DAY 272: Being idle

30 May

I’VE quit my job in order to hoon around the country and write about things, which is a nice idea in theory, isn’t it?

I’m panicking a bit about how I’ll actually get things done instead of just lounging around in front of Foxtel, occasionally adjourning to the fridge, or off to bed, for a quick tension-reliever.

For some pointers I pay Tom Hodgkinson a visit at his shop in West London. Tom started out working at The Guardian fresh from university, but left (inspired by US zines like Dishwasher and Temp Slave) to launch his own magazine The Idler, which has now progressed to issue 44, reconfigured as a fabric-bound hardback book, typeset the old-fashioned way.

His advice to freelancers, as passed down to me over a pot of tea, surrounded by crumbling books and cakes, is to sit in the bath a lot and lie in whenever possible, to help brilliant ideas come to germination.

Sounds flakey until you consider this chap’s authored a bunch of successful books devoted to making the most out of life, published the aforementioned magazine for 15 years, imported absinthe, opened this café and shop – a drop-in centre for wandering poets – and founded the Idler Academy, of which he is headmaster.

Situated at the shop, the Academy offers lectures in Virgil, mending, still life, drama, wine tasting, Latin (Tom’s young son reels off some grammatical exercises to demonstrate), poetry and more. Lecturers include Louis Theroux and The KLF’s Bill Drummond, the latter of whom teaches woodwork, for god’s sake. (“He’s got a Presbyterian work ethic,” explains Tom.)

Next on Tom’s agenda – or maybe not, since he’s just dreamed it up this minute over fruitcake – is outreach work. His heart bleeds for middle management types who could do with some office visits and gentle guidance from The Idler team.

“Why is it always white, middle-class people wanting to go out on outreach work when they need help themselves?” he ponders, idly.

Keeper? These tips will keep me warm even when my electricity provider will not.

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