This is near enough my favourite time of year. After a long winter the weather suddenly – mostly – takes a turn for the better. The sun shines longer, and with more heat. Far from being locked into a succession of drab days (as we had especially this year), there is the promise of much more to come, and the remembrance of all that includes. It’s AFL finals too, the best footy played by the best teams in front of big crowds. There’s a buzz in the air even if your team isn’t involved. This week is the pinnacle of all that, grand final week. Saturday is the big day, the opening of the barbecue season coinciding with the biggest game of the year.
This year it’s all of that, and more. It’s maxed out. Not only have we hit a patch of great weather – high 20’s, low 30’s – we also have an extra day off to enjoy it. Tomorrow, Friday, is now a public holiday, explicitly created to maximise the celebration.
It’s been a controversial call. Like most I’m up for an extra public holiday, but initially I was preferring the Monday after, rather than the Friday before. Part of my reasoning went back to my personal experience of the Friday before the Grand Final. Over the last 30 years I’ve probably been working in the city for about 22 of them. The place is always jumping with people coming in from interstate, and from the ‘burbs to witness the Grand Final parade. The night before the Grand Final has long been one of the best drinking nights of the year. The place is festive and chock-full of people, many of them marvelling tourists. Did I want to lose that? No.
I’ve changed my thinking on that. For a start a Monday holiday – after the event – doesn’t really make much sense. And I’ve been convinced that the Friday, though different, will be no less. Rather than workers there will be families flocking into the city to soak up the vibe. Because it’s now a public holiday the AFL has been able to schedule further activities to make the most of it. The proof will be in the pudding, but I think it’ll work. And, for the record, there’ll still be drinking – I’m out with the boys tomorrow night.
The other complaint about the day off has been from business predictably, complaining about lost productivity and penalty rates and the usual wowser-ish complaints. I don’t have a lot of time for those arguments. For a start I think this will re-direct business. There’ll still be plenty of activity and money spent, but in different areas perhaps.
More importantly life’s pretty sad when worker productivity is at the top of the agenda. It’s important and all that, but in general I’m an advocate of working smarter, and seizing the different opportunities when they come along. There’s been a general trend that the average Joe has been losing benefits and working longer, and it seems pretty well accepted. It’s nice to see for a change something being given back to the working man – and no better occasion for it than this.