I’ve long taken a keen interest in politics, but I can’t say I followed it that closely when I was two years old. So I don’t know much about the premiership of Ted Heath.

He reformed local government, so that Cumberland and Westmorland became Cumbria. And he led us into what was then the EEC. When we come to leave this time next year we’ll have spent 46 years as members.

He’s also remembered for the three-day week of January and February 1974. When coal miners went on strike and electricity was in short supply, the working week was shortened by two days and TV stopped at 10.30pm.

Only hospitals, supermarkets and newspapers were exempt. And there was a reported spike in the number of babies born nine months later.

Heath’s predecessor and successor as prime minister, Harold Wilson, once said that a week is a long time in politics. Not when I was in charge, Heath might have replied.

Historians of the era invite us to regard the three-day week as something terrible, part of the industrial chaos of that decade. Perhaps it was. It’s probably why Heath lost the next election, and why Margaret Thatcher replaced him as Tory leader the following year.

But I can’t be the only person who finds the idea of a three-day week rather appealing. And if we can’t have that, what about a four-day week?

It’s something that many of get a taste of at this time of year. Most working people are off today, for Good Friday, and will be off again for Easter Monday.

Then there are the two bank holidays in May. Out of 10 working weeks, four of them will be four-day ones.

Of course not everyone’s off. Doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, firefighters and police officers often work weekends and will also work on public holidays.

And there will be people busy in pubs, restaurants, some shops and the offices of The Cumberland News . Crime, ill health, emergencies and news aren’t confined to nine to five on working days.

But we’re forever being told about how increased automation will lead to greater leisure time. We know that stress levels and the illness that comes with them are down to long working hours, In 2016 12.5 million working days were lost because of work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

And we’re lectured about the importance of striking a work-life balance. If we want to be healthier and happier and have better relationships with our family and friends, then we could do with another day off per week. Mondays ideally.

A reduction in the working week would mean a substantial reduction in our carbon footprint. Some women may be sceptical about this - but perhaps men would take on more of their fair share of jobs around the house if they had more time there. Some would anyway.

And the same actual amount of paid work could get done if it was spread out more evenly. We need a redistribution of work anyway. When six million people are working 45 hours per week and 1.5 million people aren’t working at all, then there’s something seriously out of kilter somewhere.

When the national minimum wage, maternity leave and paternity leave were first proposed, there were shrieks of horror and predictions of economic meltdown - yet they didn’t happen. Now they’re mainstream and nobody would dare suggest scrapping them.

Indeed the same warnings were probably sounded early in the last century when the weekend first began to lengthen and we got Saturdays off as well as Sundays.

There’s no evidence that output has fallen as the length of the working week has shortened. We already work far longer hours than plenty of other countries and are no more productive for it. Happier, well rested workers are more productive ones.

I know some people will be dismissive of this - just as they would have dismissed a two-day weekend in the 19th century. But surely a policy that could cut unemployment, reduce stress and high blood pressure, help the environment, improve family lives and make people generally happier is worth thinking seriously about?

And what was the point of inventing ever more sophisticated machines, ever more automation, if it wasn’t to give us all more leisure time?

We only get one life. We shouldn’t spend all of it working. Not in the 21st century.