I saw the clock in a shop window. How come I’d never noticed the shop before. Anyway, the clock had a label on it saying – SALE! £100 OFF. How could I resist such a bargain?
In I went, for a closer look. My grandparents used to have a very similar clock. Perhaps that’s why I was drawn to it. When I was in my pre-school era Grandad would lift me up to watch the pendulum swing and I’d hold my breath, waiting for the hour or half-hour to chime.
Gran had often been heard to say that Grandad would do anything for his grandchildren. ‘He’d give them the clock off the wall,’ she’d said. Such memories.
When I left that shop the clock, all boxed up, was under my arm. The LSO (Long Suffering One) hung it on the living room wall that night. He attached the pendulum and I wound it with the big black key.
When it struck for that very first time all we could do was stare at each other. ‘You’re taking that back tomorrow,’ said the LSO.
‘I am,’ I said. My ears were ringing. The chime had made the wall vibrate. It was deafening. The next morning I put the clock back in its box and set off for the shop. It wasn’t there.
The place was boarded up and a sign across the front said CLOSED DOWN.
The clock got taken home.
We would stop the pendulum each night otherwise there was no chance of sleep. A neighbour, living 100 yards from us, asked us if we could hear a church clock chiming. The clock kept good time but, after a few weeks it began chiming erratically. Friends began phoning us just before the hour so that they could count the strikes. Three at ten-o’clock, six at four. I fell in love with this badly behaved timekeeper.
When we moved house it settled down to striking an hour out. At mid-day we’d get eleven strikes. When we moved house again it pleased itself. Then it broke. That £100 I’d saved was the cost of fixing it. The repair man smiled. ‘Lovely clock and it’s fixed now.’
Oh, the disappointment when the clock struck three at three, four at four. Boring! But there was no need to worry. It behaved for about a week and then, one morning, as I set the pendulum swinging – we still had to stop it at night in order to get any sleep – it struck thirteen. All day it pleased itself and it’s been doing so ever since.
I’ve waited for thirteen to strike again. After all, shouldn’t something magical happen? No luck yet but, last week, it struck fourteen times.
I so love that clock.