This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
This sneaky old riddle was muttered by none other than our ring-loving, schizophrenic quiz-master Gollum in a recent spectacular, ‘oh my gurd this is amazing’ feature film known as ‘The Hobbit’. Honestly, if you’ve not seen this film yet, get yo hairy, hobbit feet off to the nearest Vue Cinema, you’ll leave that screening room a changed man/woman/thing! Whilst seeing Dame Edna’s counterpart play a Goblin King, as well as seeing a wizard ride a sleigh with a chorus of rabbits pulling it a.k.a. Middle Earth’s answer to ‘Santa Clause’, were pondering on my childlike mind as I left the screening and Middle Earth, it was this riddle that really tugged on my mind as I travelled back to my own home (which thankfully, isn’t a hole in the ground). Figured it out yet? Or have you already seen this film? Well, I was option two, so let me provide you with the answer – Time.
Just when I thought I had this bad boy figured out, it comes back to slap me in the face with its second, minute and hour hands. Back in t’ day, Adrian junior began to be around this four letter word more often than anything else, even his Hot Wheels cars – and boy, was he around those Hot Wheels cars a lot. It’d be on his Maths worksheets, asking him whether it was ‘to’ or ‘past’ the hour; it’d be on his television, being the ultimate decider in shows such as ‘Countdown’ and ‘The Weakest Link’; it’d even take different forms in his favourite songs, whether that be ‘Hammer’, sometimes even ‘Chico’! He knew of it, he was always around it; yet, he never quite understood what it was. A bit like the Moon – ‘Scrubs’ told me it was ‘the Sun taking a night shift, whilst ‘Wallace and Gromit’ delightfully taught me it was made out of cheese. Oh how I wish they were true!
Science has taught me that the Moon is in fact Earth’s natural satellite (totally would’ve preferred the previous second option) – how do we know that? Man’s second most effective way at finding answers, (Google being first) travel. Travel has helped me to answer many questions throughout my life. From visiting my grandma in Ireland, I now know that the answer to the slightly stereotypical/border-line racist question, Is Ireland full of Leprechauns? is sadly an n, o, no. From visiting France umpteen times, I learnt the hard way that the question, So, sir, do you think this GCSE in French will help me to speak actual French to real French people? wasn’t really worth asking. Travel seems to be the answer to all of life’s questions, right? NAAAAAT. Even now, with all of our to-ing and fro-ing, travel hasn’t helped us to understand this word ‘time’ any more than square one. Whilst Scrooge/Michael Caine/Jim Carrey might understand his past, present and future more thanks to a bit of the ole travel, the modern age still wants to travel through time to gloat to their neighbour about the brand-spanking new, flying car they’ll be driving in the future; or travel to the past to be able to say ‘MUM, MUM, I… I JUST HIGH FIVED JESUS!’. Sadly, travel hasn’t brought us any closer to making these claims. Pardon the pun, but are we wasting our time trying to answer its mysteries with travel?
Now more than ever, time is the only resource I’m aware I use so much of. Sure, I might get carried away singing in the shower and use up that extra bit of water. Or I see a coat reduced in the sales, where I throw away my money in the excitement of the moment. Time is a completely different concept. From childhood to now, whether that be thanks to The Hobbit, school or travel, I’ve learnt many a thing about time. In all of its mysteries, it has one important aspect – you can’t get it back. Until the lads/lasses at Yorkshire Water go on strike, I’ll always have water. Until I buy a car and race off to university, I’ll always have money. Time, however, I have less and less of it every day! As I begin to grow up, this fact couldn’t begin to sting more than it has. On some days, I wish I could have more, more, more. If I had to give up a fiver or a bottle of water to grant myself an extra day of the week I would, as Nick Hewer once said to Alan Sugar in an episode of ‘The Apprentice’, ‘be all over it like a tramp on chips’! Sadly, we’re stuck with what we’ve got.
Sometimes time can go in a flash, or it can drone on and on. What’s important is that we look back on the flashing (not that kind of flashing) and the droning without regret. Now, let’s hope that reading this post was as good a use of your time as it was for me writing it! If not… we’re sorry, my precious