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The new Sunday evening routine

How are your Sunday evenings? Is there a routine built around returning to school or work the following morning? Does the TV schedule play a significant part in your Sunday nights?

In our household, there are two series that take up our time on Sunday evenings: the “Strictly Come Dancing” results show during the autumn, right through to mid-December, and “Dancing on Ice” for the first two months of the year. During the most recent football season there were also a few Sunday evening Premier League matches that demanded our attention, a new development that might not be repeated next season.

My memories of Sunday evenings from my childhood involve two things, regardless of the season: an evening meal of banana sandwiches and cups of tea, and listening to the chart run-down on Radio 1 building up to the #1 record just before 7pm. Tom Browne was the voice of our Sunday evenings. I see from this Wikipedia page that he hosted the show from 1972 to 1978. That covers a big chunk of my childhood. In term-time there would usually be homework to finish, and shoes to polish. It’s possible that we only had an evening meal of banana sandwiches once every few months in those years, but that’s how I remember things.

For most of my time at university, my Sunday evenings were taken up by the college film society: setting up the projectors in the afternoon, screenings at 8pm and 10pm and clearing up afterwards. In the mid-80s, when I had finished at university and started my working life back in London, my Sunday evening routine often involved mass at 6.30pm and a trip to Turnham Green station to buy my weekly Travelcard. It saved queuing up on Monday mornings, when everybody else seemed to be buying their tickets. The 7-Day pass cost £4.70 back then, for unlimited travel in Zones 1 & 2. These days a single trip from Zone 2 into Zone 1 costs £2.90 at peak times.

For the last three months our Sunday evening routine has involved something new and entirely in keeping with the way the world is right now. Both of our children take COVID-19 lateral flow tests: swabs from the back of the throat and from one nostril. Earlier this evening, for the 15th week in a row, we reported two negative test results and the children are cleared for school tomorrow. I look forward to the time when lateral flow tests are no longer part of our Sunday evenings, a time when they have taken their place alongside listening to Tom Browne on Radio 1, setting up 16mm film projectors and buying a weekly Travelcard as something that we used to do.

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