There is much to be said for meritocracy, and Adrian Wooldridge, in his new book, The Aristocracy of Talent, says it very well. He is right: a society organised on anti-meritocratic principles will decay, making life worse for all, not just for the naturally successful. And yet I feel that meritocracy is inadequate. Most of us, sensing our lack of merit, feel left out. It takes small account of things that matter in real life — love of family and friends, relationships across generations, enduring ill health and bereavement, beauty, landscapes, animals, flowers, kindness, joy, pleasing idleness, traditions, prayer, being silly, jokes, song, meals, bed. Meritocracy rightly seeks results. But life is better understood as a predicament, not a race.