ABBA and the benefits of a good holiday

Published on 26 July 2018 by Adam Leigh

I need a holiday.  

It’s too hot outside in London to work. 59 days without rain is making me question what it means to be British these days. 

What is going on with Brexit? I didn’t want it and it’s the biggest cock-up since Harry Kane was made to take corners in Euro 2106. We are clearly making this up as we go along and I can’t wait to say I told you to anyone that will listen when we are in an hour-long queue at passport control at Malaga airport in a couple of years.

As for Trump, I am afraid I have nothing that I can contribute to our collective endless incredulity and depression at the US president. 

These are indeed very polarising times. Read political discourse on social media and it degenerates into divisive name-calling very quickly. Extremism of opinion is now depressingly more prevalent than ever. 

“Aaaaaaaaaaaah” is perhaps the only appropriate response this global misery. (And France won the bloody World Cup)

But I have a solution. It can only be ABBA.

I have just seen Mama Mia 2 and for those pseudo-intellectuals reading this let me say that it is, as far as I am concerned, a significant contribution to modern culture. The sun shone, the tunes were catchy, the sea was clear and the dancing only vaguely ludicrous.

Don’t just take my word. Mark Kermode, unquestionably the best film critic in the UK, gave it 5 stars in The Guardian last week.: “I simply can’t imagine how Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again could be any better than it is. I loved it to pieces and I can’t wait to go again!”

 There is an economic theory that has not been validated by anyone with a proper economics degree, but as far as I am concerned is immutable. In 1992 Abba Gold, the album topped the global charts after the economic recession of 1991. In 2008 “Mama Mia” set box office records after the banking crisis had seemingly presaged the death of Western Civilisation. ABBA escapism will always prevail over fear for the end of the world.

But perhaps the real lesson from this jolly cinematic romp is the reminder of a good holiday. All research points to the redemptive power of sandcastles and flip flops. Indeed, the best advice I was ever given on my first day of work as a graduate trainee was always book all your holiday.

Research validates this theory. In 2006, EY conducted an internal study of its employees and found that for every additional 10 hours of holiday an employee took, their end-of-year performance rating from their managers increased by 8 percent. People who don’t take their holiday are found to be more stressed and underperform.

We should therefore take note of the benefits of ABBA escapism in general. We all need to find a safe space away from the constant pressure. And we should not be afraid to seek it out when we need. (A bit like admitting in public to liking Mama Mia 2.)

So, enjoy the summer one and all. I will be taking a writing break for the month of August in solidarity with the working practices of the rest of Europe. And if you are feeling miserable remember that at Waterloo, Napoleon did surrender.