Essays in Idleness


Month: June, 2016

An artist is a solitary

The Japanese draughtsman, Hokusai, admitted to a mania for drawing the forms of things, from the age of six. He could not get anything right until the age of twenty, however. By age fifty he had produced a great deal of work which other people liked. Writing at the age of seventy-three, he believed that […]

Bonnie & Clyde

I see that Parkdale (or, Vallis Hortensis, as we say among the elect) is back in world news, despite the distraction of Brexit. Indeed, it was while reading a European website, yesterday, that I learnt of the recapture of the second errant capybara in High Park, a few blocks away. “Bonnie and Clyde,” as they […]

The secret government

I stand accused this morning of embracing “democracy,” or even “populism” as another correspondent alleges. They refer to my delight in Brexit, mildly expressed in passing last week. But the charge is unreasonable. I would never do such a thing. I was simply stating my slight preference between two, typically modern, democratic sides, where there was […]

The in & the out of it

“If you’ve got money, you vote In. If you haven’t got money, you vote Out.” This quote was collected by a Grauniad reporter, from one of Manchester’s suburban slums. He could not find one “Remain” voter in the Collyhurst district. Earlier in the day, however, he had attended a graduate recruitment fair in the middle […]


Frexit, Swexit, Netherlexit; Espanexit, Portugexit; Czexit, Slexit, Luxembexit — they’ll all want out now, till the European Union is down to just Germany and Greece. And maybe Scotland. Can we leave, too? Do you have to be a member to quit? Let’s have a referendum on everything, and everyone vote Leave. There is great blather […]

On nature

Water is not as innocuous as may first appear. Those who have experienced floods will know this. They may associate water with disorder; their imagination of what happens should the seas rise will itself be disordered. They see nothing positive in it. They value water only to the degree that it is useful for their own […]

When pushy meets touchy

A note from my chief Irish veterinary correspondent calls my attention to the current spat between Obama/NATO and ex-Soviet/Putin, which is being conducted over many issues, some perhaps too subtle for the mass media to have catalogued. Indeed, so subtle that even I, a connoisseur of subtle conflict, would have to retreat to the foreign […]

Five stars

Curiosity kilted the cat, or however that saying goes: I have been reading too much news again, and must cut back. This morning’s excuse was curiosity over the results of municipal elections in Italy. It seems they went well. The progressive types were turned out of office all over, and the country’s Five Star Party, […]

Marriage à-la-mode

Let us hypothesize. The ordination of most Catholic priests is invalid; the Mass in Catholic churches is usually invalid; and most Catholic marriages are null. Our pope recently uttered this last opinion, volubly, then had his minions alter the transcript from “most” to “some.” That in itself was noteworthy: for when an honest man realizes […]

The week in review

“Downtown Orlando has no bottom. The entire city should be levelled. It is void of a single redeeming quality. It is a melting pot of third world miscreants and ghetto thugs. It is void of culture. If you live down there you do it at your own risk and at your own peril. If you […]

Consider the alternatives

Gun control seems to be fairly effective in China. One cannot trust communist statistics, but it appears the murder rate can be sustained with fists, feet, clubs, and knives. That would not exhaust the alternatives, for the reader in an encyclopaedic mood, but I would like to focus particularly on long knives, which are the […]

Fashion statement

It is hard to hesitate before calling all contemporary intellectual life a fashion statement (note the singular). I will not go so far this morning. I will only mention the temptation. And it is a temptation, to respond to fatuities presented everywhere in public life, with fatuities of one’s own. (“Resist ye not evil.”) In […]

Showing grandma around

It would be fun to explain to my maternal grandmother (died 1962) how a cash machine works. Not the inside of it, of course, I have no idea what goes on in there; just the “interface.” How one inserts this card, enters this password, presses these buttons, and cash comes out in freshly-printed twenties (or […]