Clocks (HLD 367)

25 March 2021

Since the beginning of the 14th century, clocks as we know them have been important in our lives.

Obviously, time keeping has been something of significance much before this, with various methods of keeping track of the time being utilised from hourglasses, water clocks, candle clocks and sundials. And more.

I remember as a child there was a telephone number we could call which had the accurate time constantly recited …. “at the third stroke, it will be 11.33am and 20 seconds”, or something like that. It was a handy tool whenever you were checking whether your wall clock, or watch, or clock radio, were displaying the correct time. Knowing the correct time was vital on occasions like…ummm….New Year, maybe?

I heard someone say recently that we as humans spend a lot of effort in trying to “overtake the hours”. I thought it was such a beautiful saying that I have spent a bit of time contemplating it.

Time seems to be either going too fast, or too slow. When it’s going too fast, we rush through the things we need to achieve, trying to get ahead of the time allocated for the purpose. If only we can achieve ‘x’ number of things before a certain time, and so forth. Sure, we need to start work at the agreed time, so that is a given, but even without work, our lives are ruled by the clock.

People have different ideas on what an agreed time means, of course. If I’m due to start work at 7.30am, for instance, I will be there by 7.20am. Just in case there are traffic issues, and maybe I’ll want to have a chat with someone before work starts.

My husband, on the other hand, will get to work almost an hour before most others. He insists this is because he can get a lot more work done when it’s quiet. But then he is also the person who, when telling you that we have to leave home at 1pm to get wherever we’re going on time, will start glaring at you at 12.30 when you aren’t ready to walk out the door.

I went through a phase a decade or two ago, of not wearing a watch. My reasoning was that I had my phone which was a handy watch replacement. At the time, from memory, my phone either made phone calls, sent rudimentary text messages, or told you the time. Obviously nowadays it does so much more. But it still tells me the time. My husband would feel naked without a watch – but let’s face it, he’s not as attached to his phone as I am to mine.

When I was nursing, a watch was essential – specifically one that attached to you as a brooch, so you didn’t damage it with all the incessant hand washing that came with the job. I’m fairly confident I still have my nursing fob watch, somewhere in my house, safe and secure and not readily accessible for a photo, of course! I suspect it

might even still work, being one of those ancient ‘wind up’ models. If I ever find it, I’ll let you know.

As a young mother, the wall clock was all I needed. I didn’t require an alarm clock, because I never got the joy of needing some mechanical assistance to wake up. My precious children were very effective tools in this area. And my desire to offload those children/tools onto whichever education institution was obligated to have them, meant I was never late in accomplishing that task.

We wish away the time until something exciting happens, whether it be finishing work for the day, or to catch a plane (remember those days?).

But there comes a time when the sand in the hour glass will run out for us, and we have to accept we will never overtake the hours. Time spent with our loved ones should never be done at speed, or by wishing to be elsewhere.

Time is not an endless commodity in our human existence.

Use it wisely.

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