All work and no play is dulling our senses

Free Time is an academic journey through two-and-half millennia of leisure options. The central question put by the historian Gary Cross, is: why do we not have more free time, and when we do, why do we waste it, like Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night, on ‘fencing, dancing and bear-baiting’ or their modern equivalents? We start with ancient Greek philosophers, including Socrates and Aristotle, who reckoned that life was all about free time. We should work to fulfil our basic needs and then use our leisure for scholé (self-improvement): for culture and reflection. The vita contemplativa was superior to the vita activa (though Socrates was also fond of a

Culture is going underground: meet the rebel army

Among the first to arrive was a Labour grandee. Then others drifted over: academics, musicians, writers, a nurse. They came from different directions, some looking shifty, others excited. The secret meeting point was an inconspicuous pub in north London. Queueing shoppers nearby assumed the growing crowd was waiting to get into the supermarket. In groups of five those gathered were led down a suburban street to a derelict leisure centre. For one night only, the gym had been turned into a makeshift theatre. The audience, of up to 30 people, had congregated to flick a collective V at the social distancing measures, and to watch A Hero of Our Time,