I was sitting at my customary table in the hotel across the road, sipping Sencha green tea. I had been challenged by the barista to try it instead of my usual cappuccino but, really, I was not being adventurous: I was procrastinating, indulging in displacement activity, avoiding getting to grips with some forward financial planning which prudence required yet indulgence abhorred. I had known for some time that there was work to be done on this project – research to be undertaken, decisions to be made, intentions to be implemented – but I was daunted by the detail and confounded by the complications. Mañana had become my mantra.
Reading the newspaper that morning, however, provided me with a call to action. The agglomeration of stories concerning the ills of our society seemed to be reaching a crescendo: prisoners committing suicide because of inhumane conditions in our jails; young men stabbing each other to death in our streets; the NHS crumbling under the weight of patients; the education system continuing to fail the poor. All of these problems – and more – ought to be addressed by tackling their causes rather than their symptoms. Yet national government is more inclined to focus on the 5-year election cycle than the long-term well-being of society and, in so doing, fails to implement policies that might minimise social ills in the future. Well, I thought, I had better get on with it, lest I become a burden on a state that has insufficiently provided for my future decrepitude. I drank up, went to my desk and fired up my computer.
Just when you need it most, however, technology can let you down. The computer insisted on a “critical update” and, since I was aware of the recent scare over hackable processors, I allowed it to do its thing. During the process, however, complications arose that I lacked the competence to resolve and which, for the ensuing 24 hours, tied me up in finding someone who could: all of which prevented me from making progress on my project. Meanwhile, my attention drifted and I began to indulge in activities that are of questionable priority. I had previously been seduced by the notion of getting a new cover for my phone, the kind that incorporates little pockets for credit cards and a place for the nifty little flat reading specs I had recently purchased. My logic went thus: instead of the usual exit check of four items – wallet, phone, specs and keys – I could reduce it to just two. “What?” said my partner, “So now you could lose your wallet and phone together?” She had a point and. In the event, once I had the whole combo assembled, the package became so unwieldy that I am now considering reverting to carrying the items separately.
I attempted a “restart” on my planning project a few days later but did not get very far. My partner phoned to tell me that she was stuck in the suburbs with a flat tyre and no time to sort it out because of meetings. I admit that I was not reluctant to go and fix it: first, it gave me a valid excuse to put off the dreaded project; second, it gave me an opportunity to show off – I may not know much about hard drives but at least I do know how to change a wheel. Alas, half a day later, I returned home a humiliated man. The release bolts for the spare wheel had corroded so badly I could not shift them and was obliged to call out the roadside rescue service.
So now, with everything fixed, I am ready to set an example for government by getting started on some serious future-proofing. Just as soon as I have found the files, that is.