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 worlds undisputed champion of indolence the sloth. Because the one thing everyone knows about sloths is that they are slothful. The clue is in the name.
But its 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. It wasnt until the early 17th century that the word was applied by European explorers to tree-dwelling mammals in central and south America. Sloth, in other words, was the name of a human quality long before it was the name of a distinct species of animal.
And sloth is not any old human quality; it is along with envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride and wrath one of the seven deadly sins, a catalogue of depravity that has been circulating in one version or another since early Christian times.
Abraham Bloemaert, Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, 1624. The devil sows weeds in the field while lazy peasants sleep.
Definitions of the sin of laziness have changed notably over the centuries. What we now call sloth was originally understood as an occupational hazard for the early Christians known as the Desert Fathers, the hermits and monks whose punishing regimes of piety, prayer and self-denial exposed them to the temptations of de-motivation and listlessness and a sorrowfully distracted state of torpor known as acedia.
In the medieval period, as sloth superseded acedia in the religious vocabulary of the time, the concept broadened to encompass all forms of sinful inactivity and work-shy idleness, from neglecting everyday chores to falling asleep in church. The particular danger of sloth, in the medieval imagination, was as a gateway sin. Anyone who is prone to idleness is, by definition, going to lack the energy to resist the temptations not just of sloth but of all the other sins. For this reason, popular tales of people who were victims of their own laziness too lazy to move as mice nibble away at their ears, too lazy to cut the noose from which they are about to be hanged had significant currency in the medieval imagination.
Its fair to say that the seven deadly sins don’t have quite the grip on the imagination that they once did. Images of sloth in the modern world have precious little to do with its origins in early Christian theology. For example, in recent years major UK furniture retailer Sofaworks has run a high-profile advertising campaign starring Neal the Sloth, who is every bit at home lounging on this firms various chairs and sofas as his fellow sloths are in their natural rainforest habitat.
A spin-off website, which sells Neal merchandise, excitedly announces that owing to the success of the sloth campaign the world has gone sloth mad. The arrival this summer of London Zoos latest baby sloth, Edward, would support this: he was greeted with widespread press coverage and thousands of YouTube viewings of the tiny nocturnal mammal clinging to a sloth-teddy from the Zoos gift shop.
What, we may ask, would a time-travelling visitor from the medieval period make of our fondness for sloths? They would probably be slightly perturbed to find a deadly sin as the stuff of soft furnishings and cuddly toys.
Unleash The Sloth!
We could reassure our sceptical visitor that its possible to learn a thing or two from sloths. They live a low energy lifestyle; they are generally peaceable; and they understand the virtues of taking your time. Any animal that takes two weeks to digest a meal could certainly teach us a valuable lesson in the virtues of mindfulness and contemplative patience. The sloth is the perfect mascot for a culture that is looking to cure itself of addiction to a hyperactive 24/7 work ethic. Now that we have rehabilitated sloths as the slacktivists of the animal kingdom, perhaps the time has come to formulate a laziness ethic as an alternative to the work ethic that has dominated our society for so long.
But a closer look at sloth merchandise reveals that work and laziness arent always quite so easy to separate. Take Rob Dirckss humorous self-help book, Unleash The Sloth!. The book promises to provide 75 ways to reach your maximum potential by doing less. Who wouldnt want to unleash their sloth? But do we really have to do so in 75 different ways? Unleashing the sloth is beginning to sound like hard work. Which is to say that even a tongue-in-cheek book, which is all about cutting corners and streamlining your life, is still part and parcel of the busybody culture of personal growth, self-improvement and enhanced productivity.
Even the most unapologetic attempt to champion inactivity call it sloth, laziness, idleness, rest does so in the name of activity and productivity. Laziness has a job to do whether its selling sofas, cuddly toys or books. And so sloth, despite our affection for the creature of that name, retains its place as one of the deadly sins of the 21st century.
I hope you enjoy that lie-in.
Michael Greaney, Senior Lecturer in English, Lancaster University
Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/why-everyone-should-embrace-their-inner-sloth
Did you know Silly Billy’s Toy Shop stocks Schleich Sloths at only £4.49 ? You can see a Sloth relaxing at Homely at Hebden next door to Silly Billy’s Toy Shop
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We are happy to announce that we have even more Schleich Animals in store for this Christmas 2017 and a new line of Unicorns, which we hope will be very popular, Unicorns are trending as has been shown by the quick sales of our TY Unicorn range. (Unfortunately, we have no TY Unicorns left now). However you can buy these fantastic Bayala Schleich Unicorns at Silly Billy’s.
We have also started to receive our Schleich Prehistoric Dinosaurs for Christmas, at the moment we have four different sorts of dinosaur, although we are hoping that many more will be delivered soon
Tyrannosaurus Rex – £14.99
Brachiosaurus – £14.99
Brachiosaurus translated means “arm lizard”. It acquired the name, because its front legs were significantly longer than its hind legs. As such, its long neck pointed automatically upwards and it could eat taller plants with less effort.
Dinosaur Fun fact
Brachiosaurus had a very flexible neck that could measure up to nine metres long.
Dunkleosteus – £14.99
The Dunkleosteus was an armoured fish with a length of eight to ten metres, which was unusually large for the Devonian period. It was one of the first giants of the underwater world, together with the Titanichthys.
The Dunkleosteus lived 130-150 million years before the first dinosaurs. It was a fearless hunter who could snap incredibly fast and ate large sharks, and even its own kind if no other prey was to be found. Fossils of fish, which were only half digested, have often been discovered alongside its skeleton. Scientists therefore believe that the armoured fish was not able to chew very well and swallowed it prey in large pieces. It was named after the palaeontologist David Dunkle. The word “osteos” is Greek for “bone”.
Dinosaur Fun fact
Instead of teeth, the Dunkleosteus had long, sharp bony plates in its strong jaw.
Velociraptor – £9.99
So increasing our range of Schleich animals meant we had to get another shelf from Schleich for our stand to house all our animals, I am not going to list all the animals we have in stock here in Hebden Bridge, although we have everything from Horses to Sharks and from Sloths Holstein Cows, the range of Schleich at Silly Billy’s is one of the best of any toy shop in the North of England. Hopefully you can see a lot of the Schleich Animals in the image below
Other larger schleich items include the Schleich Horse Club 42346, Pick Up with Horse Box
This box set comes complete with horse, groom, driver and amazing accessories so that you can start playing straight away
Removable roof and two horses can fit in the horse-box.
There is space for saddle and bridle and also space for feed and drinking water.
Lots of moving parts Amazing stickers for decorating
Numerous amazing play functions.
Detailed modelling with many meticulously crafted elements for endless hours of entertainment.
Have you followed Silly Billy’s on Facebook yet, lots of product updates and news ?
Did you know Silly Billy’s recently had it’s twentieth birthday ?
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Toy Advent Calendars 2016
For the first time here at Silly Billy’s we have FOUR types of Advent Calendar for you to enjoy.
Take a festive tour of the galaxy with the LEGO® Star Wars Advent Calendar. Open up a door each December day to reveal a Star Wars themed minifigure, starship, vehicle or other themed collectible. Once you’ve collected all 24 gifts, unfold the playmat and create your own epic Hoth, Tatooine, Naboo and space-based adventures. This is the perfect holiday gift for any life form. Includes 8 minifigures plus a Battle Droid.
- Open a door every day to reveal 24 different LEGO® Star Wars themed gifts.
- Features 8 minifigures and a Battle Droid, including an exclusive holiday-themed minifigure.
- Vehicles include Slave I, a TIE Interceptor, AAT, T-16 Skyhopper, Sleigh, Republic Cruiser, Droid Gunship, Jedi Interceptor, Skiff and an Imperial Landing Craft.
- Weapons include Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber, 2 blaster pistols, 3 blasters and a snowcaster.
- Also includes a foldout playmat.
- Collect all the gifts and play out your own Hoth, Tatooine, Naboo and space-based adventures.
As far as we can make out these Lego Advent Calendars are Out of Stock already at:
- Lego Online Shop
- Amazon Online
- For an Opportunity to win a Star Wars Advent Calendar 75146 simply CLICK HERE
There is also Playmobil’s Advent Calendar 6624
The Playmobil Christmas on the Farm Advent Calendar is the ideal way to count down to Christmas. Santa Claus and his Angel are coming to Christmas on the Farm and bringing masses of presents with them. The boy with his tractor is helping to share out the animal feed to the cows, goats, sheep and all the other farm animals. Lots of extra animals are included in the calendar. Every day a suprise being each door.
The Amazing Schleich Bayala Advent Calendar (Only two left in Stock)
Safenja and Femaja, the two star elves, set out on an adventure in the enchanted forest. They quickly get separated and an exciting search begins. How long will it take Safenja to find her best friend again? Find out for yourself!
You can win a Bayala Advent Calendar easily just take a look at this post
The Playmobil 1.2.3 Advent Calendar 5497
Playmobil 1.2.3 Advent £19.99
Enjoy an outdoor Christmas with Santa and his forest friends. The 1.2.3 Advent Calendar “Christmas in the Forest” contains twenty-four surprise items for each day of Advent. With a bright and colorful design and large, rounded pieces, this PLAYMOBIL 1.2.3 set is ideal for toddlers. Includes Santa, elf, angel, reindeer, sleigh, gifts, dog, bunnies, fox, forest animals, and other accessories to help complete this woodland Christmas scene.
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