Saturday, 30 May 2015

I want it and I want it now

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Is this how most people live? Actually fulfilling promises to complete things in good time?

If ever I have been late in finishing something (which is 98% of the time) I have always defended myself by saying that the thing is a luxury object which nobody's life depends on, but that only makes the client more angry.

When I had a workshop in a busy yard in town, some wag suggested I should have a mission-statement (when such things were in vogue) saying, 'Antiques while you wait.'

I suppose I don't have people waiting on me most of the time - most of my stuff sits in isolation and is a mere adornment to the meat of a project, installed long after the painters have finished colouring the plasterwork. But now I have two sets of builders, a shareholder group of 536 and an examination board waiting on me, and the posters for the video-mapping event are now out of date and taken down.

I know how they feel, though. If I buy something on eBay or wherever, I want it to be piped down the line to appear before me as soon as the hammer comes down, so I can gloat for a few days and nights over it. I may have told you this story before, but here it is again - an extreme example of my tendency to procrastinate.

Many years ago, a woman came into my workshop with four pieces of cut stone - salvaged from a previous house - which she wanted me to turn into a small window surround by the cutting of four basic chamfers around the inside edge.

She had a boy of around 10 years old with her, and because he was physically so unlike her - he was very dark with Indian Asian features - I assumed he was an adopted son.

She said that there was no particular rush on the job, because her builders would not cut the hole in the wall until I had finished making the surround. That was a very rash thing to say to someone like me. She called back about a month later to pick it up, only to find I had not started on it. 'No problem', she said.

I don't know how many years had passed up until the day she returned, but when she did, she was accompanied by a large man of over six feet tall, with a full, black beard.

At first I thought he was her toy-boy (they were all the rage in those days), but he looked strangely familiar. Then I realised that this was the small boy who she had brought with her the first time.

I said that it was still not finished, and I would get it done that week for sure.

"Don't worry," she said, "There's no rush."

I still have the four bits of stone.


  1. Sounds just like my picture framer. I was admiring something waiting to be framed on the workbench and he talked me through what it was and then casually said it had been there 10 years and he would be doing it "soon". His wife chipped in that there were lots of pieces of work like this to be done, pointing out things around the workshop, and her husband said "all in good time dear, all in good time". But if you want something done by the next day he will do it.

    1. Moral: Never, ever tell someone that there 'is no rush', but never push them so hard that they ignore it anyway.

    2. I relate to this. When I get a custom order, I say very clearly to my customer, "Listen very carefully before you answer this question. Given I work much better to a deadline, is there a date by which you need this to be done?" They never listen...

    3. What do you make, Maryanne?

  2. Tooooommmm! Had I been that customer, we would only have three bits of stone left by now. I would have hit you over the head with the fourth. I love the gorgeous photograph, though.

  3. I suppose one of these days you'll overcome your problem with procrastination.

  4. Good job you really aren't pressed for money.

  5. I once sold a set of old Oak filing cabinets to someone I didn't know. He paid me in cash, and said he'd be back to collect them in the next few days. They were still sitting there several years later, and were even there when I sold the house. Maybe he'd died.