The delights of the deadline

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (in which case all hail to you Sir or Madam for your uncommon good taste…) you may well be thinking, ‘hang on now – in her last post she was lauding the loucheness of lollygagging, now she’s defending the discipline of the deadline. Surely she can’t have it both ways?’ 

Ah but I can. I’m a Gemini, which means I’m not only entitled to hold two totally different opnions on one subject – I’m positively required to do so under astrological law. Says so in my contract.

Actually – the deadline and I go back a long way, and it’s fair to say we have an odd relationship. I fear it, detest it, groan under the weight of it and will do my utmost to dodge it. However the truth is – I’m no good without it.

For example – someone asks me to do a job for them – writing a magazine article perhaps, or producing a dvd. Fine, I say – when do you need it?  Everything rests on the answer. If it’s vague or non-commital – or worse still, if it’s something like ‘oh there’s no rush, just do it when you can’, frankly that’s the kiss of death on that assignment. It’ll be put off and put off till it’s so far down the To-Do list, it falls right off the bottom. Chances are high it will never get done.

If on the other hand the client says ‘well look, I’m really sorry and I know it’s terribly short notice, but I need it by thursday lunchtime…’, I’ll be delighted.  A little bit horrified if he happens to be telling me this on wednesday morning, but delighted nonetheless. Why? Because for me nothing else can concentrate the mind and focus the attention like a deadline.

Gilly Fraser as radio reporter.

Me as a baby journalist with Northsound Radio in Aberdeen!

I’ve been a journalist all my working life, with deadlines ranging from monthly for magazines, to hourly for radio news bulletins.  Give me the luxury of too much time and I’ll happily squander it. Be draconian with your deadline and I’ll be delighted. Demented – but delighted (there goes the Gemini again…!)

I do PR on a part-time basis for the Cumbrian-based Paragon Vets. I’m currently producing a dvd to be played in their waiting rooms, which includes actuality of animals being treated, plus nurse clinics, hints and tips, bullet-point lists of advice – all sorts of stuff.  It’s quite a big project, which I know will be very time-consuming. Head-nurse Karen asked me the other day when I could have it ready. I started to mutter about having this to do and that to do and having to clear the decks first – but Karen cut right through the dither. ‘I need it done by the end of April,’ she said firmly. End of April it is then.

So now I’ve got the double whammy on this particular assignment. Not just a deadline – but one which has been made public on this blog. No pressure there then! I’ll let you know if I succeed – and feel free to crack the whip if you fear I might be slacking – or, worse still – lollygagging…




In praise of lollygagging…

No, not a Scottish word this time – at least, I don’t think so. In fact I actually thought it came from Cornwall or Somerset, but according to the dictionary, the origin is unknown – unless anyone can tell me otherwise. In any case I take an all-embracing approach to language. If I like a word, I’ll adopt it, don’t really care where it comes from. If this turns my vocabulary into a mishmash or a mongrel – so much the better!

Lollygagging is all too often used in a pejorative sense and I reckon that’s deeply unfair. It means to dawdle or to loiter aimlessly – or, my favourite definition of all and a word I like almost as much as lollygag itself – to footle. Now please – couldn’t we all do with a bit of footling in our lives?  What’s so wonderful about speed anyway? Why do we all have to rush about as though we only have seconds left before the world explodes?

I had a particularly lovely time lollygagging with my horse yesterday. It was a beautiful spring day, the sky was blue and the air was crisp and clear and I genuinely couldn’t have asked for anything nicer than just to go out meandering with my boy. We had no destination in mind and no set time to get there, so we footled along just enjoying the birdsong and the quiet country roads.

Which brings me nicely to the Sunshine Award so kindly presented to me by my friend and fellow blogger Ros Gemmell ( In accepting this award I am commanded to list five things that make me happy…

1/ Well, I’ve just told you one of them – lollygagging with my horse definitely comes right at the top of the list.

2/ Seeing my daft dog Dixie hurtling towards me, overwhelmed with joy because we’re back together again.

3/ Listening to my husband sing – he is a musician and singer and I know I’m biased, but I think he’s ace! 

4/ That moment of starting to read a new book and knowing within the first few sentences that it’s going to be fantastic. The most recent one to fall into that category is ‘Me Before You’ by JoJo Moyes. A beautiful book – highly, highly recommended.

5/ That moment of sitting down to write and actually feeling the words flow freely. Doesn’t happen often – but when it does…oh glory!

6/ I know you’re only allowed five, but it’s my blog so nyah! I’m not much of a one for fashion – but I have developed a bit of a pash for high-heeled shoes, especially the ankle boot type. When you wear shoes like that, somehow you just can’t help but strut your stuff baby!

(Thanks to jdurham on morguefile for this pic.)