Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Tick tock (or not)

Intrigued by this site of forlorn hope - I say forlorn hope because there's a reason why public clocks don't get repaired (with this notable exception, the one stopped clock that hits the headlines).

For one thing, not only are stopped clocks correct twice a day (ho ho), they're only really wrong for the half hour or so until it's obvious that they must be wrong: and then only for people who are actually relying on them.

What this is about is not inaccuracy. As Alfie of the Stopped Clocks site says, they are a sign of disconnect from and loss of our past. This is about the decline of the public realm: on the part not only of the owners of the clocks, but also of the rest of us, who no longer lift our eyes up to the turrets and cupolas of old-fashioned civic pride.

It's not just that we are no longer without timepieces of our own; time itself is more flexible, elastic and personal for more people. The measurement of time was shared when what it regulated was shared: factory shifts, church services, early closing day, chucking-out time, the six o'clock or nine o'clock news, the big picture, the must-see TV programme. Now, this is all so adjustable to individual needs and wants - "just in time", indeed - that time itself has become privatised: like the railways, whose needs were what "nationalised" time in the first place.

Enough sententiousness: how about this for a clock?

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