The fine art of procrastination

One of the many projects about which I am currently procrastinating is writing my autobiography. Now, before you turn away in disgust at such a crass display of vanity, let me hasten to add the intention is not to put a book on the best-seller shelf and cause Pierre Berton to look to his laurels. Heavens no.

My autobiography is mostly for a grandson named Evan who lives far away and whose mother thought he might some day be inquisitive to learn how the old goat lived his life. So I promised and about a year ago I installed in my PC the software for a biographical program called Echo Lake… and one of these days… really soon… I will begin.

Incidentally, for those with computers, there are many excellent programs available to serve the growing interest in becoming your own historian. A story in the August 1996 issue of CARPNews discussed various ways to chronicle your memories, resulting in a great deal of response from readers. But, whichever way you go — computer, typewriter, pen and paper, tape recorder or even video — don’t procrastinate.

I am also motivated by my personal disappointment at not having asked my own father more about himself and his youth. never knew his father — he died in Wales before my sire came to Canada. And, my maternal grandfather never got to tell me much about his early days as a shopkeeper in Buxton — largely because my grandmother did most of the talking. As well, his business having gone belly-up could have had something to do with his lack of enthusiasm for recalling memories.

As to the content of my own history — drawing on my vast experience — I will devote some space to the value of preparing oneself for a career.

Again, as is the case with so many men, a woman had a hand in it. Her name was Helen and she was… well, the word "outstanding" comes to mind. In my third year of high school I was faced with the choice of taking German or touch typing. This was 1949 and German was not a good choice unless one had ambitions to be a spy. Besides, I noted that the beauteous Helen was taking typing, so I flexed my fingers and set to it.

Years pass. The war is over and like thousands of others, I was pounding the pavement looking for a job. Having seen Clark Gable in a movie called The Hucksters, I favored the advertising game. Executives wore nice suits and had martini lunches. Alas, the ad world offered only closed doors. Growing more and more discouraged, I wound up cap in hand before the managing editor of the old Toronto Evening Telegram who fixed me with steely eyes and said he had three questions to ask:

Why did I want a job? Simple enough. I needed to eat.

Had I read any Shakespeare? I decided honesty was best, "Only as much as necessary", I replied.

And, finally, "Can you type?" I replied I was a crackerjack (we talked that way back then) and he hired me on the spot as a cub reporter covering the police beat at $l5 a week.

Now, more than half a century later, I am still typing — although not as well — and it has been a satisfying and often exciting way to make a living.

But what strange twists of fate life brings. If it had not been for the hormones of youth and the fine physical attributes of Helen, I wouldn’t be talking to you now. You may not see this as a blessing, but I certainly do. And worth including in my autobiography… if I ever get around to writing it.

The way I see it, anyway.