Within each day, it seems, Jermaine Pennant lives an entire life. He is 23, supremely talented, and has crammed more into his variegated existence than most people three times his age.
And if that is part of his attraction, it is also part of his problem.
The irony was rich this week when, a year to the day since he was cast unceremoniously into prison for driving offences, he was photographed being thrown out of a Birmingham nightclub.
It would not have mattered much except that Pennant has the fortune - or, one might say, the misfortune - to be a Premiership player.
When your name is Jermaine Pennant, you cannot switch the spotlight off, even if you wanted to. Alas, he is no longer famous for what made him famous in the first place, and that is as much Birmingham City's problem as his.
For sheer ability, he is one of the best three players, along with Trevor Francis and Christophe Dugarry, in the club's history but that does not make him immune from the kind of trouble that has dogged his career.
Steve Bruce, the Birmingham manager, wishes that Pennant could play like a superstar and live like a monk but that, alas, is fanciful. Pennant cannot be what he is not. Besides, if he was a monk, he would still be playing for Arsenal - and probably for England.
Bruce knew who he was signing when he took Pennant on loan from Arsenal in January 2005. Bruce knew that there was a possible prison sentence to come. It is to Birmingham's credit that they have stuck by the player, at a time when many other clubs would have washed their collective hands off the player.
Pennant was sentenced to three months in prison for driving offences and served four weeks before his release on March 31, 2005. He returned to the Premiership, wearing a tag on an ankle, and the centre of attention.
And that was when the fiction took on a life of its own.
In court, it was said of Pennant that he grew up in "one of the worst estates" in Nottingham, which may be true, except that it is barely relevant. The court also heard that Pennant had "intermittent" schooling, but I have found him to be bright and eloquent, certainly as astute as most men of his age.
It helps that he is well advised by his club and his agent but Pennant can articulate himself without outside influence.
"I didn't need the prison gates to shut to realise the seriousness of what I'd done," Pennant said. "But the loss of your freedom is a terrible thing. All those things you take for granted are taken away and you have a lot of time to sit and think. I've learnt from it and grown up. I admitted what I'd done and know it was wrong, but I think everyone deserves a second chance."
Pennant is right about that. What he has not said, in public at least, is that he should be given a third chance, a fourth chance, a fifth . . .
Birmingham will give him that flexibility because they recognise his talent, he qualities as a human being, and a background that has clearly shaped his character. And Bruce has not yet lost patience.
"Jermaine has to learn to make a change in his life," Bruce said this week. "It has been all blown up, but he can't be prancing around Broad Street at two and three in the morning. There are too many who will take advantage of that.
"He has to learn. There's John Terry [Chelsea defender], who got in a few scrapes in his life but now is captain of his club and thought of as a captain of his country.
"We will continue to help Jermaine and make sure he lives his life properly and if he does that, the world's his oyster."
What a world. What an oyster. And what a player.
Pennant has been making an impression - good and bad - since, as a 15-year-old, he first attracted the interest of Arsenal. He was playing for Notts County but, by his 16th birthday, had outgrown his hometown club. He signed for Arsenal in 1999.
He started his first Premiership match for Arsenal in May 2003, scored a hat-trick against Southampton, yet somehow ended up joining Leeds United on loan.
In February 2004, Pennant was handed a 16-month driving ban for an illegal U-turn in central London. In January 2005, on the day he joined Birmingham on loan, he was again arrested and charged with drink-driving, driving while disqualified, and driving while uninsured after propelling his Mercedes Benz into a lamp post in Aylesbury. It was not the wisest career move.
Birmingham handled the affair brilliantly and, for the most part, have given Pennant the environment in which his talent can flourish.
He has been the grateful recipient but the World Cup will come too soon. He is unlikely to secure a place in the England squad by May, partly because the midfield is already congested, but mainly because his behaviour is not deemed to be conducive to the disciplines of international football.
Of course, the same things were being said of Paul Gascoigne before the 1996 European Championships, but that was in the days when England had a head coach - Terry Venables - who was happy to take risks.
Sven-Goran Eriksson is more prone to playing it safe, which is bad news for the likes of Pennant but good news for less talented players such as Owen Hargreaves.
But England might be the least of Pennant's concerns. Keeping on the straight and narrow might be more of a challenge. Then, perhaps, he will fulfil his potential.
Liverpool, whose problems on the right of midfield are well documented, are known to be keen on Pennant but they, like Eriksson, are not sure if the player is worth the risk.
Bruce knows that Pennant is worth the risk. That is why, late last season, he signed the player on a permanent basis from Arsenal for #3 million.
Bruce is good at reviving the fortunes of troubled players. He knows that Pennant would never have been available at such a price had their not been some baggage to come as part of the deal.
Birmingham supporters should bear that in mind and so, too, should Bruce.
Socialising in Broad Street in the early hours of the morning is not the wisest course of action for a Premiership player but Pennant could claim, with some justification, that he has been one of Birmingham's best players this season.
Besides, having your photograph taken while you are being thrown out of a nightclub is a public-relations issue rather than a football issue - so long as it does not affect performances on the pitch.
It is unfortunate that Pennant's human qualities are often ignored. Once, I asked him for an interview and he agreed on the condition that I waited until he had spoken to the Match of the Day cameras. I did not expect Pennant to come back but he did. "I haven't forgotten," he said to me. I was impressed - and surprised. Few Premiership players would have done that.
The Birmingham fans will forgive Pennant if the team avoid relegation. If, however, they are playing Coca-Cola Championship football next season, Pennant might find it more difficult to explain away his behaviour.
We are not all made the same way. In Bruce's ideal world, everybody would be like Stephen Clemence: quiet, unassuming, mature, industrious, cordial, stable, reliable, friendly, pleasant. Everybody loves Clemence, and rightly so.
But we are not made the same way. We need our George Bests, our Paul Gascoignes, our Jermaine Pennants. We need the negative attention they provide. It is what makes football - and, therefore, life itself - so interesting and alluring. If we think otherwise, we fool ourselves.
Football is like a novel. The more colourful the characters, the better the story. If employing Pennant means accepting the odd bad headline, then so be it. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and, deep down, Bruce knows that. Reality dictates that we should make allowances for those who attract the less savoury aspects of life.
David Gold, the Birmingham chairman, has vowed to stick by Pennant. Birmingham have offered the player a car and a driver, to give him every opportunity to behave.
You see, Birmingham and Pennant need each other. They have the potential to flourish in each other's company.
Remember Pennant's performance for Birmingham during the 2-0 victory against Liverpool in February 2005? Has St Andrew's witnessed a better example of how a winger should play?
OK, maybe you would not want Pennant to chauffeur you around London - what an ordeal that would be - but you would happily have him in your team.
Yes, he is worth the hassle.