Tick tock, tick tock, loudly from my grandmother’s kitchen mantel clock, lying in an old man’s bed, frightened, listening with my child’s ear to echoes from the walls of her cold sparse hall. Separated from my sisters and brothers, abandoned on an uncovered pillow, the dank smell of collected newspapers piled under my uncle’s brass bed.
Tick tock, my rite of passage communion watch, a red ten bob note in the pocket of my Arnott’s suit, and the rosette photograph behind a dining room chair. And there was only me and my mom that perfect day when we got the suit and fancy coat, the bus to town and her all day radiant smile.
An exotic golden watch arrives from the far-east, a gift to another uncle still on the tools, grime and dirt not suited to this marvellous machine whose gold braided band then settles on his brother’s cuff linked wrist. Tick tock, the chasm between the strokes, the second hand’s arthritic movements shuddering to a halt, mapping the silence, the arrogance of it all cleverly fuelled by the movement of his wrist. The watch doesn’t keep great time these days, his wrist not moving as much anymore. Tick tock when the wrist stops, there’ll be an unseemly rush to inherit this poisoned jewel.
Warm summer rain washes the windscreen, a silence colonises our Ford Anglia. He drives from the sea-side back to my grandmother’s house and I’m safe, the wind screen wipers to and fro, swish swish, his gold watch reappears as he turns the steering wheel, he drives me back to an old man’s bed.
Le petit, a tiny roundel clock, a delicacy, a tortured Christmas present for the mother of my children. Tick tock, tick tock, tiny hands arcing a passion, a craving, succulence and cleavage, pulsing within a taut hard constraint. Tick tock her bountiful biological clock, relentless, driven demented after blighted ova and early miscarriages. This clock pounded loudly, cleared all which stood in its way, in her way. What joy, tick tock the labour ward clock, the epidural and the waiting, the happy waiting for three definitions of perfection.