Each year there’s an autumn weekend which is anticipated with particular glee: the one in which the clocks go back. The prospect of an extra hour in bed is certainly enticing, and the Sunday has duly been labelled “National Sleep In Day”. But the fact that sleeping in is designated to this one particular day betrays something else – that idleness is seen as wasteful, self-indulgent. A lie-in is only encouraged when time itself moves to accommodate it.
For some perspective on how the idea of laziness has changed over time, we could do a lot worse than consider the natural world’s undisputed champion of indolence – the sloth. Because the one thing everyone knows about sloths is that they are slothful. The clue’s in the name.
But it’s a name with a long and curious history. Sloth entered the English language in the early 12th century as a term for mental and physical sluggishness.… Read the rest