SWIMMERSThe Sunday Herald , Sunday 20 July 1952

Few women and fewer men have enough character to be idle.  E.V. Lucas

Hmm. Looking at the ads in the NLA Newspapers. The ILLUSTRATED ads that is. Its a beautiful morning here. Springtime mild and clear and fresh. And I do believe I have a free day before me. So I am roaming idly. I was never one who was inclined to SURF. I fancy sitting at the edges of the waters dawdling, and digging holes in sand. Today – I IDLE.

The British seem to cultivate it best.

I am sure there are Idler people than them but I am not sure that others are able to cultivate it quite so consciously. Like an English Garden.

Here in Australia, we have an online IDLER as well.


Last year in Grafton we acquired for $1 per book, seven books of from the early 1900s written by W.W. JACOBS from his Sea Shanty Stories and that’s where I came across JEROME K JEROME and his Idler World.

“Institutions fear idle populations because an idler is a thinker and thinkers are not a welcome addition to most social situations.”
Terence McKenna


I was going to idle through the Newspapers and might still do so but firstly I shall look for some evidence of my personal idling ability and idle encounters. There is a fine line between IDLER and SLOTH.
Seems to me that the New Idler in the U.K. allows himself to get a little too passionate to be quite an Artiste.
Best I check my yellow and blue dictionary for the meaning and origins of the word.Well, it has the definition but not a great deal about the origins. I like knowing origins because they give me a sense of the culture that generated such a  word.  If it were French in origin, then I would idle in a rather different manner than the Old English and German they list here.

DSCF3692Bill never ran when he could walk. Walked when he could sit. Sat when he could Lie.

My Once and Former Husband was always checking the Idling on our cars. Usually because they tended to conk out. One of the dangers of too much or maladjusted Idling , I suppose. Hadn’t thought of that before.

One of my favourite and role modelling quotes is one I read about Bill Wilson, written by his wife. I don’t have the exact wording to hand but the imprint left on my brain is this.


IDLING is the means of moving though life which allows me to pause and note the bull in the front paddock; to stop the car, pick up the camera and spend a few minutes observing, filming and wondering.

Idling makes a lot of Wondering time available.

`Nice? It’s the ONLY thing,’ said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. `Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING–absolute nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,’ he went on dreamily: `messing–about–in—boats



For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.

I add this link to FLANEURS as well. We have at least one acknowledged case of FLANEUR in the Family.

That is in addition to the ‘Dawdling No-Hoper”.



Here is an example of the French influence on Idling.  As I suggested before, it presents a slightly different image.


In 1840′s Paris, it was regarded as the height of cool to take your tortoise for a walk

Ah, the golden days of flanerie are gone. Saunter, stroll: dally, dawdle; loiter, linger … arm in arm those magical words float by me, trailing their irretrievable aura. The ability to set the pace of of one’s own life is the elusive dream of the urban loafer. But the times when the city could unfold its pavements at the nonchalant pace of the browser are receding ever more rapidly through the subway of modernity.


Remember, idler etiquette is at least partly about keeping people on their toes. That’s why a personal card which is flat, more or less rectangular, fashioned of paper, and wallet-sized—resembling a business card, in other words—is essential.

Your personal card should present your name and the bare minimum of information necessary for contacting you, and should only bear a descriptive word or two about you if you feel it adds to the desired effect. Sobriquets like Cad, Bon Vivant, Raconteur, and (of course) Idler are good; titles like Executive Assistant or Associate Producer are bad. I also approve of perplexing and/or mysterious descriptors like Spy, Freedom Fighter, or Player. A friend of mine, who supports himself by drawing typefaces (known as fonts) has a personal card which I admire greatly. Beneath his name it reads, simply, Alphabetician. Now that’s fabulous.


IDLERARRESTThe Argus Saturday 26 September 1925,

The Argus (Melbourne,… Saturday 26 September 1925


An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow

The word goes round Repins,
the murmur goes round Lorenzinis,
at Tattersalls, men look up from sheets of numbers,
the Stock Exchange scribblers forget the chalk in their hands
and men with bread in their pockets leave the Greek Club:
There’s a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can’t stop him.

The traffic in George Street is banked up for half a mile
and drained of motion. The crowds are edgy with talk
and more crowds come hurrying. Many run in the back streets
which minutes ago were busy main streets, pointing:
There’s a fellow weeping down there. No one can stop him.

The man we surround, the man no one approaches
simply weeps, and does not cover it, weeps
not like a child, not like the wind, like a man
and does not declaim it, nor beat his breast, nor even
sob very loudly—yet the dignity of his weeping

holds us back from his space, the hollow he makes about him
in the midday light, in his pentagram of sorrow,
and uniforms back in the crowd who tried to seize him
stare out at him, and feel, with amazement, their minds
longing for tears as children for a rainbow.

Some will say, in the years to come, a halo
or force stood around him. There is no such thing.
Some will say they were shocked and would have stopped him
but they will not have been there. The fiercest manhood,
the toughest reserve, the slickest wit amongst us

trembles with silence, and burns with unexpected
judgements of peace. Some in the concourse scream
who thought themselves happy. Only the smallest children
and such as look out of Paradise come near him
and sit at his feet, with dogs and dusty pigeons.

Ridiculous, says a man near me, and stops
his mouth with his hands, as if it uttered vomit—
and I see a woman, shining, stretch her hand
and shake as she receives the gift of weeping;
as many as follow her also receive it

and many weep for sheer acceptance, and more
refuse to weep for fear of all acceptance,
but the weeping man, like the earth, requires nothing,
the man who weeps ignores us, and cries out
of his writhen face and ordinary body

not words, but grief, not messages, but sorrow,
hard as the earth, sheer, present as the sea—
and when he stops, he simply walks between us
mopping his face with the dignity of one
man who has wept, and now has finished weeping.

Evading believers, he hurries off down Pitt Street.

The Weatherboard Cathedral, 1969


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