Faffing Around

Faffing Around

It will come as no surprise that the results of yet another new survey have burst upon an expectant world. According to the Learning and Skills Council, we Brits live up to our reputation as the world’s greatest faffers. The shock revelation is that an average of 40 days a year is wasted as the vast majority of Brits (80 per cent) admit to wasting time everyday and just under half estimate they ‘faff around’ for as much as 2-3 hours a day. High on the list of time wasting occupations are gossiping, shopping for unessential bits and pieces, waiting for other people and waiting for the bathroom. I’m just surprised that staring out of the window, bending paper clips, doodling, listening to the test match, plotting fantasy football, playing solitaire on the computer and a whole host of other pleasurable activities don’t make the list. Apparently nearly a third of respondents were annoyed at the amount of time they wasted in a day, which in my book means that over two thirds weren’t.

The Learning and Skills Council take a dim view of all this and, grinding their own axe, state that we should “use the time (wasted) learning a new skill”. A time management guru is wheeled out for a spot of nannyish scolding to the effect that he is “committed to making people understand the benefits of making the most of their own time. We live in a busy world. We’re working harder and juggling more than we used to – and, clearly, the nation is also spending more time ‘faffing’ than they should!” You can read all this stuff at http://readingroom.lsc.gov.uk/lsc/National/nat-555britswasteday-aug08.pdf.

I disagree. Precisely because we are working harder, faffing is an important safety mechanism. Human beings are not made for constant toil. Faffing is harmless, which cannot always be said of relentless purposeful activity. Indeed life is real and life is earnest, but there is something to be said for the Welsh poet William Henry Davies who, in several years living as a vagrant, took faffing to a whole new level. The Learning and Skills Council would definitely not have approved. But he wrote an acclaimed memoir ‘Autobiography of a Super-Tramp’ and penned the oft quoted lines:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

This post was written by:

- who has written 462 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Mike Gribbin is a retired Civil Servant with wide experience, including the drafting and implementation of Parliamentary legislation and regulations. He is the editor of “Criminal Offences Handbook”, a uniquely comprehensive guide to more than one thousand ways to fall foul of UK criminal law. He is Editor of the Upper Case Legal Journal and has been writing blog posts for the past eight years.

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