Early May coincides with the beginning of the cricket season and, weather permitting, the bank holiday allows for a long weekend of dozing off in the spring sun with a paperback in one hand and a lukewarm pint in the other. Richard Bean’s The English Game has far more to it, however, with the Sunday afternoon clash between the amateurish Nightwatchmen and their more talented (and diverse) opposition providing the focus for a darkly funny exploration of migration, religion and the long shadow of empire that appears additionally prescient in the wake of Brexit. AM
Bomb down to Brighton with your mates, take drugs, go dancing, sleep rough, have sex, have a massive fight, get arrested – you couldn’t ask for much more out of a bank holiday weekend than Phil Daniels gets in this cult favourite, even if there’s quite a comedown in store. Adapted from the Who’s 1973 concept album, inspired by the real-life 1960s mods v rockers beach battles, and packed with now-familiar faces, Quadrophenia gives you all the buzz of the big weekend, but also the harsh reality of a youth culture that’s often viewed through rose-tinted John Lennon glasses. SR
Natasha Brown’s debut novel Assembly (2021) captures the internal monologue of a successful Black British woman as she prepares to attend her boyfriend’s family’s lavish garden party in the English countryside on a weekend trip. The unnamed narrator walks through her life leading up to the “special” social event; from growing up poor, to dealing with her corporate bank co-workers who loathe workplace diversity, to the utopian liberal politics of her white partner. It’s only 100 pages long but it’s packed with poetic lamentations, cold truths and electrifying aphorisms about class, race and love. KM
The latest season of London gang drama Top Boy is as heavy and gritty as ever. Murders are frequent and brutal, a pregnant woman attempts to flee domestic abuse in Liverpool, and the walls begin to close in on a criminal empire, with drug kingpins begging for retirement while struggling to keep their own noses clean. Series four takes the action to Morocco, and features beautifully shot scenes of Jamie staring out at the Mediterranean coastline, young boys running around the beach, and yachts’ bows caressing the ocean’s waves. Between storms, there are moments of gentle sunlight that will make you want to jet away (though hopefully not to oversee the transportation of drugs). JO
A bank holiday isn’t necessarily long enough to get abroad, but it can offer the perfect window of homegrown escapism, an insight into what the UK could be if we kept our sun-hat camaraderie all year round. A love letter to south-west coastlines, Metronomy’s 2011 album The English Riviera is pure summer on wax – nostalgic and evocative in its easy, breezy beats. Press play on The Look and try not to immediately picture yourself swooping down a helter-skelter with a sandy ice-cream in hand. Isn’t life much better with your out-of-office on? JW
• This article was amended on 30 April 2022 to remove a reference that misidentified the actor in the Top Boy image.