I hate wasting time. I hate queuing, traffic, train stations and airports. I get irritable just waiting for images to load on my web browser. More and more items on the BBC News website have that horrid little 'click to play' icon: I do not want to watch, I want to read. I can read faster than I can watch. I can scan the headline, and then move on if I’m not interested. For that reason I shun YouTube, and get shirty when people send me email links to ‘amusing’ videos. I am unable to sit through a full length movie; I have to watch in thirty minute bursts, usually from the seat of my rowing machine. This way I can get fitter as I fritter.
Time is the most valuable commodity on Earth: more valuable than air, water or food. Without time you would not be able to take a breath, a gulp or a bite. Yet, although we know we are all busy recycling bottles and boxes, there is nothing whatsoever we can do with time once we've wasted it.
Taking foreign holidays, going shopping, doing the gardening, or worst of all, watching television are forms of time-frittering that get on my goat. Nothing on television is worth one hour of my life. Nothing!
I picture myself on my deathbed, with just one more hour left to live. Shall I watch that jolly bird programme with Bill Oddie? Or how about dropping in on 'Fat Families' before I shuffle off? Nothing, not even an earnest documentary, or live coverage of Nick Clegg eating his own face would make me watch TV if I had just sixty minutes left to live.
I’ve tried living every hour as if it were my last. I soon became a hopeless, jibbering mess. “What’s the point of doing anything?” I hollered. “I’m going to die!” So instead I tried to refine my time wasting and came up with this exceptionally brilliant idea: use every hour as a means of saving time in the hours ahead.
To do this I live my life like an air traffic controller, with thoughts constantly streaming in, diverted, put into holding pattern, or some of them acted upon and brought down safely onto the runway.
So, even as I make breakfast, I’m planning when will be the best time to unload the dishwasher and, perhaps take the bins out. Should I do those first, or fill the kettle? Then there’s some post to be opened, and the hens to be fed. As I am slicing the bread, I am considering in which order to tackle these immediate chores, and at the same time, in holding pattern, are the thoughts about the things I will act upon when breakfast is cleared away.
Of course, because I'm thinking ahead, the task I am presently engaged with tends to be less than well done. Toast gets burnt, tea goes cold, cutlery ends up in the fridge, hens starve to death, I slice my finger off. I am always moving one step ahead of myself, but rarely do I know where I am. Even as I write this sentence I am juggling with the next paragraph. As I finish my third book I'm half way through the fourth and plotting the fifth. And as every writer knows, planning your next book is a hundred times more exciting than writing the present one.
Another time saving measure is to undertake two activities simultaneously, always ensuring that every wasteful element is counterbalanced by a useful one. I can watch dvds as I row myself fitter, read Proust as I struggle to eat my morning muesli and listen to opera as I'm having a bath.
In this way I get to lead three or four lives in parallel, and keep in shape, too. With my accumulated years I will be the fittest one hundred and eighty year old on the planet. I shall also be a mumbling, foam-spluttering idiot, who doesn’t remember one thing of any quality he’s done in his over-long life. But I won’t have wasted a second.
(Oh, and that bit about Clegg. It's not true. I would have to watch that).