16th February

Time and Language

Incredible. You know when I was born? Eight years, not even a full eight years, after the war. I’m talking about the first war, not the second. The Great War we called it when I was a boy, but that didn’t last. And now it’s one hundred years since it started. Incredible. Imagine being around that long, of having gone through all that time. Or maybe time goes through you, like sand through your fingers. Maybe that’s a better way of imagining it.

What is it, time? It’s nothing. It marches on whether you’re wearing a watch or not. Good times, bad times, you get plenty of both when you’re here this long. That’s not a moral thing. Time makes no judgements. It just keeps going. You can’t touch it, you can’t stop it, you can’t stretch it out a second longer than it is, it’s immune to you. Nothing, that’s what time is. I’ll tell you, it may be nothing but it kills you in the end.

People talk about ‘bad’ language but that’s just people talking, there’s no morality in language either. I didn’t always understand that but I’ve had time to consider it. People think because I don’t use ‘bad’ language that makes me quaint or something. What do they know? They use language like it’s throwaway stuff but it’s precious, like time. There was plenty of ‘bad’ language when I was in the army, in the second war. I could swear like the best of them if I chose to. Or the worst of them. Some of the finest men I ever knew had the foulest tongues, and scented soap came out of the mouths of liars, thieves and hypocrites when they opened them.

People think there’s nothing much going on inside this old shell. The lights are on but nobody’s home, that’s what they think. But there’s more in here than in all their little lives put together. They think they get the same stories over and over from me, and it’s true, that’s what they get. They’re the stories I let out in the open, the ones I slip off the leash. The others? None of their fucking business.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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