Friday, 16 December 2016

Clock Watching

I mentioned the other day that I'd had to replace my beloved 1920s watch, because it went mad. I also admitted that even before it went mad, it wasn't entirely accurate. My relationship with it used to remind me of Gabriel Oak's relationship with his pocket watch, described by Thomas Hardy in Far From the Madding Crowd:

"Mr. Oak carried about him, by way of watch,- what may be called a small silver clock; in other words, it was a watch as to shape and intention, and a small clock as to size. This instrument being several years older than Oak's grandfather, had the peculiarity of going either too fast or not at all. The smaller of its hands, too, occasionally slipped round on the pivot, and thus, though the minutes were told with precision, nobody could be quite certain of the hour they belonged to. The stopping peculiarity of his watch Oak remedied by thumps and shakes, and he escaped any evil consequences from the other two defects by constant comparisons with and observations of the sun and stars, and by pressing his face close to the glass of his neighbours' windows, till he could discern the hour marked by the green-faced timekeepers within. It may be mentioned that Oak's fob being difficult of access, by reason of its somewhat high situation in the waistband of his trousers (which also lay at a remote height under his waistcoat), the watch was as a necessity pulled out by throwing the body to one side, compressing the mouth and face to a mere mass of ruddy flesh on account of the exertion, and drawing up the watch by its chain, like a bucket from a well."

The difference, of course, was that, where Gabriel Oak checked the sun and stars (or, hilariously - who says Hardy wasn't a comic writer - "by pressing his face close to the glass of his neighbours' windows"), if my watch started behaving erratically, I checked my mobile phone.

Meanwhile, George has supplied me with a fascinating link that explains why my Soviet watch is not quite as rubbish as everything else that came out of that benighted so-called system - it turns out Soviet watchmaking was entirely indebted to British expertise.

Cue hearty singing of Rule Britannia and God Save the Monarch Appropriate to the Era in Question.

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