Out of time

Out of time can mean several things,  I realised as I wrote my title… you can run out of time, you can be out of time, it’s a song by the Rolling Stones also recorded by Chris Farlowe, it’s a film starring Denzil Washington, a book (it was also going to be the title of a book I was writing) – in fact there are several books with that title by Miranda Sawyer, Monique Martin, Beth Flynn, Michael Stewart, Peter Chapman and P.G. Glynn.

However, I’m thinking of out of time in the sense of being, anachronistic i.e something or someone  not in their right historical or chronological time; in my novel Flipside which I’d written some time ago, I realised I would have to set it in the past otherwise go through and give everyone mobile phones!

My favourite author is John le Carré, but I have not read all of his books, in fact I’m catching up with his early George Smiley novel, in fact his first,  ‘Call For The Dead’. It was published in 1961, and obviously written in the 1950’s; I’m enjoying it very much, not least for all the details of life in those days.  It’s not just the shillings and guineas, nor the lyle stockings and people lighting cigarettes as they visit people in hospital, its other things which I noticed. Previously there were no mobile phones, and few people had phones in their own homes (we didn’t have one until I was fourteen!); there were telephone boxes everywhere, and in the world of espionage in the 1950’s they were very useful, anonymous and ubiquitous! There was no central heating in most houses; rooms were heated by coal fires or paraffin stoves, no-one had mugs of tea, only cups with saucers beneath, and for a reminder there women and maybe men, tied knots in their handkerchiefs – linen or cotton ones, not tissue paper of course! There is a fascinating description of ‘a corner of Surrey where the inhabitants wage a  relentless battle against the stigma of suburbia‘, and then there is this, Mendel is driving Smiley’s car, which he likes, including ‘the sensible extras such as wing mirrors and reversing lights.’

This video is from 1966, just five years after the first Smiley book, look at the fashions!


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