Tom Hodgkinson is a writer and the editor of The Idler.
04 November 2012 12:00 AM
Think-tanks seem to spend their time working on proposals on how to get the feckless working class back into jobs. Liberal do-gooders of the Tony Benn stripe wax lyrical about the joys of full employment, and how "work" will return dignity and meaning to empty lives. Right-wingers attack scroungers, and declare they will "crack down on the workshy", bringing to mind Himmler's "Operation Work Shy" of 1938, when persistent idlers were rounded up and put into concentration camps. They were identified by a black triangle sewn on to their shirts.
21 October 2012 12:00 AM
Woe to the small business. "Mark what ills the scholar's life assail," Dr Johnson moaned in the 18th century, about the unenviable lot of the writer. But what about the ills that assail the retailer's life? I suppose we can't say we weren't warned.
07 October 2012 12:00 AM
It's been a ropey old year down on the farm. When I retired from London life 10 years ago, accompanied by a copy of The River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and romantic dreams about self-sufficiency, I was full of hope for a new dawn. Never again would I visit a supermarket. All eggs would be laid by our hens. Organic vegetables would spring forth from the garden. Home-brewed ale would comfort the evening and I would chop wood and cart muck every afternoon. The smell of freshly baked bread would fill the kitchen and the children would run free in the fields. The vulgar world with its television talent shows and mobile phones would not disturb our Epicurean retreat.
23 September 2012 12:00 AM
Sometimes everything just goes wrong. Particularly during term time. During the holidays I looked forward to the start of the new school term, but right now I am looking fondly back on the holidays. Because of the lie-ins.
16 September 2012 12:00 AM
George Hinchliffe, head of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, tells Tom Hodgkinson why the uke's fanbase is soaring again
09 September 2012 12:00 AM
In his beautiful and useful 17th-century self-help book The Anatomy of Melancholy, Robert Burton recommends merry-making as an antidote to depression. He lists "dancing, singing, masking, mumming, stage plays" as worthwhile pursuits for the down-at-heart, and approves of festivities for the people: "Let them freely feast, sing, dance, have their puppet plays, hobby-horses, tabors, crowds, bagpipes, etc, and play at ball, and barley-breaks, and what sports and recreations they like best."
26 August 2012 12:00 AM
Most of us know Count Leo Tolstoy as the author of War and Peace, a big book that we haven't read. What is less well known about this remarkable individual is that he was a social reformer whose pacifist and anarchist ideas were to have huge influence in the 20th century and to this day. I say all this because Tolstoy has been popping up in my conversations recently: a Viennese journalist, flatteringly if absurdly, compared me to him the other day, and I have just started to read Anna Karenina.
12 August 2012 12:00 AM
Anyone who knows anything about prisons will suspect a link between criminal behaviour and illiteracy. I'm a keen student of the work of Noel "Razor" Smith, armed robber-turned-writer and public speaker. He has been in and out of prison all his life. There is no doubt that he found liberation through language. And again and again in his accounts of prison life, we find that a large proportion of his fellow inmates cannot read or write.
29 July 2012 12:00 AM
The Sex Pistols, brilliantly, attacked the holy trinity of the modern economy: work, shopping and holidays, that is, paid employment, consumption and paid-for leisure. In "17", Johnny Rotten sang: "I don't work, I just speed, that's all I need," adding, with pride, "I'm a lazy sod." "Anarchy in the UK" complains that our Queen's "future dream is a shopping scheme", and in "Holidays in the Sun" he sneered at those who take a cheap holiday in other people's misery.
15 July 2012 12:00 AM
Travelling fills me with dread. When a trip is looming – and loom they do these days, because I'm often invited to speak on the benefits of doing nothing at festivals and conferences abroad – I fret. I even panic, sometimes for days before the journey. I stomp around the house grumpily. I worry about clothing. Why did I say yes? Why can't I just stay at home? Where's my passport?
- 1 Hundreds arrested as Canadian police smash worldwide paedophile ring
- 2 Sherlock series 3: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman provide teasers for the biggest comeback in British television
- 3 The man who made Femen: New film outs Victor Svyatski as the mastermind behind the protest group and its breast-baring stunts
- 4 Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis
- 5 Japan cracks down on leaks after scandal of Fukushima nuclear power plant