Time is not to be found in streets, trains or in a coffee during a break. The metropolis’ time is made of meetings. What does distinguish time from space?
From the confused traffic of Shoreditch, a silent door coming from a suburban bar holds with difficulty a handwritten sign: ‘Ziferblat. Please ring the bell’. A narrow steep staircase has no top but hints at an end. Someone greets me, she is behind a ticket counter that looks like it has just been moved there from an old and little used railway station; a smiling host writes my name on a piece of paper and hangs it on a light wire above her head: 10.30am. Time begins to invade space; a large room houses a few people, a record player sings jazz quietly and a bespectacled man opens a book next to a computer left on a brown leather sofa. The voice of the host instructs me and takes me straight to the kitchen, a cleft wedged between a tall fridge and the cookies table; in a corner a heavy aluminium coffee machine shines but looks exhausted, it has probably been working hard all night long. I grab a mug and I walk the narrow interstices between fancy chairs to get to my chosen wooden table; I’m comfortable, a flow of natural light warms my hands. Someone played last night, the piano still clutches the rhythm of a waltz; an experienced hand wrote a short poem and left it on a wall. This city corner pretends to be a home, a tiny fragment of humanity in the sea of a continuous laboured bustle. Appearances aside, it lives under pressure too; time pushes space repeatedly and space tries to carve out a little time to pause for a while.
The voice of the host says dry: ‘3 hours, it’s £9’.
Once again, the city has set its price for a lived instant, a fleeting experience, already vanished. I close the door behind me, a car chases another and I suddenly wonder if I have exchanged money for time or time for money. What certainly has been left to me is a meeting span, that unexpected moment that has finally stopped me in a space.
(*) If you don’y know what Ziferblat is: http://www.ziferblat.co.uk
Time Transfixed, René Magritte, 1938