As we established in yesterday’s lecture on the elasticity of time (T), the pace of time for a teacher on playground duty can range from 2T to 4T. So five minutes can feel like twenty. Whereas, the pace of time in the staff room increases the closer you get to the tea urn, sometimes – say during wet play, when you know the children will be ghastly afterwards – reaching T/10. So no sooner have you reached the biscuit barrel than playtime is over.
You weren’t at yesterday’s lecture? Well you’ll just have to borrow the notes from a friend.
It struck me today that hospitals also have their own time zones. There’s been a lot of hospital this year. Apart from my own Nonsense, both Ma and Pa have had health problems so we’ve had an awful lot of sitting around in waiting rooms and Casualty units. And once you are there, time passes at its own pace, regardless of what is happening in the world outside.
As it turns out, although the health problems themselves have been no fun at all, some of these hours have been real highlights of my year. Because up until now, I’d never really got around to asking Pa about his National Service in Egypt; his youth in Streatham; his experiences being evacuated in Leicester. And I’ve heard Ma’s stories of her grandparents – the centre of her life during the war; of her horrible evacuation to Reading where the family used to stuff beetles under the door of the outside loo as a cure for constipation (!); of how much she enjoyed being a young mother in the early 60’s. Outside the hospital, with time zipping around our ears, we’d never had the space for these conversations. And my life would have been that much the poorer.