Life is short, but not that short. To put your lifespan into historical perspective - and for an intellectual ice-bucket challenge - try this quick calculation. You may find the results startling.
Start with the year you were born, then simply subtract your age. The result is your 'mirror year'. For example, if you’ve recently turned 25 then subtract that number from the year 1989 to get a mirror year of 1964.
Why do that? Well, the calculation gives an intriguing way of looking at your life thus far. No doubt 1964 seems an unfathomably long time ago to a 25-year-old but in fact that person's date of birth is equidistant between then and now. In other words, if you're 25 then the start of your life is as close to the release of the Beatles LP A Hard Day’s Night as it is to Beyonce's latest single. And if, like so many of us, you’re the wrong side of 25, your mirror year recedes even further into the past – to a sometimes staggering degree.
As an historian, you can sometimes feel that history is repeating itself without it being aware of it. Watching politicians and commentators anatomise the impact of Scotland's referendum, I was struck by the realisation that we are (seemingly unknowingly) grappling with issues that were discussed long before the phrase 'West Lothian Question' was coined.
In 1886, Prime Minister William Gladstone proposed the restoration of an Irish parliament, separate from but subordinate to Westminster. His actions unleashed a debate far more acrimonious than the one we have just experienced, with one of the main bones of contention being the right of Irish MPs to sit and vote in the House of Commons. Gladstonian Home Rule came to define a political generation; will Cameron's devolution do the same?