Tom Hodgkinson

Tom Hodgkinson is a writer and the editor of The Idler.

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Tom Hodgkinson: 'The machine told me the flight was closed'

ASCAL famously wrote that all of man's troubles come from his inability to sit quietly in his room, and I always think of this aphorism when travelling. Why on earth did I bestir myself from my peaceful study in order to submit myself to the indignities of the security check at Heathrow Airport? Why does travel always seem to involve getting up so early in the morning? Why do trains, planes and automobiles create such a fiery rage in my breast?

Tom Hodgkinson: How allotments could save us £23bn

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.

Tom Hodgkinson: 'Instead of helping, we merely retweet'

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.

Once we grew all our own vegetables, now I hang my head in shame at the weeds…

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.

Embrace error – it makes us human

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.

Ukulele masterclass: Four strings and a jolly good time

George Hinchliffe, head of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, tells Tom Hodgkinson why the uke's fanbase is soaring again

Tom Hodgkinson: ‘Waggling our hands in the air felt right’

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."

Tom Hodgkinson: Tolstoy has been popping up a lot…

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.

Tom Hodgkinson: How grammar can keep you out of jail

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.

Tom Hodgkinson: 'As a family, we go to festivals. And work'

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.

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