You can just make out safe ground, but overhead, shells are exploding — fired in a mortar hail of Covid-19, coalition municipalities, economic pressure, and political unrest. You roll to the left, narrowly evading a landmine of more corruption news, dragging your adrenaline-saturated body through a morass of social-media toxicity and boardroom politics. One last push and, against all odds, you may make it out alive.Has the end-of-year slog ever felt more arduous or perilous?
Perhaps in roughly T-7 days you will power down your laptop, hit Llandudno, and not think about the slow-motion car crash that was 2021 for another minute. Which is an enviable level of suspended reality. Or you’ll struggle to disconnect and spend the first week of your prized summer vacation trying not to read emails, Twitter, WhatsApp, or news feeds compulsively. You know you should be clocking out, but it’s just so hard not to check how your Peloton and Avis shares are faring. You’ll switch off eventually — just in time for work to start up again.
For those who struggle, or to fast-track that holiday feeling, I invite you to try one of my very horizontal life hacks for leisurely living. These zero-effort interventions will slow you down in minutes and can be done whether you’re in Plett or Parkhurst — or going off-piste later. They are:
1. Lying on the sofa and listening to cricket. This is not to be confused with watching cricket — which, sometimes, even over five days, can be exciting and requires engagement. Rather, lie with your eyes closed and listen to the thwack of the ball and the commentators nattering for hours about statistics, form, and the weather. You needn’t pay attention to anything they are saying and will be lulled into the ultimate soporific summer state. From 17 December, you’ve got the Indian tour to South Africa to get you into the zone — aided by a beer and a mince pie or four.
2. Lying on the sofa and listening to the WildEarth channel. For the non-couch cricketers, there is DStv’s channel 183. It plays an almost eternal loop of game drives and other footage shot in the bush. You might not be at Tswalu or in the Serengeti, but you’ll get the benefit of unbelievably calming animal sounds and the chats of game rangers who are there, while you doze.
3. Lying on the sofa and listening to Desert Island Discs. You could take a Valium, or you could envelop yourself in the back catalogue of this 79-year-old BBC Radio 4 show (it’s a podcast too). Over the decades everyone from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to magnate Bill Gates has been a castaway on an island with their chosen eight tracks, book, and luxury item. When you hear the aptly named opening tune, By the Sleepy Lagoon, you’ll know you have thousands of hours’ worth of songs and interesting people ahead. Tranquil island escapes offer unparalleled decompression.
4. Lying on the sofa and trying to read a highbrow book. Writing that pushes you to work mentally while you read is often rewarding. That said, there is no quicker way to drowsiness than attempting a page or two of a book that’s hard work. Instead of another mindless Patterson paperback, try the new Franzen, Powers or even an old Mantel or Murakami for instant chill.
5. Lying in the bath. For when you need a change of scenery from the sofa. Just make sure that you can top up the hot water with your toe, your Kindle is waterproof, and the door locks, so you can go submerged, undisturbed, and unnoticed for hours. Bliss.
• From the December issue of Wanted 2021.