It is eight days since I returned to the UK from Australia/New Zealand and already I have failed miserably on two of my post-holiday resolutions:
1. Be on time.
2. Do not try to do everything in one day.
My husband and friends unanimously agree I'm shockingly and unfailingly late for pretty much everything. Alex says I run on NMT (Nicola-Mean-Time) a kind of inferior alternative to GMT if you like. Usually I'd contest such blatant character defamation, but to be honest I've lost count of the amount of times I've been late for him. The worst case was when he flew twenty-four hours around the world to see me in Australia and I turned up at Sydney airport a whopping forty-five minutes late. 'Where was my welcome?' he always reminds me with a sad and disbelieving expression on his face. Guilty as charged. My excuse, genuinely, was that I didn't have a clue what to wear. I'd been up for two panic-stricken hours trying on, whisking off, throwing in the corner, trying on, trying not to panic, panicking. Style-indecision, plus a taxi drive in rush hour traffic, equalled no open arms to greet the man of my dreams, and I've never forgiven myself.
Other instances have included keeping friends waiting outside tube stations, in busy restaurants and bars, even being late for my own birthday celebrations. One of my good friends once kept me holding on for forty-five minutes outside Covent Garden tube station where it is physically impossible to stand still without getting squished, handed an unwanted flyer or becoming an unsuspecting victim of somebody painted completely silver. She apologised but said this one instance had completely cancelled out the last six times I'd been late. She had a point.
Please don't think me flippant or nonchalant about my tardiness. I detest this terrible trait. There is, however, an explanation for my lateness - trying to squeeze too much in. If I haven't wedged a million and three things into a single day, I'm not satisfied. If my to do list isn't bulging, something's up.
Nothing too ambitious mind, just the usual. This week, I had an afternoon appointment in town so I filled the morning with stuff. Put a quick load of washing on, browsed some job sites, pinged off some emails and drafted a blog that had been clattering around loudly in my head. A quick peek at the time and I concluded there was just enough time to do One. More. Thing.
However, this was NMT I was operating on, not real-time. Before I knew it, I was forty-five minutes behind schedule and hurrying around wildly - a blast in the shower, a bizarre head-upside-down blow dry, and a spoon of peanut butter out of the jar for lunch as I darted out the door.
It really is quite unnecessary to be so frantic - it makes for a stressful journey when you inwardly will the tube driver to bypass all stations and floor it to Victoria ignoring all other passengers and their selfish travel needs. That afternoon, I found myself running wildly for my train, wanting to smack slow people in the back of the head for making me late (yes, it is their fault) and sliding through the train doors just as they beeped shut behind me. I fell exhausted into a chair, perspiring and cursing myself for all the commotion.
It is not a good way to be. I blame technology which allows us to multitask and encourages us with our fancy gadgets to achieve miracles and rearrange our finances all before breakfast. Every time I'm rushing to make an appointment or panting in a heap on a just-caught train, I vow to change. I will make clear, achievable lists. I will not over-plan. I will keep to time. In fact I will leave fifteen minutes earlier than I actually need to - being, gasp, early. Ha ha, that will show them!
Argh... must go. I have still got washing to put out to dry, a job to apply for and exactly thirteen minutes to get my train.