Sunny days off? Britain's work ethic has turned into a 'me' ethic

JAN MOIR: Sunny days off? Britain’s work ethic has turned into a ‘me’ ethic

The heatwave has arrived and already a red mist of madness has descended across the land. No one is poaching eggs on the pavement yet, but the grass is fried yellow, the salads are boiled ham and Jacob Rees-Mogg has undone the top button of his tweed waistcoat. 

For we are British, you see. We cannot simply enjoy a few days of seasonal sunshine like normal inhabitants of a temperate climate; like the sensible Danes or the factor-30 Dutch or the French with their nicely cut linens and breezy pique-nique lunches. 

Instead, we go completely insane, in a million different ways. Kids are fed Sandwich Spread until it pools out of their ears, hosepipes are banned and people scour the internet for heatwave survival tips as though they were crouching under a tattered palm leaf in the noon Sahara. 

One social media user advised beating the heat by placing a damp towel in the freezer for an hour, taking it out … and then packing it in a suitcase and moving to Belfast. 

Bournemouth beach weather sees yet another hot day at the seaside town in Dorset as the heatwave continues

A woman lies in the sun during hot weather in Greenwich Park, South East London on Thursday

My favourite piping hot slice of lunacy is that some British firms are being pressurised into giving staff Sunny Days off — extra leave to be used when the weather is nice because workers have been complaining about having to turn up when it is ‘too hot’. 

Why stop there? Let’s also have Rainy Days, when they can take a day off when it is ‘too wet’. 

And snowflakes will certainly need a fair allocation of Snowy Days — those wintry afternoons when they don’t want to work because it would be so much nicer to stay at home to build a snowman and have hot chocolate afterwards than commute through the cold and slush.

One company claims Sunny Days are a good thing because they reduce the number of ‘sick days’ being taken during spells of hot weather, so staff morale increases.

It keeps everyone happy,’ they said. I’ll bet it does!

But with growth shrivelling and the country in the state it’s in, surely bosses should be more worried about staff productivity than staff morale?

Yet what seems to be important these days is not the work ethic but the Me ethic; what matters most is not the balance sheet but keeping the work/life balance tipped heavily in favour of Sheila in accounts who needs Period Leave next week; Marion who’s away on a Menopause Month; and Geoff in marketing, who is on a Vape Break right now, but is taking August off for his mindful cycling sabbatical in the Alps.

God forbid any employee should ever be inconvenienced by the rigours of the weather or the everyday trials of the working day or — shriek! — having to answer the phone on a Friday afternoon. Or indeed, having to do anything he or she doesn’t feel like doing. Perish the thought that a worker could be troubled by hard graft, long hours or the demands of obligation when they could be focusing on their own personal fulfilment instead. 

What about the stuff it takes, to get up when the morning breaks? It seems to be in short supply.

People travel by boat under Tower Bridge, London on Thursday in the sun 

Yet during the big heatwave of 1976 — and this one is only a puff of hot air in comparison — people coped. They soldiered on without shutting down their businesses, getting hysterical, or cancelling their lives until November.

If we need days off when it gets too hot, where does it all end?

Already we have unemployment at its lowest since 1974, but millions are still claiming out-of-work benefits, with a lot of that number.

Jan Moir, columnist for the Daily Mail 

Of course, many are genuinely ill and deserve all the support available — but we all know a lot of them are not. And surely not everyone can have long Covid?

Sometimes I wonder about these kids who get triggered when they hear something that displeases them, or try to shut down an argument they disagree with.

How will they fare in the workplace when they are older; where an element of self-sacrifice and tolerance is required? Along with the understanding that sometimes life is not a bowl of cherries, but a big fat raspberry instead. 

Millions of us put our shoulder to the boulder and work hard every day. Instead of arguing about WFH or factoring sunbathing hours into the working day, perhaps we should take off the sunglasses, realise the world is still in post-pandemic chaos and that times are going to get very hard indeed. 

We should be making hay while the sun shines, not indulging the sun-worshipping whingers by taking time off.

Bad week for Scotland, as Alba MPs Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill were removed from the chamber after egregiously bad behaviour. How I blushed at their schoolboy antics. Good week for Scotland, as American actor Steve Carell discovered in a taste test that he loved Irn Bru. Yes, truly! ‘I like that a lot, actually. I think that is delicious. I like how it lingers on the tongue,’ he said. No one told him that’s because it is made from girders. Perhaps that’s for the best. 

High-earning Zoe’s agent is on the Ball 

Gary Lineker feels he should not apologise for his BBC salary and why should he? If that is what the BBC wants to pay him, who is he to argue with its preposterous largesse on our behalf? He is still the highest Beeb earner on up to £1.36million — down from £1.75million in 2020, big deal. 

But why is he so prized? What does he do that is so special that it commands such a top salary? 

The world of football punditry is a mystery to me, but does Gary really say things that are worth, I dunno, £1,000 a word?

‘The atmosphere was unbelievable at this game,’ he will say. Is that really so marvellous? 

Zoe Ball is the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show host and has seen her earnings increase by 984K, figures show 

At £450,000, Alan Shearer is another pale, stale, white male offering expensive football punditry. ‘It looks to me like Roy is making it up as he goes along,’ Alan will say. Kerching! 

It is impossible to put a price on popularity, public trust or star quality. Yet nothing about BBC salaries, published this week, makes sense. Surely it can’t be down to who has the best agent? 

Take Zoe Ball (up to £984k), who has done nothing but drive down Radio 2 audience figures since she took over from Chris Evans in 2019 (though they are inching upwards now). 

You can accept the audiences are fragmented by more choice, but still wonder why she is in the top earners when she has lost more than a million listeners. 

But the one that really gets me is Naga Munchetty (up to £369,999). Naga appears on BBC Breakfast, Panorama and her own show on Radio 5 Live — and she is awful on every one of them. Ego overload! Even with guests, her attitude is very much: ‘I’m the real star here, matey.’ Well, I guess she has to justify her salary somehow, even if only to herself. 

Uh oh. Tin hats and pith helmets on. Art curators are looking at the Queen’s art collection to check for any links to slavery. Whisper it — nobody mention the jewellery collection! One wonders if this is just the beginning of a long process in which the Royal Family will ultimately be shamed into abolishing themselves for the sins of their ancestors in a less enlightened age. It is certainly what Harry and Meghan want. Recently, the pious gruesome twosome urged the monarchy to address its ‘uncomfortable’ past. Get them! If they feel so uncomfortable about it, why don’t they give up their Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles without delay? No, thought not.

Heartbreak for Poldark

Demelza got married! What will Captain Ross have to say about that? Actress Eleanor Tomlinson, who played fiery wench Demelza in the BBC’s adaptation of Poldark, wed her beau, Will Owen, in the Cotswolds at the weekend. 

She wore a dreamy dress with a big skirt, plunge back, chapel train and a gauzy veil. She looked like a walking fairy tale! The only thing more romantic would have been the thunder of hooves and Poldark himself crashing into the church to claim the woman he loved, pop her on to his pony and gallop back to the Cornish cliffs.

This upset will just give the gloomy Ross more to brood upon under his fetching tricorn. How I miss him! Congrats Eleanor, but it is time the cat in the hat came back. 

Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson (pictured in show as Demelza with Aidan Turner) has got married to Will Owen, in the Cotswolds at the weekend

Eleanor Tomlinson wore a strapless white dress by Spanish bridal brand Pronovias with a long white train and oversized sleeve

Heads should be rolling over grooming scandal

The Telford Scandal. Why does no one care about this? A thousand children were abused over a period of years by Asian grooming gangs. Everyone knew about it — all the local authorities knew about it, all the care agencies knew about it. 

Yet councils and police forces turned a blind eye to the known sexual exploitation of hundreds and hundreds of vulnerable, white girls for years. Why? Because they didn’t want to be accused of racism. Pathetic. 

This is a national disgrace, a moral sewer, a failure of decency. Heads should be rolling, yet nothing much seems to be happening to those who are accountable. 

Where are the celebrities and feminist crusaders rushing to this cause, to help these poor, working-class girls get the justice they deserve? I think we all know the answer to that. And it still stinks.

Hello! don’t film on your phone

At both the Adele and Rolling Stones concerts recently, I was aghast at the number of fans who were not actually watching the shows with their own eyes, but filming on their phones instead. 

What’s the point of going to a live event if all you want to do is capture content? There were moments when all I could see was a forest of outstretched arms clasping phones, like swots putting their hands up in class. Now Bob Dylan is the latest star, along with Madonna and Kate Bush, to ban phones from their shows. 

Adele (pictured) performs on stage at July 2 during BST Hyde Park in London where Rolling Stones also took to the stage

Are they doing it because of commercial pressures because they want to stop fans filming gigs and posting footage online? Or are they doing it for more holistic reasons — because they want to encourage fans to be in the moment, to share a unique experience together, old-school style? 

I hope that it’s the latter, and that it will brings a change for the better in the quality of the concert experience. 

As Bob sings, you don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows. 

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