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moved many into considering and
reflecting on their lives. It was true many
had a casual approach to life, and work,
and maybe neglected to store up for
harder times. Sure: it honoured the
Creator to make more of what was given.
Such was the conversation over many
raked coals that night.
So, by the next morning a fresh breeze
had blown over most inhabitants. They
rose a little earlier, rushed out into the
street and took a view of the imposing
clock tower, and saw that the hour hand
had moved further along that dial than
any one might have expected for that time
of day, and so got to work much sooner.
The end result of this was that the
town became productive and efficient,
and won prizes for it, and a feeling of
prosperity filled most folk. The children
had more to eat, and their blankets
were warmer. But it did not pay to get
complacent. The burghers met and decided
to ban all habits and behaviours that did
not honour the gift of time, including
mooching, wood-whittling and bagpipe
playing. (The last was a late amendment,
but folk were too tired to argue. When all
the rest got changed back, it was bagpipe
playing that stayed outlawed. It can still
raise an awkward conversation.)
With the new respect passing over
the town, and homage being given to the
Clock, the merchant was mighty pleased.
On his birthday, he paid over a sum and
the engineer came out and installed a
minute hand, using an ingenious device
with a dog chasing a cat. It was a revolution
in timeliness. The minute hand went round
at an extraordinary rate, making the hour
hand look slow and un-useful. The minute
hand helped the people speed up. And they
grew much faster at cooking their meals.
They walked faster, some with a prominent
spring in their step suggesting they might
be ready to run a short dash, if required.
Cassie Silas, baker 's assistant, did not
Adrian Glamorgan with a flight of fancy for our crazy-paced age.
This big mechanical box of
whirring gears and levers arrived
in the town on the back of a cart
pulled by four cantankerous
oxen, and an oxen driver whom you would
not trust with your shadow.
When the timepiece facade was
hammered into place, everyone admired
the classic Roman numerals and the
elegant hour hand. With the oxen flicking
their tails, five men and a ganger organised
the winches and the pulleys and the
whirring load into position, and pulled
the new apparatus to the top of the tallest
building in the square, owned by the
There was much approval. But Cassie
Silas, the baker's assistant, brushed her
long hair back and asked every customer
in her shop, "Why do we need to have
that tower up there to tell us the time?"
Cassie got her tongs out for the fruit buns.
"Why don't we just look up at the sky?"
But then one of her customers came up
with a profound saying, which is to say,
Progress is Progress, and there was much
nodding up and down the pastry queue
and kind things said about Progress.
Given no one had had any progress for
quite some time, it seems likely in
retrospect they did not know what they
were agreeing to exactly.
People took their bread and stood
around in the square admiring the
handiwork and artiness of it all, until the
merchant who owned the new clock
came out on his balcony and called out
to the people below, "What are you folk
doing standing around? Don't you know
what time it is?"
A number of folk did not quite get the
gist of what he was saying. Like Cassie, they
pointed at the sky and the sun, and told the
merchant it was daytime. But the merchant
was not a man to be easily impressed by
anything, including common sense, or the
warmth of the sun.
"Time to get back to work! Time
is money, good people of the town!"
remonstrated the merchant. "Your children
will go hungry if you don't use every
precious moment of your day! Time is a
gift from heaven!"
The merchant's kind appeal to the
spiritual wellbeing of the townspeople
"Only when the clock stops does time come to life." - William Faulkner
'Running became a required
form of transport. The lame
galloped along on scooters.'
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