Essays in Idleness


A direction for tramps

It is necessary to distinguish idleness from tramping. The latter is technically a subset of the former, but also they are opposites, mutually contained. One may be perfectly idle at a single location — Kenko’s mountain hut, for instance, where nothing of any significance is accomplished over the course of many years, beyond what we tediously […]

On statutory holidays

Today, the third Monday in February, is a civic low-traffic day in the Province of Ontario. It is called Family Day because some Liberal politician, good old Guinty McSquinty, decided we needed a day to spend with our families (however defined), to which end he would abridge our labour. I thought we already had at […]

Aphorisms for Saturday

Bedeutung is always richer than Deutung, as sage Balthasar says. He was not the first to say it, but I think he put it in a delightfully simple way. Notice the use of “always” as opposed to often, sometimes, occasionally, &c, as a journalist might write. The truth is embarrassing, because it is always true. […]

Up against the pipes

Does gentle reader enjoy being smeared? Well, I should speak only for myself. I don’t like it. Perhaps I am projecting when I guess that most members of the new administration, Stateside, don’t enjoy it either. Verily, I’ll go out on a limb, and say no normal person (is Trump normal?) delights in being viciously attacked. […]

The no-brainer chronicles

The Trump plan to Make America Great Again consists of some wonderfully simple ideas. One revenue-neutral plank is, for instance, to take taxes off exports, and put them on imports instead. (NB, there is no such thing as “revenue-neutral” in politics.) This will have a positive effect on the trade balance, while usefully smashing up a […]

In case you were wondering

“There are more than two genders.” This, according to a teeshirt with which I happen to agree. In many languages there are in fact three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. In some languages there are duals as well as plurals, too. One has to get used to this. There are, however, only two sexes. It […]

Jim & Florrie

[Brought forward.] * My parents’ wedding was today (in 1948). Though both are now dead, they were able to share sixty anniversaries. It is as if I attended the wedding itself, my mama told me the whole story so many times: such a rich farce, and such a glorious love anthem. They weren’t intending to […]

Brain disease

Without naming anyone — my Enemies List is currently sufficient — I have been thinking lately of what went wrong with several old friends. Sensible when young, always articulate, constant readers and investigators: how is it that they came to be insane? Or perhaps that is an overstatement, for in each case, the subject remains […]


Today is of course Septuagesima Sunday; the season of fasting has come into view. Perhaps the “of course” can be omitted now, that the celebration has been suppressed for half a century, in the “ordinary form” of the Mass. But I think so long as civilization survives, even as a whisper, Septuagesima must stand. And […]

Milady Sue K.

Sadly, I lost my girlfriend this week (funeral today). She was Milady Sue K., among my late mother’s friends at the oldie home around the corner. She was only ninety or so (never parted with her age), flirtatious through all of her several marriages (by her own account), and a bundle of consistently mischievous good […]

My life in the movies

This is admissions week in the High Doganate. I shamefully admitted to not having read Wodehouse on Tuesday; today I will admit to not watching movies. Never say never, however: I did see some movies as a young man (mostly with the object of taking girls to them), and am aware that they are still […]

Table manners

“Dining with sinners,” I am told by one of my neo-Southern correspondents, “is far more enjoyable than dining with the morally earnest, puffed hypocrites of the elite.” I’m sure this was true twenty centuries ago, for some things on this planet never change. Judging from the Gospels, Our Lord seems to have made something of […]

The Bertie conversions

Today’s confession — I tell you, gentle reader, things I really ought to keep to myself — is that I have never read P. G. Wodehouse. I am surrounded by people who have, so that I sometimes feel as if I were the only person in a large room of jollies who does not get […]