2. The Hidden Secrets of Time

We’ve all had more time recently haven’t we? I don’t know about you, but if I never hear the word ‘lockdown’ again it’ll still be too soon.

In his book ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ JRR Tolkien wrote:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time” said Frodo.

"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 

I think we all feel like Frodo right now.

Still, I’ve tried to fill this pandemic time with stuff that’s productive and rewarding. But I still spend time slobbing around in front of the TV, just like anyone else.

So there I was the other night looking for something to watch, when I stumbled across something fantastic.

YouTube had put up the recording of Dave Gilmour’s ‘Live at Pompeii’ concert from 2016. 

That was me in music heaven for 155 minutes.

I know not all of you will have heard of Dave Gilmour, but hopefully you’ve heard of his band Pink Floyd at least. If neither mean anything to you, please stick with me anyway. It'll be worth your time, I promise.

Dave Gilmour was a guitarist and lead vocalist in this iconic band from 1968 until they split in 1985. Their 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon is undoubtably one of the greatest albums of all time, with estimated sales of over 45 million copies. Its cover is an icon in its own right.

One track on the album is ‘Time’, another band member Roger Waters wrote the lyrics.

‘Time’ was 14th on the playlist during Gilmour’s Pompeii concert, and hearing it again transported me right back to the year they released it. I’d had a pair of stereo headphones for my 16th birthday and I christened them listening to Dark Side of the Moon, followed immediately with Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. Both albums blew me away.

So it’s hardly surprising that listening to ‘Time’ again got me thinking about….. well, time. I realised that forty-seven years had gone by since I first heard it. Unbelievable.

Back then the meaning in that track pretty much passed me by. I wish I’d listened more carefully, because now those words cut like a knife.

The song starts with a sound scape of ticking clocks followed by a sudden cacophony of alarms and chimes. I see now that it's there to jolt you awake, trying to get your attention for what follows. Let's have a closer look at the lyrics.

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day

Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way

We've all done that haven't we? Sitting at an office desk or standing at a factory machine. Bored out of our skulls, numbed by monotony. Watching the clock count down to 5, desperate to escape.

 Then, once out the door, we rush home, free at last. And what do we do now time is ours? Probably nothing. We squander it on stuff like mindless TV or web surfing.

Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town

Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Here's the image those words bring to my mind. Someone with hands in pockets, slouching along with no particular place to go. They've lived nowhere else, they've never travelled. They exist in a comfortable bubble. Familiar places, familiar people, same old same old.

But every night as they turn out the light and wait for sleep, the same old niggling thought comes along. “There's something missing, there should be more to life than this, I should change things, I should do something”.

But sleep comes and in the morning the alarm starts yet another Groundhog Day.

 And they carry on buying the lottery tickets, they keep hoping for that break; they wait and they wait.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain

You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today

To me these lines sum up that feeling of wanting something more, of being bored. These feeling are stronger when we're young. We're far less likely to be satisfied with relaxing on a beach or reading a book by the fire on a cold wet day. But when we're young it's also easy to put things off, we think we have all the time in the world.

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you

No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

Now we get to it, eh? How did that happen? The days pass so slowly, yet the years have flown by. Why did no one warn us?

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again

Now, finally, we wake up. It might take 4 or 5 decades, but at some point realisation will hit us. So many things we wanted to do, so many unfulfilled dreams. Now time is running out, now we’re scared, now, finally, we run.

It took me 50 years to wake up and start running. I know I'll never catch up, but the alternative is worse.

The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

This is where the knife gets twisted. Because it's all true, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time

Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way

The time is gone, the song is over

Thought I'd something more to say

Warnings don’t get any starker than this, do they? 

Here’s the video. Watch, listen, enjoy…………….. Then go do something exciting!

And remember:

“The right time is any time that one is still so lucky as to have.” ― Henry James