Many Londoners are slaves to time-optimisation — the little internal devil that tells you to maximise the use of every second, even if it means not fully enjoying the moment. City living exacerbates the symptoms: leave the office at the precise second you need to reach your space on the platform a few seconds before the train leaves, make your way on board with maximum efficiency, Kindle open ready for when you’re squeezed into the corner and unable to open your bag. It doesn’t allow a heck of a lot of loose time for chatting to people, being kind to stumbling strangers or giving change to buskers. That’s the price you pay for optimisation.
But the brakes are on. I have been freed from speed. Whereas my day used to be divided into neat, useable 5 minute sections it’s now more…
…get up as slowly as possible. Any time spent horizontal still counts as sleep. Pretend not to be awake for as long as feasible (this can go on for an hour in the right light and if the Mini is happy chatting to the wall). Spend eons getting out of the house. Never mind when I’m “meant” to be somewhere. Leaving the house could take ten minutes or it could take nearly an hour. I am no longer at the mercy of the clock, I am at the mercy of tantrums, clothing negotiations, nappies, snacks, forgetting things, remembering things, forgetting other things, and then another nappy. The morning is divided sloppily into small jobs, small strops, small accidents until the afternoon is reached and then the business of trying to get time to accelerate until bedtime begins (which is not so much time-optimisation as time-obliteration). 3pm-6pm can last decades. The longer I can make each activity last the more likely I am to make it to bedtime before I turn 70.
I’m learning that to hang out with a child a certain slowness is essential. You’ve got to jump (slowly) into tardiness with both feet and be washed away on a tide of time-consuming minutiae.
There was no way I was going to slow down voluntarily to ‘smell the roses’, so being forced into a change of pace is probably a blessing (from a certain Chicken Soup point of view). And as I can’t call my time my own anyway — it’s being controlled by an egocentric, erratic and charming dictator — I might as well slow everything down, and enjoy the flowers while I can.
(This post is dedicated to all the meandering danderers I’ve tutted at on tube platforms. Karma is truly biting me now: a buggy and bad eyesight is making me one of the slowest of slow-pokes on the underground. I apologise to both you, and those who are now tutting behind me!)