Blue Monday

Blue Monday…

If you go on the internet you’ll likely find some hoopla about “Cliff Arnall” coining the phrase based on some calculation when he was working for some arsehole Murdoch travel company. It is astonishingly prevalent if you search the origins of Blue Monday on Google in yet another very good illustration of how completely pointless it is to try and research ANYTHING on the internet anymore. But here’s the problem… we have come to aimlessly assume that whichever digital presence we allow ourselves to trust is THE FOUNT OF ALL KNOWLEDGE. Be it “Super true Q news useset” or “Fox” or “The Guardian”. Even something as pointless as Blue Monday has been co-opted. Sky Travel coined Blue Monday in 2004 my fat arse. Even this Cliff Arnall character makes it his business to fly in the face of the Blue Monday stasis on Twitter. He has a hashtag. #StopBlueMonday. And he didn’t start it. Perhaps he did some ostentatious maths to connect the phrase to this third January Monday.

It’s an excuse to do fuck all. Some of us have ADHD. We need that externally imposed excuse to stop.

Was it not New Order, in 1983, with the absolute ANTHEM of post Joy Division new wave synth pop “Blue Monday” that coined it? It’s a track that moves, and its about a melancholy state. It’s a track that transcends the lyrics. It flies and crashes at the same time. Life in winter. Power corruption and lies. So yeah it doesn’t specifically do Arnall stoopid maths formulas to tell us why it is dark and cold and we don’t want to have to go to work. It isn’t some pen pusher in a travel agent. It was New Order.

No it wasn’t. Was it not Kurt Vonnegut though in his stupid knockabout book written before I was born and titled for the Wheaties ad “Breakfast of Champions” but given a “What You Will” style alternative title “Goodbye Blue Monday”? Sentimental stupid funny prolific teachy Vonnegut. Known but not known Kurt, who will never be on the syllabus but will frequently be quoted in big font on some picture of a sunset or wheat fields and posted on some vapid Instagram feed. “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” “Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.” If you’re not familiar with the man’s work and you are bookish, grab one one. Or even get one online. He’s a nice voice. A mischief. A humanist. He even coined the old joke below (or did he?) 🙂

To be is to do – Socrates
To do is to be – Sartre
Do Be Do Be Do – Sinatra

So Kurt Vonnegut coined Blue Monday.

No it wasn’t him. Was it not Cat Stevens in his song of the same name in 2001?

“Blue Monday, how I hate blue Monday
Got me workin’ like a dog all day
Here comes Tuesday, oh hard Tuesday
I’m so tired, I’ve got no time to play …”

*hang on sorry I’ve got a call coming through*

Oh ok yes 2001 is after 1973 yes I know but actually, I was going to surprise them and tell them that Cat Stevens was covering Buddy Holly’s Blue Monday which was released long before Vonnegut screw you clever clogs.

So yeah, Cat Stevens was actually covering a much earlier song released by Buddy Holly in 1956, so Buddy Holly coined…

*hang on another call*

AHH ok so it was Fats Domino? In 1954? And you’re sure of that? Because Buddy’s people say it was written by Dave Bartholomew and his orchestra and Buddy sang it first? … I see … a collaboration … but the Holly money went to Dave … hmmm … I see … and Fats sung it first? God the music industry is even worse than the acting industry.

So it was Antoine Dominique ‘Fats’ Domino Junior the inspired and prolific French Creole early rocker in New Orleans who coined Blue Monday. ” ’cause Monday is a mess”.

*hang on another call*

SMILEY LEWIS? Who the fuck is … … I see … … with Dave Bartholomew’s Orchestra in 1953. Fats was a bigger name … Fuck I hate the music industry. Thanks.

Ok so it was Smiley Lewis… Surely there was nothing before 1953?

But no. Because … you can keep tracking back and back and back. Especially now we have this unreliable fact engine in our pockets. The buck only really stops when you stop looking.

It says here that in the Maryland Baltimore sun published 20th November 1849 the phrase is used. “We are enveloped in dull gray blanket-like clouds, which are slowly distilling their watery contents upon all Gotham, rendering this the commencement of a truly blue Monday. The first snow storm of the season may soon be expected if the clerk of the season does not give us a fresh instalment of Indian summer.” I got that off the internet so it MUST be true. And the article says that’s the first?

But no because we are forgetting travel, and bilingual people translating idioms. The Germans have had “Blauer Montag” on record since the 1700’s. It’s not just about the English speaking world, chum. A Monday where you do not wish to have to work. People felt they had to beat their workers to get them back to the grindstone. This dark cold Monday was the day you got bruises because you didn’t want to go back to work. You were happy and torpid after a nice boozy weekend. Your circadian rhythm was to rest, to rest, to rest. But … here’s some angry Joe in a suit with a cudgel and oh fuck it I’m pushing this wheel around again.

Blue for bruises. Blue for sadness. Blue.

Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di

Blue Monday.

Something in the church calendar in Germany? Why? When?

We could kick it back to long the invention of the weekend. The moon day comes after the sun day, which is one day after the saturnalia. If you have done your saturnalia correctly then you will need your sun day to recover before you force yourself or have to be forced back into the thing you are doing on the moon day.

Chaucer maybe used blue for sad – he wrote “Wyth teres blewe and with a wounded herte”. Some academics would bite you if you said he meant sad there though.

The color adjective blew as used of lovers’ tears in Chaucer’s Complaint of Mars is traced through Old French to a little-studied Gallo-Romance color word, bloi, originating in the Gaulish substrate (blaros) and suggestive of wan, pale tones. Reading teres blewe as an early instance of blue as “melancholy” is premature.” Owch. ok, academic objecting to the oversimplification of things. I hear you. I note you.

Ships with lost captains would fly blue flags. Blue has carried connotations of sadness in many cultures since long before the loss of the oral tradition with the invention of the printing press. Days of the week were largely hammered out by the Romans and in particular Constantine in like AD 320? So we could easily have had the idea of Blue Monday 1000 years ago and really so long as there were seasons, feelings and some days when we need to work and other days when we can rest, then this dark day could have had a name. It’s the furthest week start from the celebration of midwinter that we call Christmas and the days where it starts getting less shit and lighter.

I stayed in bed mostly. Tom cooked pasta. I got back into rereading a brilliant discontinued obscure time travel book from the 1980’s. Then I fell into this thoughthole just before bed and shared it with you all. Blue Monday. Blauer Montag. Who the hell knows? The only charlatan is the one who insists they have the correct answer on it.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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