Like my Polish grandfather, I find myself preoccupied with watches. Wristwatches, to be precise; pocket watches, too. Silver oysters.

Clocks, on the other hand… twice strike me with deeper forebodings. The bronchial tick and tock, and dust, the pendulum swing. The chime.

I have never been much of a one, all round, for keeping time. Punching in. Well-oiled or not. Sober or shiftless.

And even though I do my best to keep up to date, from time to time, I miss those Swiss mechanisms once so fashionable and ubiquitous; the delusion that somehow my actions make an impact on the smooth running through one day to the next.

My grandfather may once have held ambitions to become a watchmaker, I do not know. After the war he worked the trams for a spell, sticking to the rails. A year or so of this. He found his niche behind a bar serving time-served men on leave from the glow of welded rivets.

Setting down half gills and pitching out drunks. Pulling pints and punches under the huge brewery clock in his corner.


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