It all started this morning. Actually, no. Last night. Who cares, time doesn’t matter.
Recursive wall clock
I’m really under the weather, and you can tell. Our lounge wall clock needed new batteries so I took it off the wall so that I could gain access to the back and put some new ones in. Easy. Now to reset the time – but what is it?
No problem – I looked over at the lounge wall to our clock.
Ah yes, it’s in my hands!
I flipped it over so that I could see the front and what the time was. Noted. I flipped the clock back over again so that I could reset the time.
Ah…hang on. Yes, as I said – I’m ill!
So this morning my wife left me to have a lie-in whilst she went downstairs to get the kids sorted.
After an hour or two I woke up, not refreshed, but awake. But at the same time, not well enough to get out of bed. I could hear life going on downstairs; the kids were playing, my wife was singing, birds were tweeting outside the window and the annoying neighbour kids were screeching their greetings to each other and other creatures of hell.
My wife had opened the curtains, but no sunlight was pouring in. It was one of those days with no direct light; just ambient background scatter.
I felt like I was purely existing, as if I was in some kind of stasis. It’s one of my phobias, becoming old and just being for the sake of it. Not engaging in life, not even observing it (because quantum will tell us that even observing stuff changes it).
I called out to my wife. No answer. Do I exist? My voice is hoarse and raspy, just like an 88 year old man (or a 28 year old heavy smoker).
Have I lost years? (from the viewpoint of me now being an old man) or gained them (from the viewpoint of an ill but otherwise spritely young 48 year old)?
Enough of this! I made my way downstairs, passing the bathroom on the way. I check myself in the mirror and indeed, see an old man standing before me. Who the b***dy hell is that? Ah yes. Mr I-haven’t-shaved-for-a-week. Out comes the shaver.
Morning time s(h)ave rave
I’ll have a little side rant here about these annoying electric shaver adverts who promote their shavers to the men who want to get on with their life (me!) instead of taking too much time to get ready in the morning (me). So why do they show some pretty-boy-man wasting time in front of the mirror stroking his cheek for 5 minutes afterwards?
Golden syrup, again!
Despite my late appearance downstairs, the ladies of the house were still at the table having their breakfast. As you’ve just read, I’m not one for taking my time doing morning things. And I suppose not being around to speed things along, at 11:00 am breakfast was still in full swing.
And it was pancakes! (must be practising for Pancake Day on 25th February). Obviously, the golden syrup was on the table (I’m sure you’ve already read my post about golden syrup’s time travelling capabilities!)
My wife was bending over looking into the tin and enjoying the Golden Syrup colour (go on…guess the colour! 😉 ) which is when I noticed the raised bottom (don’t read to much into that).
Of course I’m talking about the refractive thing we all know with broken spoons in water and jumping into swimming pools which look shallower than they are – nature’s safety net to stop us jumping into dangerous rock pools, or perhaps to stop the evolving fish who crawled onto land from having second thoughts and going back into the sea again.
Can time refract? What does that mean anyway? The arrow of time means that time goes in one direction, but can it change direction if it hits a medium where it’s velocity changes?
Or is the question moot?
I’ve noticed a lot of novels model time, then change the models and ask “What If?”
- Time is a river. What if we could step out of it and go on the bank?
- Time is a line. What if we could fold it up and jump from point to point?
- Time is a dimension. What if we could travel through it?
So what on Earth would refractive time look like? Would it bend our spoons, or is there, to quote The Matrix, no spoon at all and time itself is just an illusion?
I glanced over at my youngest daughter. As with many multi-cultural families, the youngest is the slowest to take on her second heritage. She speaks English with Dutch grammar, for example. Or with more relevance here, she’s more reluctant to share her father’s desire to have golden syrup on her pancakes instead of “powder sugar”.
So you can imagine my delight (or if you can’t, just read it; I was delighted!) when she asked me for the syrup!
Fantastic, next stop, vinegar on chips (or “fries” as I think most of you call them). Not for breakfast though.
And what’s this? – She’s using her knife and fork! She’s either aged an extra couple of years, or planning to ask me for a big favour. Sounds dangerous.
I know I’m sounding all annoying and parenty now, but…she’s growing up so fast! And whilst it’s great that instead of sponging syrup out of her hair I’ll be loading a dishwasher with cutlery, it’s sad because the era of childhood is passing.
Some aspects of parenting are a pain in the neck. Other bits (most other bits, actually) are pretty awesome. Like watching relaxing kids TV. I’m not going to get all pretentious and start going on about kids stuff being written at multi levels for children and adults at the same time, but I will say that I’m mature enough to admit that I like some kids programs.
I used to like Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, for example, but I don’t think I can get away with putting on the DVD in place of an adult movie. (I think I should rephrase that!). Now, she watches inane crap on youtube. In this sense, I’d like a return to the past!
The table is cleared away, and my wife makes an announcement.
“It’s official: I don’t like banana pancakes.”
Oh blimey, she’s used the manky banana that’s been sitting on the fruit bowl that none of us have had the heart to chuck out for the past week.
(You’ve heard it already – “Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.”)
I offer my wisdom. Bananas are one of those annoying fruits with only a small window of taste. Being unripe or too ripe and they taste dreadful; they’re ripe for only a short amount of time.
She disagreed. Apparently the older they get, the sweeter they get. Like old people.
“Don’t worry love, ” she says, “it means I’m not going to throw you out either!”
Always good to hear.
A mathematical oddity
Fuelled up, its time for a quick maths test; daughter number 2 is doing her 8 times table.
“Don’t worry Daddy, even though this goes up to 12, I only need to go to 10.”
“Really? I went to 12.”
“That shows your age, dear!” says Mummy.
Thank you Mummy.
I didn’t know what to answer, but I didn’t need to because there was an incoming message.
The Eagle has landed
It was from my mother-in-law on the family WhatsApp group:
The stork is back on the nest.
(I don’t know why I get these messages). There’s no moon landing. Or is it secret spy code? The letter has been delivered. The monkey is in the tree. The bear has found his honey. The son-in-law is lost in the woods.
My brother in law replies:
The beginning of February is very early.
Early? I don’t understand! It would be early if it was still January and February came before it was supposed to, but it’s February now, you know, in February. What’s are they talking about?
Maybe my sense of time is going skew whiff. Or maybe they know a thing or two. A few years ago my brother-in-law posted a picture of his parent’s house on facebook. “House with a history”. It got a gazillion likes, much more than any T2TT post.
How so? It’s just a house, and all houses are built in the past! If they haven’t been built yet, they’re not a house – they’re a pile of bricks. (Unless it’s a bird house, then it’s a pile of sticks).
Where’s this got me?
Back to the here and now. I’m suffering with my virus. Maybe it’s this one.
I’m feeling ill. I look at my youngest daughter, and get my favour in before she does.
“Sweetie, where’s your DVD of Ben and Holly?”
And with entertainment sorted, I’m off to nurse my sore throat with a spoon and a pot of golden syrup.
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Wonderful post Paul—I see all the talents of a writer–You really should pursue your writing talents—Your friend, Jim The Time Traveler (EPILOGUE TIME MACHINE CHRONICLES) P.S. Hope you get better soon..
Many thanks for your very kind words Jim! It’s been a while, I hope you’re keeping well! Epilogue review.