The Nick of Time

I am in overdrive. Not only am I finishing the writing of a book, I am translating the parts already written while helping raise funds and sort legal and business aspects of the publication. All this is very exciting and after years of work for two people a real race against time. I love firing on all cylinders, but am not really a fan of the deadline. Call it a lifeline then. Get it done.

Time. It heals all wounds and wounds all heals. You can make it in the nick of time, but time will nick you, inevitably, and it is up to you to handle the damage and turn it into invaluable experience. Time can ripen things and people, cure them like a good cheese, or make them go off. Some people age well, some lose their touch – a sad phenomenon. It is beautiful to see someone grow into themselves, fight their way out of a pupa to spread their wings. Perhaps this is best done a little later in life. I love a late developer – no doubt because I am one.

Time can weave magic. Suddenly forces collide, the moment has come. You can call it luck, but being able to meet it usually takes time, blood, sweat and tears.

Wasting someone’s time, in my book, is about the rudest thing you can do. Time is pretty much all we have in this life. That and love. Punctuality is the courtesy of kings. In the theatre, if you are late you are out of a job. ‘Show up on time and know your lines’ is a pretty good motto.

I also hate wasting my own time. When you are young and stupid you jump in, try things out, you have no choice, you have to learn. With age, you hope you can identify the duds a little in advance, you do not have to get out of the saddle because you have seen that kind of thing before. Promptly you advance into a new pothole.

‘Kiss and Ride’. There are signs carrying these words all over the Netherlands, marking small parking bays reserved for speedy passenger pick-up and drop-off, not for anything more clandestine, but the choice of words made my English friend Claudia howl. Some sweet civil servant must have thought it sounded snappy, innocent of the fact that ‘ride’ is not always a direct translation of ‘rijden’, the Dutch word for ‘drive’. I wondered if I was the kiss and ride type, the sort of person who seldom takes time to hang around because she is in such a hurry to get on. But life is short, let’s get to the good stuff and let’s have the balls to spend our lives on useful work with kind and funny people, dedicated people who like to work and play hard. Sometimes I wonder if life would be better without this urgent need to do what I have to do, but I have a sneaking suspicion that people who don’t have such a drive also miss out on a certain ride.

They say time waits for no one, but that is a lie. We all have our time. We even all get our moment. When you feel you are lagging behind, remember Secretariat, the famous racehorse, who hung back in all his races, then suddenly let rip and crossed the finish line many lengths ahead of the others. Too many people drop out of the race, discouraged, too tired. Nonsense. Cut loose and go for it, so you can meet your chance again in time.

Jacques Tati as the postman in Jour de Fête. “Rapidité, rapidité!”