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Time Dislocation






Time Dislocation
         Feeling listless ? Not quite your real self ? Unable to get to grips with everyday life?
         There's probably quite a simple explanation.
         You forgot to turn the clocks back at the weekend !
         If so, you not only lost an hour of extra sleep but you are experiencing what doctors now call "time dislocation".
         This is not an uncommon occurrence. Every year it is reckoned that up to 5% of the population forget to change their clocks at the start or end of British Summer Time. And many of those affected do not realise their mistake for several days.
         In 1993 Mr Keith Watchgrass of Walsall set a new record by forgetting to put his clocks forward in the spring - and not realising his mistake until the autumn came and it was time to put them back again !
         ‘Luckily,’ said Mr Watchgrass, ‘I like to get there at least an hour early for trains and planes and things, so I didn't miss any, though I was surprised by how much more punctual transport had become!’
         In addition, Mr Watchgrass always claimed that any time he lost through not changing his clocks was compensated for by the fact that he didn't waste any time in the process of changing his clocks.
         ‘It's not just a question of changing watches and alarm clocks," he said. "You have to change clocks in cars, and clocks on stoves, and times in computers, and timing devices on central heating and radios - by the time you have changed the lot, you've spent at least an hour doing it ! Where's the point in spending an hour to save an hour?’
         Never mind about Mr Watchgrass - how do I know if I have forgotten to put my clocks back ?
         One good clue is if you keep turning on your favourite TV programme, only to see the final credits rolling up. This is because the programme actually started an hour ago!
         Are you sure that's right ? Wouldn't that only  happen if you had forgotten to put your clocks forward in the spring ? Surely, if you had forgotten to put your clocks back this weekend, you would switch on your TV an hour BEFORE the programme started?
         Hold on a moment ... Let me think this one through .... If the real time is now one o'clock and you haven't changed your watch it will show two o'clock ...Umm ... therefore ...  Yes, you're right !
         Sorry about that. Let's start again..... One reliable sign that you haven't put your clocks back is that if you turn on Radio 4 for The World At One, you will hear someone telling you what's going to be on The World At One in an hour's time !
         Are there any other signs that you have forgotten to put your clocks back?
         No, not really. That's about it.
         So there's not much point in changing your clocks anyway?
         Not a lot. Mr Watchgrass of Walsall never really regretted his mistake and quite enjoyed living in a parallel time universe and being, as he claimed, a pioneer in time travel. Apart from anything else, he saw lots of TV programmes he hadn't intended to see and said they were usually better than the ones he thought he was going to see. In fact, because he THOUGHT it was always four o'clock when it was in fact  always five o'clock, he was living in a sort of Einsteinian time shift.
         No, he wasn't. Einstein's Theory of Relativity covers lots of things, but it was never intended to cover wrongly set watches.
         Well, maybe that's what's wrong with big scientific theories. Maybe they should cover things that matter more to ordinary folk. When did Einstein's ideas ever do anything that affected the man in the street ? What's in Relativity for the punter ?
          When people start talking about "ordinary folk" and "the man in the street", I fear that stupidity is about to be given a good name. When I hear the word "punter" , my fears are confirmed.
         You are nothing but an elitist snob!       
          I am proud to be called elitist. At least it means I am keeping up standards. And at least I never use exclamation marks in conversation
         And what's wrong with using exclamation marks in conversation?!
         It's a sign of poor breeding.
         Oh, it is, is it !? Come outside and say that again, and then let us exchange punches !!
         A reader writes: What on earth is this all about?
         Miles Kington writes: I'm sorry. I put my clocks forward by mistake at the weekend and I haven't had much sleep. My work has suffered.
         A reader writes: I'll say. Now, I'm going to turn my watch back the five minutes I've spent reading this piece and pretend it never happened. But I hope things will be a lot better tomorrow.
         Miles Kington writes: Thank you very much. I hope so too.

The Independent Monday October 29th 2001


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