oh, well, whatever . . .

twenty three clocks that will never chime

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I came in from work tonight at about quarter to six. Margaret wasn’t in. I wandered through the house looking for De Kooning.

We have twenty three stopped clocks dispersed throughout the house, the legacy of the demise of The Ticktock Two.  Viennas, Black Forest Cuckoos, Napoleon and Westminster chimes, a Louis XVI mantel, eight day Carriages, a Lantern, a Banjo, an American Steeple . . . They arrived one after another, not one of them ever to tick or chime again, not even once.  In time, if that expression can be properly used here, each of them found a place on a shelf, a mantel, a wall or a table, and there they have remained, dumb witnesses to Zeno’s negligence.

It wasn’t until after the fall of The Ticktock Two that Margaret began to take an interest in the time that each clock told. Until then each clock had just shown whatever time it happened to be stopped at. But one day this struck Margaret as a grievous and unbearable disorder. Clocks are either right or wrong, she said, and since they are all to be wrong most of the time it was best that when they are right they are all right together. She set all twenty three clocks to read twenty past seven, because she said this was her very favourite time. She felt this unanimity also promoted an enhanced sense of well being in the house, by nullifying the subliminal experience of being forever adrift in a chaotic arcade of colliding hours. She had read somewhere that this kind of dislocation was particularly harmful to the soul.

After about three months or so Margaret came in one evening and reset all the clocks to six o’clock. She said she did this for aesthetic reasons as she had come to see that the dynamic imbalance of the hands at twenty past seven would never allow the mind to rest. The pure verticals of the hour of six, on the other hand, had a serene and grounding effect.

About four weeks ago Margaret grew tired of both serenity and unanimity. She reset the clocks to represent the inevitable temporal succession, deciding upon a strict regularity in the cyclical pattern of change. She set one single clock in the house either at the hour or at half past the hour for each of the hours from twelve  o’clock to eleven thirty. This way two clocks would be sure to be right in every single hour of the day. Except, that is, between three and four. Margaret decided that no clock should be set at three thirty, not only because she would have needed one more clock to achieve full continuity, but also because she had always particularly disliked the hour between three and four. She believes it is the most unlucky part of the day.

When I came in tonight I noticed there had been another change: every single clock is now set at ten to two. I found De Kooning curled up on the bed. He got up and stretched and we went back down to the kitchen.

I had a tin of carrot and butter bean soup followed by honey yoghurt. I went out for a walk through the streets. I made my way down to the South Harbour and came back up Newsham Road and through the Isabella. It was dull and drizzling and there was almost no-one round. When I got back Margaret was in. She had been to Brenda’s. She’d had tea there. They had agreed on some initial stock for their new enterprise together. For a moment the spectre of arriving home one night to find eternally immovable deployments of tartan or fluffy pink slippers in every room crossed my mind.

‘I’ve changed the clocks,’ she said.

‘Have you?’ I replied. ‘Oh, yes, I see: it’s ten past ten.’

She rolled her eyes. ‘It’s ten to two, actually.’

‘Is it because you like the ambiguity?’ I asked.

‘No, of course not. No, it’s because Brenda has advised me that ten to two is a very powerful and propitious time to have on a clock face. Look at it: it’s uplifting and empowering. See how the hands remind you of arms uplifted to the sky. Ten to two is the time of openness, readiness and hope. It is a very spiritual time.’

I went into the conservatory. The light was grey and flat. I thought I might begin a new painting. I thought I might use vermillion, burnt sienna and Prussian blue. I thought I might use a broad flat brush on a dark ground.


Written by yammering

April 30, 2008 at 8:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

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