Time Pollution

It’s Biblical: a little bit of yeast can make a lot of dough rise. This can be seen as a positive thing but a little of something bringing some good isn’t always the case.


A smoker might disagree, but just one little cigarette can make a whole room stink.

Just one.

And as I found out when I was sitting on one of the settees in the arts and culture centre waiting for my daughter to finish her recorder lesson, the gentle ambience can be piercingly ruined with the melancholic chords of just one bloke who sat at a piano and played what other people call jazz, but what I call untuned, unmelodic devil’s breath.

Whilst slapping closed the lid of my laptop and getting angry about not being able to concentrate on a short story I’m writing, I turned my mind to wondering whether time can be polluted, or at least coloured.


When I think of the 1920’s for example, I think the world must have been in black and white with jerky silent movement. All this thanks to the photos and footage that’s available.

1950’s I think of sepia brown. The common belief is that black and white photos fade with time and turn brown, so sepia toning is often used in image post-processing to give the effect of a vintage or archival quality (reference paintshoppro.com.)

However, according to photoancestry.com the sepia effect is actually a result of “…chemical process that took place in the darkroom. Its purpose was to prevent fading and prolong a photograph’s life and archival value.”

It seems paradoxical that ‘modern’ techniques used to prolong life are now seen as giving a vintage feel!

When someone mentions the year 1969, my first thought is the lunar landing. Has this event defined the whole year? Can we say that Corona has polluted the whole of 2020?


Mention “Summer” and we think of warm weather and holidays, but that’s only for two or three weeks if we’re lucky, from a season of thirteen.

Winter means ice, snow and frost and the “most wonderful time of the year”, but Christmas barely comes 3 days into Winter, and rarely in icy white conditions.


Sundays are polluted with the thought of going back to work on Monday (or just the existence of a Monday morning. (Though conversely, the Friday feeling is generated from the great expectations of the forthcoming weekend (and lack of work).

Rainy day time pollution
Google’s idea of a day full of rain (03:00 – 04:00)

Here’s a snapshot of google’s idea of weather. The Sunday icon indicates an entire day of rain, but the chart shows that we can expect only a small proportion of the day to be rainy. (Well, I say “day”, but between 3 am to 4 am it’s pretty dark outside. I’d call that “night”…)

Time Pollution

Is it right that a single event or thought should be a source of pollution and take over an entire slice of time? It doesn’t seem fair to everything else that happens. Why should one single smoker or pianist ruin things for everyone else?

“One person’s rubbish is another person’s treasure”

Some people like to smoke. And some people like jazz.

I wish he’d just shut the hell up. My memory of these 45 minutes is now polluted with his racket.

Rant over.


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    1. That would be an interesting anachronism! Here I was suggesting something much simpler; that a single person, object or event can influence (i.e. possibly pollute) our perception of that period in time.

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