Ana gets home. Puts baby to bed. Has dinner. Calls Hermi who doesn’t pick up. He is in a big pitch creative review. The pitch is in less than 72 hours.
Hermi calls Ana back from an Uber. She answers, whispering so as not to wake the baby. What will they do about this article they are due to write for Campaign? Correction: were due to write. The deadline was six days ago and they missed it.
They had more than two weeks to do it. Where did the time go? No time to wonder. They must get on with it. What will they talk about? Independence? Gender equality? Ageism? These sound like hot topics but all of them would require time to craft.
"Shit, what could we write about?"
"Time! Obviously," Ana shouts.
Baby stirs in his bedroom but thankfully goes back to sleep straight away. Time. The precious bendy thing that we never seem to have enough of.
"And that’s why we must talk about it, especially when we’re running out of it," she concludes.
Finally home, Hermi cooks his dinner. Ana goes through her second dessert of the night.
"Sleep on it. Time will tell. Give it the overnight test," Ana thinks as she sleepwalks to bed.
Hermi ploughs through the article. Pitch thoughts going through his head. Mustn’t lose focus now.
Ana has been asleep for half-an-hour. Baby for almost four. It’s a miracle. Hermi dozes off for a couple of minutes but picks himself up quickly.
"Can’t fall asleep now. Must keep going."
Creativity. That’s the whole point of this piece.
Time = creativity. No time = no creativity.
Craft cannot be rushed. An idea is not had in a minute or two. At least not a good one. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The clichés keep pouring in. But all feel true. Especially at this time of night. The pitch is the day after tomorrow. He falls asleep on his laptop.
Baby wakes up for his first feed of the night.
Baby wakes up for his second feed. Or is this the third? Everybody, including the baby, lost count.
Baby wakes up for good. Ana wakes up for good.
Ana wakes Hermi up. "Your nephew was born an hour ago."
He thinks it’s a dream. He sends a WhatsApp message to his sister.
Ana picks the article back from Hermi. Types on her phone with one hand, holds breastfeeding baby with the other.
"How can we ever get anything done like this? A presentation every other day. A deck every week. A pitch every month.
"What happened to nurturing ideas, letting them flourish, giving them time to breathe?
"Have we just given up being great a couple of days late to being good on time?"
Hermi plays with baby in living room. He texts the pitch team: "I’ll be there in an hour-and-a-half. Have to finish the article."
"Remember that time we had a couple of weeks to come up with those ideas for a juice brand? Wasn’t that lovely? Still some of the best ideas we’ve ever had."
Baby says a complex new word but Mum and Dad fail to hear it.
Time to leave. Piece not finished. Hermi reads what Ana has written as they walk to the station, at pace.
On the train. Hermi gets his laptop out. Must finish this before the meetings start. He gets a call from the agency’s PR director.
"They are chasing me, man. What time can you guys get this done by?"
He turns to Ana: "Have you got a mint? I didn’t have time to brush my teeth this morning."
As she looks through her handbag for a pack of mints, Hermi gets lost in his thoughts.
"What if I just stay on this train until the end of the line? Maybe all my deadlines will go away."
"Found one. How many words?" Ana says animatedly.
"680," Hermi replies dejectedly.
Ana has the computer now. She worries that the article doesn’t mention everything that they wanted to talk about. Like having idle time to let ideas spring up spontaneously. Having time to fill up their brains with mindless things. She also worries that the article might not be original enough. Or too self-indulgent.
They both wish there was some time to craft it. Give it the overnight test once more. Show it to someone else. Break it apart and build it back up again. But there’s no time. 809 words. That’s too many words. No time to edit. Must send now.
Ana and Hermeti Balarin are the executive creative directors at Mother London