God – or evolution, or weeny little universe fairies with sparkling magic dust – has granted us opposable thumbs and brains that can think thoughts about things that haven’t happened yet. We’ve got hands that do cave paintings and mouths that make sounds embodying complex, abstract concepts: like space. It is to bite your tongue at the universe fairies (oooh! Shakespeare reference; how very literary I am today!) not to utilise these gifts to GET SHIT DONE – properly and on time.
Inefficiency is the least admirable quality that a human being can possess. I say this, despite the fact that, in general, I preach tolerance; I’m just not that judgemental about most things that other people do. Things motivated by need and passion and fury – such as theft or adultery or violence. I can understand these things because I have fragile, diaphanous soul and it is sometimes touched by darkness.
I’ve always found something especially alluring about the personality traits of aggression, malice, discourtesy and greed. I am aware that these traits are not indicators of character types who are conducive to long-term happiness. That doesn’t stop me from finding them a little bit attractive. I can’t help it. I’ve got a sadomasochistic streak that gets a bit aroused by arguing with cruelly indifferent men in public places (you can blame Disney, if it makes you feel better).
So, what I’m saying is that I can cope with – even enjoy – being ridiculed loudly by a sneering cad on a busy Saturday in Bluewater, but if a waiter brings me a steak that is slightly overcooked, or a colleague is a bit slack in responding promptly to an email, I’m wholly unable to keep my temper, or any sense of perspective whatsoever. I once verbally articulated to a telephonist that I wished an early death upon her (by screaming DIE! DIE! into the receiver) because she called me for payment on a bill I had already settled. I know, I know. I never said I was a nice person.
My own efficiency levels; happily, have risen exponentially year on year since I became a glittering single person (woohoo!). I just could not find a way get anything done when I was in a relationship, and so I was in the unenviable position of despising myself. Which was properly not good for my self-esteem. When I was with my first boyfriend I spent all of my time either a) in a fit of paranoid paralysis worrying that he was having sex with all the beautiful ladies, or b) chonged out of my nut on high-grade skunk, lying on filth covered sheets in his University halls of residence, watching Snatch – the only video he owned – over and over again until I fell asleep.
It now strikes me that these two states of being were not entirely unrelated.
Let’s compare my achievements during those two years: 1) learning how to roll a perfect spliff with half a B&H Gold, a Silver King Size Rizla (slim) and great big pinch of finely ground hydro, 2) successfully posting three lumps of hashish back from Amsterdam (only kidding, any policemen reading), 3) learning all the words to Snatch – with my current levels of productivity: in just over a week, I’ve written 10,000 words on this blog, marked 13 undergraduate dissertations, attended three yoga classes, composed half a chapter-draft of my PhD thesis, cooked dinner from scratch every night, read half of two novels and the Amy Winehouse biog, completed work on the schedule for a major international conference and watched episodes of Embarrasing Bodies, Great British Menu, The Apprentice and The Big Bang Theory. Incredible. I’ve even left a few things off so as not to seem boastful. You can applaud at this point if you’d like to. Alright, I haven’t slept much, or engaged in any social activity whatsoever – but still. It’s like, in being made single, I’ve been given a spinning wheel with which to weave time that I can use to achieve things and engage in leisure pursuits. Maybe it’s them universe fairies again.
I know what you’re thinking – but it’s not just adolescence, skunk-weed and paranoia that stop you GETTING SHIT DONE in a relationship. Other people – especially those we’re romantically attached to – have a habit of thieving our time in a way that makes sustained, industrious output very difficult. By calling us on the phone to ask if we’ve seen their glasses when we’re just in the middle of very profound thought processes. By making us pregnant so that we have to pack in ‘me-time’ as well as productivity and look after red-faced little screaming children. By deciding just as we’re about to walk out the door, that they absolutely need to hoover the living room right now, while we wait in the car listening to radio Five Live and mentally slitting our own wrists.
Of course, you can’t always blame other people. The relationship utopia we’ve all had conditioned into our brain-matter means that we’re often complicit in our own downfall. A good friend of mine made the baffling decision to move with her boyfriend from London, where they both worked and had friends – and which has bars and clubs, parks, palaces, free art galleries and angry, zombified commuters – to a countryside village where they knew no-one – which has a field and an ASDA and a pub frequented by old men who smell of mothballs. When she got bored of the domestic countryside bliss involving washing her boyf’s socks and looking at out the window at fluffy un-shaven sheep, she snogged a colleague in the toilet at a house party and parted ways with her lover. He left her with the mortgage and, because she’s amazing, she sold her car for half of what she paid for it to finance a holiday to Vegas. She now spends up to five hours a day travelling to and from London for work. That’s five hours spent with her face squashed into a stranger’s armpit on buses and trains during rush-hour. Had she avoided romantic entanglement, she could now be using that time to reply promptly to email or write her memoirs.
Come on single people! Life is short. We must stop moping over the icy impassivity of the world to our physical and emotional needs, and use the supple muscles of our legs to spin time at the spinning wheel of singledom. We can wave the gossamer cloths of time in the face of the coupled and laugh when they tell us that they won’t get round to finishing that report until at least Friday, because they’re just so busy. And then we should spread the cloths of time out before us, and fill them with activity.