In the Interstices

Harry Eyres files the last two installments of his “Slow Lane” column in the Financial Times. In one he writes:

Over-strenuous efforts to get away from it all tend to defeat their object: you encounter the same problems on arrival. The point is to find and enjoy the oases of peace that are freely — and I mean often freely — available in the interstices of the daily round: those easily forgotten or ignored oases, the familiar painting (which you could make a date to spend an hour with) or the poem you half-remember (which you could learn by heart), the pair of bustling blue-tits in the garden laburnum you have hardly noticed for years, the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the night sky, a mode of transport which facilitates richness of experience rather than bullet-like translation from A to B.

And in the other:

My ambition has been to set out a workable alternative to the romantic escapism of Yeats’s Lake Isle of Innisfree. We can enrich our necessarily limited time by learning a short poem by heart, or even writing one; by returning to those viola or clarinet studies we gave up as teenagers, and finding that we can engage with the music in a deeper way and make it our own; by popping in to a museum or gallery to see not a vast, intimidating blockbuster exhibition but just one dearly loved painting; or by playing, at whatever level and with whatever physical limitations, a sport you love rather than watching overpaid narcissists on TV.

I’ve enjoyed his column. Cultural references, being in the FT, were sometimes a little highbrow for my immediate understanding but the ethic behind the column was always extremely sound. Certainly worth a leisurely stroll through the archives.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

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