SOME WAYS MEN USED TO TELL TIME. Thomas Meaney had a review in the TLS of a book by Vanessa Ogle: THE GLOBAL TRANSFORMATION OF TIME, 1870-1950. Meaney begins with the efforts of E.P. Thompson to document units of time that were in use before, as Thompson believed, capitalism replaced “natural task-oriented time”.

Among the units of time the E.P. Thompson found which were replaced by hours, minutes and seconds were:

the time it takes to cook rice

the time it took to roast a locust

“a pater noster wyle”—the time it takes to say the Lord’s Prayer.

There was also a unit called “a pissing while”—although that would seem to me to be highly variable, depending on circumstances.

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