It’s about time
I like clocks.
I’m tempted to say that there is something timeless about them but some puns are best left in the box.
Sadly they are becoming an endangered species, or at least the analogue version is. It really saddens me that kids these days are unable to even read analogue clocks, relying instead on digital.
There was a time not so long ago when clocks were a bit of a rarity. There would be the mantelpiece clock in most households and adults would likely have wrist watches but that was it. Nowadays, timepieces are everywhere. Within a few feet of me now there’s of course the time on my laptop screen, my phone and the analogue version on my wristwatch. In Herself’s room there is the television, the satellite box and a media player all dependent on time. Naturally Herself has a watch and her radio is synchronised with the Wide World. Behind me the microwave oven and the main oven both have digital displays and then there’s the central heating control and my one bit of proud history – a Smith electric office clock.
The Smith is far older than myself, as my father got it about ten years before I was born which makes it eighty years plus. It has a mains phase driven motor which makes it uncannily accurate and is unusual nowadays as it has a smooth sweeping second hand. Modern clocks tend to jump the seconds. I dropped it a while back and the glass broke, which is a shame, but it still works perfectly.
Setting the time on a clock used to be a bit of a ritual. The only accurate way of setting a clock was to listen for the timing “pips” on the radio or watch for the clock on television, but of course nowadays half the timepieces are connected to the Interwebs and therefore are perpetually accurate.
Broadcasting stations of course have to be extremely accurate about timing. Most processes are timed to the second and [in theory anyway] programmes have to be scheduled accurately. In the sub basement in RTE there was a rack of boxes containing the central timer. This was connected to Greenwich and was [supposed to be] accurate to a hundredth of a second and all the clocks within the organisation were synchronised with it. I used to set my watch there occasionally which was slightly anal but what the hell.
I don’t bother with accuracy so much these days. I do confess to a certain smugness when the short case clock in the front room chimes six just as the Angelus* bongs on the television. I’m happy if my watch is accurate within about five minutes either way as the only use I have for time is to know when shops are due to shut or the weather forecast is coming on the television.
I have another short case clock which is in pieces. I keep meaning to work on it [there’s a problem with the escape ratchet] as it has a much nicer chime. It’s one of those projects which keeps getting put on the long finger.
Maybe I’ll work on it when I have the time?
* For the heathens amongst us, the Angelus is a dreary bell being chimed to remind Good Irish Catholics to pray. They bang it out at midday and six in the evening. It’s a sort of Catholic Mullah shouting over the airwaves. It pisses me off as it’s just a daily reminder of the Bad Old Days when the Archbishops ruled the country.
“ The only accurate way of setting a clock was to listen for the timing “pips” on the radio or watch for the clock on television” except that there is a difference in the time shown/time of the pips depending on whether you are in digital or analogue due to decoding lapse!
I’m talking about pre-digital where the radio was a bog standard AM or FM. I wouldn’t be too worried about a second or two anyway.
Digital clocks are built into almost everything anymore. The one analogue timepiece I have is an Elgin pocket watch my father bought me as a high school graduation present in 1970. After all this time it only loses a minute or so a day.
Digital is fine but I prefer analogue. Whenever I change a watch [about once every decade or two] I like to go for an analogue with a digital window showing the day of the week. I have a Casio now which is excellent for accuracy, not that I need accuracy these days,
Incidentally my car display is still set to GMT as I never bothered changing it to BST. Hardly worth changing it now?!
Did you have the talking clock on the phone? At the third stroke it will be . . .
I noticed one evening last week on RTE that the Angelus was put back ten minutes to allow a programme to finish!
Of course, if you are on satellite you can get a repeat on the +1 channel.
I can honestly say that the only digital clocks we have in the house (besides the desktops) are on the stove and the microwave. As far as clocks with old fashioned faces with hour, minute and second hands go, we have numerous–all battery powered. But for real honest-to-goodness analog clocks we have a grandfather clock which chimes on the hour, a “regulator” type, pendulum-powered wall clock which also chimes the hour, and one Black Forest cuckoo clock (currently not working but I’ll get to it).
The short case clocks here are the whole works – clockwork and pendulum. The one that’s currently working has one small problem – it has to hang slightly off-vertical to get the pendulum swing right. I know I could adjust the works but it’s easier to leave it as it is. It chimes the hour and half hour but sadly has a rather unmelodious “bell”
“…but sadly has a rather unmelodious “bell”.”
Ah, just like our grandfather clock I mentioned. The long slow pendulum swing is nice but the chime has more of a clunk to it than a “ring”. I forgot to mention a smaller (square-ish) case clock manufactured by Seth that has a beautiful chime to it. Unfortunately the lower “pin” on the flywheel/escape mechanism seems to have a burr right at the bottom of the thing that keeps it from rotating. Not much I can do about that and there’s no more clock shops around to take it to.
I love the sound of a grandfather clock’s tick. I would love to have one but a) they’re damned expensive and b) I don’t have the room for one.
There’s a song I distantly remember about the Angelus bell.
Google is your friend.
Isn’t it The Foggy Dew? The song not the pub!
No pipe did hum, no battle drum,
Did sound out its loud tattoo.
But the angelus bell o’er the Liffey’s swell,
Rang out through the foggy dew.
Presumably that’s up to Dr Evil to clarify?