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22 minutes past 22

I have a science background, and initially specialised in chemistry. As undergraduates, my fellow students and I had to tackle some post A-level mathematics, which my tutor, Dr Brian Sutcliffe would always describe as “hairy”. Being completely directionless as a young man, I skipped much of my whole degree, including the “hairy” mathematics! However, unlike the rest of the course, the maths was apparently non-skippable, and a pile of A4 sheets, i.e., the whole course, was handed to me before I went home for the summer after year two. It was 1988. I had no tutor, internet, or fellow students to plead with, for their marked and returned answers.

Never in my entire academic experience, was I made prouder, because after doing somewhat more than half of those sheets, alone, and having had Brian replying to me, he had written that I was obviously a competent mathematician!

Here's the address of his obituary, on the website of the Royal Society of Chemistry -

So what? Well, looking back at the title, it’s a 24-hour formatted time - 22:22 - and people like me, number-centric (maybe a bit on the spectrum too) if you like, find such symmetry jumps out. I’m permanently looking for logic and patterns in car registration plates, too.

Having spotted the run of number twos once, ultimately it will occur again, and you will see it, and it occur become a “thing”. Apart from 11:11 and maybe midnight, or 00:00, every other time lacks that degree of evenness. Many times of day have a symmetry, like 13:31 or 21:12, etc., but 22:22 is probably the best, for want of a better adjective. The rest are the - 13:55 - type nothings, which don’t stand out.

Without much further thought, you can begin to imagine how clocks might appear to be trying to tell you something other than the time. A psychotic person may be easily convinced, by regularly seeing the same number pattern!

There’s a psychological mechanism called confirmation bias. For example, a severely depressed person will think everything means they are rubbish, and the evidence is all around them. Here’s a good example: when I had psychotic depression, I was approaching a stationary young couple who had a pram. Reaching about 4 metres from them, they crossed the road. I literally felt hurt, because in my mind, they were getting their child safely away from me. Back then, my life was dominated by such misinterpretations of reality.

Without being psychotic at all, we can all obsess, ruminate, or fixate on things, possibly leading to an example of catastrophe thinking, with its endless what-ifs, negativity, and overthought.

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