If Time were a person, what would he -or she – look like?
Some would say a grand old father figure; others an ethereal wraith. But the best way of judging an entity’s power is by looking at the places where things are changing.
Take a river. The element is water, but its power is manifest most where the currents are strongest. Water can drag a man under it, or envelop him in the blink of an eye, but only when it gathers speed. It depends on the flow volume, the river gradient and the geometrics of the channel it follows.
I wonder if time is the same.
Terry Pratchett – in his study of Death’s job description, “Mort” – examines this a little. His hero is a gangly apprentice who happens to be engaged by a satisfyingly Mediaeval Death. But the apprentice slips up, and saves a beautiful young princess who shouldn’t have been saved, and creates two time-streams, two realities. Bt while the alternative survives in and around the city where the princess ruled in life, the real Time is flowing slowly and inexorably across the fields outside the city to reclaim the princess to a much stringer reality.
We rarely wrestle time, but this week my husband had that opportunity.
His mission: to fly at 12pm on Tuesday to Dallas, Texas, USA; spend the day with a company there; and fly back, arriving back in his office for 10am Thursday.
London, 12 midday, Tuesday. British Airways 74700, first class. Yeah, baby. Wrestling time can be so arduous. Eleven hours later Phil called me, very tired, from Dallas airport. He had been royally wined and dined in a tiny cabin all his own.
The way Phil planned to wrestle time was this: even though he was in another time zone all together – Central Time – he would act as if he were in Britain. He would blank Time, give Time The Hand, cos the face was not listening.
So, though the sunlight streamed and the heat radiated, he went to his hotel bed because it was 1am. No negotiation.
It was just 6pm in Dallas.
He woke at 7:05 British Summer Time. Given, everyone else in Dallas was tucked up in their beds. Phil got up and did some work, checked e mails and gave in for a further 40 minute snooze, nodding in Time’s direction. And then, because it was 10:30am in Britain, he got up and pottered off in search of a diner and a very large breakfast indeed.
Here, we would have trouble finding breakfast at 4:30am. Texas, not so much. he had the works: including grits. Which he has described to me, but I can’t envisage it. Boiled porridge? Really? And it was bacon-themed. It sold bacon-flavoured milkshakes, I shudder to report.
He spent boy-time watching the traffic on the freeway. Bless. And then , refreshed, he returned to the hotel which, by six, was waking up. He was picked up by a car at 9am sharp, but for him it was really afternoon tea time, around 3pm. They all had lunch 12pm their time, 6pm ours, and finished at 4pm which is ten at night in Britain.
Phil trailed onto the flight home at 6:30, Texas time. He got his jammies out and changed, and crashed into bed. It was ten past one in the morning, British time, and the sun shone brilliantly through the plane window, and all Texan life was buzzing outside. Exhausted, he slept.
And woke to find a slap-up BA breakfast being served over Ireland.
It was but a wash and a change until landing, and his office is next to the runway. He was at his desk on time, un-jet lagged.
He had wrestled time and won.