A Use for Unwanted Leisure

You can't go far in most modem cities without seeing some signs of time hanging heavily on people's hands: old men sitting on park benches, stretching out the hours until it's time to go home, or queues of people waiting simply to be entertained or diverted in bingo halls or amusement arcades. A hundred years ago social reformers concentrated on trying to lower the number of hours people had to work, but now it's become obvious—with the possibility of a thirty-hour week and earlier retirement ages—that too much leisure can present as much of a problem as too little.

There are plenty of ways nowadays of passing the time. Leisure industries are proliferating, and television is still taking an increasing amount out of people's day. But there's a serious need for greater mental stimulus, which sometimes seems to be hardly recognized.

The Taste of Joy
July 3, 1971

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