Let me introduce you to my alarm clock. I bought it at the start of my university studies and it has faithfully provided me with the time every day ever since. It has woken me from timeless slumber and ticked on through my waking hours.
An amazing 26 years later it’s sadly time for me to let it go.
Yeah, it’s a clock, and arguably there’s not much that’s special about it. It’s certainly not in the class of time pieces in this post but it has been special to me, and has reliably marked the passage of much time during which much has happened.
Everything was fine when I bought it, which is quite some time ago. And in this instance, “quite” means 26 years. Why so long? Yes, I hoard, but at the same time, why throw something away when it works perfectly?
Ah. In this case, “perfectly” means “not quite right”, though the hoarding part of me wants to clarify by saying, “not completely broken” either.
Let’s start at the beginning.
No cap on power
Although my clock is analogue it runs with a battery. A battery powered clock – and a ticker.
I wrote an article a few years ago about the horrors of analogue clocks and the terrible monotony of the tick-tock. Grandfather clocks are the worst with their sonorous din. Aaarrghh! They don’t even tock! Some sort of deep throated lazy C-U-L-L-O-C-K. Then that incessant striking every 15 minutes, worse each half hour – then on the hour it bangs out a chime for each hour we’ve endured its annoying operation.
The misnomer of digital clocks (clocks with no hands – or fingers) are beautifully silent. But my battery powered clock wasn’t silent; it ticked. Not uncomfortably so, but the tick was there, and if it was self aware it would have felt some shame of the noise it made, like a cheap electrical appliance would do when it makes that irritating high pitched whine.
And I think this is why it openly displays its energy source as a reminder that it is in fact battery powered, and is doing its best to be silent.
It’s nothing to do with me using it during my studies in Plymouth where it was on a shelf on the opposite side of the room to my bed, forcing me to get up and out of bed to put it on snooze when the alarm clock sounded) and falling off the shelf when I…got out of bed to put it on snooze, and the battery cover came off and somehow was never found again.
Too hot to handle
With age comes signs of wear. (Please recall that although this is a personal blog I’m talking here about my clock!)
You might notice that there’s a part which has been melted away in the top left. Not in an El Salvador Dhali kind of way, but in an ironing kind of way – the kind of way that the neighbours of my in-laws came over to make and fit some curtains for us and somehow ended up ironing my alarm clock instead of the curtain. Was she removing a wrinkle in time? Making a stitch in time?
Who knows what goes on in the minds and on the faces of those who have traversed many years of time.
A missing battery cover didn’t stop the clock’s operation, as a further 23 years will testify.
Its operational demise started with the alarm – which ironically should have been an alarm signal for me, but wasn’t. This is the old fashioned alarm which is set with only an alarm hand which equates (in theory) to the hour hand. The idea is that when the hour hand crosses over the alarm hand, the alarm rings.
And I press snooze.
I don’t know for how long I snooze, but it’s never long enough, so after an amount of time that someone who was fully awake would be able to tell you, when the alarm clangs its ringers again, my arm crashes again to the black button on the top. Snooze.
And I must admit that the process is repeated a number of times. A number which someone who was fully awake might be able to count and tell you.
The point is that the alarm clock isn’t a person, and doesn’t count out that number. And as time marches on and the hour hand slowly moves away from the alarm hand, the snooze feature isn’t reactivated. And correspondingly, my sleep isn’t de-activated and I remain in permanent snooze.
Permanent, that is, until someone who’s awake comes crashing into my room, or pounds on the door and startles me into the land of conciousness.
Snoozing. There’s no such thing really permitted. But I can’t even give it the chance now that the alarm no longer works.
A loose sense of time
So the alarm clock became just a clock – one which projected the circular motion of the hands onto a square clock face. A square peg into a round hole. But now it’s fumbling.
The hour hand has come loose of the central spindle so it hangs limply at or around the 6. Sometimes, like a spider in the bathtub trying to climb up the side, the hand will gain some energy and get itself to the 7 or even the 8. Perpendicularity to gravitational forces at the 9 are always too much; the hour hand drops back down.
You’d think that setting the alarm for six o’clock would mean either a continuous alarm, or a snooze of anywhere between 0 – 15 minutes. But who wants to get up at 6 in the morning?
The lights are on but no-one’s home
So to be clear, the internal time-telling mechanism works fine; it’s just the hands which struggle to keep a grip. So whilst the hands don’t run, the clock turns the expression on its head.
Shining for all to see
Time works in the dark, but where this clock has no back light, it has a glow in the dark capability – except the luminous paint is wearing off…or something. The glow has faded, like a red hot poker which has been out of the fires of time for too long.
The time has come
So finally the time has come. A clock which doesn’t work is right only twice a day, and I need it to be right more often than that. Or at least, for the number of times that I look at it, and by extension (or more accurately, interpolation) for all those times in between.
And when I look at my clock, I have memories of the times it has shared with me – but I don’t have any sense of time.
It cannot serve the purpose of its existence. It’s time has come. Goodbye dear clock, you have served me well.
May you snooze forever in peace…