I should have been doing all sorts of useful things yesterday, like tidying my office and trying to find all the unpaid bills and unanswered letters. Then there was the usual outbreak of dirty dishes in the kitchen. Dunno who leaves them there, but if I ever catch him or her there’ll be hell to pay.
Anyway, it had been raining, so there were lots of lovely puddles and drips to play with around the garden. Instead of going straight to my desk, I wandered around with the camera, taking pictures. Several are of the ripples and splashes in a bucket of water by the greenhouse as I dropped pebbles into it. Yes, I know. It might sound uninteresting, but I was engrossed. You had to be there – well, no, actually you hadn’t. You’d probably have thought I was barking mad, standing there in my pyjamas and dressing gown, taking photographs of a bucket. The dog was a little perplexed. She came to keep me company but had no idea why we were hanging around the greenhouse for so long.
It’s all very therapeutic, playing, and idleness is an underrated quality. Jerome K Jerome wrote, “It is impossible to idle thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do,” and my all-time favourite procrastination quote is from Douglas Adams; “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
My son suggested that, to illustrate this point, I shouldn’t bother to write anything for today, but come into the studio and ad lib. I said that might unnerve these lovely BBC people, as they know I left my script in the garage a couple of months ago and had to borrow a pencil and paper when I got here. If I do that too often I’ll be deemed unreliable – which I am, but cleverly hide. Then there’s my short-term memory problem; I might forget what I was going to say.
So what’s the point of all this, you may be asking. There isn’t any. Does there have to be? That’s the beauty of procrastination and idleness. It frees us from having to justify what we’re doing, or not doing. If you haven’t already, you should try it sometime.
Anyway, as you can tell, I haven’t been completely idle. After I’d written this script, I felt ready to do some real work – when I’d had a spot of lunch. After all, as the American philosopher George Santayana said, “There is no cure for birth and death, save to enjoy the interval.”