Essays in Idleness


Month: April, 2016

Suppressing the erotic

One of the grimmest activities in this world is that of “sex” (i.e. copulation) without eroticism. This would pertain to all sterile forms of the exercise, which is the crown of modern commerce and advertising. It is true, much disease is spread along with the depravity, but the real costs are steeply higher. For we […]

Saint’s day

Saint Catherine of Siena and I share a birthday, as I like to mention at least once a year. In my own case it was a birth into creaturedom, in hers the heavenly natale. We may lack much else in common — I fear the admiration goes only one way — but at a crude […]

Wednesday morning

Well that’s it then, the last Super Tuesday for which I’ll stir myself to check the news. We’ve lost, as we usually lose. More precisely, we’re down ten goals with minutes to go, and I feel confident in my prediction. Trump has won. The current practice is to find someone to blame for this, other […]


“To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.” The line is from the front poem (“A Brief for the Defence”) in the late Jack Gilbert’s Refusing Heaven, and was brought to my attention by an Idlepost reader. It distils a point I made yesterday, against the adepts of “progress,” […]


Having been called, in the very recent past, a “wattle-and-daub conservative” (and really, gentle reader, I prefer “reactionary” for my noun), I was put to the pain of responding. My first reply was, naturally, “Yes, if we understand the framing is of oak, and the daub capillaried by the finest horse hair.” My second was […]

Four centuries later

As dead white males go, Shakespeare has got to be in the top ten. He has outlasted not only his rivals on the stage, but one after another of subsequent generations, and even in the rain of our own time, he is still running strong. Four hundred years from his death, on his fifty-second birthday, […]


Miguel de Cervantes died on the eve of Saint George’s, William Shakespeare on the day itself, in both cases precisely four hundred years ago. Curiously enough, if gentle reader will consult his perpetual calendar he will find that was also a Friday and a Saturday; and thanks to the Muslims (with their lunar calendars) I […]

Morning thoughts

Awakening from an extravagant dream this morning, I found a new collective noun in my head. It was, “an affliction of bishops.” The dream, gentle reader will surmise, was something about synods. We have survived much through the last twenty centuries or so. We will survive more. * To Mass, and the celebration today of […]

Hardwater tea

A great number of things are not going to change, no matter what the hopey-changelings decide. I touched on one of them yesterday. We may project some “ideal” system of education that will turn everybody into intellectuals, who read difficult books right through; who with standardized, methodical training can become “anything they want to be.” […]


Do people ever read books right through? I think they must in the case of pulp fiction. I often see someone, on a trolley or elsewhere, more than half way through some paperback with a lurid cover, and I would swear from the movement of his eyes that he is reading it, and bet that […]

The flittermouse chronicles

[This item, written in a hurry, continues the flittermouse series that began here, and continued, here. As Idleposts go, it is not very good.] * Bats have long been objects of fascination to me; verily, since I first encountered them in considerable dusk numbers, as a wee lad in Lahore. At this diurnal signal they […]


It would be difficult to keep a goat in the post-modern city. I’ve frankly never tried. A cat is about as high as I have gone in the great chain of being, here in the Greater Parkdale Area. A cat has charm, and an inspiring spirit of independence, but a goat could be more useful. […]

Sin makes us sad

Sin looks better in prospect than in retrospect, I have heard it said, and part of the maturing process for humans should be mastery of this truism. It is hard, I know, for I am still trying to learn it myself. The ideas of “forward” and “backward” are much confused in our culture. We easily […]