I wonder what Jesus did for entertainment.  We know that he conversed with his disciples, that he visited friends’ houses and ate with them.  We also know that he needed a break sometimes and would to go into the wilderness for prayer, reflection and quiet time. 

At Tatton Park there is a replica Medieval hall.  It’s one big living space.  In the middle is a flagstone for the fire and, above it, a hole open to the sky to let out the smoke.  Everyone in the household would have lived, eaten and slept in this hall. They lived cheek by jowl, in community.

In Medieval times holidays were of saints days and holy days – lots of them.  Days that gave them time off work, time to eat, drink and celebrate – after they had been to church, no doubt.  On some of those days they held fairs and festivities, enjoying themselves together. Disputes and rivalries no doubt existed, but so did friendships and support.

It would be easy to sentimentalise an existence that was for many, in the words of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, “nasty, brutish and short”, but one of their strengths was that people belonged and communicated.  They were connected.

In terms of affluence, health and life-expectancy we are miles ahead of our Medieval forbears.  We don’t need a fair for entertainment.  We don’t need to go into the wilderness to get away from it all.  We can be entertained instantly at any time of the day or night at the press of a button. And each of us can be entertained in any way that we choose, without involving anyone else…… But at a price.

Chris Dawson

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