I'm a perfectionist. At least I thought I was until I looked up the word 'perfectionist' on the internet and discovered that they're all unbalanced compulsive workaholics constantly putting themselves through self-inflicted punishment. That's not me. I work with balance and realism, I can sometimes delegate things, and I'm not always the last person in the office at the end of the day. The kind of perfection I'm talking about isn't personal, but material.
My mobile phone is over a year old now, but it still looks virtually new. I've gone to extraordinary lengths over the last 14 months to try to keep my phone unscratched, unscuffed and undamaged. Every time I go out, my mobile sits in a pocket all by itself. No keys that might scrape across the screen, no loose change with sharp edges, no zips, no nothing. It's been a remarkably successful strategy. About the only way you can tell that my phone isn't new is that it's been superceded by at least five other models since I bought it. But then, this morning, I noticed a mark on my phone's glass screen. Nothing to worry about, they're usually just smudges that wipe straight off. Except that this one didn't rub off, not even with a bit of elbow grease. Nor even with a lot of elbow grease. What's more, this wasn't just one mark, it was two, each comprising more than one deep gash. Now, you probably wouldn't even notice them, but to me they stick out like a sore thumb. Every time I look at my phone from now on, particularly when the light's shining from the right/wrong angle, I'll just see the imperfection in the screen that used to be pretty-much still shop-perfect. And I'll wonder how on earth I could have let it happen.
As my family could tell you, one of the few things you could do that would actually really annoy me would be to find a piece of paper of mine and to fold it in half. In fact, you wouldn't even have to fold it in half, just a turned-up corner would do. I like my paper flat and uncorrupted. Woe betide anyone who makes my paper three-dimensional, be that intentionally or not. And as for books, I'm the sort of person who has to ensure that books still look like new even when I've finished reading them. I'd never break the spine of a book or fold it back on itself just to keep my place. And when I'm out buying books I never ever take the top one off the pile, oh no. Some paperback-sadist has probably been hanging round the shop reading that one, someone with grubby fingers who's indented the cover with thumb-sized folds. I have to take the copy behind the front one, or maybe the one behind that, just to make sure it looks good-as-new so I can keep it that way. I had to go four down the Radio Times pile in the newsagents tonight before I found a copy I was happy to take home. Obsessive compulsive? Maybe.
So, I guess that makes me a perfectionist after all. I wonder if it's time to buy a new phone. Or maybe I just need to develop a new set of personal priorities.