An Escapologistā€™s Diary: Part 75. Boat!

As part of my ongoing hostelling adventure, I slept on a boat!

We’re looking at existenzminimum again:

You get a private cabin (privacy being a plus in hostels) reminiscent of the cabin you get on a sleeper train or an overnight ferry.

Since the boat is on an Amsterdam canal rather than a life on the ocean waves, you feel no watery motion while sleeping at all.

But if you open a curtain in the dead of night… you might see a duck. 🦆


There’s a little more about the minimalism of hostels in Issue 15.

Escape to Life

A beautiful cover of a rare book: Escape to Life by Erika and Klaus Mann. The book profiles the artists and intellectuals who escaped Nazi Germany to live elsewhere in Europe and America. The ticklish sense of justified flight is deeply exciting.

The book can be found easily in German, which is fair enough because it’s a German book BUT it was first published in English and when parts of the original draft were destroyed the English version was used to recreate the lost content. It’s a shame that it should be out of print now.

I don’t have Ā£130+ to buy a copy from AbeBooks but the Internet Archive has a scanned library copy, which, mercifully, can be read online.


This is from Wendy Carlos, genius musical composer:

The greatest thing we’ve got going in our culture is our eccentrics. I was once embarrassed by my eccentricities but now I value them.

In other words, be different. Don’t be afraid. To plough your own furrow benefits not just yourself, but the whole world. To stand apart is not to turn your back on society. You’re at least the control group, at best the great experiment.

In the spirit of this quotation, New Escapologist Issue 15 is subtitled Experiments in Living. Our eccentric spirit animals are, if not Carlos herself, Edward Carpenter (addressed), John Stuart Mill (channelled), and Ariel Anderssen (interviewed).

Give My Child an Ikea Desk and Twelve Hours a Day of Sedentary Typing

Thanks to reader N for sharing this passage from Dave Eggers’ Heroes of the Frontier.

It’s nominally about parenting but really it’s about how to spend a good life versus the violence of social expectation:

She began to conceive a new theory of parenting, where the goal was not the achieving of a desired result. The object is not to raise a child for some future outcome, no! Times like these, together in the pines amid the fading light, as the kids run through the long grass, her son gravely teaching himself archery while her daughter tries to induce some self-injury, these moments alone were the object. Josie felt, fleetingly, that she could die having achieved such a day. Get to a place like this, get to a moment like this, and that alone is the object. Or it could be the object. A new way of thinking. Stretch some of these days together and that’s all one could want or expect. Raising children was not about perfecting them or preparing them for job placement. What a hollow goal! Twenty-two years of struggle for what ā€“ your child sits inside at an Ikea table staring into a screen while outside the sky changes, the sun rises and falls, hawks float like zeppelins. This was the common criminal pursuit of all contemporary humankind. Give my child an Ikea desk and twelve hours a day of sedentary typing. This will mean success for me, them, our family, our lineage. She would not pursue this. She would not subject her children to this. They would not seek these specious things, no. It was only about making them loved in a moment in the sun.


Enjoy your own moment in the sun today. Take a New Escapologist with you and you might not come back.

The Stack

I was on The Stack recently, a podcast about magazines from Monocle Radio.

Host Fernando is a lovely and attentive guy and I think I did quite well thanks to his questions. I explained New Escapologist accurately and with good humour as well as explaining the appeal of a less work-driven lifestyle. I also had a cold at the time, so my answers are all baritone and vocal-fried. Enjoy!

The whole episode (and indeed the show) is worth a listen but the bit about New Escapologist starts at 8:34.


Get your hands on the print edition we’re talking about here.

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Thanks to Reader S for sharing this.

The YouTuber talks about economics and the stock market, but I like the way she defends the younger woman who complains about the reality of full-time work:

Clearly in a state of distress, the younger woman laments:

I know I’m probably being so dramatic and annoying but this is my first job, like, my first 9-5 job after college and I’m [working] in person and I’m commuting in the city and it takes me fucking forever to get there.

She explains how she can’t afford to live closer to work because city rents are so high, how she doesn’t have time to cook properly or work out or be with friends or find a partner, how it’s all just too much.

Predictably a lot of people in the comments call her a whiner, that she’s spoiled, that Gen Z are lazy, and “welcome to the world”-type refrains.

But… she’s right! She’s absolutely right to be distressed about the demands suddenly placed in her lap by the 9-5. And she’s right to be dismayed that this is considered normal, is the best system we’ve come to as a society. Only a liar or a moron (or, of course, a beneficiary) would disagree. And given the state of the economy (by which I mainly mean the housing and cost of living crises) it’s truer than ever. It’s her generation who should be complaining the loudest.

The economics YouTuber says:

This is a very common experience. When you join the workforce you end up feeling all of these things this girl is talking about. It’s a completely reasonable response to overwhelming stressors.

Which is obviously correct. She goes on to talk about the labour movement and all sorts of interesting things, so it’s worth a watch. But I really just wanted to say how impressed I am that Gen Z can see through the bullshit so easily and that there are fellow dissenting voices willing act in solidarity, calling this bullshit situation out.

What the Gen Z girl doesn’t say is how she’s supposed to be grateful for this lot as well, that she’s supposed to be the grateful inheritor of a clean and easy-going technocracy. She’s not aloud to be unhappy, not allowed to work grudgingly. As we all know, that sort of daily masking is exhausting.


Tired of the everyday grind? We offer you escape! New Escapologist Issue 14 is available now.

Continuous Cruisers

This is from a nice piece by writer Faye Keegan about escaping the toxic rental market to live modestly on a narrowboat.

We scraped together what savings we had, took out multiple loans and eventually managed to secure a boat mortgage (they’re a thing), before finally buying our narrowboat in July 2021. We spent the summer doing her up: I learned to tile and managed to figure out the plumbing, Nige laid down new pallet-wood floors, and my mum helped us paint. In September, we moved aboard full-time. Our daughter was born the following August.

This is something I think about a lot. We reluctantly escaped the rental market too and it required a similar sort of pairing down. We lost our spare room and had to move to a less lovely part of town.

If you’re renting and are appalled by how much rents have shot up and if you have any chance of escaping, you should definitely think about ownership if you can find a way. It pains me to sound so much Hilaire Belloc though: it doesn’t agree with my politics and I always liked renting. But needs must as the devil drives his landlordly gold-plated sports car over your face.

Whenever I’ve look into house boats as a happy alternative to bricks-and-mortar ownership, the mooring (i.e. the parking place) is always a problem. Faye explains:

We’re what’s called “continuous cruisers”, which means we move our boat to a new mooring roughly every two weeks. It doesn’t mean we flit between a few favourite places: the rules state that we must “genuinely navigate the waters”, and I’ve heard of boaters’ licences being revoked because they haven’t covered enough distance.

Luckily, continuous cruising has benefits: moving every fortnight means we’re always bumping into boaters we know, which is lovely, and the sense of freedom is unparalleled.

According to her website, Faye is “working on a memoir about my life aboard a 60 foot narrowboat,” which I for one am looking forward to.


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