Town and Country Idler

Being Idle in the Country

After winter storage of man and bike, I dusted off the old Pashley Sovereign and took it for a leisurely spin around the lower part of the Cotswolds in Somerset. Destination: nice little village called Wellow.

The village pub is called the Fox and Badger. One pub would seem adequate for a population of 511, but the village used to have five pubs. The pub is a 16th century building, with open fires and flagstone floors inside, and a rarity - a traditional skittle alley (from which ten-pin bowling derives my Anglo-American chums). Horse brasses hang on the walls inside. You know you're in safe territory. Time was when most pubs had horse brasses hanging, along with all manner of 'pubinalia' accumulated over the centuries. Where have they all gone?

The Idler in Print

I parked myself outside the Fox and Badger with a half-pint of Cornish Doom Bar bitter from Sharps Brewery and a copy of the latest The Idler, half-reading and half-watching the world go by.

"The Idler?", you say. Yes, The Idler, founded in 1993 - a now annual magazine that "campaigns against the work ethic".

Tom Hodgkinson, editor, says, "Victims of the Protestant work ethic would like all work to be unpleasant. They feel that work is a curse, that we must suffer on this earth to earn our place in the next. The Idler, on the other hand, sees no reason not to use his brain to organise a life for himself where his play is his work, and so attempt to create his own little paradise in the here and now."

To this end, I heartily recommend Tom's books such as How to be Idle and The Book of Idle Pleasures, written with Dan Kieran, which offer great tips for the idler-to-be.

Supping in Wellow an idea was born. I thought about writing this post. As Tom says, "A lot of the idler’s work is performed when he is apparently doing nothing, when he is staring out of the window, dawdling around the house or going for a ramble."

All in a day's idling.

Being Idle in Town

The people behind The Idler magazine also run lectures and events at The Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment. The Idler Academy is a bookshop and café situated in West London. I took a detour to be nosy the last time I was in town and enjoyed a cup of tea and a cake there.

They have an interesting roster of lecturers on Wednesday nights. Just missed the recent performed reading by Brian Sewell of Hogarth the Compassionate Satirist. Written by the fearless art critic and national treasure himself, Sewell was accompanied by actor Sir Timothy Ackroyd.

Sewell Merchandise: Brian's wonderful voice can be heard on an audiobook version of Hogarth the Compassionate Satirist, released by Saland Publishing in 2006. Not sure if it's still in print, as it were, but I've spotted MP3 recordings being sold.

Of course, you can be idle anywhere, but The Idler Academy is literally made for idleness when in town.

Sewell Fact: I saw Brian Sewell do a talk on life and art in Taunton a few years back. He has a very strong handshake. Took me by surprise.


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