Take a Word.... Time: Etymology, Definitions and a Potted Autobiography
Old Father Time
A Series of Stand-Alones
Long time no see! Here we are with the 12th word in this series, each one an entity in itself and each standing the test of time. I’m having fun with words, as always, and learning as I go, highlighting familiar ones, as well as incorporating, from time to time, new words which crop up, regional vocabulary, some influenced by landscape and occupation.
This time we’re looking at a noun which has been around since time immemorial: time!
So far, I’ve had a great time manipulating these words and I hope you’ve had a good time reading them. It’s high time I published another and this one was suggested by a fellow writer, Bill Holland. In fact, it’s about time I got on with it!
For a change, there is no short story or poem; just a trip through my own time to consider how much times have changed in passing. I hope you spend time enjoying the journey with me.
Old English tīma, of Germanic origin; related to tide, which it superseded in temporal senses. The earliest of the current verb senses (dating from late Middle English) is ‘do (something) at a particular moment’.
- the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole
- the continued progress of existence as affecting people and things
- time or an amount of time as reckoned by a conventional standard
- the personification of time, typically as an old man with a scythe and hourglass
- a point of time as measured in hours and minutes past midnight or noon
- a moment or definite portion of time allotted, used, or suitable for a purpose
- the favourable or appropriate time to do something
- an indefinite period
- a portion of time in history or characterised by particular events or circumstances
Old Father Time
In my hub ‘Take a Word…. Clock’, I mentioned Old Father Time; an intriguing concept in dimensional thinking. Can we transpose our bodies? Can we swap identities or perhaps self-identities within our own lifetime? Do parallel sequences of time exist, as in Dean Koontz ‘From the Corner of his Eye’? Is it possible to time-travel, in a Wellsian time machine? Can we cheat Old Father Time aka Death? I’m open-minded; only time will tell!
Dean Koontz & H G Wells
Time: flying or standing still?
Why is it that time seems to fly when you’re having fun? Do we morph into a time warp, where seconds flow into sand as we dance through time? Then it pays us back when we’re impatient, when time stands still, drags its feet, drags us down like mud-caked shoes and sits on our hands.
Have you ever felt stuck in time? Have you experienced a lapse of time, a suspension of time, or a moment when time changed for you? Have you ever been stunned into that numbing feeling when time stands still? I'd be interested to hear anyone's experiences of such things.
We can cheat time in our dreams, backwards or forwards or maybe in suspension.
One thing is fact, time is of the essence. We use it or lose it.
In My Time
Time and tide are connected and apparently wait for no man. Indeed, times have changed wondrously since I was born, in the early 50s. We had the time of our lives on through the 60s and early 70s. Time was mostly kind to me after that too but becoming a responsible adult took away the charm, the wonder and the sheer joy of each day of freedom from responsibility.
When I take time out to consider my childhood and upbringing, I give thanks for wonderful parents, family and extended family, as well as for times spent making the most of opportunities not offered to many during those early times.
Time & TideClick thumbnail to view full-size
I was blessed to have had parents who loved reading and who passed that passion on to me by way of bedtime stories and then much encouragement to read on my own. Time and time again, I would ask for nursery rhymes, Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and its sequels, or for traditional stories I never tired of. So many started with ‘Once upon a time….’, now regarded as a bit clichéd but the phrase set the scene for me, anticipating wonder and mystery.
They set the foundations for my love of reading; stories, poetry and non-fiction, the passion never rests.
This Bungalow saw many Happy Times
In our little bungalow in Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, my father made us our first television. Though busy as an ophthalmic optician, this talented man made time to follow his hobbies of photography and electronics (among others). None of our neighbours had a television. On it, I watched ‘Muffin the Mule’ and ‘Watch with Mother’ in the early 50s which included ‘Andy Pandy’ and ‘Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men’. Later came ‘Tales of the Riverbank’.
In about 1958/59, Dad conjured up a colour tele with a twist. The cathode ray tube used, for some reason (I don’t understand the science), was set up so that the screen was green. I was enchanted. What a clever Dad I had! It was strange to see everything in green for a short while. The full colour came just a short time later!
Watch with Mother
Andy and Teddy get into their basket and the unbelievably posh narrator (talk about the Queen’s English!) sings,
‘Time to go home, time to go home, Andy and Teddy are saying good-bye.
Time to go home, time to go home…Andy is waving good-bye, good-bye, good-bye….’ (as the music and picture faded out).
The stories also included Looby Loo, a doll. Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men had a friend called Weed, a tall garden daisy who only said ‘Weeeed’ in a high-pitched voice rising to a crescendo.
Leisure Time with my Father
Many’s the time I watched my father making things or walked out with him to explore the countryside and take photos. There I was with my little Box Brownie and he had his sophisticated equipment with adjustable aperture and selection of lenses. He used time-lapse exposure and brought everything home to develop in his dark room. Fascinating!
A Mother always in Time
My mother played the piano. I was forever intrigued by the metronome sat on top of the piano, marking time; tick, tick, tick, tick. I was allowed to vary the speed (2, 3, 4 or 8 time) and amused myself for hours. It was a great way to learn about rhythm. Of course, I listened to her playing almost every day. Her timing was immaculate and her whole body played and swayed with the music.
The front 'badge' is inscribed with 'METRONOME MAËZEL in the middle and a hexagon of (from the top) FRANCE, AMERIQUE, BELGIQUE, PARIS, HOLLANDE, ANGLETERRE. As a young child, I was enchanted by the strange words and the workings of this 'magic' object which took me to another time. Listening to Mum playing also transported me in time to faraway places and imaginary scenes.
Keeping in TimeClick thumbnail to view full-size
We always had Christmas at home, just the three of us, but Boxing Day was always the time for seeing other family and walking across the Sussex Downs. Our cousins would visit or we would go to meet them at The Dyke, a high spot on the Downs with stupendous views. The boys and I had a rare old time, racing, rolling down slopes, making snowmen if the weather granted our wishes, or trying to pick out landmarks as we surveyed our kingdom.
We had all the time in the world to explore, find treasures and vie for supremacy. Never a question of killing time; there wasn’t enough time in the day for us and we crammed in as much as possible.
Devil's Dyke, Sussex Downs
The village primary school was somewhere to soak up the new, the unexplored, the wonder of the world and the universe. We learnt our times tables (not so keen at the time but now I’m grateful), our alphabet and our creativity. We took part in Nativity plays. I looked forward to Art and English lessons, to learning words, experimenting with colours and shapes. I had a rough time with Maths though. The teacher scared me to death and not much went in.
Ever played ‘What’s the Time, Mr Wolf?’ in the playground. A great version of tag when the ‘wolf’ yelled ‘Dinner Time!’ and we all scattered squealing.
Secondary school introduced the rigid timetable of studies and exams, hard times but also lots of fun. Tennis and netball I revelled in, hitting the big time as junior tennis champion! To quote the opening of Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’; teenage years are not the easiest, academically or emotionally, as we all know.
School Nativity in St Lawrence Church, Hurstpierpoint
On to college (further education in Britain). One had to be on time for lectures and for handing in assignments or we were in trouble. Time after time I was up at the crack of dawn, writing an essay to be handed in that day. No computers then, all hand-written but I couldn’t afford to run out of time. Did I ever learn? No! Strangely though, some of my best work was done at 7 am.
There were good times and bad times in those three years. Boyfriend troubles, times of sadness, times of joy. I was in Coventry in the Midlands and travelled regularly up to Sheffield and down to my home in Brighton, Sussex, often in 'The Bubble', my first car of which I was immensely proud. The journey time was at least three hours but always worth it.
I loved going off to the pub with my mates. We chatted, we played darts, we played bar billiards. We behaved as though time was on our side, we had all the time in the world to be young and carefree. If only! In those days the pub landlords called
‘Time gentlemen, please!’ at 11 pm.
From the more enlightened it was 'ladies and gentlemen'! We had to down our drinks and head for home or a party or someone’s house to chill out into the night. There was a time when that was the norm. Do you know, we didn’t have mobile phones, nor computers, let alone laptops and we didn’t miss them one bit! You had to find a phone box to call home if you were pressed for time. Occasionally I returned home only just in the nick of time, especially if I’d borrowed Dad’s car!
Then there was all the fun of taking part in rallies. The off-road driving was timed. We had to follow pace notes, listen to the navigator, make sure we didn't lose time by making errors. It was a great time. I was in a mixed team of three taking part in the 'Compass Point Rally', three days driving round Britain, visiting the four furthest points of the compass. Tiring, stressful and one of the most exhilarating times of my life. We won best overall mixed team - two great blokes and little 'ol me; how good is that?
Yes, eventually it came to us all. It was only a matter of time before we had to find a job, full time for those of us who couldn’t rely on a family fortune. I was in the right place at the right time to secure a job at my old primary school; strange being on the other side of the fence. The sands of time had run and caught up with me while I’d jumped a decade. I hadn’t noticed the egg-timer letting my life flow past so quickly.
In no time at all I’ve been a teacher, a wife, a secretary, a wife, a Mum, a secretary, a teacher, a grandmother several times and then retired! Talk about time flying!
Teaching taught me that life is what you make of it, that time is precious, that it works wonders, it can be a healer. It also taught me that sometimes you have to bide your time until things fall into place. There’s a time and a place for everything, so they say, but despite all that, it’s up to us to use our time wisely, to invest time in people, spend time helping them, give them the time of day, guiding them when times are hard.
I’ve always loved sports; high jump, stoolball (a Sussex version of cricket or rounders played chiefly by girls and women) and running at Primary School, as well as tennis and badminton with my cousins.
I learnt to ski but always preferred tennis and badminton, tennis remaining my favourite. Timing is all important with most sports, coordinating your movements to match speed, terrain and the elements. You have to time it perfectly to catch a ball, hit one with a raquet, or throw a ball to a wicket.
Sorry lads (and ladettes) but one sport I can’t abide is football. I’ve been to one live match in my time, to please a boyfriend; he didn’t last long! By half time I was ready to go home; by full time I was losing the will to live.
Stoolball - timing & coordination
Rules of the ancient game of Stoolball
Stoolball is played on grass with a 90-yard (82-metre) diameter boundary, and the pitch is 16 yards (15 metres) long.
Each team consists of 11 players, with one team fielding and the other batting.
Bowling is underarm from a bowling "crease" 10 yards (9.1 metres) from the batsman's wicket, with the ball reaching the batsman on the full as in rounders or baseball rather than bouncing from the pitch as in cricket.
Each over consists of 8 balls. The "wicket" itself is a square piece of wood at head or shoulder height fastened to a post. Traditionally the seat of a stool hung from a post or tree was used. Some versions used a tall stool placed upright on the ground.
In what seems no time at all, I find myself retired! How did that happen? The me who, long ago, thought someone of 30 was ancient has lived that time twice over.
So now I no longer have all the time in the world, I can’t afford to waste time, I have to approach everything with ‘there’s no time like the present’, I have no time to lose, before my time’s up and I’m timed out!
On the other hand, I have more time for people, I have more time for ‘doing’ whatever takes my fancy. I can have a devil, or a whale*, of a time, I can be pressed for time (ouch!) or, one day, I might get lost in the mists of time.
Retirement - Good Times!
The Sands of Time
A Question of Time
Time is an abstract, it’s relative, it’s a conundrum.
Man invented the notion of measuring time and that’s a useful thing. Clocks and watches keep good time for us. Stop-watches time races, tell us when we’re out of time. We race against time, mark time, play for time, beat time; have, or maybe show someone, a good time.
We say a person can be before, or ahead of, his time. He can serve time in prison, give someone a hard time, make up for lost time (really?!) or be a legend in his own time. She can buy time, invest time in something or be in the wrong place at the wrong time, it all depends on luck, or fate, or whatever you choose to call these lives of ours which, if time is kind to us, can be well over the prescribed ‘three score years and ten’.
What is time?
Time is ripe, time is up, especially if there’s a time-bomb! A person can be two-timed and drastic times call for drastic measures. Time is money. Time is on our side, or not, as the case may be. Time is…. it just is.
Time to Call it a Day
Time has taught me much and I try to put into practice what I’ve learnt. Time was on my side but not so much now!
Time is definitely running out for this article or perhaps it’s already living on borrowed time. It’s only a matter of time before you, dear reader, become fed up with my race through time and, one at a time, switch off your screens in despair. I’ll lose no more time in wrapping up. It’s crunch time. Catch up with you some other time!
* 'a whale of a time' is used because a whale is huge so you have an enormous amount of fun
The weirdest idiom for me is ‘a stitch in time saves nine’. I know it means doing one thing to save you having to do more eventually, but I hate sewing and can’t imagine spending time doing one stitch, let alone nine - ugh!
Another pet hate? FaceBook - fed up with the media telling me I can find this, that and the other on FaceBook or the other whatnots; it’s all a load of twitter. I’d rather read The Times from cover to cover, not that that would be time well spent either. Oh, that reminds me, that’s how Times Square got it’s name (from the newspaper, not me reading it).
Just found out I've been on hubpages for six years now (Feb 2016); how time flies when you're enjoying yourself!
Ok, ok! I’m going already!
Some Songs Reflecting Time
'It’s gonna take some time this time' - The Carpenters
'Out of Time' - Chris Farlowe
Time is on my Side' - The Rolling Stones
I'm sure you can come up with many more!
© 2016 Ann Carr