Tuesday, 13 December 2011

In Praise of a Certain Kind of Idleness

I have to admit that, whatever my choices have been, the blood of the puritan runs deep in my veins and his work ethic is etched on my soul, so I find it very hard to do absolutely nothing or just to relax; wholly failing to understand Ava Gardner's statement that doing nothing was as agreeable as floating in warm water. However, I have lost the chains and shackles of modern corporate serfdom (which represent irresistible pay packets to most people who wear them) and now that I am nearing the top of the escalator (so to speak), I remain as convinced when I first read it thirty years ago, that Bertrand Russell's In Praise of Idleness should win a place on every youngster's bookshelves (or in their Kindles).

It is not a book commending mere idleness for its own sake, as the characteristically provocative title might suggest but commending more leisure and recreation in our increasingly mechanized (and now digitalized) age, in place of being at work or, more precisely just being seen to be at work, as this should be discouraged, when it is not productive.

The world seems to be moving in this direction with more and more people allowed to spend significant work time at home. I know of one fellow, who seems to be well thought  of by his Quango employer, who works at home a lot: he gets the job done but also seems to spend significant periods in leisure pursuits, such as tending to his pipe collection, and Skyping friends, over coffee. "Bully for him!" say I.  Mind you, with all the government cuts going on, I hope, for his sake, that no one ever notices that they are paying a part-timer a full-time salary.


  1. Yes, I would rather scrub floors all day than do nothing, my mind can't take too much rumination. Although a dalliance with Frank and copious martinis would have been welcome.

  2. B&P - I did a blog about the engraved watch that Ava gave to Frank but I can't find it immediately. It provides an interesting insight.