Dear Auntie Ora

I never seem to know what time it is, yet I know I'm not suffering from jet-lag. Is there an easy way to keep track of things?

Sibyl: Pythia dear, there's an enquiry here you should know about, it's about jets, and tracks and things.

Pythia: No Sibyl, it's about time.

Sibyl: About time, too?

Pythia: Yes, there are people I know who have a perfect in-built clock. There was a Belgian I met in Afghanistan who had been held hostage underground for 13 years and when he came out knew that he was just in time for The Simpsons. Others haven't - people for whom you spend hours waiting in the rain, wondering if they've been taken hostage somewhere.

Sibyl: Ah yes, the name Cassidy McBlonde immediately springs to mind.

Pythia: Exactly. People like Cassie are always surprised when the alarm goes off at 7.30am on a work day. They'd be much more comfortable with an alarm that goes off an hour-and-a-half after it was set to ring, and then provides an excuse for them. Cassie operates on NMT+30, or Normal Meeting Time plus 30 minutes. It doesn't even matter if you turn up half-an-hour later than planned, because she'll still be 30 minutes behind you.

[Cassidy walks in announcing that she's back from a two-hour lunch.]

Pythia: I remember when Steve Irwin taught me how to tell the time by the sun. He neglected to tell me that if you can work out the height of the sun relative to the horizon you can also work out that it's exactly the time you need to rush to the eye hospital to have your retinas replaced. Many Australians can also work out the time from the position of the stars - they know that when they are directly above, it's time to stop drinking because they've fallen over. Animals are natural clocks too: Cocks are the first thing to wake up In the morning and they tend, like most early risers, to crow about it. Exactly three minutes afterwards, your dog bounds into the room and jumps on your stomach. After that, the animal clock isn't very useful. You can work until the cows come home, but by all accounts they tend to work late.

[Cassidy walks by again, announcing that she's leaving early for a massage and a makeover.]

Pythia: Thus we know Cassidy is not a cow.

Sibyl: Pythia!

Pythia: I said she's *not* a cow. You can also look at the contents of your purse to tell the time: when there's nothing in it, it's time to stop shopping and go to work.

Sibyl: So that explains why Cassidy comes in to the office at all, then.