He said, she said, they locked down

Okay, I was writing a text last night and absolutely the correct pronoun to use for a particular person was “they”. You had to be there. But if you had been, you’d have written “they” as well. And I have not one single problem with it.

But I do have a question.

For some reason, and who knows why, this time when I wrote the word, it made me wonder why we ever had “he” or “she”. Seriously. When is it actually necessary, I mean necessary, to specify someone’s gender? When has it ever been?

I mean, I long to give you an example of a time when it was considered necessary yet clearly wasn’t, but I can’t even pull that off.

This may just be on my mind because one of the things I’m doing during this coronavirus lockdown is that I’m learning French through Duolingo. And it’s killing me trying to fathom out gender. I’m concocting conspiracy theories about why it’s le stylo for a pen but la lettre for a letter. Why apples are female but vegetables are male.

Look, don’t press me on the precision here, I’m learning. Plus my only relief on these daily lessons is the remarkable number of times that the app asks me the correct gender for a taxi. Thank you Vanessa Paradis.

Not true. I also got some relief when I realised the real reason that I avoid beaches like la plage. Or that on the odd occasion I attempt dieting, toast and sandwiches are the first to go, as hard as that is. Bread is pain, after all.

What do you mean, my mind is wandering off into apparently and actually completely unconnected subjects?

Yesterday, for instance, I was one of many people recording a video message as part of the Royal Television Society’s coronavirus products. And I thought about it a lot because I didn’t know what I could say and I didn’t know who would particularly choose to listen anyway.

But then this see-saw, up and down, wandering yet focused lockdown mind of mine noticed that I was saying something I rather liked.

People will always remember what we did during this lockdown, I said, but he or she will also remember what we can do.

Content, contninet, conteight…

Sometimes it feels as if we are heading toward the end of this lockdown and I am oddly unsettled by the idea of going out, running events or not having a pandemic to excuse my failing to write things. I’m also conscious, though, that ultimately it is going to be writers who define this time we’ve been through.

Usually when you say that history is written by the victors, you’re thinking about the victors. But maybe the key part is that it is written. Writers will shape this mass into something comprehensible. There will be dramas – possibly unfortunately – and there will be blame, possibly unfairly.

We’ve already got the Trump administration trying to write this as a Chinese bio weapon plot, so I’m not saying accuracy will always be a factor, I’m hoping desperate finger-pointing won’t either.

But as we move into this time when the coronavirus makes that very small change from “is” to “was”, I also know that writers are going to be forgotten. Right now the arts are keeping us all going, but when it’s done, the arts will go back to going out of business. Florida has defined the WWE wrestling shows as an essential business, but alongside being madness, that’s also not a recognition of the art of performance, it’s a recognition that someone knows someone with a wallet.

What I hope and think won’t change, what I think has been changed by the coronavirus and will stay, is that writers have discovered just how much we need each other. And writers have discovered just how much we can share. Just how much we actually can do online.

I’ve no interest in the torrent of online dramas about the coronavirus that are coming, and I’ve little interest in the online coronavirus comedies that we already have. But I think that right alongside this recognition of how we need people there is this recognition that we can do so much more than we thought.

This could be all the recognition that writers get, but I’ll take that.

So anyway

There’s a writer whose work I rate, the scriptwriter and blogger Ken Armstrong. I want to say that from time to time he has begun a blog admitting that he doesn’t know where it’s going to go and then just sees where it leads. I want to say that because I think that’s what I want to do today.

I could check, I could read through his blog again, but that could lead to some problems. For one thing, I may have completely misremembered this and what he actually said some time was that he loathes when people start off a blog post not knowing where it’s going.

Or then of course if I am right and I do read one and it is very good, I’ll stumble.


Some things are on my mind. Some things are on your mind, and it’s possible that they’re the same. Such as the common cold, the odd upset stomach or an itch. These are all things that the entire world should be given a pass on for the moment.

Victoria Derbyshire presenting BBC News while she’s got a domestic abuse helpline number written on her hand. Fantastic.

I saw a jet plane in the sky yesterday and it felt impossible. Reminded me of the months after 9/11 when seeing any aircraft near any buildings was a jolt.

There was a woman behind me as I went for a walk yesterday. Fifties, I think, and with the most pronounced difficulty in walking. She walked like Bambi on ice, and yet she was still so fast that I had to cross the road before she caught up with me.

Then there was a fella coming the other way and I had to cross back. Then Bambi paused to examine a van – if I were writing a story this would make sense but it’s real life – so I crossed once more.

And then as she walked on, this woman collapsed in the road. I started running toward her, but she was back up on her feet like she was in a baby bouncer. (I just checked Amazon to see if there were such a thing as a baby bouncer. This is going to get me some strange recommendations.)

Another woman, closer to Bambi than I was, appeared from nowhere and if I couldn’t hear the exchange, I could see the body language both sides and this other woman went back to nowhere.

I am thinking about my instant running toward her. I’m also thinking about my nearly instant stopping.

But what’s been keeping this in my head for a day now is what happened next. Bambi carried on walking and now a car came around a corner, slammed to a halt, and two people got out. A woman in her thirties, wearing some kind of faded black dress, and a man in his forties, wearing very little. Shorts and shoes. Big man, tanned, and now acting like a hostage negotiator.

He stood in front of Bambi with his hands out in a look-no-weapons kind of way. And the three of them got into a standoff.

They didn’t look like family, and yet they did look like they knew each other. The two in the car cannot have seen Bambi fall, so it wasn’t that they were more responsible and caring than I was. They looked like they had been searching for her.

And I don’t know what happened next. I couldn’t stare, couldn’t stay. But there is something in how Bambi was dressed, how the three of them were. The shorts man had been in a garden, no question. The black dress woman had thrown that on because she knew she wasn’t going out anywhere. And here they were, out. Bambi could conceivably have been at church, there was something about her clothes that said a little formal, but not evening wear. A little neat, but not expensive.

I’m trying to find a situation where they were together and then this happened. I’m certain of the search, there was an urgency to Shorts’ driving and the nobody-will-see black dress. You’re imagining they had a row, and I think you’re right.

You’re also imagining family tensions and that’s something else we should all have a pass on.

I pulled my finger out

Last week’s Self Distract was like a whine tasting. I won’t delete it because it is true, it is how I felt about my poor writing then and quite often, but it also ended with a call to action that I actually did. It told me to pull my finger out and do some writing.

I did some writing. About four pages of script. Four pages in a week is not going to impress you, and nor is the fact that I still wasn’t doing it until I got prodded into it by a writing buddy.

But, still, I wrote it and it is completely true that there is nothing I like more than being in script, writing in that form, thinking in that form. It’s my favourite form of writing, I like it even when it’s hard, and still I don’t do it enough. I can explain that now, though: I’m a writer, what can you do?

Only, I can’t help thinking about how I did pull my finger out, yet I may also have stuck it in my ear. These are the strangest of days, the unhappiest of days, and yet so far I am in a position where I can choose to worry about whether or not I’m writing something. I don’t, as yet, need to be scared about my income, and I’m a freelancer, so there have been times when I have had to, when I know what that is truly like.

I’m not sure I’ve ever done this before, but I want to send you to another blog, please. While I’ve been mostly in my own head all week, Lisa Holdsworth has been actually making a difference for freelance writers. She’s Chair of the Writers’ Guild –– I’m Deputy Chair and proud to work with her –– and separately runs a blog about writing. It’s now got the most seductively enraged piece which takes you from calm to raging with her about what we need to do.

I’ve long wanted to write like Lisa, sometimes I now just want to be her, too.

Rose and fall

This is a mess. I’m going to sound like I’m drawing parallels and that I’m making connections, but it’s not that, it’s just a mess in my head. Last night two very good things happened, two completely different things that could not possibly, could not conceivably, fail to lift your heart.

One was the 20:00 applause for the NHS. We stood out on the stoop outside our house and applauded along with so many neighbours. Admittedly including one man who’d missed the news and was wondering what we were all doing while he was putting the bins out. But my street stood together, and we haven’t always done that. There are Leave voters further up the street to my right, a possibly ironic direction I’ve just realised. And I don’t know the political leanings of the street directly opposite me, but I do know that’s where all the local murders take place.

That happened and this other thing happened. I am not comparing them. They are just in my head and I don’t know where my head is.

Lies. I know where my head is, it’s that I don’t like where it is or where it has been, or where it goes.

I’ll just tell you. At 19:00, there was a mass watching of Rose, the first episode of Doctor Who’s wonderful revival. Doctor Who Magazine’s Emily Cook organised it, writer Russell T Davies tweeted throughout it, and I was split down the middle, finding this whole thing simultaneously and precisely equally joyous and miserable.

The precision of that 50/50 split was new. Maybe because for the first time I was happy to read Twitter while watching a show, maybe because that was splitting my attention, but joy/unhappiness was precisely split. It didn’t feel like it was 50/50, it felt like it was 100/100. Every minute.

And it was the split that was new, not the feeling.

Even when this first aired, back in 2005, I remember being incredibly lifted by the episode. Not particularly because it was Doctor Who, but because it was right –– and it was alive. I adore television drama and in fact I truly am a writer at all because of the show Lou Grant, but so much of it then seemed like it was written by people sitting down. Rose was on its feet, moving, carrying me along, it had breath and heart and vigour.

It was truly joyous and for the length of that episode, just watching it made me taller.

And then the credits ran. It’s not as if I have anything against the credits or anyone in them, I’ve come to know a few of the people over the years, but 15 years later I remember my total certainty that I would never be able to write something that good. I don’t want to copy it, I have no interest in mimicking Russell T Davies, although if you had to mimic a writer, he would be a fine target.

But that life, that ecstatic energy, I wanted that. I think I’ve got it, I actually think I’ve written scripts that at their best have this electricity in it. Television drama is what made me become a writer, and yet in what I must call a successful writing career, I’ve only ever written about half an hour of TV that got made.

When Rose aired in 2005, I was still working for Radio Times and I loved it there. I was surrounded by people who knew television better than I did, who loved television even more than I did, and yet who appeared in every other way to be perfectly normal. For the very longest time, Radio Times felt like home to me. There are extremely few moments in my dozen or so years with them that I would rather hadn’t happened. Even though I’ve been freelance since 1995, when I eventually lost that RT gig in 2012, it was a knife in me.

Now I wish that they’d had those budget cuts years earlier. I wish I could’ve done everything I did there, but a lot faster. It’s now eight years since I left and I can point to books I’ve written, plus genuinely a couple of million words of online articles. I can point to radio drama I’ve written –– including Doctor Who dramas for Big Finish –– and because for some reason I count these things, I can even point to 719 workshops or public speaking events I’ve done.

Beyond those, I can point to theatre events I’ve produced, and I wish I’d thought to count those too because thinking of an event and then making it happen turns out to be the only thing remotely as satisfying as writing. I’m Deputy Chair of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and if that is a daily surprise to me, by far the most deeply rewarding part was when I was involved in bringing the Guild’s AGM to Birmingham.

But then I watched Rose last night. I’m not saying that my mind doesn’t often go to where it went then, but this show, at this time, in this world, it brought back the utter joy and the chasm of depression, all at once, just as it did then.

Except not quite as it did then, because now it’s 15 years later and I am still not writing television drama.

There is one thing. I do not know and I cannot tell if I’m actually any good a writer, but I do know and I will tell you that I am infinitely better than I was 15 years ago. That is something to hang on to, and the hope that the curve continues upwards is something to work for.

Whereas the overall sense of maudlin self-pity I appear to be showing you now is something to say sorry for and to get rid of this moment.

You know that in any drama you put a character into difficulty, but to my mind there is no difficulty, no jeopardy, no drama even, like having it all be that character’s fault. Something bad happening to a character is one thing, them causing it happen is geometrically more arresting for me.

And in this case, I can say that it’s Rose that makes me think this, but the truth is that it’s me. I’m the one who needs to fix this joyous misery, and the way I have to do is to pull my fucking finger out and write.

The new abnormal

I think the weekends are going to be the hardest. People who’ve been working from home this week have told me that they find it difficult to concentrate, that being at home is distracting. But I suspect that in fact the distraction goes both ways.

This is now my 26th year of working from home so I don’t find it distracting at all, but what I think I recognise is that working takes your mind off things. There’s work you have to do and, moreover, there are colleagues waiting for it, so whether it’s difficult or not, you do focus on that and while you’re focused, you’re not thinking of anything else. Or at least, you’re not thinking of it so much.

Then the weekend comes and if it’s your first weekend during this enforced isolation, there is a bit of you that will be relieved to have got through the week.

And a larger bit of you that then finds yourself unsure what to do for the weekend, unsure what to do without this fallback position of having to work. One answer, of course, is that you could carry on working but I’m afraid that’s what I do and it isn’t a good idea.

You do get more done, you do get ahead, and you don’t have to think about anything else or how you were looking forward to seeing friends. In that sense, carrying on working is an excellent idea. But trust me, when Monday comes and you’ve worked straight through, you will be sick of it and since you can’t walk away from your job, you have to sit there, possibly increasingly hating it.

I do think that having worked from home for so long, I know what it’s like and what the pitfalls are. I don’t mean to suggest this means I’m any good at dealing with them.

But even in my screen-obsessed, work-obsessed way, I have found that there are things that help. Such as switching off all computers and reading a paperback book. Radical.

Or such as just moving from your computer to your iPad, moving your butt from the desk chair to the living room couch. Last week I told you that I write to you from my couch and that’s exactly what I’m doing this moment. In a minute, I’ll go to my office desk and start working, which will mean leaving a screen and keyboard to instead go use a screen and a keyboard for ten hours or so.

It won’t be the same screen and keyboard, but it easily could be. It’s the change of butt position that gives this a change in mental position, I think.

Which is why although I think it’s tempting to run away from screens when you reach the weekend, and why I think you should, I also know that it’s worth keeping them around. It is genuinely wonderful that technology means so many of us can physically work from our homes, but I offer that this same technology is what will help us all through the toughest times.

That screen in your pocket, the one with Facebook and Candy Crush on, it’s got a phone built in. Call someone. Bitch to them about how hard all of this is, bitch to their voicemail about how they never answer the bloody phone.

Or FaceTime. Skype, if you’ve got the patience. Any kind of video call, we can do this and we can do it so incredibly easily.

Technology is how we can stay apart, but it’s also how we can cope.

The new normal

I’ve been working with a lot of writers lately and specifically about how to make more time for your writing. It’s not as if this is something I’ve never done before, but it is unusual how I somehow currently have three totally separate projects with completely separate groups and even in entirely different forms, that are all about this.

Maybe it’s that volume of thinking about this topic, maybe it’s because I’ve learned from these writers, or maybe it’s just age, but I have realised something. I realised it this morning, actually, as I came to talk to you.

If you want to write or to do anything, make it normal. Don’t think of it as new or different, it’s just what you do, so you’re doing it.

It takes time to make something a normal, regular part of your routine, but I would have said it takes five years and now I think it can be weeks.

Don’t let me sound as if I’m talking about making a habit of something. That’s different. What I mean is – well, actually, let’s take you and I for an example.

When Self Distract started, easily ten years ago now, it was a place for me to promote something or other. Something to do with Radio Times, where I was doing most of my writing at the time. But it changed.

It’s now you and me getting to talk. And I don’t know when you read it, but I do know exactly when I write it.

Early every Friday morning, I make us a mug of tea and we start. Like we always do. Like it’s normal. And if it’s taken years for me to see it as being as much a normal part of the week as cooking breakfast is, the last few months have seen a change to that normality.

Lately I’ve been spending so very many hours at my desk most days that to talk to you, I move to the couch in my living room. If you’d asked me about it yesterday, I’m sure I would’ve told you that I do this, but I’d have had to think about it. Whereas this morning, I had the tea, I had the couch, but I’d forgotten my iPad. It’s in my office and surely the sensible thing is just to go there and write, especially since the moment you and I finish nattering, that’s exactly where I’ve got to go.

But it felt wrong. Without my realising that it had happened, the couch had become normal and anything else had not.

I got the iPad. I made more tea.

And if all of this is on my mind today, I think that perhaps it’s because I’ve been looking for it. You know how when you hear some word for the first time, you are somehow guaranteed to keep hearing it over and over again. Not once in your life had you heard it before, now it’s practically daily.

I think that really the reason I’ve been looking at how to make something part of your normal life is that something else has changed for me and it’s probably only taken a month or two.

Twice this week, two entirely separate firms I work with had problems and I offered to produce a video for them. In fact, for one of the firms, I just did it. Wrote, produced, shot, edited and delivered a video that did this thing they needed.

At some point very recently, video production became one of my regular, normal tools. It helps that I write the scripts, and it helps that I do believe video editing uses the same mental muscles as writing, but still something has changed. I’ve edited video for two decades, easily, but never before has it been the obvious solution to a problem.

What’s changed is not that I now edit video, but rather that it is a normal part of my working week.

Once you make something normal, you just do it. And I think you end up doing so much more of it than you had thought. That’s both in terms of how you find more uses for whatever it is, but also you do somehow make more time.

I shot five videos this week and so far have delivered four of them. Whether they’re any good or not is a very different issue, but the five came on top of everything else I was doing this week, which is exactly what I was doing every week two months ago.

I know you get faster at things through practice, but I believe that you can take on something new and that you can find the extra time to do it more when it stops being this scary new thing and instead becomes normal. When your To Do list becomes Write Script, Pitch to X, Interview Y, do Food Shopping – and Shoot Video.

So come on then, it’s just you and me here, let’s figure out what new things we can take on next.

Faster and slower

Lizzy didn’t like Mr Darcy at first, but then she did. Scrooge was this right old git, but then he slept on it and bought a turkey. There was a bit of war, but then also a bit of peace.

There you go, you’ve just read three books and doubtlessly got the full value out of them. Mind you, I realise as I say this to you that while I know many people who haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, I don’t know anyone who has only read it once. Such a great book.

Here you go: Lizzy didn’t like Mr Darcy at first, but then she did. You’re welcome.

I’m saying this to you because I’m grumbling. There’s this thing in podcasts which some people love so much that I just read a piece where someone was longing for film and television to do exactly the same thing.

Speed up.

Now, you can think of films that dragged a bit, naming no names Sean-Bean’s-death-scene-in-Lord-of-the-Rings, but that’s not what’s going on. It’s not that anyone wants films to get on with it, it’s that some want the footage to run faster, and reportedly many play their podcasts at 1.5 or twice normal speed.

Many podcast apps have a button for this. Some will analyse the podcast episode and also remove silences so that it runs a bit shorter.

I like to get on with things, but if you’re listening to a podcast or one day watching a film that you genuinely believe is improved by running at twice normal speed, I have a different button for you.

It’s the stop button.

Ditch that show and go listen to something better made.

For just as the spaces between words in a book are crucial, so the minuscule silences in speech are, too. I’ve produced a lot of podcasts and there was one where for some reason the recordings had a teeny delay so that it sounded as if my co-host was forever aghast at the stupid thing I’d just said. I did edit that to cut those out, but I left many of them in because quite often he was.

There is a reason scripts have the phrase “beat pause”. There is a rhythm and a pace that is every single bit as much a part of the whole story as the words.

The argument for speeding up what you’re listening to is that you get the information faster and you can enjoy more podcasts or whatever in the same amount of time.

I think the latter point is spurious. You’re not enjoying the podcast, you’ve already decided not to experience it the way it was built and produced.

And I think the first point about getting the information faster is idiotic. Since you’re ignoring the form as it was created and you’re believing that the worth is in the words spoken, read the damn transcript.

There was an acclaimed audio series recently that was on a topic I was deeply interested in, but the presenter’s delivery was so slow that it was as if she were insulting us. It was as if she were talking to a child and it was unbearable even before the show also became repetitive.

I did have a 1.5 button on that app. I did have a twice-normal-speed button.

But instead I used another control entirely. I tapped on Unsubscribe.


Clearly, I am the first ever writer to act on stage. I hear rumours of some other person called William who’s done it, but no, it was me. And as such, I have advice that I can now bestow for all writerkind to learn from.

Don’t ignore flashing red lights.

I really did act last night, and it was the first time I’d performed someone else’s script, but I was also producing. And I wrote another of the pieces for the evening, which I performed. Get me. Part of the production job, though, was recording the night.

So I had two locked-off cameras shooting video and audio from left and right of the stage. I had one lapel mic which we used to audio record parts that had a solo performer on stage. And I had two separate audio recorders positioned on the set.

I set all this going just before we opened the doors and I can see me now, asking an actor whether “that red flashing light” is distracting. I’d never seen this particular audio recorder flash red quite so much, but in my defence, it did look like it was flashing in time to the music.

Since I usually use it for interviews and so once it’s running, I’m not looking at it, I figured I’d just not noticed the red flashing before.

And I can see me now, finding something in my gear bag to cover up the red lights.

For this particular audio recorder, you press Record once to, I don’t know, arm it. Then you press Record again to set it actually recording.

And it turns out that until you press it that second time, the whole unit flashes as many red lights at you as it can.

Consequently, while the other cameras and all the other recorders captured about 90 minutes of show, that last audio recorder has about 15 seconds of me swearing.

But I swore very well. I emoted. I conveyed with clarity the depth of my feelings at that moment.

I wasn’t acting.

I’m not certain that I was acting when I performed my own piece. It’s a one-man short play, and the thing of it is that you’re not supposed to quite realise when I go from introducing the piece to actually doing it. You’re not supposed to know that every word from when I get on stage to when I leave is actually the story.

While it’s effective and, most importantly, right for this particular story, it also means that for a lot of the time, I am presenting as if I were doing a workshop. That is a performance, and the fiction of this story requires me to get quite upset, but it’s closer to what I do all the time.

Plus, it was my script, so of course I know it. I’ve acted in my own pieces before – hardly often, but generally very successfully.

What was different for me last night was that I performed someone else’s script.

And that is weird.

For the first time in my life, I have actually said the words “what’s my motivation?” during rehearsals. So much of what we write, or maybe just of what I write, is instinctual, and it’s when you have to see it from another direction that you become conscious of it.

It was all there in script, I just had to find it and in that digging, I was examining all the things about character that I usually just do unconsciously while writing.

Previously I’d have told you that I understand how actors do what they do, I mean I can comprehend the process even if I can’t do it. But now I can tell you that I don’t have a clue why they do it.

But it was pretty great getting to do a curtain call alongside proper actors.

Time is a commodity, watchtime doubly so

Oh, give me strength. I have been obsessed with time as a writer for my entire life – you can see that theme in just about every fiction I write. And I’ve been panicked about time for just as long – I may even be chronophobic, I’m so constantly anxious about not having achieved anything, not being ready, not being good enough yet in this frustratingly short lifespan we have.

And now I’ve only gone and found a new time to think about.

It’s called watchtime, perhaps you know it already.

My 58keys YouTube series has six episodes, totalling 58 minutes and 31 seconds, so far. A few hundred people have watched, which is great, and reportedly they have in total watched 22 hours of it. Actually, 21 hours and 58 minutes.

Compare that to the millions of hours of watchtime other shows get and it’s rubbish. Compare it to the zero watchtime hours I had before I made the show, and it’s amazing.

And if you do what I appear to be doing now, it’s dizzying. I think about that watchtime, I check it a lot, but I also think about the individual running times of each episode, I think about when I am or am not using that time well, I’m thinking about the watchtime compared to how long any one or all of the episodes have taken to make. I’m thinking about the next two episodes which I finished last weekend and will publish in one and two weeks. I’m thinking about the social media that I wrote when I finished each episode and is currently scheduled to automatically post when the show is published. I’m thinking about when the best time for all of this is.

Watchtime, calendar time, production time, durations, time of day, day of week, time as a commodity and a tool, time it takes to edit, best times to shoot because of the lighting, best days to shoot because I’m not committed to something else but I am also not so knackered that I’m incoherent, time as a barrier – I’d like to be further ahead with episodes but that takes time I haven’t quite got yet. Plus I really need to fit in a haircut.

All of this time has a shape. I’ve got an hour of 58keys now, but that’s split across six videos. When you’re doing an actual hour, one 60-minute something, you’re thinking about the top of the hour and the bottom, you’re thinking about what works at the start, how it must end, you’re shaping the minutes. I am doing the same with these 8- to 17-minute episodes. (I worried so much about the 17-minute one being too long, but it’s by far the most popular episode so far. By far.)

Nobody watching should ever think about this, but when making it I am deeply conscious of every second. I’m not saying I’m any good at each second, I’m telling you I lie awake at night deciding to reshoot whole episodes because I can convey the information better or at least faster.

And my favourite part of all this so far is video editing. Sitting in front of Final Cut Pro X at midnight, looking at one minute of me talking, comparing that to the episode’s duration so far, and realising that with a single cutaway mid-sentence to something else, I can ditch 45 seconds of me and make the world a better place.

So now there’s real time, there’s me sitting in the dark, and there’s the duration of the video as recorded, the duration of the video as edited, and all these minutes of trims taken away from it.

In the olden days, thousands and thousands of years ago, there was when the sun came up and when the sun went down. Now there’s all this.

Look at what we do. Look at how much we try to wedge in to our days, and how much we can treat time as this product we shape and sell. And yet there isn’t a single thing we can do to make even one extra second of time.

I could grow an ulcer from how much I worry about time and it isn’t funny that the obvious solution is to take some time off.