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Sign of the times: Early Bird Catches A Nap

One of the central struggles of our relationship is that she's a do-it-now person and I'm a do-it-later-on-if-not-avoid-it-altogether type of guy. I should have specified it in the ad: waster wanted for long-term relationship with view to marriage.

I don't like to plan, whereas she has a file labelled "Retirement homes". There's probably a list somewhere headed "Cremation vs. burial". "It's the early bird that catches the worm," she says. "Strike while the iron is hot!"

"Haven't you heard of second-mover advantage?" I reply from the couch. "And since you're so fond of proverbs, how about this? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." I can't think of any more proverbs, so I tell her about some new research from Sweden which shows that getting a good start on the day usually ends up with the amputation of a limb. Now don't get me wrong. This could be viewed as laziness, but that would be to miss the point altogether. Doing nothing is a legitimate choice. Consider, if you will, the current state of the economy. You can't help feeling that if our elected leaders actually sat on their hands and did absolutely nothing, at the very least things wouldn't get any worse. Chances are they'd improve dramatically. Why not leave the iron unstruck and the worm uncaught just once, if only to see what would happen?

And anyway, there are all kinds of things that belong on the long finger -- cleaning gutters, repainting the downstairs bathroom, going to the dentist, feeding the fish, getting fit. "Your finger is so long," she says, "you don't need the remote anymore."

Driving long distances generates all sorts of arguments. She'll lean across from the passenger seat and say: "Better stop for petrol."

"Get out of it," I say, "We've quarter of a tank at least." So we sail past three or four petrol stations, then the light comes on. I pretend to be all blasé about it. "Don't mind that light," I tell her. "We've loads of petrol left. Those lights are put there as part of a big conspiracy between the oil and car industries. There was a exposé on Primetime." We've never actually run out of fuel, but there are days when it's come close. The other big issue with being in the car is that I don't like to hurry, while she sits in the passenger seat twitching, and 14-year-old cars driven by retirees sail past us as if we're standing still. "Don't know why we wasted money on a fourth gear," she mutters.

"Haste makes waste," I say. "Slow down. Arrive alive. The more hurry, the less speed."

"I've got one for you." She says. "Marry in haste, repent at leisure."

"We hardly got married in haste, did we?"

"You can say bloody that again," she says. "Longest bloody engagement in history."

She's still muttering when we get there.

"Look," I tell her, "you're alive aren't you?"

"Yeah, but I've aged about ten years."

The good thing is that because I tend to be late and she tends to be early, we usually arrive at things bang on time. She can be devious though. I recently twigged that she pretends things are on earlier than they are, just to get me out of the house. "What time is that flight again?" I ask, eyeing the long queue of cars behind me in the mirror.

"12 o'clock," she says, staring straight ahead.

"Oh yeah? Show us the tickets."

"They're ... in the boot." She tightens her grip on her handbag.

When we get there, it turns out to be 12.30pm. I eye her sidelong: "Woman, have you been lying to me?"

Obsessive planners don't plan because it's the sensible thing to do; they'll make out they're genetically superior and at a more advanced evolutionary stage than the rest of us, but the truth is they plan for the same reason that rabbits dig holes and dogs bark and fish swim around in circles wondering what the hell happened to the food. That's simply the way they're made. Suppose the world were a perfect place, where chocolate didn't make you fat and there was limitless shoe storage and robot butlers catered for your every whim. She'd still have a plan of action, and it would probably involve repainting something.

Probably the downstairs effin' bathroom.