Anybody know what these are any more? Back in the day when I was a lad, the whole country pretty well shut down except for really essential services. Now, the only activity that stops (and that not entirely) seems to be banking. (OK, to be fair, the poor little darlings need their rest.) So it's a nonsense, up there with Double Summer Time and its bastard spawn, about which I've ranted enough in the past.
On the news tonight, I heard that some lunatic is proposing that the so-called May Day holiday should be moved, either to St George's Day (23 April) or Trafalgar Day (somewhere late in October). Now this raises too many issues to discuss in full, so suffice to say that, if these pseudo-holidays mean anything at all, the October date is a no-brain shoo-in. But there seems to be a swell of support for St George. This is on the grounds that May Day is kind of socialist, whereas St George (a Turk who probably never existed and certainly didn't slay any dragons) and Trafalgar (the penultimate occasion on which we thoroughly trashed the French) are kind of patriotic.
But the best part is the putative justification for this rot, which is nothing to do with a holiday for us, but that apparently it will boost tourism (one of the very few remaining industries we're prepared to own up to without a shifty sideways glance), especially from China.
How, exactly? St George's Day doesn't even get to the starting traps - it never opens the springtime bank holiday season (check it out - the latest possible Easter Sunday is 25 April); and October is not exactly high season. But, I ask, why should it make any difference to those Chinese holidaymakers when they're mulling over possible dates for their photo-gathering trip halfway round the globe? You can imagine the conversation over there in Beijing: 'No, best settle for October, the banks'll be shut and everything will cost twice as much.'
It's enough to make a coelacanth's blood boil.