‘I want my children to be properly bored’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press

A child with a tablet

1. The loss of true boredom is one of the tragedies of modern life

Jemima Lewis in The Daily Telegraph

on too much stimulation

“The idea that boredom is good for us – particularly in childhood, because it encourages imagination and creativity – is well established,” writes Jemima Lewis in The Daily Telegraph. She recounts the “massive afternoon longeurs” of her own infancy, during which she would “finally peel myself off the dusty-smelling carpet to read a book… or feed mystery liquids from the medicine cabinet to my little sister”. Now, though, she says, boredom is harder to come by. “If I want my children to be properly bored – not just fed up and listless, but laid out flat by the certain knowledge that there is nothing to do – I must hide all the screens. In doing so, I create the first of the day’s entertainments: hide and seek.”

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2. The Brexiteers never took the Irish border seriously - and it shows

David Gauke in the New Statesman

on unresolved divisions

A line in Dominic Cummings’ latest blog post “reveals much about the thinking of many Leavers at all stages in the Brexit story, including today”, writes David Gauke, who was lord chancellor under Theresa May, in the New Statesman. Cummings says he told Boris Johnson that “when officials start babbling about Ireland, the union, the rule of law and what not, we just keep bulldozing”. Such contempt for “the importance of the rule of law” is disappointing, he says, as is “the cavalier attitude” to the union. “But the failure to take the issue of Ireland seriously is particularly worth dwelling upon.”

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3. Trump’s Supreme Court is full of surprises

Gerard Baker in The Times

on unforeseen consequences

When Donald Trump appointed his third US Supreme Court judge, American conservatives hoped they “would roll back the progressive advances of recent years”, writes Gerard Baker in The Times. The response from liberals was “a primal scream of fear and loathing”. And yet “the new American theocracy we were promised has failed to materialise”. It is still “early days”, he adds, but so far the new judges are “exercising a high degree of caution and seeking as far as possible to be inclusive, while holding to their conservative principles”.

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4. Will Euro 2020 change England for ever? I’ve heard it all before

Joseph Harker in The Guardian

on the limits of progressive intent

England’s Euro-conquering squad may have “shown moral leadership and social awareness, taking positions on poverty, racism, LGBT rights and multiculturalism”, writes Joseph Harker in The Guardian, but “I dread to think what will happen” if they actually win on Sunday. The national team’s performance, until now reliably dismal, “has been the one major corrective to England’s over-inflated opinion of itself” for decades, he argues. “Without that, nationalist demons will be set free; there’ll be little to hold back the feelings of supremacy and superiority that are so much embedded in Britain’s history.”

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5. Connecting with Kafka during our pandemic isolation

Corina Stan in the Los Angeles Times

on literary loneliness

Franz Kafka may have died almost a century ago, but his time has come, writes Corina Stan of Duke University in the Los Angeles Times. He “captures a disturbing unsociability I felt at times during the pandemic”, she says, and conjures “unsettling forms of loneliness, isolation and unexpected change. In one of his short stories, The Burrow, a creature’s home is “disrupted and turned unrecognisable by the intrusion of an invisible, insidious beast”. For us, the beast was Covid-19, which “interrupted our lives in a sudden and complete way, casting us all as anxious characters in a Kafka parable”.

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