In the midst of the BBC's increasingly annoying Alan Bennett season, here's a true story that seems to have something of the tang of a Bennett diary entry.
I came home on the 76 bus tonight sitting behind a young man who had a tiny little laptop computer perched on his knee. I confess I couldn't resist peeking over his shoulder to see what he was typing. It was a brainstorming list of his accomplishments and shortcomings, being prepared I suspect in advance of a job interview or annual review. He had good communication skills, he thought; but time management was sometimes a problem..., and so on. As time went by, it seemed the register of negatives was getting longer and longer, with fewer positives to balance them. He went running every morning, for example, but often "underperformed". These disappointments piled up for a while until, eventually, his confidence seemed to desert him entirely and he closed the lid of his computer.
A couple of minutes went by, during which he seemed deep in thought and a little agitated. Finally, he opened up the computer again, went straight back to the same document, and I watched over his shoulder as he typed: "How did Hitler get things done?"