Proudly I handed the editor my draft on time. It was a masterpiece of real-time research. Not one original thought, not one word was my own. It was completely cobbled together from the web and run through a random synonym replacer to keep the plagiarism narks off my back. I settled back for praise.

'T I M E not T H Y M E' sighed the editor. 'And not the #$%^! magazine either' she muttered under her breath, eerily anticipating my next thought on what she had meant when I was asked if I had the time to do an article on thyme.

I pondered some more. 'Perhaps something on cash—after all time is money as Benjamin Franklin said, foreshadowing the parking meter.'

'No' was the testy response. 'Time, the fourth dimension thing. What you don’t have much of if you’re going to get published.'

So, given there’s no time like the present, I re-started the essay. Since I’ve already mentioned my modus operandi, you won’t be surprised to know that in no time at all I was enjoying the fruits of googling best of times, worst of times. It appears that a 1993 Simpsons’ episode has a room with 1,000 monkeys at typewriters, one of which Montgomery Burns chastises for mistyping a word—'"It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times?" You stupid monkey!' The infinite monkey approach to literature was of course foreseen by Ovid around 40 BC: Tempus edax rerumTime conquers all, time is the devourer of things, and time flies were three of the translations extracted from the web—each being a very promising basis for an article on time.

But alas, A Tale of Two Cities lingered in my mind, which soon morphed into Anthony Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying as my brain plucked a Monty Python sketch from its cobwebs. A few more key strokes found my memory had failed: it was Grate Expectation and A Sale of Two Titties in the list of book titles. And sadly, for the editor if not me, as time went by, my mind wandered even further from the topic. "Time has passed over Old Balham, and so shall we" was one fleeting on-topic memory from past comedy sketches.

After some time, I reached November 1963 and Yours for the asking on 3LO (or 774 as it is known since the ABC became illiterate). This request program provided a pleasant diversion from swotting and regularly played such gems as Rinse the blood off my toga. You can find the script online if you don’t know it by heart. I was bit uneasy about its “Rome wasn’t built in a day” gag—a time inference agreed, but a little close to the bone as a metaphor for my article’s progress. Fortunately I wasn’t wasting time with this diversion since time is mentioned in its final lines, spoken by Caesar’s widow: 'Well, frankly, I don't care. If I told him once, I told him a thousand times, “Don't go, Julie!” I said.”It's the Ides of March, beware already. Don’t go, Julie, don't go.”'

But I have digressed more than I intended to digress. On this particular day, right after certain events in Dallas, the announcer mentioned that some listeners had rung to say they thought it wasn’t appropriate. A simply immediate apology was offered. How times have changed! Media frenzy about the ‘controversy’ would continue unabated until the next minor faux pas. Twitter would explode. Some innocent hashtag would be tainted for life. Some people have too much time on their hands.

You may have guessed by now that I am easily distracted, indeed a master procrastinator of the first order. Fortunately, that provides a segue back to time. Unfortunately, not in a good sense: procrastination is the thief of time. Benjamin Franklin had his two bits on that topic too, even if he did get it a little wrong: 'You delay, but time will not'. Rubbish, we all know of the exception: time and tide wait for no man. In an instant I realized the brilliance of the Liberal Party’s strategy: their leader’s constant negativity meant that time was on their side. Being Mr No Man was much more potent than simply intoning 'It’s time! It’s time!'

Time travel seemed the next potential theme. Another alas here, I’m afraid. An old(ish) episode of Doctor Who only provided another excuse for more procrastinating. If only the good doctor had stitched up that crack in time in Amy Pond’s wall, we would have been saved from nine episodes, at least. Oh, for the good all days, when the old quarry appeared in every episode and interpersonal relationship problems were non-existent.

By now, you might be wondering if, or more likely how, I ever finished the article. Do the numbers 457 mean anything to you? In no time at all, I returned to the editor triumphantly. 'It’s about time' I said throwing the draft onto her desk.

'It sure is. You’re a week late!' was her terse reply.

Humph, what an ingrate. Doesn’t she realise that inspiration needs time?


Editor's note: this piece was originally pitched to CRANK's sister publication, Materiality (the TIME issue). The author has resubmitted it to CRANK as a form of vengeance.

A lesser-known prequel to Anthony Aardvark goes quantity surveying, featuring "luncheon-time". Railway surveying Wangaratta to Mansfield, wood engraving, published by Alfred Martin Ebsworth, Melbourne, 1 November 1888. State Library of Victoria, A/S01/11/88/164.

A lesser-known prequel to Anthony Aardvark goes quantity surveying, featuring "luncheon-time". Railway surveying Wangaratta to Mansfield, wood engraving, published by Alfred Martin Ebsworth, Melbourne, 1 November 1888. State Library of Victoria, A/S01/11/88/164.