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Angus man diagnosed with chronic lateness condition

By Michael Owens, 27 August 2013 3.00pm. Updated: 5.00pm.

Jim Dunbar has been late for everything.

Late for work, late for football matches, late for holidays.

He’s left women stood waiting on a first date, turned up to meals with friends hours after he should have and even arrived for funerals long after they’ve begun.

But the 57-year-old says that it isn’t his fault after his poor timekeeping was diagnosed as a medical condition — at a Ninewells hospital appointment he was half-an-hour late for.

Despite his chronic lateness diagnosis, Jim, who has spent most of his life living in Fintry, still struggles to arrive on time as he tackles the incurable condition.

Recently Jim, who now lives in Forfar, tried to go to the cinema. Knowing that it could be a problem getting to Dundee’s DCA for a 7pm show, he gave himself an 11-hour head-start.

He arrived 20 minutes late.

Dundee United fan Jim said: “I got up at 8.15am to go to a David Bowie film at the DCA that started at seven o’clock.

“That gave me 11 hours to get ready. I knew I was going there — and I was 20 minutes late.

“I get down about it and it’s disturbing for other folk when you arrive late.”

In his livingroom, the former Dundee City Council worker has a special clock that uses radio frequencies tuned to a national transmitter to make sure that the time it displays is always exactly right, down to the second.

It doesn’t help.

He has tried wearing a watch, setting his clocks fast and trying to arrive at places early, but still hasn’t found a solution.

He has had the problem all his life — he can remember being late for school at Longhaugh Primary as a five-year-old — and, until his diagnosis last year, blamed himself.

His family still don’t believe him. He said: “My family don’t believe it and think I’m making excuses.

“I’ve been late for funerals and slipped in and hid at the back of the hall.

“I arranged to pick my friend up at midday to go on holiday and was four hours late. He was furious because we had booked a ferry and everything.

“A friend invited me over for a meal and I was more than three hours late. He only lives in Whitfield.

“It has affected my entire life.”

Jim’s condition affects the same part of the brain as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and means that he cannot properly gauge how long things take. He says that consistently being late has caused him to lose dozens of jobs over the years.

Jim said: “The reason I want it out in the open is that there has got to be other folk out there with it and they don’t realise that it’s not their fault.

“I blamed it on myself and thought: ‘Why can’t I be on time?’. I lost a lot of jobs.

“I can understand people’s reaction and why they don’t believe me.

“It is really depressing sometimes. I can’t overstate how much it helped to say it was a condition.”