Monday, 25 October 2010

Mr Messy is pushed for time

On reading a 21st-century sequel to Mr Messy with my daughter recently, we turned the page to find a picture of Mr Messy’s garden shed. Its contents spilled messily out through the door.

‘Daddy! Daddy!’ my daughter stated, pointing to the untidy debris and nodding with conviction. ‘Yes!’ I agreed with just a touch of Mr Mischief, ‘Just like daddy’s shed.’

Later that day, I relayed the anecdote to ‘daddy’. ‘Mr Messy probably doesn’t have time to tidy his shed either,’ he retorted. He had a point. Time seems to be in short supply these days.

 I don’t remember time being in such short supply when I enjoyed the Mr Men, back in the ’70s, although I do concede my point of view has changed somewhat. It seemed to me that my own father had time to tidy the shed and work on the house and creosote the fence at weekends, and still had time left to play Pick-up-Sticks with my sister and me. I wondered, would our daughter remember how precious the time with her father, that she stood in her cot at bedtime, refusing to lie down until her daddy came home from work to plant a goodnight kiss on her waiting face? Or would the happy moments together seem like a lifetime of happy memories, so rosy are the remembrances of times past?

It remains one of life’s mysteries how time can pass at different speeds, depending on the time of day or phase of life. How is it that the hour between seven and eight in the morning flashes past at the speed of light, while – at least for those with small children – the hour between five and six in the evening drags through eternity? And how it can be that we cannot find just ten minutes to do the many things we ought. The times I’ve heard some healthy-living evangelist espousing the merits of just ten minutes of exercise or meditation each day, I wonder how it is that for the vast majority of us, those ten minutes just don’t exist.

A couple of years ago, it was my husband himself who bought me a book for Christmas about how to get things done, the crux of which was to simply get on with it. Family members present chuckled and sucked their teeth in anticipation of a marital dispute, so blatant was the message. I wonder if it’s time to re-gift the book.

‘Do you think,’ I ask aloud as I walk past my husband who’s watching films on youtube, ‘we had more time back in the ’70s because we didn’t have computers?’

‘Show me a three-day week,’ he replies, ‘and I’ll show you a tidy shed.’

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