Friday, November 02, 2007

clock trouble, toboggans, real squirrels

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a station clock should be accurate. And a source of amusement (to me, at least, whose mode of life no longer requires intensive travel and tight schedules), that the four faces of the clock in the tower above Tunbridge Wells railway station are never right. For two years the clock was not working at all. Then, earlier this year, they appeared to do a refurbishment job. The clock is working again. But you soon realize that the different faces show different times, none of them coinciding with the actual time. The one you can see from the entrance to the station is two minutes slow - the worst degree of inaccuracy for someone hurrying for a train. Better be half an hour out. The trouble is that the trains are, nowadays, for the most part on time. Pity that the clocks are not. I make an observation to this effect to an official on the platform. "Shame," I say after all the work they've done to clean up the clock." He doesn't seem concerned: "It's the works," he says. "Victorian!" Sometimes, it is a beautiful thing to be able to conform to the old catch phrase: "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells."

A warm, almost balmy afternoon. As I pass Hooper's department store, I note that, in the Christmas window, now being prepared, there are two stacks of toboggans. and a gilded sleigh.

Shadows of branches spread ahead of me over a path in the Grove. Across the shadow-branches scamper real squirrels.


Lucas said...

I recall an old thriller film in which the suspect is able to prove his innocence by giving the time of the station clock when a certain event took place. The police kew that on this one day the clock was wrong and he must be telling the truth.
I don't think this would have worked with the Tunbridge Wells clock that you describe.

Lucy said...

'You can say what you like about Margaret Thatcher, but she never did succeed in making the trains run on time.' Can't remember who said that.
Universally, or nationally, agreed time didn't really exist until railways, did it?