Just a Minute


Of the many delightful discoveries I’ve made since moving to England 15 years ago, one of the best has to be Just a Minute. It’s one of those radio shows that’s been going since the late 60s and only the BBC could have commissioned it. Hosted by the funniest straight man ever, Nicholas Parsons, the premise is that panel members have to speak on a topic given to them for a full minute ‘without hesitation, repetition or deviation’.  Other panellists can interrupt and challenge you if you fall foul of one of these rules, and then the subject goes over to them. It’s a fast-paced half hour that I really recommend listening to.

However, this isn’t a blog about comfortingly banal game shows which are now the panacea for our troubled times. This is a blog about raising twins.

I used to be irritated whenever random passers-by would look at my double buggy and just say ‘double trouble’ and walk off chuckling to themselves as if they were the first person to realise that those two words rhyme. Honey, you’re not even close. Aside from being terribly mundane, it also felt weirdly insulting. You don’t know me; you don’t know my kids…

But as they have reached the 16-month mark and as their walking is starting to give way to running, often in opposite directions, I’m beginning to think that there’s something to this whole ‘double trouble’ concept.

I am also acutely aware of time now in a way I wasn’t before. All the necessary but boring tasks that used to take almost no time at all are suddenly deeply urgent and need to be fitted in between preventing catastrophes.

Here is a selection of things that I can now do in a minute.

–        Unload roughly one third of a dishwasher

–        Sort laundry, load and turn on the washing machine

–        Hang out approximately 10 socks and 15 baby grows

Here is a selection of things that my children can do in a minute

–        Carefully select then remove the sharpest knife in the dishwasher and run away from me screaming with hysterical (maniacal) laugher

–        Cover themselves in diaper rash cream – literally from head to toe requiring further laundry

–        Remove approximately 10 socks, 15 baby grows, and then topple the entire clothes  horse on their head

And as a bonus….

–        They can scream for about a minute without drawing breath. They are prodigies of circular breathing techniques

As far as I can tell the twins are a force for chaos and entropy. Their entire mission is to undo what I’ve done… which leaves me often sitting on the floor of the kitchen wondering what the hell is the point of laundry and dishes and considering switching to disposable everything (dishes, cutlery, clothes etc).

Fortunately they can also cuddle for minutes at a time, which undoes all of the irritation (if not the mess) of the previous minutes.

Not for the first time I find myself acknowledging that it’s a good thing they’re so cute.



5 thoughts on “Just a Minute

  1. Your twins are adorable. My twins are now almost 9. Time flies! Maybe I can slow it down by better appreciating each minute and what I can do in that time. Great post.


  2. I love your writing. I love the rise and fall of your written cadence. These pieces are clean, enjoyable, and so authentic. Brava.


    1. Thanks Caitlin. That means a lot coming from someone who
      A) teaches writing
      B) sat through possibly 6 years of English classes with me!


  3. I agree with Caitlin.

    Also, I can’t even imagine the damage 2 can do. When Tomás was about that age, he found a brand new tube of diaper cream & covered the floor of his room with it. We had just installed hardwood floors in the house so I’ve never quite recovered from that episode.


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