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What Would Britain's Bored Office Workers Do with Four More Bank Holidays?

We cold called some undeserving proles to see what they think of Labour's pledge of more time off.

by Oobah Butler
28 April 2017, 11:35am

(Corbyn photo: Danny Lawson / PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Do you remember the golden age of discussions about Jeremy Corbyn? The era where our papers were packed to the brim with classics like "Did he sing the National Anthem?", or revelations of a raunchy commie love affair with Diane Abbot? Well, the fun is over. And no matter how many times you say "mugwump", the debate has shifted. Now, all Labour seem to want to talk about is nonsense like free lunches for children, guarantees of secure homes or guaranteeing rights for EU nationals. 

On St George's Day last weekend, Jeremy Corbyn dropped yet another prole priming policy. He suggested that if Labour were to get into power he would introduce an extra four Bank Holidays for workers, to celebrate each country in the UK's patron saint. It sounds like a decent idea, but the question I have is: do the British working public prefer labour to Labour? To get a better idea, I took Thursday morning off to call around UK offices and ask: more time off, or more work?

Aside from the nine people who hung up within seconds, here are some conversations I had.

(Photo by Chris Bethell)

FOXTONS, LONDON

VICE: Hello?
Foxtons receptionist: Gooooood aftermorning. Foxtons, how can I help?

How are you?
Not bad thanks, yourself?

I'm good, thanks. I'm just ringing around to see what people think about the idea of four extra bank holidays. Is it good for you, bad for you? Tell me.
To be honest, from my own perspective it would be a good idea, but on the flipside it would mean obviously less business days as well, so… mixed reactions.

So you're saying "thumbs up", whereas the bosses and bigwigs are saying "thumbs down"?
Yeah, exactly. It just means less days for transactions, really.

Transactions. Pie Charts. Transactions. The downward tick instead of an upwards tick.
May I ask who is calling, sorry?

Oobah. I'm literally ringing around to get an idea whether people like or hate this policy. It seems to have really split people.
Okay. Where are you calling from though?

A shed in South East London.
Okay.

What would you do with more spare time?
[Hangs up]

(Photo by Jake Lewis)

JD WETHERSPOONS HEAD OFFICE, WATFORD

Hello! How's it going? I'm a big fan – it's nice to be chatting on the phone!
Wetherspoons receptionist: Thank you. How can I help?

I've been having a lot of heated discussions with friends about Labour's idea of four extra bank holidays, and I was wondering whether you thought it was a good idea?
Well yeah, to be honest, I do.

You're on board?
Yes.

What would you do, given the extra time off?
[Hangs up]

CARDIFF UNIVERSITY, CARDIFF

Hi there. I'm just ringing around to see whether people like the idea of four extra bank holidays or not?
This is Student Union. Who would you like to speak to?

To you, if that's OK?
OK.

I was just wondering whether you think it would be a good idea or a bad idea?
A brilliant idea, yes. Of course! Definitely.

It's caught your fancy, as it were?
Yes, brilliant, great. I'd have no objections.

But you know when you go through Facebook on your Bank Holiday and there's really annoying photos of what Karen and her husband have had for lunch. Or the route that Dave from work ran last night. Don't you think Bank Holidays are going to flood our social media with more annoying nonsense?
Oh, I haven't really thought about it in that much depth.

What would you do with the bank holiday?
Just enjoy it, I think. I'm going to have to go; I'm on a reception desk and we're really busy.

I'm really happy that you spoke to me, thank you.
Okay, thank you, bye!

A stock image of some office workers (Lauren Hurley/PA Wire/PA Images)

WETHERAL ESTATE AGENTS, MAYFAIR

Hi, how's it going? I was just wondering what you thought about the idea of four extra bank holidays a year?
Sorry, it's a bit of a random question. Who are you, may I ask?

It's a proposed Labour policy, and I'm just trying to get an idea whether people are happy with it. My name is Oobah.
Okay, four sounds quite a lot – as much as I like them. Maybe one or two. But four seems a bit much.

Corbyn's proposing that we go St George's, St David's, St Andrews', St Bernard's.
That still leaves them all quite bunched up. We need something in September or October, but I have no idea what particular day.

Would you describe yourself as a patriotic person?
Reasonably, yeah.

Do you know the lyrics to our national anthem, "Candle in the Wind"?
Yes. That's not our national anthem, but yes.

You know the lyrics to "Candle in the Wind"?
I do.

Then you're a patriot. What would you do, given the extra time?
Sorry, I'm in the middle of doing something at the moment, so I can't really discuss this at the moment.

So on a scale of hot to cold, how warm are you to the policy?
[Hangs up]

Cityboys

CITY OF LONDON INFORMATION CENTRE, LONDON

Hello there. I was just wondering whether you're for or against the idea of four extra bank holidays a year.
Receptionist: Unfortunately, my personal opinion can't be expressed. We're a corporate operation.

Okay, well let's put it this way: raise your eyebrows three times if you think the policy is good, or once if you think it's bad.
I'm not getting involved in politics, sir. I'm going to have to terminate this call.

Did you raise your eyebrows?
I did not raise my eyebrows. I'm going to terminate the call now.

Ah-ha! I got you.
[Hangs up]

Oldest trick in the book.

DANDRA KNIGHTS WOODS SALES OFFICE, TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Hello there, I'm just wondering what you think of Jeremy Corbyn's new policy that suggests a Labour government would introduce four extra bank holidays?
Receptionist: Sorry, who is this?

I'm just ringing around, asking different parts of the country this question, seeing what the general consensus is. You're repping Kent at the moment.
Sorry, I'm a little bit confused. You're repping tent?

Yes, I'm in a tent, sorry.
Oh, OK.

What's your personal opinion on the extra bank holidays?
I work on bank holidays, so it's irrelevant to me, really.

What would you do with the days if you had bank holidays off? 
I really don't understand what the relevance of this call is.

There's none. I'm just trying to figure out what different people think of the policy. But you've sort of said you don't really care.
I'm going to leave you to it.

Okay, one last question please: Would you rather go to work with Theresa May or on holiday with Jeremy Corbyn? Theresa May looks like the kind of person who would constantly be saying, "Can I pinch your pen?" Whereas I reckon Jeremy Corbyn would be on the Cuba Libres by 9AM.
Good question… Go on holiday.

Well I'll see you on the beaches with Jezza.
Okay, nice. Have a good one.

@oobahs