Sunday, 28 March 2010

Stop the clocks!

Well, did you remember? If not, and if you're reading this on Sunday morning, then you might need to be somewhere else. And if you've no idea what I'm going on about, then you're probably not here at all. In the UK, I mean.

Personally, I'm all in favour of putting the clocks on every year. An hour less in bed is nothing compared to the fact that, for a little while at least, Charlie wakes at a relatively civilised hour. We've had everything from 4.45 a.m. to the lazy heights of 0630 recently. But it all seems so much more manageable if the clock tells you it's an hour later. Yes, I know it's artificial - but so is time. Or at least, the way we choose to measure it. A year's not a year - that's why we have to have an extra day in February once in a while - and even the measurement of 24 hours leaves several seconds (if not a lot) to be desired. A little over a century ago we wouldn't have been changing clocks just twice a year, but several times a day if we were traveling by train. Indeed, it was only the advent of the railways that unified time in the United Kingdom. Before that - according to the sun (that's the golden orb, rather than the Murdoch rag) - the further west you went the earlier it got.

I've written about time before, and the slavery of the clock. It's something I'd happily never have to do again, but since the Industrial Revolution it's been the norm for almost everyone. And yet it's so unnatural. As well as stressful. A recent survey by reveals that 54% of men feel stressed about not being on time, and whilst almost half of women surveyed reveal that being more than five minutes late is unacceptable. Further findings from the study reveal that:

  • 48% feel frustrated and 33% of Brits feel positively panicked when we're late. Less than 1% of us feel no shame in our tardiness;
  • The older you get, the more punctual you become. Eighty-two percent of people over 55 and 71% of 45-54 year olds say they are never late, compared with 52% of 16-24 year olds and 52% of 25-34 year olds.
But of course, what you really want to know is what makes people late. And the survey tells us. Oh yes! Ladies, you take longer than men to get ready, brush your teeth, and have a bath. But on the other hand, we men spend longer on the loo, and cannot make a cup of tea in less than three minutes. 

Personally, I'm always impressed by the apparent lack of urgency you see when you're abroad. You never see anyone running in Paris. Behind the wheel, well... that's another matter. But walking to the office, or to school, people seem to take their time. And in Italy they make a positive virtue of dolce far niente

Maybe I'm just living in the wrong country? But punctuality is not for me. No, now I'm a stay-at-home dad I can ignore the clock completely. 

Or can I? Old habits die hard. And other people's deadlines can be just as stressful.

So, if you'll excuse me, I must be going... Oh Lord, is that the time? 

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