Every morning in my office at 10.00hrs (ZULU) all the journalists in the office assemble in a meeting room to discuss the schedule for the day. We call it the Story Meeting, elsewhere on other publications they call this Conference (note no “the” or “a”, just “Conference”). It’s at these gatherings where ideas are tossed around and discussed and the magazine/website takes shape. Now I say “all” our journalists attend these 10.00 meets—they do eventually—but there is one guy who never EVER manages to make a 10am start. He bowls up at 10.04, 10.07, sometimes he even gets as close as 10.02 but never does he make it in for 10.00. Occasionally we meet at 12.00 and guess what? He can’t make those on time either. 12.10, 12.08— sometimes he doesn’t bother showing up at all! He’s not alone in this. Over the years we have had several serial offenders, those who struggle to make the trip from London to London for 10 o’clock. It can’t be that difficult, can it? A photographer once called me from his car saying he was going to be late for a 10 o’clock assignment cos the traffic on the M25/M4 junction was heavy. At 9.30 in the morning. Really??????? YOU CABBAGE!!!! After reading him his life story and suggesting he might have thought of getting up earlier to beat the traffic (if you’re an hour early for a job, you can go get a cup of coffee) I pulled the line on him. Never employed him again.
I hate being late. If I am ever late for anything I get all anxious, sweaty and nervy. I’m anal— at least that’s what I think the ex-wife called me. If a party invite reads “8 til late” I turn up at 8 o’clock —and more often-than-not 7.45. That’s not because I want to get there before the booze runs out (honest), it’s just because I treat tardiness as an insult to the host, and therefore when people are late on me I tend to get a wee bit peeved. Of course none of us can ever be on time for everything, but repeat offenders don’t cut much ice with yours truly. And everyone will know one of these types. You will all have mates or couples who are always late for appointments/drinks/meals/concerts etc. They leave you hanging around at the bar, outside the cinema or in an eaterie for minutes even hours. And they do it every time you arrange to meet, AND YOU STILL TRUST THEM TO TURN UP ON TIME THE NEXT TIME!!! They all do the same trick of gigling when they finally arrive, laughing it off “oh sorry, I fell asleep, tee hee”, “sorry, mate, the cab was late, ha ha” “have you been waiting long? Jesus you look pissed, snigger”etc etc . Well I don’t think it’s funny. I think it’s fucking rude!
Late is very rarely a good thing: A late tackle in soccer or rugby is never to be condoned (unless you’re a South African, apparently); If your girlfriend tells you she’s “late” that usually focusses the mind; The Late Michael Jackson, doesn’t cheer a lot of people up; Andy Murray looked cream-crackered after his match went on late into the night; the US turned up late for the last two World Wars (been nice and early ever since though) and my postman seems to have swapped his morning delivery for one in the late afternoon. On the other hand if you get a “late one” in a pub, you’ve had a result!. But in general, late bad, early good.
So we come to Andrew Flintoff. Master bowler, intimidating batsmen and an all-round piss-head. He turned up late the other day for a bus which was taking the England team to a bonding session as part of their build-up to the Ashes. Apparently there had been a players’ “dinner” the night before and Andy felt a little “tired” in the morning so missed the bus. He has previous with this type of thing and it’s getting worrying for us fans, annoying for the coaches and staff. A hangover is a self-inflicted injury, and not an excuse to miss work, whatever you do for a living. It’s definitely not the sort of thing you should be sporting a week before you face the Aussies in the series of all series. If you wanna go out and play in the pub on a school night then you have to face the consequences of feeling like shit in the morning. But GET INTO WORK whatever happens. I myself am not adverse to the odd one of a midweek evening, but whatever state I get into, I make it into work the following day and I expect others to do the same. The worse thing that could happen to me is that I stick all the photos for the magazine in upside down. A hungover or off-form Flintoff could LOSE US A TEST MATCH!!!!!!! For Christ’s sake !!!!
A worrying line that came out of official England channels was that Flintoff “working very hard to avoid issues fuelled by drink.” I put it to you, yer honour, that if you have to “work very hard” at not getting pissed you really do have a problem. I’m sure I must know lots of people who don’t have to work hard not to have a drink, I just can’t think of any at the moment. So enough, already. Come on, Andy, knock it on the head for a few weeks. Yes we all wanna laugh at you, rat-arsed, walking down Downing Street at the end of the summer, but try to keep the cork in the bottle until you’ve given the Strines a mauling. It’s really much more important than going on the piss.
I don’t believe I just typed that.