Saturday 29th October 2011
GAVE my father a wrist-watch, they did; for long service; an Omega; silver, self-winding, expensive-looking, with elasticated silver strap… though they didn’t go so far as to inscribe his name on the back: all it says is ‘waterproof’.
Mum thought I should inherit this timepiece when he died. In many ways we were a traditional post-war family: the only son was sort of first in line. It would have been disrespectful not to accept.
Previously I had worn a neither-here-nor-there watch of much less interest than its strap, for I took great delight in fashioning a wrist-band from black-and-white, cotton or plastic, tape measures. I use the plural because it had to be replaced regularly, as the hole through which catch of the buckle passed would quickly fray or expand.
The heirloom lasted six years, during which time I became an unemployed single parent.
When I took it in for repairs, the smith explained that the self-winding mechanism needed replacing. Digital devices were all the fashion. He said I’d be better off buying something from Woolies.
Sadly, I put my father’s watch into a drawer. Happily, I have not worn one since.
The division of time into hours and minutes is a human construct. Yes, I know we all rely upon train timetables, broadcast schedules, egg-timers and alarm clocks, but need we be so entrapped by the artificiality of lunch hours, twenty-minute breaks, bed times, and ‘so much looking forward to the weekend’s?
And I say that as somebody who values punctuality and almost always arrives early, but to do so is, I’d suggest, nothing more than courtesy.
Tonight sees the official end of British Summer Time. This is also a time of personal sadness, for tomorrow marks the end of the life, fives years ago, of my dearest Mum. On Tuesday it will be eight years since the death my beloved son, Gaius.
I shall spend the ‘extra hour’s sleep’ awake, in remembrance of happier times and the beauty of their lives.
Clocks may go back and forth, but time, alas, does not.