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Sharon Bill Music Tutor & Author

Batter the Clock!


In the Midlands “Fritter” means a large slice of potato deep-fried in batter and is surprisingly tasty. However, the word has another universal meaning which is even worse news for our health.

An everyday definition of the word “fritter” could be ‘an unthinking waste of resource on trifles’. This probably comes from the archaic meaning ‘divide into tiny pieces’ as we so easily lose track of time (and money) by wasting it on inconsequential bits and bobs.

I’m becoming obsessively aware of a general trend in frittering time away. We seem to give no thought or regard for the way we spend our time. In fact the word “spend” implies a conscious intention and this is the real root of my concern. “Spend” implies an active decision but I believe our attitude is more passive and we simply allow time to slip away.

I know that mobile phones and the TV are the usual excuses but I’m not sure that’s the whole problem. I am certainly NOT an advocate of being a “minute-master” and I dislike the concept of prescriptive time management. My life isn’t predictable enough to allocate blocks of time with absolute certainty. I may plan to do this or that but there’s always a strong chance that I’ll end up with a house full of visitors - and they’re welcome! Neither do I disapprove of a good TV bash with some significant others. By all means, choose to spend a couple of hours watching a film. In fact, go ahead and spend Saturday watching that box set. (Who can really wait a week to find out what happens next?) My concern is that we don’t always actively choose to spend our time at all. Whole evenings can slip by with nothing gained - not even a happy or relaxing time.

I remember asking a young lady what she liked to do during the school holidays. The question really confused her! Eventually her answer was simply, “Nothing”. I reasoned that it is physically impossible to do absolutely nothing for any length of time, we cannot exist in a vacuum. However, she simply couldn’t account for her break from school and couldn’t express any preference for how she liked to spend her holiday.

The result of my misgivings has created (for me personally) an increased regard for the fingers of the clock. I can only reflect on my own habits - it may be that this doesn’t concern anybody else as it does me. I’m nurturing a real horror of fragmented dissipation! I want to be in control of my life. I want to positively enjoy relaxing with my loved ones or get the proper rest I need. I also want to make good use of the time in-between. If I'm giving piano lessons I want to be a good teacher. If I have some time to spare I want to get some good practise done or maybe see some friends - go to choir or see my friends at the WI. I'll be learning something too while I have a good time. If not maybe I want to read a book - or even write a book! If I’m relaxing it’s because I choose to, if I’m working then that’s what I’ll fully give my mind and attention to. (Even an employee can kill time without being especially productive and let the day simply slip away.) I think it’s a matter of taking ownership of each day. The responsibility is ours and it’s in our own interests to be wise and to be aware of how we use all of our resources, but in particular time. The alternative is to fritter our days away and that thought does not satisfy me.

On the other hand, the thought of a potato fritter is eminently satisfying!