Have you noticed how business in London increasingly moves at a snail's pace in August? Last Monday, seven of the first 10 emails I sent got automatic replies. So with the end of August, we expect a feverish return to work to close those deals we were looking at in June or start a new venture we've been dreaming up for a while but had no-one to discuss them with.
Except we have to wait a day more because of Bank Holiday Monday. I've often wondered why bankers should have public holidays in their honour and not say, members of the armed forces or nurses, who quietly perform their hugely important work with significantly less reward and longer hours. It appears that bankers haven't always had the negative reputation they have (and largely deserve) today.
In 1871, the Liberal politician Sir Edward Lubbock put the Bank Holiday Act forward to parliament, to allow the fine purveyors of this profession time to watch or play cricket on their village greens. No kidding. Only in Britain.
Putting aside public resentment towards the banking sector, which for many isn't easy to do, a few years ago it was calculated that each bank holiday cost us £2.3bn ($3.02bn) in lost earnings and productivity. With London now celebrating the launch of the nighttime economy, that figure will be likely to rise.
We don't necessarily need to have banks open today to tell us we can't get a mortgage or that our commercial loan request was declined by the credit committee. We just need the rest of us not to have been slowed down even more than August has already made us endure. As long as they continue to process our payments, bankers can take as many days off as they like except it means they're not spending money in restaurants like mine, though I've noticed over the years it's accountants, lawyers and members of the construction industry who frequent us more with their corporate cards and we love them for doing so.
As for our employees, many in my sector are paid by shifts and so will lose out. There are 100 people booked into Roast today, half the usual Monday number which means some of the team will be asked to stay at home, unable to earn.
If Sir Lubbock were alive today, he'd probably bow his head in shame at his wilfully populist move – in his time he was so revered for introducing bank holidays, that the public called them St Lubbock Days – and wonder how he might redeem himself in industry's eyes. The huge sum in lost earnings for us probably across a year account for around £1bn in lost revenues for the exchequer in lost taxes, which could have been used to prop up our failing welfare services.
Given that banks are so bad at doing their own PR, here's a suggestion for them. Say to the government that there should be no public holiday in your name as you wish to repair the bad reputation you have with the public and with businesses. But instead of coming back to your desks to fill in more compliance forms and turn down the aforementioned loans you pretend to make, why not do something useful on these days set aside in your name?
Why don't you propose making these days Bank Volunteering Days? Let the rest of us get back to business and you engage your employees with projects in your local communities – helping homeless shelters, going into schools to teach kids about personal finance, offer to mentor start-up entrepreneurs write business plans in a way that you might be less inclined to decline.
You may not have much money to lend these days, but you've still got a great many talented people working for you. So if you can't place funds to good effect, you can put your reservoir of skills to greater good.
And we might like you more.
Iqbal Wahhab OBE is the founder of London restaurants The Cinnamon Club and Roast. He also chairs two social enterprises Bounce Back and Mum's The Chef and is planning to launch two new businesses in the coming year.