Thursday, 8 January 2009

Tempus Fugit

It's back to school this week for Sally and for Sarah. I assuage my guilt by trying to persuade myself that they both secretly enjoy it (actually, they do!) but I have to admit I'm not in the least bit envious. It's amazing how easily you can lose old habits, like watching the clock and - usually - panicking about what still needs to be done before the bloody bell rings.
Of course, we still have some fixed points in the day - the school run, for example. But even that's a little more relaxed now I don't have to hare across town on my bike the moment Sally's safely in her playground. Running my life according to the clock is something I would gladly never have to do again. And the luxury of not being governed by the iron dictat of industrial time makes the whole business seem so artificial. If Einstein was right, of course, then time can be flexible; it's all relative, as he liked to say. Charlie's coming up to his first birthday so a day for him is an enormous portion of his life. But as I get older, twenty-four hours passes in a flash! Sally measures the week in 'sleeps', counting down the nights before the next event. And Sarah is constantly checking her Teacher's Planner to see what day it is, and who she's got to teach.
I remember reading how in pre-industrial times not only would the sun (and moon) dictate the pattern of a day, but workers in the fields would listen for the local church bells ringing - not the hour - but to summon the faithful to the next religious office. Even the calendar is an imposition: January 1st this year was held up for a second, and yesterday - if you still follow the old Julian year - was Christmas Day! All of which helps justify our decision to keep the tree up after twelfth night this year - at least til Charlie's birthday!
And on the subject of the calendar, here's a question from my finals paper (many moons ago): 'How is it that a calendar - which has no moving parts - can, unlike a stopped clock, still record the passage of time?'
I did Philosophy!
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