Time is broken

Over the course of today, I have come to realise the terrible truth behind today’s title.  I am not referring to any example of the horologist’s art, but to one of the four vital dimensions that circumscribe our existence.  With time gone, and after Einstein used gravity to knit it so tightly to space, it can’t be long before all of reality unravels.

Rejoice! and/or Despair! foolish mortals, for the end is nigh!

Some, particularly those working in the saving and pension industries, may question my qualifications to prognosticate so accurately on the end of days.  Who made him the Cassandra of these last days?  I could point to the large chunk of my career devoted to augury during, which I was paid good (well, adequate) money to pierce the veil of time on a 9 to 5 basis.  Instead, let me tell you a story…

It all began, as so many days do, in the morning.  As I was pondering the choice of clothes to wear – a decision dependent on which of the (tradionally) four seasons that today would deliver – I came to realise that I had ceased wonering if today would be warmer or colder than one might expect in mid-April.  So strange has the climate been in recent years, that I have almost forgotten what is “normal” for April: it could be Fimbulwinter or blazing June or any point in between (or, quite likely, beyond).  I just take each day as it comes and have stopped thinking of my garments as “belonging” to a winter or summer wardrobe, but just whether they will be adequate to the challenge of the day.  In this regard, I am unlike the fashion industry who continue to insist on observing an outated, traditional seasonality and however far below zero the temperature falls in April, refuse to stock warm clothing but instead try and tempts us into linen and flip-flops (apparently unafraid of an influx of hypothermia-linked lawsuits).

As I stood pondering how to shield my nakedness from the elements, I blamed our banjaxing of the climate for the difficult decision that each morning now brings.  How wrong I was!

This afternoon, as the mercury pushed its way up the thermometer to a balmy 15 degrees (or nearly 60 for the followers of Herr Fahrenheit), I decided to go for a stroll around the Common.  Some gentle exercise, a little nature watching (or at least looking) and an ice cream cornet seemed in order.  The Common delivered many of its regular delights: young people playing with a variety of balls and frisbees, a Quidditch training session, long-tailed tits “playing” in a tree and a buzzard quartering the sky (presumably on the look-out for a student temporarily dazed by collision with a bludger).  There had clearly been enough Spring for the trees to begin to clothe themselves in leaves, with the horse chestnuts leading the charge (though the oaks and others were not far behind).  Even the fresh dock leaves, back-lit by the sun, showed spears of ephemeral emerald rising from the soil to rival any gemstone (and were probably less steeped in blood).  (Can anyone tell I went to see some poetry on Monday night?)

However, the most surprising sight – and the one which convinced me to put my affairs in order – was of a little bat, flying around enjoying the bounty of insects in bright sunshine at two o’clock in the afternoon.  I’ll admit that he was alone and I can’t be sure of the species (though I suspect he might have been an uncommon Pipistrelle: so good, they named them twice)- but this is just wrong.  He should have been roosting in a cave or belfry, waiting for the fiery orb of day to cede the sky to his gentler cousin.  I can respect that a chap can wake up a trifle peckish, but even I wouldn’t suggest overturning the natural order for the Chiropteran equivalent of a midnight feast.

I am forced to concede that the seasons being in total disarray may owe less to climate change than it does to the space-time contiuum lying in tatters.  This is going to require more than the occasional leap-second to fix matters.  I don’t know about you dear reader, but I am planning on starting a frenzy of Bacchanalian debauchery just as soon as this post hits the internet.

Mine’s a double!  And keep them coming!

The heat is on

Not, I should make clear, the heating.  That hasn’t been on for months – I am either very green or cheap, take your pick!

No, South Cambs (and much of the rest of the UK) has been basking in what I think we used to call a “summer”.  This is a season I vaguely remember from my distant youth, but haven’t seem much of in recent years.  So long has it been, that I have had to dig out long forgotten clothing, from the places I had squirrelled it away, appropriate for temperatures touching the eighties (Fahrenheit).

I must admit that I’m not terribly keen on hot weather – and hot, sunny weather even less.  I’m fine up to around 70°F, but much above that I grow rapidly less keen – though with very low humidity it can be acceptable in a holiday destination.  As a result, beach holidays do not appeal – I can spend about 5 minutes on a beach before I’m bored, you can’t even comfortably read a book because of the glare, and what something else to do.

I realise this is not a common view in the current era, where we are all assumed to want hot, sunny weather.  I have no particular aesthetic objection to acquiring a modest tan – though recognise this view is very much of my time, a few years back I’d no doubt have been coating myself in white lead to appear as pallid as possible.  Whilst exposure to sunshine is probably less deadly than lead-based cosmetics, it still isn’t terribly good for one – even ignoring the potential cellular and DNA-damage, it is terribly ageing and I’m looking quite aged enough already thank you very much.  As a result, I feel I have to coat myself in foul, titanium dioxide based gunk to protect my alabaster limbs and face from the sun’s ultry violet rays (I know, I’m not a proper Englishmen – must be my Welsh roots showing, we of the Principality are much better in rain than sun).  As this blog may have mentioned before, I hate getting my hands dirty (literally, I’m fine with figurative filth) and suntan lotion makes me feel dirty.  Roll on MAA-based lotions – well, it works for coral and seem much less objectionable (well, at least according to the late lamented Material World).

Cycling in hot, sunny weather is also a terribly sweaty experience – one is relatively fine while moving as a result of the natural, forced-air conditioning.  However, as soon as you stop at a junction, one is instantly rendered rather wet (and not in a nice way).  This is not the ideal state of arrival at a concert or theatre – few of which provide showering facilities for their patrons (or probably their performers in some cases!).  As the government seems to have money (ours) to burn on infrastructure projects, can I suggest public showers in our major towns and cities?

So, all-in-all, if we are going to be changing this climate (and we seem very keen to do so) could I put in a request that we cap the temperatures for the southern half of the UK at around room temperature with light winds and easily forecasted rain.  Otherwise, I may have to defect to Alex Salmond’s new kingdom.