I remember reading, in a book whose name I have now forgotten, of how the human voice resembles the senseless buzzing of an insect to the ear of a cat. Whether this opinion was gleaned from a cat or from the writer’s imagination is irrelevant as human voices often sound that way to me. The radio buzzes throughout the day, its meaning rarely penetrating the incessant interference of machines and taps and the clatter of the kitchen. Words that interest and appeal seem to be able to shimmy through this net of confusion and so it was that I heard the words ” unstructured leisure time” which sounded very like my present life. The thrust of the diatribe, from which I plucked these words, was that the leisure time of children today is filled with piano lessons, tennis lessons, riding lessons, invitations to parties, cinemas, sleepovers, team games, and theme games: there is no unstructured time where they just have nothing to do but imagine without commitment…without winning or shining. I had that in my childhood and I don’t think I ever got out of it…maybe it’s why I feel it so acutely now and why it is so important to me.


About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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43 Responses to buzzing….

  1. My cat makes it quite clear that he has no interest in words, only action – putting food in his bowl. I must be a bad parent – my kids don’t have an impressive line-up of music lessons, dance classes or horse riding. They help with DIY (“you want to redecorate your bedroom? Ok,grab a brush, kiddo”). They play their guitars at home, go out on their bikes or skateboards, invite their friends around for pajama parties, and we go to the pool when we all feel like it. They can even be found lying on their beds reading, drawing or dreaming if you hang around long enough for them to forget you’re there observing them.
    I love the first picture – the contrasting lines are fabulous.

  2. “imagine without commitment”. Roger, you have excelled yourself (which is a considerable achievement).

  3. Mad Dog says:

    To a lot of kids these days, unstructured leisure time is the internet, video games and TV. 10 years ago I had a girlfriend whose kids insisted that we drive to Hampstead Heath, when we could walk there in 10 minutes. I’m not crazy about the enforced and structured leisure time but I do think children need to engage with the real world rather than a screen. Perhaps they could all do with a beach and fishing hut where there’s no iPhone reception 😉

  4. As I write this on my computer…I think unstructured leisure time is becoming the most dominant part of anyone’s day, especially kids, and oftentimes it’s spent attached to a computer, TV, etc. If any reading is done, it’s done off of a Kindle, which is better than no reading…but still. And outdoor time is essentially nonexistent for most children nowadays. It’s crazy how much has changed in so few years.

    • It’s funny, but I never associated computers with unstructured leisure when I wrote the piece….shows how old I am. I should have made myself clearer….I meant unstructured in that they are alone with themselves..without electronic connections but with their thoughts and imagination…slightly unreal scenario:)

  5. sabine says:

    Right, I observe that with many kids, too : that they have a daily schedule, impressive at the first glimpse, but with very little time for what you call “imagining without commitment”. It starts at a very early age. Sadly, day dreaming – or just spending time on one´s own – is an underrated art, sometimes disapproved even, that I miss for myself whenever I stop doing it for whatever reason. It´s the hammock of my mind. Everybody should have one!

  6. margaret21 says:

    That first picture is just fantastic.

  7. Gorgeous. And kind of reminds me of the sea forts off the south coast, Portsmouth.

  8. Stunning, stunning shot – love it! And I agree wholeheartedly with what you say. I guess all of us folk who were bought up pre internet and computers and (shock horror) not much or no tv are the lucky ones – do you think we’ll have less creative folk in the future as people just won’t know how to exercise those free thinking creative muscles?

  9. EllaDee says:

    Excellent unstructured photos… even the structure is unstructured, by modern standards. I thankfully am old enough to be one of those kids who had unstructured leisure time, and although now much of my creative time is via keyboard & screen, I carve out even less structured time beyond that.

  10. Vicki says:

    Wonderful photos, Roger. Such peaceful, unstructured scenes.

    I agree with you about children not having any unstructured time. They rarely seem to use their creativity and imagination beyond school hours. Even the computer and tv does their thinking for them.

    I had such a broad childhood and although I was a bookworm, I also spent lots of time exploring the outdoors behind our home, down the beach on holidays and generally…family BBQ’s, cricket and long walks in nature. As a small child, our house was filled with books, board games, meccano, lego and so on. I only remember watching Disneyland on TV on Sunday nights as a small child.
    (Oh, and cooking……LOL… Mother grew all our fruit and veggies and bottled, pickled or made sauces of the excess for the winter. I don’t think I tasted store-bought lemonade or coca-cola until I was about 17. Even our childhood birthday parties had home-made lollies, cakes and savoury treats).

  11. Michelle says:

    Well said. And such beautiful shots! Now I’m really feeling bad about not being there for a landscape class. (I’m really missing Europe, especially France. Our first time in 15 years not to be there this season.)

  12. Eha says:

    Roger, you have just very clearly explained to me why I have not listened to radio for some three decades . . . when there is ‘peace’ here it is peace . . . if I do decide to watch TV or put a DVD to play it is a ‘structured’ decision . . . I am SO glad I was a kid when I was a kid 🙂 ! My ‘daydream’ time happens to be early morning when I stare into my flower garden quite deliciously half awake sipping strong black coffee and let my mind go ‘walkabout’ 🙂 ! [aboriginal term for being unstructured 🙂 !]

  13. Angeline M says:

    Fantastic photos. Unstructured time….many people, let alone kids, would not know what that is these days. So sad.

  14. Misky says:

    So true. So True. My grandchildren rarely have a spare moment to just sit and contemplate their toes. Pity.

  15. Fig & Quince says:

    Your post had the same effect for me. In a sea of blogs, it made me stop, stand still, read and thoroughly enjoy.

  16. Sally says:

    Day dreaming is very under-rated. Fabulous photos – so calm and serene.

  17. ChgoJohn says:

    Beautiful photos, Roger, just like we all expect when we visit. I do wonder what the current crop of kids will be like once grown. Technology is shrinking their World and a healthy imagination is increasingly needed.

    • I was looking at the UK news last night which showed a boot camp for adults addicted to their iPhones, etc. It was in the middle of Wales where there a no signals for phones at all. It was interesting to see how much the people enjoyed their phoneless long weekend…..yet how happy they were to be given back their phones.

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