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Liz Wager: Life in the fast lane

17 Jun, 08 | by BMJ Group

Liz WagerHas anyone ever studied why life speeds up the older you get? John Mortimer (in The Summer of a Dormouse – which should be required reading for any geriatrics rotation) puts it beautifully … “In childhood, the afternoons spread out for years. For the old, the years flicker past like the briefest of afternoons. The playwright Christopher Fry, now 93, told me that after the age of 80 you seem to be having breakfast every five minutes.”

I’m still only about half John Mortimer’s age, but undeniably puzzled about where the first half of 2008 went. Looking for the name of a restaurant where I’d had lunch with a friend quite recently (as I thought) I saw from my diary that we met nearly a year ago.

I can’t believe I am any busier than I was in my late 20s or any happier (in case the old saying about time flying when you are enjoying yourself contains a grain of truth). But have you ever noticed how return journeys always seem shorter than outward ones? (And I don’t mean when you cross the Atlantic from the UK, when the jet stream can be blamed for long outward flights,when you wish you weren’t awake for so long, and short return flights, when you wish you could be asleep for longer.)

So my theory is that familiarity breeds acceleration rather than contempt – I hope somebody can suggest a method of testing this.

About Liz Wager

Liz Wager is a freelance writer, trainer and publications consultant who works
for a number of pharmaceutical companies, communication agencies, publishers and academic institutions. She is also the Secretary of COPE (the Committee On
Publication Ethics) and a member of the BMJ’s Ethics Committee.

Read Liz’s previous blogs

Would you review a paper by your ex-husband?

Training and the placebo effect

Researchers behaving badly

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  • Tjaka Tamsma

    Douwe Draaisma, prof of theory and history of psychology, state university Groningen, the Netherlands, published a book about this phenomenon.
    [ see : http://www.douwedraaisma.nl/english/index_en.html
    I do not know whether it has been translated into English.

  • Tjaka Tamsma

    It has been translated into English, and won the Aventis-prize in 2005.

  • Liz Wager

    Thanks for this
    I’ll definitely try to read it … if I have time (!)

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