Offload the hassle and let an army of ants do the washing up

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The Independent Online

As someone who is living in a 14ft caravan situated in the corner of a field, I have taken a sharp interest in a recent report which suggests that cosseted house-dwellers out there are becoming more pampered and idle by the minute.

As someone who is living in a 14ft caravan situated in the corner of a field, I have taken a sharp interest in a recent report which suggests that cosseted house-dwellers out there are becoming more pampered and idle by the minute.

These days, according to the market analyst Datamonitor, active young professional folk have become "service junkies" and are much too busy getting on with their careers to find time to cook, clean, shop, book tickets or plan their holidays. They can just about manage to go to the lavatory and have sex without help but leave the rest to lifestyle management experts.

A novelist called Hari Kunzru has revealed that, in order to get on with his busy writing and promotional schedule, he uses agencies to reserve air tickets, make hotel reservations and leave detailed instruction to builders who are working for him. It is a way, says Hari, "to offload an enormous hassle".

Another way of offloading hassle is simply to ignore it. Rather than shipping in spivvy lifestyle managers, we caravan-dwellers have a cheaper and more radical solution to the drearier tasks of daily life. The problem of washing up, for example, is solved by leaving dishes beneath the caravan overnight. By morning, an army of co-operative hedgehogs, shrews, ants, and worms will have picked the plates and cutlery clean. Washing between one's toes (and, frankly, where else does one need to wash?) can be achieved by a quick barefoot walk in long, dewy grass after breakfast.

Of course, the elements play their part. One of the disadvantages of the recent drought has been that my simple clothes-washing system – hanging socks and underpants on a line and letting the rain clean them – has become hopelessly undermined.

Yet, even here, there is a positive side. When I visit the local pub these days, other customers tend to move away from me, allowing me to drink in peace at my favourite table, accompanied only by the flies which have taken to following me around of late.

Would Hari Kunzru's squadron of lifestyle consultants have been able to offer that kind of service?

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