Tuesday 18 February 2003

Escaping the hassles

My work to do list sprawls across an increasing number of pages in my notebook, I'm prevented from consigning entries to the forgotten wastebin of completion by being called into meeting after meeting. The instant I return to my desk I am assailed by yet another person or more documents left for review, and all the while e-mails sleet soundlessly into my Inbox.

As it is with work, so it is with my personal life, long term single status having drilled me into never turning down an invitation my diary is filled with all manner of engagements. The variety is fun and fabulous, although the sheer logistics I must master to drag myself and associated belongings across the country for walking in Snowdonia, a dinner party in Leicester, a housewarming in Brighton with a flat and car in Ipswich and a home in London has probably now qualified me for a senior post in the army.

And so my hours are filled with rushing and hurrying, ticking off objectives and tasks; type up the minutes, talk to the support team, phone Penny, book tickets for the football, catch up with Rob, get to Scotland for snowboarding, wash my shirts. Infrequent empty hours alone are used to achieve yet more goals, create a new mix tape, finish a videogame or just work through my backlog of books and magazines.

Fortunately, it's possible to escape the hectic dash. Occasionally my diary gifts me hours that have fallen through the cracks, particularly during travel, when a sentence of time abuts the full stop of arrival and I have ceded control to drivers or pilots and the entire transport infrastructure.

Air travel is the best for this - I don't just leave my luggage behind when I check in, I handover all obligations other to find my way to the appropriate gate. The comforting, anodyne anonymity of the departure lounge is a stress-free haven through the simple addition of MiniDisc player and a good book, delays to journeys merely increase the length of time to be spent in relaxing limbo.

The additional frisson of being paid for doing next to nothing makes workday travel an extra delicious use of time.

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