Digested week: Bear Grylls’ opportunity clock is a kick in the beak to all night owls

<span>Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian


The annual Christmas gift negotiations with my husband have begun.

“What do you want for Christmas?” he asks.

“Buy me these earrings, please,” I say, showing him a photo on my phone and sending him the link. “I like them and I will wear them.”

He clicks on the link.

“Don’t look at the rest of the site,” I say. “Those are the earrings I like and will wear.”

“Do you like these?” he says, showing me earrings from elsewhere on the site.

“Yes, I do,” I say. “But I won’t wear them.”

“But you should if you like them.”

“You should just be looking at the earrings I like and will wear.”

“Do you like this other pair more?”

“Yes, in themselves. But I won’t wear them. Get me the pair I like and will wear.”

“But you should wear the pair you like more.”

“But I won’t.”

“What if I bought them for you?”

“I would not wear them. And every time I looked at them, I would be reminded of your inability to comprehend basic instructions, accede to my self-knowledge and desires, and thus your sense of entitlement and overwhelming arrogance in all things.”

It will be interesting to see what’s under the tree come Christmas morning, won’t it? And which of the presents I’ve got him I shall give in return. A sweater, or a decree nisi in a festive box.


Bear Grylls (a real person, not the name of the hero in a Colleen Hoover novel but give it time) has revealed – voluntarily, not under torture and nor were his family under threat – that he doesn’t call his alarm clock an alarm clock. He calls it an “opportunity clock”. I presume he is also one of those men who calls dieting “biohacking”, but the deeper darkness he has inadvertently professed is that he is a morning person. Moreover, a morning person who doesn’t have the decency to keep that fact to himself.

The tyranny of morning people is well established. Getting up at stupid o’clock to get a day’s meditation, admin, study for grade 8 cor anglais and work done by the time your competitors’ own non-opportunity clocks are going off is a staple of the self-help/improvement genre. But even among normal people there is an abiding sense that being up with the lark is a moral good.

To call an alarm clock going off as an opportunity clock is a kick in the beak to all night owls. We get stuff done, OK? We just don’t leap out of bed first thing to seize the overbright day. We come into our own later. You just don’t know this because you fools are back in bed by 9pm exhausted by your own enthusiasm. Pace yourselves. Life is a long game.

Prince William to the Princess of Wales: ‘Kate ... Kate? You know how Daddy’s king now? Well ... have we become giants?’
‘Kate ... Kate? You know how Daddy’s king now? Well ... have we become giants?’ Photograph: Samir Hussein/WireImage


Unesco has added the French baguette to its intangible cultural heritage … list? Idea of a list? Thought inside a brain spliced together from donors throughout the EU, that floats in a jar in Strasbourg?

I absolutely love the concept, anyway, however the constituent parts are recorded. What a brilliant idea, what a civilised notion, what a grace note to our existence, that we can recognise that it’s not just the Stonehenges and Acropolises of this world that make up a culture and are worth preserving but also askiya (the Uzbekistan art of wit), uilleann piping (Ireland) and tree beekeeping (Poland, Belarus).

So far on the list (it is a list), the UK has made a poor showing. I would ask that whatever prime minister we have by the time the next ICH committee meets to propose the following:

  • The actor Barbara Flynn.

  • The mental calibration and calculation of cash in hand plumbers’ fees according to perceived affluence and/or vulnerability of the customer.

  • The mutter of Thora Hird in Dinnerladies when she finds out Celia Imrie’s character hails from Surrey.

Thank you.


President Zelenskiy and King Charles III are nominated for Time magazine’s not-much-coveted-and-probably-even-less-so-when-people-see-the-latest-shortlist person of the year award.

Really? Really? A comedian who became the prime minister who became the leader of a country under a sustained and increasingly barbaric attack from their insane and brutal neighbour and who has marshalled his people and his forces into a response that has astonished the world is to be considered for the same award as a man who … is the oldest of four siblings? Lived longer than his mother? Didn’t befriend a paedophile like his brother? What? Time – you need a time out to consider this position.


Family conversation about Christmas presents begins.

Mum: I’ve bought you what I’m buying you. It’s mostly biscuits or sensible knickers. If my only grandson wants anything, anything at all, up to the price of £8m, and brought to him on Christmas morn by a host of angels let me know and I’ll sort it. Otherwise, I’ll be out caulking Catford if you need me. Make sure you don’t need me. And don’t buy me anything. I’ve not cleared the space.

My sister: I too have bought everything already. They are all perfect gifts, of items that you do not even know you need and in some cases do not even know exist, they will each transform your lives. You’re welcome. Here are 72 links to everything I’d like, arranged according to price, including discount codes and delivery charges. Choose one to three each, let me know what you’ve done, and I’ll update the spreadsheet accordingly.

Me: Dad, I have bought you books.

Dad: Oh, thank you. I have bought you books too.