Tom Hodgkinson has some advice for those anxious and marooned in close quarters
I am not going to patronise you with a load of waffly advice on how to work at home, as I’m sure you’re all adults, and anyway every newspaper has already done that to death. Actually the best advice I have come across is from the mental health charity Mind, which you can read here. And small businesses and freelancers should check out the advice given by the Federation of Small Businesses.
I feel that our biggest enemy over the next few weeks is going to be anger and grumpiness. Family members, who are used to having their own support networks in the form of of school and work, are going to be thrown together, and we will all have good reasons to be miserable. In our case there will be a 20 year old, an 18 year old (who is devastated by the news that A levels are being cancelled), and a non-miserable fifteen year old, who so far sees the whole thing as an opportunity to spend more time playing computer games, if that were possible.
Therefore we are going to be recommending various helpful books and mental attitudes via blog posts on the Idler website, contributed by our teachers and contributors. At this time more than ever, we need the wisdom of “philosophy”, that wonderful science invented by Socrates two and half thousand years ago.
My plan at home is to install a regime of monk-like routines and frugality. We are going to have to behave like a boarding school, with set mealtimes and planned periods of rest and recreation. If we are efficient, there will be time to be idle. There will be good things as far as idling goes: no commuting, for one. It will be easier to have a nap. And you will have time to learn stuff.
As for the Idler, how are we doing? Well, we will be carrying on as normal with our magazine, online courses and website. Business-wise, we may well take a big hit on our live events, though we are not cancelling our July festival yet, in the hope that things will get better. Newsstand sales are likely to be down 90%.
However we are luckier than pubs and restaurants because we have an income from our subscriptions. That’s why we’re asking you all to subscribe, if you have not already done so. If you’re already a subscriber, then why not give the gift of a year’s subscription to a friend or family member? That is how you can help us to keep on pumping out the idling materials, and survive.
A subscription may be your only method of obtaining the magazine, given that so many of our usual outlets will be closed.
Our May/June issue is now in production and will be mailed out at the end of April, as planned. We’ve got Michael Palin on the surprising difficulty of taking it easy, Craig Brown on The Beatles, Ronald Hutton on the maypole and an interview with Merlin Sheldrake, author of a brilliant new book about fungi.
As for the wider picture, some are predicting that small businesses will collapse, leaving the mega-corporations in power. Already we are seeing that Amazon is busy recruiting people who have lost their jobs in small businesses like pubs and restaurants.
Will we all be working for the machine?
Or will this crisis lead to the opposite, an upsurge in creativity and small enterprise?
Let us work for the latter.
These comments were mailed to us after the above piece was sent as a newsletter. We like to publish a selection and reserve the right to edit them for clarity. Feel free to drop us a line with your thoughts.
My sympathies for your confinement with family (teen-age angst 24/7 can precipitate homicidal tendencies I am sure) BTW, what’s the word for the killing of one’s offspring? In French, my wife says it is infanticide, but in English it refers to infants. My wife and I, as seniors, are confined to our property (under ‘legal’ order) and are permitted to exit only for “essential services” – which means grocery shopping, visits to the hardware store (a special delight for me!) and, of course, doctors (if you can find one who is available!). We are not issued a government form, like the French, to produce on demand to the police when we are out and about, but that might follow as State Officials leap to emulate more authoritarian practices of regimentation when they appear And we still are permitted to take walks, but must keep six feet from others. Fresh air and sun help maintain our immune system they say. And yesterday, as we took our first lockdown one hour stroll about Berkeley, we encountered others who good-naturedly encountered us and proceeded to maintain the six feet stipulation with a spirit of solidarity that I hope continues for what I expect to be the new normal for months.