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Bonzer Words!: Plenty Of Time

...Our home then was a veritable museum of clocks waiting to be repaired.

There were clocks that whined and sang and chimed. But, as Dad would remark, “You never get tired of them. They're not here long enough.”...

Pat Johnson recalls living in a house filled with the sounds of clocks.

Pat writes for Bonzer! magazine. Do please visit www.bonzer.org.au

Glancing at the clock on my mantelpiece today, I was suddenly taken back to the days when Dad was still with us, many years ago, before the family went their separate ways. Our home then was a veritable museum of clocks waiting to be repaired.

There were clocks that whined and sang and chimed. But, as Dad would remark, “You never get tired of them. They're not here long enough.”

Some were monstrosities, others quite elegant. One was a bewildering complex of black marble and pillars, with little golden angels and trumpets and tiny dancing figures that popped out unexpectedly.

Then in its place an austere old American clock appeared, ticking loudly back into time, bringing visions of a chill orphanage schoolroom and rows of frightened little boys.

Among the watches, skilfully restored and presented by Dad to our collection was the party-piece of them all.

“This one belonged to a dauntless old sea captain,” Dad explained, proudly snapping open the case of a magnificent gold hunter, bearing the title and name of a family long since gone. He went on to describe the captain, the last to be rescued from his sinking ship. Word by word the drama increased, as Dad recounted to his suitably impressed audience how the watch was finally given to him by the shivering, dying man.

“Well, it makes a good story,” he said, with his long-remembered grin.

Among the collection was a plain silver watch, engraved To John, for 50 years' faithful service. What kind of service, we wondered. A butler, a clerk, perhaps a loyal country gamekeeper? Didn't John have any relatives? Or didn't they care? Or did he sell it himself to sustain him in old age?

The last bronze museum piece that was all chimes and cherubs and prancing horses was on no account to be disturbed or dusted while it was being checked. A fat, aggressive little male figure hammered out the hour, and we would step back in fear in case he might attack us, too.

In the evening, we would go to bed hoping to sleep for an hour or two before midnight, when the massed band would strike up in full force. Throughout the night we heard sonorous chimes, whistles, little bells and little birds all competing to be on time—with none quite succeeding—until the no-nonsense alarm clock rang, long, loud and shrill. It's time! Time to get up!


© Pat Johnson

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