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Procrastinating in Paradise

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The pandemic has given many of us a horror of being stuck at home doing nothing. But not so Peter Sherwood, he’s got plenty of time for idleness

After crawling from the swamp, a billion years ago, we went on to invent the wheel, an innovation that gave rise to Lewis Hamilton. While there is no pre-historical record of progress towards it, the wheel must certainly have evolved in stages; trial and error. Some cave bloke chasing dinner across the savanna didn’t suddenly think the hunt would be a hell of a lot easier in a Jeep. No. The wheel would have gone through a variety of incarnations to discover what worked. You know, first a square, then rectangular etc.

Our Palaeolithic ancestors were also likely way ahead of their time, with a triangular version long before Pythagoras claimed it for himself. OK, so that’s a bit of a hurried leap of perspective, but I’m only allowed 500 words.

Human history is the story of the unending pursuit of working less (see Bertrand Russell’s 1935 essay In Praise of Idleness). Doing diddly-squat is our singular objective. Had those creatures to first slither from the murk been asked to define their ambition they’d have said: “To sit down all day as soon as we develop bottoms – after we invent the sofa.” The only downside to having all this time to do nothing is that we don’t know when we’re finished. With home delivery of everything – plus driverless cars and mindless investments – we can now devote ourselves to exploring the living room, as meals and entertainment arrive over the ether or robotically.

Nirvana has arrived, with a Buddhist ode to perfection called ‘Just chill and don’t move’ and without a boringly repetitive ‘Om.’ We can now dedicate our lives to fine-tuning the frivolous via the pinnacle of human achievement – the ‘App.’ Apparently the number of these things in circulation has overtaken the brain cells needed to operate them. Doing nothing has never been easier. No need to earn money; just a few major crises and central banks will print trillions and keep sending us cheques. We shove it into the stock market, which only ever goes north, and everyone’s happy. How good is that?

Development of the App has given us the free time we’ve always dreamed of. As we slouch around undistracted by timewasting work, we can access 27,976 radio stations worldwide and the entire contents of the Bodleian Library. All this while giving millions of tedious techies something to get excited about.

Recently the technophobe in me, which represents about 98% of who I am, rolled the dice in a supercomputer and it happily spat out slothful perfection with an all-purpose App, one that does all the work of the millions of others. Brilliant. I call it NAPP (No Action Perfect Procrastination). All those time-saving techniques are compressed into one swift finger movement. Alternatively, for those horrified by the calories burned in a regular button pressing movement, I have developed a voice-controlled operation called CRAPP (Completely Resting And Positively Passive). After all, we are human beings, not human doings.

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