How do we live with the experience of time passing? I work in a University where achievement, progress, finding and releasing new energy and potential is the order of the day.

There is a relentless, almost nervous cataloguing of successes –the success of discovery, the success of what F E Smith memorably called the “glittering prizes” life offers.  But despite all this ambition to shape the trajectory of our lives, there remains the fundamental, disconcerting knowledge that we are thrown into our life at birth and thrown out again at death without a decision of our own.

I am nearly fifty-five: I feel fit and well, much the same person as I was when young, I like to think, but I must be realistic in thinking that I only have another twenty or so years of life left. Memory reminds me all too sharply how short a time that actually is.