Creatures Of Habit

Film, Observatory

Every morning I go to my local coffee shop to do my blogging and social networking. I can just as easily make breakfast at home, but I’m in the habit of it, and it starts my working day well. The coffee shop is privately run by two charming Italians who have a proper Italian Gaggia coffee machine, and the cook makes fresh paninis to order. The place is usually empty, so I have the place to myself.

In the next street there’s a Starbucks. It’s scruffy and noticeably run-down. It’s also very cramped and the tables are dirty. High staff turnover means you never see the same person twice. It’s packed and there’s always a huge queue. But it’s on the rat-run between the Tube and the mainline stations, and people don’t like to break the habit of their walk.

But this isn’t a story about coffee. It’s about time. When a new company moves into a run-down part of town there’s always much talk of regenerating the area. On the back of this, the company negotiates very favourable rates with the council – but research shows that staff moving into the company use their own internal facilities and barely venture into the surrounding neighbourhoods. At the moment my neighbourhood is being massively regenerated, but the thousands of new workers arriving don’t see anything beyond the train and the office.

Try Everything Once Except Incest And Folk-Dancing

Now there’s evidence suggesting that the way we live the second half of our lives is wrong. As we age we form deeper habits, and as we lock into the same routines time itself appears to speed up because we’re not providing new interest markers to make the days memorable and lasting. It has now been suggested that we should try to vary routines however we can to change this. And it seems to work. If you can say ‘Tuesday was the day I went to…’ it strengthens your memory of the past week.

And if this sounds like a bit of New Age toss, try this test; visit a gallery or museum you’ve never been to before and spend the exact amount of time there that you would browsing websites. Because internet surfing has replaced TV channel surfing as the great consumer of time. And if you still don’t believe that time can be stretched, I’ll get some mates of mine who are particle physicists at the Cern Hadron-Collider to verify it for you. And trust me, you wouldn’t want that.

8 comments on “Creatures Of Habit”

  1. Dan Terrell says:

    Dang! I felt sure you were into folk dancing… the horror, the horror.

  2. Vickie says:

    Very cool clock…

  3. DavidF says:

    A fixed routine involving decent Italian coffee and fresh paninis definitely isn’t a problem.

    And I also want that clock as a matter of urgency.

  4. Vickie says:

    I think I had first (sort of unspoken) dibs on the clock….

  5. Dan Terrell says:

    Sorry guys. I picked it up less than an hour after I posted on this column.
    If you’re both serious, I may put it on EBay and you two can bid it out. (Minus my round trip airfare and the taxi to London to get it, Admin, I’ll be glad to split the take with you.)
    Note well: It’s the clock the White rabbit carried in the film and it was also used in Hitch’s film Vertigo. A real film addict’s treasure that. Don’t be underbid.

  6. Helen Martin says:

    And all I did with the clock was ascertain whether it was an inward or outward turning spiral. It is neat, though.

  7. Vickie says:

    Something here smells of kiss-up. Not only has “DT” offered to split suspiciously ill-gotten (albeit imaginary) future gains with Admin, he also oft offers obscure and interesting tidbits and/or back stories re a variety of subjects (not all broached or even introduced by Admin). This is not fair to the rest of us (i.e., a crew of largely entertaining but non-competitive folk). snivel

  8. Gretta says:

    And the moral of this story, admin, is next time post a boring picture. :)

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