Friday, July 23, 2010

blue, control, grandma

Posted by Picasa"Blue, darkly, deeply beautifully blue".
 Robert Southey.
"Do I stoop? I pluck a posy.
Do I stand and stare? All's blue."
 Robert Browning.
"In his blue gardens, men and girls came and went like moths among the whispering and the champagne and the stars".
F Scott Fitzgerald.

My first watch had to be wound up every day. It had a faint tick, not enough to keep me awake at night. I must have been  12 or 13 when it was given to me as a present. I had it for a long time and finally parted company with it when I left it at a repair shop and for some reason never picked it up. I sometimes pass the shop in The Strand in London and wonder what happened to it. In those days, the thought of a watch with a battery was beyond most people's imagination. My present watch is a Swatch. It keeps almost perfect time. I only have to adjust it in honour of British Summer Time and when travelling from one time zone to another. And it has a battery. Yesterday, after almost two years, the battery runs out. In the jeweller's the woman who replaces the battery agrees with me that she feels the need to wear a watch. "It makes me feel I've got a little bit of control," she says.

In The National Geographic Magazine, there is an article about the Afar Desert in Ethiopia, where, at a place called Aramis, a skeleton was found of a female hominid  of the species Ardipithecus ramidus.
It is 4.4 million years old.  Her skull cradled in a pair of modern hands, is  on the front cover of the magazine, while the assembled bones of her hand are displayed, life size, in a full page photograph. The skeleton, though still removed from Homo sapiens, is remarkable, apparently, because it traces human ancestry yet another stage  back into the past. To me, who sometimes imagines himself, clambering down from a tree and looking at the mountains, Ardi, as she is called is human enough, and I find myself saying, not without a hint of sadness: "Hullo, Granny!"


marja-leena said...

Oh, I'm just reading the very same issue of the National Geographic Magazine, and fascinated by an even older ancestor.

Roderick Robinson said...

Watchless - almost as bad as being eyeless in Gaza. I am incompletely balanced but the mental deficiency is much harder to bear: a watch is proof that time is passing and I for one would not wish it to stop. My mother bought me a mechanical Longines for my twenty-first and Mrs BB bought me an electrically powered Longines for, I think, my sixtieth. Both have severely classical analogue faces such that I could, if I wished, tell the time to the nearest 15 seconds.

Lucy said...

My first watch was a baby Timex with a bright lime yellow face and a stripey nylon strap, very 1960s. I think I was about 8, and couldn't tell the time very well. It was wind-up of course, and when it broke down a few years later, my mum suspended it with the back open over a dish of paraffin, which worked a couple of times.

I dislike glittery girly watches, had an early Swatch for a while - the plastic moulding broke irreparably when it was just out of guarantee - and various others, but was never very comfortable with any of them. Then with the wonders of Internet shopping I discovered I could get a small and very simple Timex, round black face with slightly silvery figures, and a slim black leather strap, really a grown-up version of the one I had when I was a child. I like it more than most, but in fact I don't really like wearing a watch at all, and only do so when out of the house.

Oh, and this watch lights up when you press the winder, which is useful when staying in strange places or during rather tedious musical or other events.