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Sunday, August 17, 2008

The joy of simply faffing around

Tom Hodgkinson
The Guardian,
Wednesday August 13 2008
Article history

A woman relaxes with her eyes closed

Take some time out - it's not hurting anyone. Photograph: Getty

A new report says that we waste three hours a day faffing around, doing nothing in particular, pootling, dawdling, pottering, hanging about. The survey was carried out by the Learning and Skills Council, who, not surprisingly, argued we should instead use those three hours to Learn some Skills.

I beg to differ. Faffing is good. It is an important part of life. Faffing is when we disconnect from the matrix and idle for a while, like a car. Our body and spirit know deep down that human beings were not made for constant toil so subconsciously creates space through the mechanism of faffing.

Faffing of course does not fit the programme. We are supposed to be busy, productive citizens. Take the new BlackBerry ads. An unsmiling Teutonic model, a supreme non-faffer, boasts about the number of things he or she manages to get done in a day, thanks to their BlackBerry. Clearly these sorts of ideals are designed to make us faffers feel bad. Well, don't.

Embrace the faff. Stare out of the window. Bend paperclips. Stand in the middle of the room trying to remember what you came downstairs for. Pace. Drum your fingertips. Move papers around. Hum. Look at the garden. Go to the shed with the intention of tidying up and instead fall asleep. Make mental notes. Read every single word of the newspaper - even the job ads - before getting down to work. Lose yourself in erotic reveries. Pat your pockets. Resolve to be more organised in future. Be useless.

Faffing is completely harmless, whereas its opposite - dynamic, purposeful activity - is often very harmful. Faffers do not tend to kill people or make them work 12-hour days or sell them shoddy merchandise or lend them vast sums of money that they cannot pay back. In 1966, John Lennon memorably asked people to leave him alone because after all, he was only sleeping, and I urge the busybodies to do the same: after all, I'm only faffing.

· Tom Hodgkinson is the editor of the Idler