As a Londoner, whenever I start planning my weekend, I slip into a reverie which goes something like this. Brunch at Caravan in the new Kings Cross development, pottering around Portobello, a trip to the Tate Modern, Selfridges, Spitalfields Market, cocktails at Claridges, the National theatre, Electric Cinema … I could go on. London may not be a bargain destination but it certainly has everything you want in terms of activity and accessibility.
Sadly reality is invariably a million miles away from my reverie. For by the time the weekend rolls around, I’m often too exhausted to do anything other than dive under my duvet.
Welcome to London life in 2014. For most Londoners, weekends are no longer about hobbies and hedonism. As Londoners we work longer hours than the rest of the UK - the number of Londoners who work 48 hour weeks has risen from 10 per cent in the nineties to 26 per cent in 2014, with 70 hours weeks now the norm - often zig zagging all across the capital (as a freelance journo, I’m in Hammersmith on Mondays, Hampstead on Tuesdays, Harrow on Wednesdays... you get the drift). We play harder too (what’s the point of living in the capital and working like a dog, if you don’t take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a cocktail at a hip speakeasy, dinner at the latest IT restaurant or a theatre date after office hours are over?)
Little wonder then that when Saturday comes, we’re drained – both mentally and physically. This disturbing new trend is what Londoners are referring to as the Shatterday/Shunday phenomenon. We Londoners are following the 5:2 plan not just with our diets, but when it comes to work and socialising too.
For me, two days of fun has been replaced by the supermarket shop, trip to the post office to pick up the packages that you weren’t in to sign for, tackling the laundry that’s threatening to break free from its basket, researching and writing freelance articles, answering all the calls and emails you never got round to dealing with during the week and endless Agony Aunt sessions (aka counselling your 33-year old childhood friend who has just called off her second wedding).
Then Sunday arrives and your chores are complete but the problem is you’re spent. Subsequently you just can’t face the thought of schlepping (thanks to the endless engineering works affecting the tube at the weekend) back into town when you know that you’ll be spending the next five days doing exactly that.
So you don’t. What you do is hunker down in front of the box and binge watch Breaking Bad or maybe – energy permitting – head to the cinema. To paraphrase Tennessee Williams, Londoners are guilty – at weekends – of going “to the movies instead of moving. Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody [...], while everybody [...] sits in a dark room and watches them have them.”
Enough. With the start of Spring just around the corner (20 March), it’s time put the pep back in our step and leave wiped-out weekends, along with HEAT-TECH tops and tights, behind with winter. Who’s with me?