Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

A Very Brief History Of Time

The tweety-birds have been waking me up at dawn anyway, so putting the clocks forward an hour hasn't made much difference- or that's what I tell myself. All it means is the bird alarm goes off at seven not six- which is more acceptable, really.

I have often asked myself why instead of messing about with clocks we don't just play things by the sun- get up when it does, call it a (working) day when the light fades. It's what we used to do. And then the rich people started putting mechanical devices in towers that went "bong" at regular intervals- and we all consented to let these machines regulate our lives. It was another stage in our slow divorce from Mother Nature- and bad for our emotional and psychological wellbeing.

I don't hate clocks. In fact I'm rather fond of them as objects. From where I'm sitting I can see a nineteenth century long-case clock- a handsome, rustic object- with a quaint painting of a bird on its dial (I had a discussion with a clock-lover the other day and we decided it was probably meant to be a cuckoo) and I'm really rather fond of it. It was made in Botesdale, Essex. I wind it once a week and it keeps the time approximately. It has a loud voice and it chimes. It's a friendly thing but it's only furniture- one doesn't take it too seriously. It's a servant, not a master.

I won't wear a watch. I haven't done so for ages. Clocks should keep a respectful distance- as old Granny Botesdale does; they should hint and advise like family retainers- to be disregarded at will. Wearing one next to one's skin is too damn intimate, concedes too much power and authority. I don't care how many whizzy, wonderful apps they have or how much precious metal went into their manufacture- I think of watches as slave bracelets.

It's one of the blessings of retirement and old age that one becomes less and less tied to clock time. My mother hasn't a clue what hour it is- or even what day or time of year. She can see it's light or dark outside and her body tells her when it wants to eat or sleep. I'm not at that stage yet but I'm no longer tied to precise meal times. Lunch happens round about one o'clock- give or take half an hour- and supper is when I damn well please.

Time is a human construct. Do you think the angels wear watches, or keep glancing nervously at some great central cosmic timepiece? Devil they do!
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