The Final (Weekday Without) Countdown

Nick Hewer: A man in need of a holiday, apparently.

Nick Hewer: A man in need of a holiday, apparently.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m writing I have to have a routine.  It probably comes of having spent the last 13 years working in an office. My routine is very simple, and it goes like this:

– get up with the alarm at an undisclosed but regular hour (I am not a morning person – I’d go so far as to say that being alert and lively in the morning is unnatural and wrong);

– eat breakfast, usually toast – I don’t really want to eat, but I have some vague idea that this will make me more productive and besides, it feels like a luxury because I never ate breakfast when I was at work;

– do my daily ablutions, and then take myself off to my writing spot where I stay until lunchtime.

Now here, I have a little variation depending on how things are going (bear with me – this is important). If the words are flowing nicely, I’ll eat lunch at a normal hour; if I’m finding myself staring for ten minutes together at that bloody cursor blinking away, I’ll make myself wait until I’ve reached the 1,000 words mark before I eat (I should say, this is first draft stage, so I’m trying not to worry too much whether they’re 1,000 good words, just as long as they vaguely move my plot along and resemble English as we know it).

I promised you this was important and here’s why: what time I eat lunch in turn determines whether I can justify a tea break for Countdown at it’s usual time of 3.10pm, whether I wait for the C4+1 showing an hour later, or whether I end up using it as an end-of-day reward with catch-up TV.  Whatever happens though, Countdown must feature.

So you can imagine my horror at the end of Monday’s show – another centenary-busting display from the infuriating but magnificently named current champion, Xarte Siempre – when presenter Nick Hewer oh-so-casually mentioned that there would be no more Countdown this week because of the racing. The RACING.

Apparently, it’s Goodwood or somesuch this week.

I mean, really – who cares?

Surely the only people who actually watch horse racing are the owners, who are down at the racecourse anyway; or those taking a flutter on the outcome, who can just as easily watch it glued to the tellies in Ladbrokes or wherever, clutching their betting slips in their sweaty paws and bellowing at the screen in anxious camaraderie with their fellow punters? I ask you, is this sufficient reason to drive a coach and horses, as it were, through my writing routine?

Bleedin’ Nick Hewer even had the temerity to suggest that the break was a good thing because he and his chums had the chance to enjoy a holiday.  I only hope he can sleep at night.

I won’t tell you how hard it’s been. Suffice it to say there’s a bit of a rash and my fingernails have seen better days.  Thank God today is the last day before we are restored to order on Monday, when the aesthetically pleasing Dan Walker is in Dictionary Corner. I think we can all agree that’s a major improvement from the days of Giles Brandreth.

Well, I suppose they had to do something to make it up to us.

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