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Short is sweet

Brevity isn’t always best


Bud, they've shortened everything, except for how long you work.

Wv bcm lk fleas... We can't think about any one subject for more than 30 seconds at a time, for fear of suffering from narcolepsy and being left behind, as the world careens away from us and leaves us stranded.

Years ago, when I started writing, articles had to be a minimum of 1, 000 words and books were only respectable at 1,00, 000 words. Today, exceed 700 and 40, 000 respectively and you're in trouble. In fact we've taken the chainsaw to everything. Movies, books, cricket matches, holidays, one-hour stands, marriages, name it.

Brevity is the soul of wit, they say. Like: most tweets are by twits?

Agreed, some things need to be shortened radically: the careers of politicians (since they've considerably shortened the time it takes them to become multi-millionaires once they come into power) and the length of the questions journalists ask at press conferences.

But it can also take the joy out of thinking deep and waffling, which often is the same thing. I enjoy wallowing in my books (the ones I write, not the ones I read of course - you can't stand anyone else going on and on ad nauseam), getting deep into the intricacies and complexities of the characters, and reveling in the rapid-fire ping-pong of firework dialogue. The manuscripts would come back from the publishers, hacked - but here's the thing - I often wouldn't notice it at all and think, 'Wah! What a wonderful writer I am!' Until I saw the original again. . . So I've compromised - I wallow and wax eloquent and enjoy, they hack and cut and everyone's happy.

But some things need to remain of respectable length. Vacations for example;I fail to understand how people go on three-day holidays to far-off places and come back 'refreshed' and 'rested' and 'raring to go'. You should not go to a place, but wait for the place to come to you. And that takes time. Ah, but leave has become shorter, no one gives you more than ten days off in a year. Do I smell a rather big rat here? While everything's getting shorter look at working hours.

Employers expect you to slog 18-20 hours a day and be on call (those wretched smart-ass phones) round the clock. Bud, they've shortened everything for you - including your lifespan - except for how long you slave for them. Sure, they may pay humongously, but where's the time to enjoy the money? The best you can do is to buy yourself a Lamborghini or Hayabusa and that will certainly shorten your lifespan.

Cricket matches are down to three hours...and this has been done to a 'gentleman's game! Five-day test matches are not about cricket - they are about deep philosophy and are a microcosm of life and you might even deign to clap when someone actually hits the ball. Sure, I love T 20 - you go bananas for three hours but then what? The bubble goes pop, so the organisers blow another soap bubble . . . another one and another one... How vacuous can you get?

And yes, the proponents of 'short is sweet' will say: Life is short, there are a million things you can cram into it and enjoy so naturally everything gets a smaller share of time. You have to kick the whole damn bucket list.

But I really wonder what would have happened if people like say Einstein had flipped their brilliant minds from one idea to another like a whirligig beetle in a pond, rather than grimly getting down to prove e=mc2. Champions in any discipline have to put in hours and hours of deathly grind. The message is clear: if you want to excel, you have to put in the hours. Long ones. Like, you think, the little boy and author of this short story must have done but probably didn't:


Once there was a lion


He ate everyone up


Then he ate himself up
The End.

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