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nothing doing

The pandemic has forced Samuel Muston to embrace idleness, discovering that, contrary to popular belief, life in London doesn’t have to be lived at 100 miles an hour. Time to take it easy?

It’s Monday and life on the sofa is shaping up nicely. I’ve a cheese sandwich to my right, a dog to my left and my neighbour — whom I see from my window — is installing a statue of a heron on her lawn. It is quite a good diversion. Three books remain half-read at my feet. Still, there’s always tomorrow.


This is the measure of my day, a childless 32-year-old freelance writer, 11 months into the pandemic: cheese, nosiness and book-dodging. It is a bit like that teenage conversation we all had with our mother at some point:
‘Where have you been?’
‘Out.’
‘What have you been doing?’
‘Stuff!’

I can’t say I find this particularly troubling or unprofitable any more. It is a cocoon no thicker than a daydream — but it is handy for keeping out the horrors of this time all the same. I never thought I would embrace it. But when your business is writing about flippancies it’s inevitable you are going to be underemployed during a deadly pandemic. I am the world’s least key worker; it doesn’t seem at all unjust that my income has reduced.

“To be endlessly busy was to feel important. It fed my ego and it seemed fun. I cultivated a certain earnestness. Now I cultivate tomatoes”

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“Oscar Wilde, for instance, said: ‘To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world.’ Right, of course”

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“Idling has become an article of faith. It is a mini rebellion
that can be done lying down and a piece of self-care
that doesn’t involve an expensive instructor”

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