My mother was not a particularly religious woman. She was an Anglican. Her generation of Anglicans regarded religion as duty rather than a passion.
I remember, though, how shocked she was when the law was changed to allow shops to open on Sundays. This was not for any religious reasons. She simply thought it was unfair to expect shop assistants to work on weekends after having worked hard all week.
“For goodness sake! Everybody deserves one day of rest every week.”
In those days, shops and banks closed at around noon on Saturday and remained closed until Monday morning.
Nobody complained. It was simply the way things were. People knew the shops would be shut on Sunday, so they bought the groceries they needed for the weekend in advance.
Banks would be closed. Remember there were no ATMs then, so if you needed money for the weekend, you cashed a cheque on Friday. No big deal.
We don’t really have weekends anymore. We slide through the week, day by similar day, with hardly a blip on the road through life. Nobody needs to plan ahead.
I sometimes think my mother may have been right about Sunday closing. We have allowed shopping to become the new religion. Instead of enjoying relaxed weekends at home with our families, we dash off to the shops, anxious not to miss out on the latest bargains. We are more interested in stuff than we are in each other. One side effect of this shopping religion is that we now tend to judge each other by the stuff we have bought.
“Jimmy got a new smartphone, Sally bought a new flat-screen TV that’s bigger than ours.”
I suppose it’s too late to turn back now. If families decided to spend a quiet, shopping-free Sunday together, they probably stick it for two hours before becoming bored and heading off to see what’s on special offer at PnP or Checkers.
“Hello Sam. Hello Mary. Did you see they have a special on butter at Spar?”
“Right. I’ll get some. They have a bargain on chicken at Woolworths right now.”
“Thanks. Happy shopping.”
And while we are guiding each other to bigger and better bargains, you might be interested in visiting the annual motor show at Timor Hall in Plumstead on Saturday and Sunday. The Crankhandle Club will be holding an auto jumble sale and you might pick up a bargain tyre pump or set of metric spanners to keep your old Tjorrie in running order. Proceeds go to the Chaeli Campaign to raise money for wheelchairs for disabled children.
It’s always a fun event.
Before the elections, a local politician was visiting shop owners and soliciting their support.
“I’m afraid I can’t promise you my support,” said one businessman. “I’ve already promised my support to your opponent.”
“Well,” said the candidate with a wink, “you know what politics is like. Political promises don’t necessarily have to be kept.”
“Oh, fine,” said the shopkeeper. “In that case I promise you my support.”
* "Tavern of the Seas" is a daily column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.