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A matter of time

Short Story (2,250 words)

A down-and-out tries to sell the narrator a watch. He tells of a smuggling scheme involving a theatrical agent, Chris Selby, who made occasional trips to Paris, filling his car with watches on the return leg, and how it was finally exposed.

This has turned out to be the most often reprinted of Canning's stories, appearing at least ten times in prose and once as a strip cartoon. It has been on the reading list of at least one American school syllabus.

On 14 October 1958 at 22.45 it was featured on BBC Television in Personal Playhouse as "The Man who Hated Time", with Bernard Braden.


Evening Standard, 16 August 1950.
Reprinted in the Evening Standard Detective Book, Second Series, Victor Gollancz, 1951.
Reprinted as "Timepiece" in Argosy, May 1951.
Reprinted as "A matter of timing" in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, December 1952.
Reprinted as "A matter of timing" in New Liberty (US), January 1953.
Reprinted as "The man who hated time" in This Week's short stories—Fifty masterful stories, ed. Stewart Beach, New York, Random House, 1953.
Reprinted as "The man who hated time" in John Bull and Everybody's, 10 August 1957.
Reprinted as "The man who hated time" in Australian Women's Weekly, 16 April 1958.
Reprinted as "The man who hated time" in Stories to Surprise You, Collier-Macmillan English Readers, 1964.
Included in comic strip form in "The Three Riddles", Super Detective Library No 106, 1957.

Included in the now discontinued collection Crime and Detection, edited by John Higgins,, 2010.
Included in the collection The Aberdyll Onion and other mysteries, Farrago Books, 2020.