Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Idle pleasures and a short life

I've just finished reading The book of idle pleasures, edited by Tom Hopkinson of the Idler magazine. It's not what I would call a proper read , more a diversion, as it's a list of all sorts of pleasures (according to the Idler) with delightful black and white woodcut illustration. Some of the pleasures are simple, like leaf-catching, walking home drunk, taking a bath, while others such as breast-feeding, only available to certain people at a very specific time of their life. Yet other idle pleasures like cloud-watching, ( one of my personal favourites ) available to anyone of any age. Reading this list brought back some happy memories of time spent idling and being happy while doing so ( if doing is the right verb to use in this context).

A complete contrast is Janet Street-Porter's book, Life's Too F***ing Short. Her premise is that you should just get on and do what you want to, not to worry about what others may say. The book is divided into various chapters like food, style, travel and so on, with a number of rules to follow in each, presumably to achieve your own personal idea of perfection in these areas of life - but at the end Janet S-P says there are no rules, just make up your own. A maddening and sometimes infuriating read, probably aimed at someone rather younger than I, but quite interesting. Many of the things Janet S-P suggests I've been doing for years, others are good ideas to follow up.

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