In nineteenth-century Paris, there was a type of man known as the flâneur. He was a sort of strolling dandy, a work-shunning poet, who ambled through the city, lingering in arcades, lolling on benches and making observations. Some of the most extreme flâneurs used to take a tortoise on their walks, because they liked to let the tortoise set the pace. You can be a modern-day flâneur in your own town: just set out from your front door and make a deliberate attempt to walk slowly. It will seem unnatural at first, but that is only because you are starting to overcome years of A-to-B speed-walking conditioning. Soon the slower pace will become more habitual, and you will take great pleasure in the world of limitless wonder that ambling opens up to you.
From The Book of Idle Pleasures, Ed Dan Kieran and Tom Hodgkinson (Ebury Press)
Illustrations by Ged Wells