What do you suppose we call laziness, when it is diagnosed by a skilled physician?
What, do you suppose, we call the consistent, affluent pouring of money into a trough, from which we cherry-pick luxury?
What do we call it when a young man idles under a tree, hour to day to week to month to year? A book hangs lifelessly from his soft hands, and the humming tick of his mind slows to a mere clatter, every few hours or so.
What do we call it when the sunrise is missed, for years on end, in favour of a warm bed, the result of long nights of amusement and carousing?
Well, Adrian Dermody certainly didn’t know. He didn’t stop for a moment to think anything of it. It was nothingness to him.
Nothingness decorated with soft scent and gilded most marvellously.
And yet, there was a perpetual cloud around his vision. He was listless. He was calmly suffocating. There was no mirth in anything.
‘What is the matter with you?’ his mother said, crossly, when he picked at his supper, sliding the food around his gleaming plate like a petulant child.
‘Why mother, I tire of life,’ he said drearily, and leant on his in-turned wrist to stare glumly out of long, rain-lashed windows, which reflected the marvellous dining room in which they sat.
His mother, who had been ergophobiac all her life, merely tutted and rang the bell for the servants to clear the dishes away. She would then rumble off to recline on a chair, while she talked idly of nothing with her son and her husband, the latter of whom would murmur absently that he was ‘listening, dear’, whilst he laboured away at the week’s newspaper puzzle.
For he, too, was an ergophobiac.
And ergophobics will never be happy, and mark my words.