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Singapore Idle


Singapore Idle

by Kenneth Lyen

I’m a Singapore Idle.

No, please don’t confuse me with the other fella who’s hung up about his neighbour when she bangs on his door and asks him to shut the hell up. I wonder if that’s the inspiration for the song "She bangs!"?

I’m what’s known in the vernacular as a "bum". A loafer, a tramp, a vagrant. The etymology of the word word "bum" (idler) is probably not from the English word "buttocks", but rather from the German word "bummeln", meaning "to go slowly, to waste time."

That’s what I’m very good at, wasting time. It is closely related to the other activity that I enjoy... to procrastinate. Do tomorrow what you should today, but couldn’t.

There is an art of being idle. I’m a past master. At first it isn’t difficult, but it gets easier with time. You just have to find a comfortable place to idle. A horizontal or semi-horizontal soft couch or bed is best. Quiet, dim lights, and freedom from nagging is preferred. Learn to slouch in style. Relax, and empty your mind. Don’t be afraid to snooze. This can be done both at work as well as at home. Set up an early warning system in case your boss should inadvertently disturb your rights to privacy. A useful excuse to give when caught, is to say that you are incubating new ideas.

The word "idle" comes from the Old English "idel" meaning "empty void, useless".

Funnily enough I was idling in Borders today when I chanced upon this book listing 100 useless words. The first page I flipped through displayed the word "flaneur", which means... surprise, surprise ... an aimless idler, a loafer. The word "flaneur" is either derived from the French "flaner" meaning "to saunter", or alternatively from the Norwegian "flana" meaning "to gad about". And if you’re not sure what "gad" means, well let me be obnoxious and educate you... it means "to move about restlessly with little purpose". "What a contumelious bummer!" you might say of me.

Who would buy a book of 100 useless words? Probably the person who finds it useful to give useless gifts. By the way that’s an oxymoron. I picked up that word when browsing another of these useless books sold in Borders called "Oxymoronica". Examples of oxymorons are "Marriage is lonelier than solitude", and "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s own ignorance."

But here I must stop, otherwise I might invalidate my professing to be a professional idler. What say you, Simon Callow?

PS "Callow" means "lacking adult maturity or experience" (I stick my tongue out).