The saying procrastination is the thief of time is from a work by the seventeenth century English poet and dramatist Edward Young. Essentially, it means that time wasted can never be reclaimed. With this admonition he urges his readers to get on with it:
Something more important in the present day will often assert itself, as well as - for those of us of a certain age - the constant daily imperative to earn a living, sometimes under the most trying of circumstances. The struggle is real.
Seven years ago, I had moved from a larger house to a one-bedroom property, which inevitably meant the disposal of at least two thirds of a lifetime's accumulation of possessions. Some items were easy enough to dispose of, but I wanted time to consider others properly and so rented a garage, near to where I lived.
Because it is old, the door has broken again. As the workers were repairing it, a nosy neighbour came over to take a look and somewhat disparagingly announced "look at all that rubbish in there, who would want that?"
But it is a veritable trove of a lifetime of memories and physical objects, which link me to those souls whom I have loved most, who have made me who I am and who I see no more in this world.
In seven years, this grotty and just about watertight relic of the 1950s had provided a good income with minimal outlay for the landlord. But recently the garage had to be handed back and the contents removed.
A friend on Twitter suggested that I could open up my garage as a museum and sell tickets. It shows how much personal technology has changed in such a small period of time. The majority of the objects were only about twenty years old: there was an old fax machine, an iomega Zip disc, 5-inch floppy discs, hundreds of audio cassette tapes, and hundreds of books, like the classic Academic Dress of the University of Oxford, in which my dear old Uncle John appears.
Then there was a vinyl record, given to me by a pub singer in 1997. My friend and I had been to yet another Oxford pub which no longer exists, on Osney Island. She had asked the assembled and - save for us - largely disinterested crowd of drinkers for requests. My friend thought he would try and catch her out with an especially difficult song, After the Goldrush. She came back after the interval without saying anything and with a note and word-perfect version of it. It was a beautiful artistic moment.
But as the objects emerged from my former garage, though, came the realisation that for all practical purposes, my eclectic collection must have become rubbish, if it had not been used in all those years. Procrastination is not only the thief of time. The cost of procrastination is £6,271.
As published in the Herald Series on Wednesday, 01 August 2018
- Oxford University Press, Oxford Reference, Oxford Essential Quotations (5th edition), Edward Young, The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality, (1742–5), Published online 2017, as retrieved 31 July 2018