Perception of time

There’s an odd disconnect with time perception as you age. I recently watched tennis from the Nitto ATP Finals and it was the fifty year anniversary of the competition; 1970 to 2020.

Me, then.

Now fifty years is a fair amount of time, but in 1970 I was at art college and have very vibrant memories of the people, places and events of then, it was a period of huge change in my life.

In 1970 we had people visiting and returning from the Moon, there were enormous jet passenger aircraft, supersonic Concorde, motorways, huge office blocks, colour TVs and most people had access to telephones; in many ways it wasn’t that different.

Therefore fifty years seems, to me, to be a ‘relatively’ short period; something in very clear memory. But if I place my mind back to 1970 and think of a period fifty years before, that would have placed it in 1920.

1920 seems to be an altogether different age. The appalling disaster of the first world war had recently ended and much of the world was still struggling to recover from the deadly influenza pandemic that had infected 500 million people. My mother and father were yet to be born and my grandparents were young people in their twenties, also recovering from war.

There were relatively few motor vehicles on the roads, cities and most larger towns were served by electic trams, and almost the whole country could be accessed by steam powered railways. Assuming of course that you had both the money and the time to do so, which most people didn’t.

Also me, then.

I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make; except that living through a period gives you a very different perception of how that time appears when you look back. Personal experience, feeling and living through something, colours your knowledge of it, makes it familiar and brings it back into sharp focus, in a markedly different way to knowledge gained through reading and studying.

Here’s to the next fifty years…

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