[email protected] - The origins of time

January 2010


Have you ever actually thought about the origins of the word time? No? Well let’s just take a couple of minutes and do so now.
There are numerous definitions of ‘time’ in the dictionary, but if you take the very first reference in most dictionaries, it reads something like: ‘the continuous passage of existence in which events pass from a state of potentiality in the future, through the present, to a state of finality on the past.’
That’s fine, but it doesn’t tell you who in fact decided that time was to be called time? For example, why wasn’t the word grumph used instead of time? True, today “What grumph is it?” doesn’t create that reflex action that makes you look at your wristwatch, but it is the sort of sound that perhaps our Neanderthal cousins would have emitted whilst dragging their fiancÉ by the hair back to the cave.
But who asked the question first, who actually used the word ‘time’ for the first time when they were talking about the time of day?
Having created Man, I’m talking Genesis 2:21 now, and without the use of an anaesthetic, God took one of Adam’s ribs and created a woman – no mean feat at any time. Needless to say, the woman almost immediately succumbed to temptation and let that slimy slithering snake talk her into eating an apple. Genesis then has it that Eve then let out a scream of disgust when she realized that Adam’s paraphernalia was for more than watering the plants and quickly took out her sewing kit and made a fig-leaf y-front for him and a G-string for herself.
At that point, God drove Adam and Eve out of he Garden of Eden because they had discovered the real meaning of life. It’s not mentioned what model of car he used to drive them out, but you’d have thought that he would have at least created a dashboard clock for the car so that they could tell the time.
Having dumped the couple outside of Eden and with dusk coming on, Eve probably said to Adam, “It’s getting dark, what time is it?” Although we can’t be sure, Adam’s reply could only have been something like, “The big light bulb in the sky is five fingers past the distant fig tree,” because neither Abraham-Louis Breguet nor Alain Silberstein had even been thought of in those days and Adam’s only reference would have been that big light bulb in the sky that is but a fond memory in the north of England. A sundial wouldn’t have helped Adam either because it would have been too dark to read.
Being a woman, Eve soon asked Adam if he loved her, to which his reply was, “Who else?”, which is how Adam and Eve begat Cain and Abel, so they obviously knew how to spend their time, without knowing what time it was and possibly not even caring since the supermarkets hadn’t been invented and they didn’t have to get there before they closed.
The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and the word ‘Yom’, which is the word for ‘day’, appears regularly throughout. But I have it on good authority that in 67 verses in the Old Testament, the word Yom is translated into English as ‘time’ and depending on whether you’re reading Genesis or Deuteronomy, ‘time’ is equal to forty days or several months. But now-here does anyone actually say, “In God’s name, what’s the bloody time?”
Did the Romans ask what the time was centuries later? If they did, I can imagine Caesar saying to Brutus, “Qual È il tempo fratello?” “VII passato XX uomo.” (Translation: What time is it bro?” VII past XX man.”)
Today, apart from asking what time is it, we use the word time in innumerable ways. It’s time to go home; time after time; take your time; killing time and it’s time to take the rubbish out? Which leads perfectly into my story about a genial dustman, or refuse disposal officer to use the politically correct term, who is driving along a street picking up the wheelie bins and emptying them into his truck.
He goes to one house where there is usually a bin and when he can’t find it he rings the front door bell. No answer. Conscientiously, he knocks on the door. This time a Japanese gentleman that goes by the name of Junko Fuji pops his head around the door and says, “Harro.”
“Mornin’ sir. Where's your bin?” asks the dustman.
“I bin on toiret,” explains Junko Fuji, a little surprised by the question.
Realizing the man had misunderstood him, the dustman smiles and tries again.
“No, I mean where’s your dust bin?”
“I dust been to toiret, I toll you!'' says Junko Fuji.
”You don’t seem to understand. Where's your wheelie bin?“
”OK, OK,“Junko Fuji admits with an embarrassed grin,”I wheelie bin having sex wiffa wife's sista!"
Well, you have to laugh don’t you …
A Healthy and Happy New Year to you all, and don’t forget, if at first you don't succeed, skydiving is really not for you!

Source: Europa Star December-January 2010 Magazine Issue