I posed a seemingly simple question to a few friends and bloggers a while back, asking them ‘Do you wear a watch?’. Most people didn’t want to answer with only an easy yes or no, but rather wanted to explain their decision making to me. I wonder now if that was because they expected me to leap to some random philosophical conclusions, and felt they had better spare me the (possibly wrong) analysis, or does the ethereal concept of time really prey heavy on all our minds? A quick google of ‘time’ and quotes’ seems to show many with far greater minds than me certainly seem to think so.
This all started with my watch, going strong for around fifteen years by my reckoning (and an Argos purchase at that can you believe) recently needing a new strap and a new battery at the same time. To be fair, in that time period this watch has gone through so many re-incarnations that only by peering through the scratched window glass and angling my wrist just so, can I even discern it is still the same original face. It is still therefore, my watch, just not exactly the same as it started out. I damage watch straps. I get them wet in the sink, and stretch them with weighty carrier bags of shopping down over my wrist, and I occasionally forget to take it off when kayaking. There is clearly no point buying an even moderately expensive watch as I cannot be trusted.
With a healthy dose of skinflintery, the realisation set in that for the cost of a new strap and battery, I might as well buy a new watch instead (and actually be able to read the time easily for a change rather than having strangers ask me if I am OK every time I have to stop and spend five minutes squinting up my sleeve). But then I thought, do I actually need a watch? Digger never wears one, as impractical for his work, and as he says, if he needs to know the time he looks at his phone. A realisation now, that Tiddler is growing up a little bit behind the generation of kids that won’t have watches, or need to learn to tell the time with a movable hand clock face book, because of the latest iphone in their pockets. I thought I had it easy growing up in the 80’s with a digital Casio, but this is a whole new ball game.
So for six weeks, I trialled being without a watch. True, I had a phone in my bag if I needed to check, and most rooms in the house have a clock for those unexpected time emergencies, but I managed just fine. I managed more than fine in actual fact, going away on holiday, a state of affairs where normally I’m obsessed with being in the right place at the right time, of having to wait, or being delayed, and watching those battered watch hands go round either faster or slower than you need them to. Instead of this expected stress, I found a real revelation. I didn’t worry. Not having a watch meant I couldn’t monitor time. I was no longer responsible. I would find out the time when needed, but I wasn’t constantly checking in on myself. I began to enjoy not knowing exactly what the time is. What does is matter? If we felt hungry we ate, if we felt Tiddler was getting tired we went home. I felt free (of my own auditing of my days).
I’d like to end this blog on a happy note, saying that the watch and myself have parted company for good, but unfortunately, I did have to bite the bullet and bought a new model (with birthday money as a good Thrifter should) as the day job means I need to be very precise with timings- like Pavlov’s dog responding to a bell. What I have learnt though, is to take that watch off as soon as I get home at the end of the day, and not put it on for the days I don’t work or at the weekends. And when we do ‘get the time’ to go a little bit off grid ourselves, then I think that watch can only come out on special occasions. Who knows, I might get even more than fifteen years out of this one.