On Sunday I woke unsure of the time. We had guests coming ’round for lunch and most of it was ready: a big pot of pho had been bubbling away all day Saturday. My partner had woken earlier than me as I could hear him downstairs. I walked to the bathroom and switched on the light. A spark shot out, and then all went dark. To let in light, I opened some blinds and performed my morning ablutions in a grey dimness.
Later, as I pottered in the kitchen making breakfast, my partner wandered in. I told him about the bathroom light blowing, and asked him to switch on the kitchen light for me, as not much sunlight was seeping in this overcast autumn morning. He did and nothing happened. He wandered into the living room to switch on the living room light, and nothing happened there either.
We had to switch off all electricity to fix the fuse, and then resumed our lazy lunch preparations. I needed to reset the timer on our cooker, because, for some unfathomable reason, it refuses to work unless the time is set.
As I sat on the cold kitchen tiles, mobile phone in one hand, cooker manual spread out on the floor, I realised I have a tenuous grasp on time. Were we going one hour backwards or forwards? Did I have more time or less? What time was it now, anyway, other than shortly-after-breakfast? I wondered whether our guests would arrive on daylight savings time or GMT. I wondered whether we would have time to make dessert. Had I failed to husband my time correctly to take account of dessert?
It was all too much and I retired to the sofa for a wee lie down. We re-jigged our plans and decided to make brownies for dessert: fast, easy and a perennial favourite.
The idea of time, like the idea of money, is mostly arbitrary, theoretical. It is what it is because we say it is what it is. Out there, there is a credit crunch, but I don’t really know what that means. In my life, there is a time crunch.