There’s nothing quite like messing about in boats. From Ratty and his chums to Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, the daydreaming enemies of work have always sought solace in the slowed-down worlds of our rivers and canals. There can be be no better way to drift off into peaceful reveries than lying in a rudderless boat, opening one’s eye to see a patch of sky, a cloud, slow-moving treetops. Like so many idle pleasures, boating is a way to legitimise doing nothing. There is plenty to occupy oneself with – locks, preparing food, steering the boat – but in reality you are doing nothing of any use to anyone. Which is wonderful. Boating doesn’t get you anywhere – it would always be quicker to go by car. The pleasure lies in the moment.
From The Book of Idle Pleasures, Ed Dan Kieran and Tom Hodgkinson (Ebury Press)
Illustrations by Ged Wells