And Alex Said: Procrastinate

1 November 2002

Column 4: Procrastinate, 1st November 2002

Why go to the effort of doing something today, when you can safely put it off until tomorrow and spend today happily vegetating, drinking beer and wallowing in your own filth? Who knows, you could be decapitated by a stray Frisbee tomorrow, and you’re not going to be thanking yourself for spending your last day alive doing Problem Sheet 18 then, are you?

If a new form of life evolves from a piece of leftover pizza, multiplies rapidly and sends an army of giant killer lobsters to take over London armed with garden forks, and then, as one of the foul-breathed, large-pincered pink crustaceans grabs you by the throat, will your last words, as he jabs those three prongs into your spine, be “Thank god I handed that lab report in early”?

Probably not. No, my advice is just to put off whatever you can for as long as possible. And keep a large pan of water always on the boil. You never know when the lobsters will come.

When they do come, hopefully it will be in the afternoon. Mornings are just too painful. What fool decided the working day should begin at 9am? If some bastard timetables a lecture for 9am, that means I have to leave the house at 8.10, and if I’m going to be ready to go, fully prepared, clean, fresh, fragrant and dressed before I leave, that means I have to get out of bed at 8.07. That’s at least six hours before a man should naturally wake, and the results can clearly be seen in lectures.

At school, you were told off for falling asleep in a lesson, and could expect to be on the receiving end of a well-aimed board rubber if you dozed off. But at university, you’re supposed to be mature enough to maintain consciousness throughout your education. Just like you’re supposed to be organised enough to get those problem sheets done without anybody having to check up on you. Carte blanche to do bugger all really. As students take advantage of their “responsibilities”, whole lecture theatres begin to resemble dormitories, or perhaps the scene of a carbon monoxide leak, with students unconscious on A4 pads and a man at the front shouting mad gibberish.

You know when you’re falling asleep and you get random sentences coming into your head? Well, maybe it’s just me, but if it’s 9am and you’re trying to write lecture notes, you have to be careful not to let the brain noise get in the way of what you’re supposed to be studying. If you’re not careful, you can end up writing notes like “In time t, if an energy E is transferred to the man standing on the brick goalpost with his battered, gelatinous hand clenched around a whale’s kidney, the conjecture is true for all k.” That’s not much help come revision time – you can’t write that in an exam. Perhaps I should have done a Philosophy degree. Then maybe nobody would notice.