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The Greatest Luxury Of All Has Been Given To Us In Bucket Loads - Time - And How We Now Spend It

by Nicholas Atgemis |

In my daily routine I rise (on my best days of course, I won't tell you about the ones when I am dusty from having drunk too much the night before) at around ten to six in winter, I go to Bondi Beach, find a car spot and start swimming at 630am. I take my coffee shortly after, arrive at my office by seven, start work about fifteen minutes later and the end of my working day is at about 1115pm when I say goodbye to my Italian contacts and tell them I am off to bed. What happens in between is often quite a pastiche, but it might involve cutting silks, meeting clients, delivering work, photographing work, designing a silk or working with a designer on a silk, filing, paying bills etc etc. A small business. I put on many caps.
I remember listening to a video interview with Tom Ford and he said (to be fair, I find Tom Ford quite contrived and not as talented as he thinks he is - although his films are shot extremely well) something which was of that moment very important. The greatest luxury good of all was - time. He was right then and I loved that it went well beyond the superficial things that often get said by people in fashion. 
And the greatest gift I have received under the unconventional auspices of a pandemic - is time. My usual routine was for many weeks completely overturned. I could not go to the beach to swim. I could not receive visitors at the Studio. I could do very few things at all. I chose to spend my extra time well, but in hindsight I wish I could have spent it better. You see, I didn't get around to reading or re-reading every book I ever dreamed of. I didn't even watch all that Netflix and cinema I promised myself I would finally get to. Instead I spent most of it working on new products and new fabrics. It's paid dividends, but it's not quite the pleasure I had intended to take from the additional time on my hands.

The first few weeks I had no time at all, I was madly rushing about trying to plug every possible Covid hole I could think of. Did I have enough heating for the winter, enough food, enough technology, enough batteries, enough cleaning products and toilet paper? Then, when the real lull set in, I was desperately trying to make enough product to meet my overheads and working out how to lower my costs as much as possible. And then, the initial spurt of creativity, which gets you invested in a project with that much more time to fine comb it. But after a while you start to envisage the apocalypse and then you ask yourself the question - "but who will I be making this for?"
It is only this week that I have started to make better use of the time on my hands to do things that pleasure me and one of them was to begin making new music playlists on Spotify which take a long while to create. You really need time on your hands to make a Spotify playlist that's from your own taste and you need to run down a hole bunch of rabbit holes just to find one great song that will have a lasting impression. One such song was Tezeta by Mulatu Astatke , which I highly encourage you to click on whilst you are reading this post, because I am writing this post in the same way that this nonchalant jazz song floats. 
But the real thing that I am glad to be back doing, something I had let go of for so long, is cooking. It's just one of those wonderful things that you can do which engages your senses and most importantly, your hands. For me, putting your hands to something - be in gardening, cooking, drawings, painting, cutting ties or women - is a beautiful thing that if offered to us animals as a part of our brief experience of life. We don't know how long we have, we don't know if tomorrow still stands given the way the current world has been heading these past months - but we do know, for the most part, we can derive simple pleasures from everywhere around us. And so in my private time I have been experimenting more with food and spending more time trying to make more interesting dinners for my daughter and enjoying all the aromas, textures and processes that are involved in something that we undoubtedly, each and every one of us, MUST have a relationship with. Because, at some stage, everyone has to eat.
And on that note, and it is entirely for this reason that I post today, I wish to tell you about a cooking experience yesterday. A very close friend of mine told me that on Sunday, lying on the couch recovering from a Saturday night out, his wife and he watched on SBS a cooking episode of the Two Greedy Italians making in the province of Liguria, Italy a famous Genoese dish called Mandilli Di Seta Pesto Pasta. That is, silk handkerchief pasta in pesto sauce. But the beauty of this dish is that Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo both make this dish by hand, all of it. The pesto with a mortar and pestle and the pasta with hands and a roller. It was such an inspiring video but more importantly, it was such an extremely rewarding thing to both copy and eat. The passion with which these two Italians go about their business being the inspiration that made me drop my cutting blade at the Studio and stop everything until I could claim I had made it for myself. 
So, if you are short of things to do under Covid, if you have more free time on your hands than you care to admit, might I suggest you fill it with things that you can do with your hands (minus the one thing you might want to do with your own hands) and learn and appreciate some other craft that others enjoy. I know I was completely taken by this 6 minute video and I think I must have watched it 20 times already. Time, it really is the greatest luxury good in the world, thank you for reminding me Tom Ford.
Mandilli Di Seta (Well, it never made it to Mandilli, but let's just say it was a good attempt for a man with no experience making pasta before) fresh pestle and mortar hand-made pasta.