… at the stroke of midnight … a bit from a speech … Year 12 Formal 2019


From the very beginning, man has tried to take hold of time – to manipulate it, to control it, to get the better of it … seeking always to beat it, own it, master it.

We never have.  We never will.  

A little while rabbit heads down a rabbit hole – 

“I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!”   Time had stalked him, and won!  Even with the dinky watch in his dinky pocket, he got it wrong!

On the steps of a fairytale castle, a beautiful princess lost her footing – and her glass slipper – as a clock struck midnight.  Shunned now, and destined for a life of horrible serf and spinsterdom,  time beat her too as it sounded its measure and compelled her to … well – pumpkin soup.

In fairytales and satire  .. and the bible – “Before the cock crows three times, you will deny me”  and  Shakespeare too :  “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow”.

All desperate attempts to stop time, to manipulate time, to conquer and control time, to label it with a measurement, to race against it, to use it as a judge …. 

Bakers in the “Bake off” tent burn their caramel and curse the clock!  Riccardo takes the corner like a pro but is beaten by the clock!   The referee signals “time out”!  The scoreboard screams “Half time! Full time! Extra time”   The crowd leaps to its feet as the graphics screech “New world record time!” and an athlete punches the air!    We simply love it when we see time seemingly defeated, managed!

What time?  Next time! Last time? Another time?   Time flying!  Time standing still!  Times on your side!  Against the clock?!

Tick !Tick! Tick! Boing! Boing! Boing!  

We can challenge it, we can rage, rage against it – but it has won already.   We try to manipulate it!  We think its manipulating us!  

Against it, we are infinitismally small. (Malouf 1982)

Time is the winner – why?  

Because it is constant!   

Because it is true!  

Because it is predictable!

Because it holds no secrets

and never pretends to be anything that it is not!

Because it does not chastise, nor seek to punish.

It just is.

It presents itself to us not in alarms or great deafening tolls or desperate knocking on doors. 

Instead, it works gently, through the seasons and the tides, and impacts gently on the natural world, because the natural world is content to wait for the gentle lick of the millenia.


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