Time, Gentlemen, Please!

When I go out, I will frequently leave my phone at home. If I have no particular reason to take it with me, such as for work or awaiting an urgent call, then it is a real pleasure to be able to leave it behind.

I feel a release, not being in constant contact with everyone. I also rely upon it for the time, not possessing a wristwatch, so again, without it, I am freed from this small tyranny. Interestingly, I often know the time if I am asked, as long as I reply spontaneously, without thinking, but then, if I give it more thought, the gift disappears. I wonder if this is an instinct that we have largely lost. If so, and I ponder this train of thought, how did older, ancient peoples view the time? Presumably not as ‘nine’ or ‘three o’clock’ – morning, noon and afternoon? A time of waxing and waning light? Those more sedentary no doubt were as much tied to the sundial as we are to the clock.


At court, or in monasteries, or other relatively affluent places, they relied on candles, marked with hours, to tell the time, but the common people would have had no such thing. Here in England, the church might have possessed a clock that chimed the hour, so that those who lived near enough might have an idea of the time, but apparently these could be notoriously inaccurate, sometimes being wrong by perhaps several hours or more.

But this probably did not matter, for the rural worker would not need to know the time. The farm labourers would rise at dawn, eat something for breakfast, then make their way to the fields. Around noon they would eat lunch, and at dusk they would return home.

They had no need of timekeeping any more accurate than that.

Contrast that to today, when it almost seems necessary to justify every minute of the day. I think this is one of the attractions of taking a holiday; it seems such a treat to spend each day doing as much or as little as is desired, and not to have to justify it to anyone. And, by extension, perhaps it is vitally important that we take holidays now. Hundreds of years ago in those semi-mythical non time-dominated days, workers did not get holidays. They just had Sundays off. It is easy to suggest that we are softer now, but I think the fixation of time has contributed to lives vastly more dominated by stress, and overwork, and that holidays are essential for us all.

I know I damn well need one!

55 thoughts on “Time, Gentlemen, Please!

    1. I took a walk this afternoon, my phone left at home on the table. For an hour or two I wandered through woods and fields and although my imagination was working overtime, and I was scribbling notes, I wasn’t being disturbed by blasted technology and I didn’t have much notion of the time. I was going home when I felt like it.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I think about this often, Mick. Partly as part of my personal life. I wonder what it would feel like to be clockless and how my day might shift. I also think about it in my writing as it’s hard to show the passage of time during the day without a measure (candle, bell, sundial). My days of being less time-dependent are fast approaching. I can’t wait.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I struggle to believe this Mick. The ancients without the benefit of the watch couldn’t possibly have relied on a sundial. They’d never be able to lift their wrists and long sleeves would play havoc with the shadows.

    I’m glad you enjoyed your phone free time. It’s very intrusive isn’t it as people think having a mobile phone you’re available all the time.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ah, but this was the days before wristsundials, David. These would have been pocket sundials – Hunters, perhaps – on a chain and kept in the top pocket of the waistcoat.
      And yes! Available all the time! What is this nonsense?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know exactly what you mean. On the occasions when I leave my desk and venture out of doors, I have the feeling of being “sprung” from a prison cell. I look around and marvel and think, oh, yeah. I remember this!

    I hope you are able to find some time off!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Can I not have one more quick pint before the pub closes Mick?! Seriously, I agree with you as regards mobiles. While I usually do take mine with me when I go out, it is (frequently) turned off so as to avoid disturbing me. While writing I also turn it off and will (usually) allow my answerphone to take any landline calls rather than answering them. I find that I am more conscious of time when listening to the steady tick, tock of a good old-fashioned pendulum clock. There is something hypnotic about the slo movement of the pendulum chopping up seconds which will never return. Kevin

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    1. Ooh, yes, those lovely old fashioned clocks. That sound seemed to mark the passage of time without having to number and label every moment, or to force you to rush around and fill up your time ‘usefully’. I can still remember the ticking of the station clock whilst waiting for a train…I think that sound had a calming ambience, whereas we seem to draw attention to the passing minutes now in a different way.
      I’m also with you on the landline calls; in fact, I frequently don’t bother answering my phone anyway. If it’s important, the caller can leave a message, and if not, well, I didn’t want to chat anyway.
      Oh, go on then, Kevin. One more pint. Mine’s a Harvey’s. .

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Mick, I don’t use a watch on a regular basis. For me a watch is a accessory. So I’m not accustomed to looking at time on my wrist. I always ask around.. lol!

    It’s true that in old days only reference to Sun for work was enough…dawn, dusk, afternoon, evening, night….because the chores were set accordingly. Bt we’re in a different world now. World of instant gratification and salve of time!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I envy you the ability to free yourself from the constraints of time and phones ringing occasionally. Sadly, I’m one of those people that when I leave my phone at home (very rare) or worse still, go out without a watch, I find myself in a state of near panic! I left my watch at home, accidentally, yesterday and found myself continually looking at my wrist which only read ‘two hairs past the first freckle’. It made me realise how much of a prisoner I am to time. Hope you get your holiday soon, Mick. Believe it or not, I’ve not had one since 1985 which makes me feel rather old as it was so long ago. But then again, I guess I am a bit of a homebody at heart 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I think we all need a little holiday at times, and I can totally relate to losing the cell phone for a while. I have a pretty good sense of time (unless I’m writing), and that’s usually good enough for me. Often my husband and I will go camp in remote places where cell access is mythical. I always end up feeling refreshed. 🙂

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    1. Shows my limited grasp of physics. If light has no motion through time, then it should only exist in the present, and then should cease to exist, by my reckoning. So photons should exist only for a time too small to measure. Err…help?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Apparently, photons don’t endure in time at all, not for any duration, and not for any ‘present’ — is there a ‘present’, in any case? I suppose it’s a bit like that thing of only being able to imagine that something exists in space beyond the edge of the universe, because we can’t conceive of a space-less-ness. o_O

        Liked by 2 people

                  1. I may be old-fashioned, but have always believed that in Test Cricket you have to play your #1 keeper. If he can average 25 or 30 with the bat, all well and good; but if he averages 10 or 15 and holds two more catches, you’re ahead.

                    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes! Years ago I quit wearing my watch, mostly because I heard that it was a reflection of my money driven culture-time is money and all of that-and I wanted to be a little bit of a rebel. Now, I can’t stand to wear one, and I absolutely hate to be rushed. We all need holidays, regularly. Good post😊

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So glad to hear it’s not just me Mick. It’s time for a holiday. I’d love to escape the sense that some looming stopwatch is hovering nearby to remind me to hurry up (or slow down).

    Hope you get a chance to break away for some unspecified period to do things you love to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Time does rule nearly our every action throughout the day and I agree the stress and anxiety never really dissipates…until one leaves that mobile/watch at home and see the world freely. In Sweden, I am used to this and love the realm of possibilities opening up however here in the UK I almost feel a sense of panic going out without my mobile – I can’t quite figure this out! I hope you’re enjoying being disconnected from time…at least for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I enjoyed your musings on time, Mick. I remember reading somewhere that in the 1800s British town all used to keep to their own local time and only adopted so-called “railway time” when scheduling confusion meant trains began crashing into each other. Much as I hate the fact that so much of my life is dictated by my wristwatch, I guess timing things to the second sometimes has its advantages.

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