carefully selected questions so that the whole family could take part. There were country walks with the dog and if we’d had people staying for the weekend it was the time we waved goodbye as they drove off down the lane.
The house would be put to rights, so that Monday when the kids were back in school, I could sit down at the kitchen table and write.
That was when I wrote a long historical novel, based on my family’s history. The first version was called “Daughters of the Eagle” and it was the product of months of research, which in the days before Google involved trips to the library and requests for obscure books on Polish history that were sourced from deep in the archives where they had been stored since WW2.
This novel eventually became “Shadows on the Grass”. A much shorter version which is focussed a three main characters-Mimi, her daughter Hannah and Hannah’s daughter Kate.
Once the kids had left home and I was working full time, Sundays changed their texture. They were the days for writing, or going to dog shows, or doing the garden. Rarely were they days for meeting friends. For some unspoken reason socialising happened on Saturday, so there was still that sense of isolation, of being removed from the rest of the world.
In lockdown when the days seem to slide into each other, it is easier to deal with Sundays. Apart from a longer read of the paper my schedule is pretty much the same as any other day, except I’m not home-schooling Maddy.
Of course the answer to Sundays is to break the pattern completely and maybe when restrictions are lifted that is what I will do. In the meantime, on this dreary February afternoon, I’ve given in to my need for scones and baked a dozen to be eaten with jam and cream and maybe even a glass of wine.