I remember my first September weekend holiday. It seemed to take an age to come around. My young mind could not understand what was happening to the laws governing the passage of time. What had happened to all this 60 seconds in a minute, seven days in a week business?
Feeling just out of short trousers, I'd found starting at school hard. Every day I'd come home to be met by my mother, who asked how I'd got on, though often she didn't have to. My body language said it all. On that first holiday, I went to visit my friends Brian and Keith. They weren't at school and, when I thought of their non-school lifestyle, I could have howled like a dog. But I hadn't felt bright enough or motivated enough to do a PhD, so I'd left university after honours and became a teacher. If the feedback, freely given, by some of my charges was to be believed, not a very effective teacher.
In the years that followed, things got better. Time passed at a fairly standard rate of 60 minutes per hour, except during exam supervision or when listening to colleagues in other departments stereotype scientists.
Now, as teacher-no-more, I get fewer holidays, though the September weekend is still one of them. I half-miss the long breaks, when each morning I'd get up at my own pace, surf Teletext, read until I was tired of reading rather than when the clock told me I had to stop, then get on with some decorating, gardening or cycling.
What I've got instead is the ability to take the days off I do have largely when I want to. Having a wife who teaches and children who are still at school or college, this tends to be during term time. There are times, though, when it really suits to be able to ask for leave when the car needs to be serviced or when a load of furniture is to be delivered.
What really gives me a kick is holding on to a couple of days, knowing they are there to take should I want to. Oh to have been able to miss the odd Friday Standard grade science class when I was a lad of 23.
Gregor Steele doesn't want people to feel sorry for him, now that he has fewer holidays. Oh, you weren't going to.