So there you have it, Christmas is over for another year, turkey sandwiches are in full swing and we are now firmly in that disorientating week that goes on till New Years Eve and a bit beyond. That non week where the days feel redundant and jumbled up and you have to keep reminding yourself where you’re not supposed to be and what you’re not supposed to be doing. A week where all the usual routines we have set up go topsy-turvy and that old familiar face, the one with two hands and twelve numerals, relinquishes its importance for a little while and permits us to take a load off.
The rest of the time however we live by the clock and by the time it’s telling us it is. And we’re so used to being told what time it is and what we have to do in that time that when this is removed as in right now and also Bank Holidays all the regular type structures and patterns that we normally have in place continue on in our minds despite the many reminders that we are indeed on a break. We are so bound to the clock that although breaks and Bank Holidays are most welcome they do come at an unusual price, they seem to completely tip the weekly scales. When we lose a day we also lose that sense of what the day after would have been as well as the day before. How many times have you woken up in the morning and for a split second didn’t know what day it was and had to think of what you did yesterday so that you would know what today is. The week is like a string of pearls, take one day out and the whole thing feels wonky. I’m really mainly talking here about having time off whilst not being on holiday. Holidays are a whole different kettle of fish as the Monday to Friday measure becomes almost non-existent and the only two dates to remember are departure and arrival. In between them is holiday time and that means a holiday from time, clock time to be exact.
Clock time is the same the world over. Seconds, minutes and hours are the configurations which enable us to frame time for ourselves. Without them life is unimaginable. The first time I saw the film ‘Castaway’ with Tom Hanks and the moment of shock where the audience is finally told how long he had been deserted on that island, I remember there being an aghast murmur that echoed in the whole cinema. It is the moment where we realise what it means for the character to have had all that time go by where he could have been somewhere else somewhere he actually wanted to be. Later on when he finally manages to escape on his makeshift boat and is looking back at the island where he’d lived it is the first time in the film that music starts to play in the background as though bringing both him and us slowly back to civilisation again. And as you watch him watching the island that stripped him of time and place you could imagine he’s watching four years of his life right there in front of him and how small it must now seem from a distance as the boat sails further away. I always find that scene so poignant and so sad. I think it is the perfect metaphor for looking back on our lives and feeling a wide range of emotions all at the same time.
And from deserted islands to desserts, I must now turn my attention back to the fact that we are still on a break from work, schedules and routines and with that comes this lovely little clause which states that for a limited period of time we are permitted to eat whatever we want and in whatever quantity we want to. The clock dictates to us no more than we dictate to it when we allow ourselves this infrequent pleasure. And if we didn’t feel so guilty about it afterwards we’d be on a sure winner there. The clock is basically a parent; always telling us where we have to be, what time we have to be there, when we need to eat, when we’ve got to get up and a million other things that must be done as time goes on. Even taking the batteries out won’t silence the ticking; it’ll just make us late for all these things we have to do. I see now it’s time for a coffee break, that’s what the clock says anyway and who am I to argue so unless I’ve been harpooned to a remote island that time forgot I’ll see you in the New Year.