‘In the grand scheme of things, even in dire straits having the mentality of an idler may help.’

Bored at home? Why not make it a conscious ‘idling’? Mary de Pleave has been doing it since childhood

‘The picture above is an example of something one might do when idling. It comes from a page in a personal album for contributions by friends.’ | Photo: Courtesy of Mary de Pleave.

It’s been 175 years since Robert Browning wrote his poem of nostalgia for England in April: ‘…whoever wakes in England / Sees, some morning, unaware, / That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf / Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf, / While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough / In England – now!’ Well, it’s April now – and, with apologies to those elsewhere, you’re probably in England.

I was born in Winchester during the second world war, a very different world from Browning’s – and, indeed, from now. As I’ve grown older the world seems to have become more frenetic. People seem desperate to perform and to share. One must be ‘passionate’ about things or you don’t cut the mustard. To me this is insane. By that I mean as opposed to remaining calm and more self-contained – being in a place to find our inner light. No wonder our mental health is compromised. Of course I understood what Barack Obama meant when he said: ‘Yes we can.’ But I feel a pang for those who can’t. And sometimes we don’t want to – and that’s fine, surely? We don’t all want this pressure to achieve, to get the edge on someone else, or to boost one’s ego. To do seemingly nothing, in silence, can spook a lot of people.

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