The Beetley Continuum

There have been lots of theories about how time works. Stephen Hawking made his name with one theory, and Einstein’s ideas on the relativity of time and space continue to dazzle readers. I am not academic enough to fully understand these geniuses, let alone debate their conclusions. I still have trouble imagining that the stars we have been looking at since time began on Earth are no more than the light reflected from explosions millions of years ago. If I consider this fact for too long, I start to get a nasty headache.

However, since retiring from work, and moving to Norfolk, I have begun to develop my own theory about how time works, with particular reference to Beetley Village.

In everyday life, most of us would agree that time drags when you are working, and goes too quickly when you are enjoying yourself. A weekend of two days appears to be far shorter than the Monday and Tuesday that follow it. Doing something unpleasant, like undergoing ten minutes of treatment in a dentist’s chair, feels more like an hour. By contrast, a pleasant night out with friends, a nice meal, followed by some drinks, just whips by in a flash, so that it seems that you are home just after you left. This is of course all about perception, not actual measured time. Or is it?

Once I turned sixty, and moved to a quieter and peaceful life here, I expected that time might pass more slowly. I imagined days crying out to be filled, with the potential to read countless books, and languid afternoons spent contemplating existence. I was sure that a good twenty years were spread out before me, passing at the pace of a graceful swan in motion. My only decision would be how to fill them usefully.

The reality was completely the opposite. Days pass in moments, years fly by in what seem like hours. In six months, I will be sixty-four years old. The three and a half years in between seem to have all but vanished, passed in one or two blinks of both eyes. The face that greets me in the mirror is the only clue to time passing. Like the picture of Dorian Gray, it shows the ravages of time that I have not experienced day to day. Small children once seen cycling excitedly down the street now ride motorcycles, or drive cars. I gaze at them and wonder, ‘how can this be?’ Deciding to spend twenty minutes answering emails, or looking at blogs, I sit at the screen and peruse, as intended. After the allotted time, I rise from my chair, to discover to my amazement, that four hours have passed.

Julie usually gets home from work just after 5.30 pm. We chat about her day, then I prepare dinner, and feed Ollie. After eating the meal, we retire to the living room and chat, perhaps watching some TV, receiving the odd telephone call, or discussing something of import. After about an hour has passed, we discover that it is well past midnight, and time for bed. In that short time, six hours have slipped by, unnoticed by us. On Monday afternoons, it is my habit to drive up to the supermarket, and get the shopping for a full week. I arrive home and unload it, arranging items in cupboards, fridge, or freezer. The next thing I am aware of, it is Thursday, and two days have escaped my notice.

This is very worrying. I know that I am not going mad, and I am sure that I do not have any sort of illness affecting my perception. It has to be something strange, a break in the fabric of time and space. I need the help of a Hawking, a Sagan, or a new Einstein, to investigate the Beetley Continuum.

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31 thoughts on “The Beetley Continuum

  1. When my dad retired a couple of years ago he was worried he was going to be bored and started doing some consulting work but he soon realised that there was so much going on in his post-work life that he just couldn’t fit it all in. I am going to send him this post because I think he’d really appreciate it. Well if he has time to read it in between, walking his dog, planting proteas and checking if any owls have moved into his owl box yet.

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  2. Great post. Time itself is a crazy concept to me, especially how it can be altered like you said in certain situations. I actually just wrote about that in a post, funny to read this now on your site. interesting stuff

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  3. Pete, I feel your confusion. Time is playing tricks on me with a rapidity that has me worried. I go about my work routine and home routine and frequently what I remember happening this morning actually occurred two days ago. Or, the opposite–three hours ago seems like days–my mind is so full and my world a kaleidoscope, I try to slow it down, but fail miserably. Or worse, I force myself to sit a spell and do nothing and discover I am bored after a half an hour.

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    1. It seems this confusion manifests itself in different ways, to different people, Cindy.
      In my case three days ago seems like hours! But I know what you mean, nonetheless.
      Best wishes from the time-warp that is Beetley. Pete.

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  4. Gosia believes that I can accomplish many things in a day, her enthusiasm in suggesting what I can do next before I have finished the job at hand is endless, unlike the day, which comes to an abrupt halt long before I tick even one item off the list! Still why do today what you can put of until tomorrow?
    All the best from the Winkos

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    1. Cheers, Eddy. I have become adept at putting off today what I can do tomorrow, then managing not to not do it tomorrow, either. It seems to get a lot worse with age, so make the most of it while you are still young mate!
      Best wishes as always, Pete.

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  5. Oh, I sure can relate to this one, Pete. Sigh. (shakes her head together with Jude and smiles) sigh.
    Siri told me: “The bad news is time flies.”
    Selma comforted me: ” The good news is you’re the pilot.”
    Best regards to you all from the four of us,
    Dina & co x 🙂

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  6. My mother was far from an Einstein or Hawking, but always told me how time speeds up as we get older – far be it from to believe her – but low and behold, I sleep less hours but still find myself short time in a day. Before I know it I feel like I lost a month or two somewhere and it’s time to pull out the Christmas decorations. Either old age has made me mad right along with you or you’ve developed a theory the geniuses never thought of – it really does move faster!!

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  7. I can completely relate! However, I’m convinced that time moves at different speeds and that it’s within our control. I’m on a mission to slow it down and have had some luck. Unfortunately, it requires vigilance and I get distracted.

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