In praise of other people’s hard work (418)

by Max Akroyd


I’m having a day off today. That’s the sort of day off known only to smallholders, where all the animals and plants need attention and maintenance just like other days! And then there’s the parental duties, plus the laundry, cooking and cleaning. Thinking about it, maybe digging trenches is just a subtle form of skiving off…

But at least my slightly battered body will get a rest – did I mention my finger still hurts? I found myself pondering this morning how our ancestors managed all this subsistence stuff, without things like… well, washing machines. I especially can’t imagine doing all that laundry by hand. I’m getting a flavour of how tough this life can be in term of physical wear and tear, and appreciate it’s just the tip of the iceberg compared to most of human experience in most of the world and in most of history… Puts a damaged finger, and other bits and pieces, into perspective.

The reward, though, is great: being able to eat the best things. Things otherwise unavailable to people of modest means in a civilised society.