Thanks to Ingemar Eriksson for sharing.

Does the time bother you?

I get bothered by the time. Not so much the time itself, the people – bother me; for the time.

People come up to me on the street: I’m sure you’ve had this happen to you. People come up to you and say, “What time is it?” Or they might say,  “What time is it?”  I shouldn’t get into these ballads.  You’ve had people come up to you and say, “What time is it?”  “What time is it?”  As if, you personally were responsible for keeping time.

You know, I feel, I feel honoured, first of all that they thought I was the man in charge. But, I do have to explain; “You don’t see official time keeper on here, do you?  I don’t have the time, of course not.”

“Do you have the time?” That’s another way they say it. “Do you have the time?”

Let’s see, er no. I don’t believe I do. I certainly didn’t have it this morning. Did you leave it somewhere?

“Well, do you have the time?”

No, I don’t have the time. I use a little of it, like everyone, but I don’t have it. I think, I think the navy has it. In Washington – they keep it in an observatory. That’s right. Sure, they let out a little of it each day. Not too much – they wouldn’t want to give us too much; just enough – time.

Sometimes they’ll say, “Do you know what time it is?”

And I say, “Yes.”

I hate to disappoint them, but there is no time.  There is no time!  I don’t mean there’s no time, I mean there’s no time.

When the hell is it?  We made that whole thing up. There’s no time. We made it up!  It’s a man-made invention, time.  There are no numbers up in the sky. I’ve looked – they’re not there.  We made this stuff up.  When is it? When the hell is it?

“When are we?” I ask. “When are we?”  Sometimes I think we know where we are, but we don’t really know when we are.

When the hell is it?

All the time-zones are different.  Every calendar you run across is different. They’ll all give you a different answer.  These are calendars.  These are made to keep track of time.  Everybody’s got a different one.  The Chinese are way up there, in the 5 or 6,000.  Hebrew’s calendar’s away in the 5 or 6,000.  We are on about 1977, shit.  This ain’t a couple of weeks these people are off, this is thousands of goddamned years – How did they do that?

We don’t know when the hell it is.  It could be the middle of last month for all we know. I mean time is so … We’ve got it down so perfect that, every 4 years, we have to stick in an extra day, just to make sure it still works. And we call it February 29th.  Bullshit!  It’s March 1st and I know it.  It just feels like March 1st.

You can’t keep track of the time. What’s the sense?

I’ll give you an example: There’s a moment coming, not here yet.  It’s still on the way, it’s in the future, it hasn’t arrived – here it comes – here it is!  Oh shit, it’s gone.

There’s no now. There’s no now! Everything is the near future, or the recent past, but there’s no present.

Welcome to the present – tschwep – gone again!

It’s just so imprecise.  We don’t even care to use the minutes, and seconds and hours that we’ve been given.  Everybody’s very vague about the time.

They say, “What time you got?”

I got just after.

Just after? Jeez, I must be slow, I had going on.

And where did that imprecission begin?  Why is it we’re not so sure.  I know one of the clues; what happened to me was, when they started telling me about moments.  When I was a kid, they were trying to teach me how to tell time, and of course you can’t tell time, time tells you, but they were trying.  They were trying to show me, “Now the big hand ..” I said, “I don’t have a big hand.”

“Never mind.  Look at the clock.”

And the clock is so wonderful, there’s so much emotion attached to a clock face. I hate digital clocks!  Digital clocks robbed me of all the emotional experience of the spatial relationships on that face of the clock.  Isn’t it true?  I mean, don’t you always feel that this half hour, when it comes down from 12, down to 6, goes by a lot quicker than this half hour, when it has to come up, fighting gravity, all the way.  I know, it does go a lot quicker.

I tell you.  I tell you this, if I only have a half hour to live, I want it to be this one, man.  It’s gonna last just a little bit longer, than that one there.

It’s vague.  That’s all I’m saying, it’s very vague how we treat time.  We have all these wonderful expressions.  We say, now – now is an interesting one.


Now. You want that now?


Well, would you like to try again?

Or sometimes, just now.

Just now, did you hear that?


Just now.

You mean … must mean, just then. Couldn’t [Didn’t] you?

Yes, just then, but there it goes again!

When? Now.

No, not now. No.

Pardon me.  Do you have the time?

When do you mean?  Now, or when you asked me?  This shit is moving Ruth.

We get a lot of these vague terms:-

Right away – Immediately – At once – Lickety split – Just like that, nothing flat – Drop of a hat – No time at all – As quick as you can say Jack Robinson.

I’m sure you’ve done that to people.  I’ll be back before you can say, Jack Robinson.

Jack Robinson. You’re not back.

How about, a jiffy?  A jiffy, or a flash. Which is quicker; a jiffy, or a flash?

I think there are two flashes in a jiffy, myself. But God knows how many jiffies there are in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. And why did they use,  two shakes of a lamb’s tail? What’s wrong with the basic unit of measurement – One shake of a lamb’s tail?  We can do our own arithmetic, thank you.

Belched a little there.  Tried to swallow that.

Then we have words like, soon.  Soon – that’s a very emotional word. A lot of potential for drama.  That word – soon. Soon.  Soon.

Is your mother coming home. Aha. When?


Real soon.

As soon as she can.

Sooner than you think.

That’s kind of a spooky one.  Sooner than I think?  That’s a little bit like, before you know it.

I’ll be back before you know it.

Kapow. He did it! Holy Christ, look at that!

Then we go on with these terms that we use, these vague terms of time:-

One of these days – Before long – Any time now

Well that’s true.  Everything’s gonna happen any time now.

Any day now.  That’s kind of a trying one, any day now.

Hey, I’ll be giving you that 5 bucks I owe you, Bill.

Yeah – any day now.

Sooner or later – Now and then – Once in a while – From time to time – In a little while

In a little while.  Well that’ll just be a little while. That’s a wonderful … and I just love that, it sounds so benign.  Just a little while.  Couldn’t hurt you, could it?  You can wait a little while.  It’ll only be a little while longer.  Just a little while.

That’s so different from, a short time.

Short time. Sounds almost terminal, doesn’t it?

You only have a short time.  Whereas you have, a little while.

Boy, I’d rather have a little while, than a short time.

Then we have long ways we measure time.  We have vaste distances to measure.  People will say things like kingdom come.

I’m going to be standing here till kingdom come.

Shit, I don’t have that on my watch.

Doomsday you say? Doomsday.

Till the cows come home.  Well that’s an easy one to understand, that’s around about dusk, isn’t it?  If you leave them out overnight, they burst.

Here’s a long period of time – forever.

Some people will tell you, “Goddamn, I’ve been standing on this line, forever!”

Look at this Dave, this man has been standing on line, forever! He looks fairly fresh to me.

Almost like an eternity too, they’ll tell you. It’s almost like an eternity, as if they had experience with eternity.