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3:13pm on Thursday, 22nd September, 2005:

A Sense of Time


I walked past Anne Frank's house this morning (bigger and newer than its neighbours on the swanky canalside, and very close to a major church; it's a surprise the Nazis didn't check it out sooner).

I read Anne Frank's diary when I was at school. It was 30 years ago, and I was 15. Anne Frank wrote her diary 30 years before that, when she was 15.

I remember when I was 15. 30 years doesn't seem all that long ago to me. Events that happened 30 years before my birth, however, always seemed an age away. I'm 45 right now: 45 years before I was born was 1915, and World War 1 was in full swing. World War 1?! That's almost ancient history! Yet it was only as far away from my date of birth as I am right now.

Thinking about this, many seemingly distant events aren't actually all that far away. When I was about 10, I met a man who was 90, and he told me that when he was my age he'd met a man who was 90, too, and thought him incredibly old. The man I spoke to (one Dr Loten, who was very influential in the development of the schools in my home town — a very good man) must have been born about 1880. The man he spoke to would have been born about 1800. I've spoken to a man who spoke to man who was 15 when the Battle of Waterloo was fought. If he'd spoken to a 90-year-old when he was 10, that 90-year-old would have been born in 1720.

I have my theories as to why time seems to be hard to judge like this. All the same, every once in a while it hits me again.

If I make it to 90, I'm going to seek out a 10-year-old boy and tell him the story.

Referenced by Distant in Time.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).