The early bird catches the flak

Our columnist on how his fixation on peak punctuality is causing ructions — and the creation of new time zones — at his home

SO, I’m writing this way too early. My deadline isn’t until tomorrow but I’ll have it in today. This is because I suffer from EPS — a very rare disease in ‘showbiz’ — Excessive Punctuality Syndrome. Even my old agent told me that it was weird how I always turned up on time for things.

‘Most clients waltz in about 45 minutes late,’ he’d say.

He wasn’t saying it like my punctuality was a good thing. It was almost as though he was disapproving. I told him that I had great difficulty in being late and he shook his head in a slightly disappointed manner. To him, being late appeared to be a sign that you were busy, artistic, creative…

Being on time, as Liz Hurley might say, is for civilians.

I do occasionally try to turn up late to something. If I have to be at a ‘do’ and it starts at 6.30pm, I wander in at about 6.35pm and start telling everyone how weird it is for me to arrive late.

It’s tricky for my friends and family. If I arrange to meet somebody at midday, I’ll be there at about 11.30am. If they turn up at five past 12, to my mind they are 35 minutes late.

It’s a source of much tension at home with my wife, Stacey, being the polar opposite. I often wonder why I bothered to buy her several rather nice watches. She is always late — late to the point of me tearing my hair out and harbouring murderous thoughts. Even if she has had the entire day to get ready, she will be 30 minutes late. She is almost punctual in her tardiness. It’s always 30 minutes. Even if I give her a fake early time to leave, she instinctively senses that something isn’t quite right.

If I’m invited to dinner at 7pm, I’ll be there at 7pm. Actually, I’ll be outside at 6.45pm and wander about until the clock strikes seven.

Stacey informs me that if somebody invites you for 7pm, they mean that they want you there at about 7.30pm. So why don’t they just invite me for 7.30pm?

Stacey is a kind wife and is aware that her tardiness is a source of tension. She tried to fix it by moving all the clocks in the house back by 30 minutes.

This, I said, would only work if nobody knew what we’d done, otherwise we’d just look at the clock and add 30 minutes. But Stacey swore by the system, so we all lived in our very own artificial time zone for three months until we finally gave up.

We’ve seen doctors. The best we can hope for is that I will do my best to be late and Stacey will do her best to be early. There will, however, always be that annoying 20-minute chasm between us.

Anyway, must go — I’ve got a column to file and I’m late.