Thursday, July 25, 2013

Examination, sardines, pilchards and time-keeping

A London pigeon takes a close look at a spot on a parapet at Somerset House.
Fresh sardines are now regularly available from fishmongers in England. At first I used to think that they must be imported from Mediterranean countries which are usually associated with sardines. It is only recently that I learnt that the sardines which now come to us from Cornwall are in fact pilchards. Pilchards? More or less the same as sardines, with the scientific name Sardina pilchardus, and close relatives if not junior versions of the herring. I remember them as a child tinned in a heavy tomato sauce, a cheap and less attractive alternative to traditional sardines in olive oil. Having regularly eaten  fresh Cornish sardines in recent years I now realise that they are pilchards served up differently. And marketed differently.  Fresh sardines remind us of seaside grills on the  coasts of Spain or Portugal, pilchards of wartime meals and food shortages.

The Frodsham bracket clock which I inherited a good number of years ago, used to keep good time, Then it seemed suddenly to be out of kilter. I moved it around on the shelf where it sits and levelled it with the help of a spirit level. Regulating it always worried me a bit. You are supposed to adjust a screw on  the pendulum. When I tried this I had no idea whether I had done it enough or too little. It had little effect. The clock continued to lose 10 minutes every two or three days.  I am not bold where clocks are concerned believing that they have souls or something close to it, and do not like to be probed to deeply. I tend to pussyfoot. The other day however I try again, open the little glass door at the back and wind the screw upwards. Then I forget about it for a few days. Yesterday and again today I remember to check and to my surprise find that it is keeping good time. I listen. It ticks calmly and seems to be saying to me: At last,  at last.

1 comment:

Roderick Robinson said...

Seaside grills involving sardines in Concarneau and Perros Guirec too.

Just imagine how you tortured your clock's soul by pussyfooting, refusing it the succour it so plainly needed. It must see you as a very casual acquaintance, likely to forget its guzzard in the near future. Apprehension of that sort cannot be good for a clock. Babies at least have two ways of communicating their needs, through charm and through bellowing. A clock may only alter its speed. One positive gesture on your part would be to store real letters behind it. Alas they're so rare these days.