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There is nothing like a deadline for spurring one into action. As someone whose life has been measured by deadlines, daily, weekly, monthly, annually, and at one stage hourly, I have come to respect them, fear them, and recognize their worth.

A deadline that must be met keeps one energized. Consequences of failure to meet it can be horrendous or slight, depending on the task at hand. Others may be dependent on the deadline being met. Reaction may range from peevishness to all out rage. Excuses, no matter how well founded, are summarily dismissed. Each potential cause for delay should have been foreseen and measures taken to prevent it.

There is, moreover, the sense of self-guilt, the knowledge that, if one had been more attentive, delay could have been avoided.

Once upon a time, and it was a long time ago, I was faced with a deadline that was relentlessly drawing nearer and nearer, like the oncoming train to the hapless Vera as she lay tied to the train tracks where the villain had left her.

Those unfamiliar with that dramatic episode may spend some fruitful time searching for it on the Internet. Who knows what else may tickle their fancy as they hunt with the aid of various search engines. They might even find something useful, such as the contention that the financial policy of the Peruvians once rested in part on the number of goats in the country.

Anyone addicted to the Internet knows how one link can lead to another, and another, until all remembrance of the original search is forgotten, just as the subject of deadlines has become blurred in the foregoing meandering.

It was a deadline that had to be met for a column in a weekly newspaper, and there was nothing to fill it. The blank sheet of copy paper-we still used paper in those days-bred an equal blankness in the brain. Nothing came to mind.

Time ticked by. Still nothing.

The pen-yes, we still used pens in those days-real honest to goodness pens, fountain pens, filled with real ink from real ink bottles-Quink ink or Swan's ink, it didn't matter which-the pen somehow twitched, and its nib went dot, dot, dot on the blank page. Just like this. . . .

Like a modern-day Chesterton I was inspired. I wrote about the three dots. What I wrote I forget. It really was a long time ago. But the whole point was that the deadline was met. Which neatly returns us to the sentence at the beginning of this effusion:

"There is nothing like a deadline for spurring one into action."

With a blank computer screen staring me in the face, and the deadline for the July issue of this e-zine rapidly bearing down, miraculously memory recalled that earlier incident which can now be shared with readers all over the planet.

Truly the Internet is a fabulous thing. . . .


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