Just as a 12th-century knight’s son would have been considered next to useless if he couldn’t joust and shoot an arrow and wield a sword, so, I believe, a modern young male of the professional classes ought to be able, by 25, to do at least three quarters of the following things on a level where he does not look like a total spaz: scuba dive; windsurf; surf; ski; water-ski; skateboard; snowboard; golf; tennis; squash; darts; piano or guitar; mix records on a set of decks; ride a motorbike; sail; drive a speed boat; shoot; ride; Scottish dance.
Absolutely – even though I don’t wholly agree with James’ list, I get the sentiment. And the great man asks further questions of us – pointing what it’s all about:
This is what I like about surfing. And hunting. And badminton, tennis, bridge, wild swimming, Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, walking, reading, Matterhorn, and all those other things I’d much, much rather be doing right now than writing this sodding piece which is taking far longer than it should because my mind’s still in its post-August fug. All the things in the world that make me most happy — all of them, damn it — are the things that have nothing whatsoever to do with work. Yet work is the thing I have to do for at least 46 weeks every year. While not-work is the thing I do only for a measly six.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES. We do not live to work. Work is a means to an end. We live to consume (and, to be blunt, we also consume to live). Our entire life – to be fulfilled – should be focused on the moments when we indulge. Our hedonistic, epicurean blow-outs. Drink, food, sex, games of cards, great art, wonderful music – consumption.
So why do so many righteous, self-important (mostly left-wing) folk rail against consumption? Are they so wrapped up in Marxist angst that they cannot see that we live to consumer – that consumption is everything? That we produce so others can consume not for the sake of producing? Even the subsistence farmer works to consume – he has (he sees) no choice but to carry on with back-breaking, painful, dispiriting labour. Why? Because he must consume to live.
We are lucky. Our creativity, success and the efforts of past generations have bought us free time. Time to consume – to fly kites, to watch crap movies on the telly, to smoke big fat Cuban cigars and to drink malt whisky. And that’s why we work. There is no other reason or purpose to work whatever the protestant moralists may tell you about work’s value. Our production (the effort of our work) allows us to consume. We promote exports so the choice in our consumption is extended.
In the final analysis, it is our desire to consume that drives the economy not the organisation of production. James Delingpole gets it right when he concludes his advice to his son by saying don’t be like your Dad. If you can consume without effort take that opportunity and enjoy it.