Monday, 30 January 2012


It's a funny thing, time. It's possibly the thing shared out between mankind more equitably than any other. We all have exactly the same number of seconds in a minute, minutes in an hour and hours in a day. Doesn't matter how rich or how poor you are, you just can't alter the fact that you have 24 hours in a day and the poorest man in town has just as many as you.

Some of us are slaves to time. I like to think I'm not one of those poor saps, but I'm not entirely sure. I mean, I wear a wristwatch and it's not unknown for me to check the time as I leave the house in the morning to take the dog for a walk. At least I no longer have to feel tied to leaving the house at a set time in order to catch the train so as to be at my desk etc etc. But surely now that I am retired I don't need to get out of bed at the same time every morning? Now I'll admit it - I don't. I do use an alarm clock but it's one of those with a snooze button - and I make shameless use of said button!

(And there's something that strikes me as odd. That snooze button means that the alarm will sound again a little later. But why is the chosen interval nine minutes? It seems such a peculiar length of time. Why not ten minutes?)

I made a little too much use of it yesterday morning. Sunday mornings are special. I can lie in a little but I do like to have eaten breakfast and done the washing up in time to get out on the streets before most people are out and about. There's something special about being the only person on the street while the birds are still enjoying themselves with the fag end of the dawn chorus (it seems to go on for at least two hours) and the street lights are yawning themselves to sleep. "Out before the streets have been aired," as my old granny would have said. It also means that there are no cars being driven around. One downside is that as I come back home, somebody in one of the houses I pass is cooking bacon!

The there is a peculiar knack I have of being able to tell the time within about five minutes either way. It might have been hours since I last looked at a watch or clock, but I seem to be able to say something like, "It's about five and twenty past seven" and find that the time is indeed somewhere between twenty past and half past seven.

(Another little diversion. Did you notice I wrote "five and twenty past seven" just then? "Five and twenty" is an archaic way of saying "twenty-five" - in times past people would have said , for example, "four and thirty" - hence the nursery rhyme about four and twenty blackbirds. Nowadays the only time it is said is when talking of 25 minutes past or to the hour.)

One of my little foibles is that I hate to be late. If I am not five minutes early for an appointment, then I am late. It really doesn't matter what the appointment is or how firmly the time is arranged, I have to be at the appointed place five minutes before the appointed time. For instance, I might arrange with fellow Lions to meet at about ten o'clock to set up, say, the book fair. Now it really doesn't matter if people turn up ten minutes before ten or ten minutes after, as far as I am concerned the time is engraved on tablets of stone and I have to be there at five minutes before the hour arranged.

I am well aware that this is a foible I take to extreme lengths. We are due to go to France and are booked on a particular train through the tunnel. I know full well that if we arrive at the terminal a little late we will be switched to the next available train. I also know that if we are early we might, just might, be offered a slot on an earlier departure. But that is not something I am thinking about when I fix the time we should leave home. I know how long the drive is, and I add half an hour in case of a puncture or heavy traffic. I have never suffered either, but I console myself by saying there's bound to be a first time.

As I was saying earlier, we all of us, rich or poor, have the same amount of time at our disposal. What is important is what we do in that time. And what's important to me right now is that it's time for coffee.

Cheerio for now. I'll be back tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

What time tomorrow?

Throw away that watch.

I stopped wearing one when I moved to France and only put it back on if I have to go to England.

We eat when we're hungry and sleep when we're tired...we've learnt, after all those years of living by the clock, to be feckless.

Try it in France, you might enjoy it.


stephen Hayes said...

I hate to be late but can't convince myself to wear a watch. I'm usually on time, though.

Buck said...

If I am not five minutes early for an appointment, then I am late.

Heh. We used to have this sayin' in the Air Force: "If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late. And if you're late, you're (F-word variant)." That's stayed with me all these years and I STILL live by it. This is also one of the things that drove me absolutely BONKERS in my civilian career: the cavalier attitude most of my co-workers and even management had towards time. Any given meeting that was scheduled for, say, 0900 hrs NEVER began until 0915, at the very earliest. I found that unacceptable.

I don't own an alarm clock any longer. I sleep until I wake up and I like that. I've also advised all of my health care providers that I do not, under ANY circumstances, "do" morning appointments. If I happen to need an alarm I can always use my cell phone...

Lastly... the battery in my watch died two weeks ago and I'm in the process of trying to train myself to live without the watch. Which is harder than one might think!

The Broad said...

When my husband retired from the RAF he stopped wearing a watch. Instead he asks me for the time and has this thing about clocks in every room! Since I am diabetic it is important for me to eat a regular times and I find I need to watch the time or I lose track of it fast! I wake up very early -- 4.30 or 5.00 and have some breakfast and stay up for a few hours before going back for a few hours -- usually.

Brighton Pensioner said...

SP - we do tend to do that when in France, but can you suggest how we might synchronise our stomachs?