Have you got a moment?
Do you dread hearing that in your office or, in fact, anywhere?
It invariably means that your plans have just been scuppered and that you will know have to spend a chunk of time looking at something completely different.
Exactly how long is a moment?
I guess I’ve always thought of it as being about 30 seconds but, if you’re looking for a proper definition, my dictionary simply gives it as “a brief period of time”.
It goes on to expand a little and ends with “momentous – of great importance” which implies anything but brief!
It seems from my quick research that in the Middle Ages they had a different concept of time measurement and that a moment would be equal to 90 seconds nowadays.
How should you respond to the initial question?
Clearly it depends who is asking!
My favoured response, used with care, would be something like “Yes – I’ll be with you dreckly!”
OK, so what does that mean?
“Dreckly” is a slang word in common usage in Cornwall. It would appear to derive from “directly”, which would of course imply an immediate response. However, in practice it has a meaning accepted to be “at some indeterminate point in the future”.
Now it crosses my mind that everyone has a different view on how many is a few … perhaps I’ll look into that another day.
Neil Ford, Technical Manager