Time on his hands

This is the clock and statue that stood over the entrance to the Tiffany store in Sydney. The store has moved since I took this photo and I haven’t noticed the statue/clock in the new location.

December Squares #timesquare

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Floral clock

Floral clock in Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne.

Floral clock in Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne.

10,000 seedlings are planted twice a year to supply the living face of this clock, which dates back to 1966. The mechanism itself was donated by Swiss watchmakers. You can read more about this interesting clock here.

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Marking time

Elizabeth Tower at night, swathed in scaffolding

Elizabeth Tower at night, swathed in scaffolding

Commonly yet inaccurately called “Big Ben”, the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament contain the famous bell that gives the tower and the clock itself their nickname. On Monday 21 August 2017, Big Ben fell silent after the noon chimes and will not be heard (regularly) again until the completion of major restoration work, which is scheduled to take four years. I took this photo in August 2018, the tower swathed in scaffolding but the clock faces (there are four) still illuminated at night. One has a sense that the clock and the tower are doing their duty — telling time — yet are only marking time, waiting to re-emerge in their full, restored glory.

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Horas non numero nisi serenas

A ravaged sun dial

A ravaged sun dial

“Horas non numero nisi serenas” seems to have various translations from the Latin to English: “I don’t count the hours unless they’re tranquil”, “I count only the hours that are serene” and even a switch from tranquil/serene to sunny in “I do not count the hours unless they are sunny”. This poor sun dial has clearly had some years that were neither serene nor tranquil! You can make out the word “EVAN” scratched on the left; the sundial is at Evans Lookout in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

An entry in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper from Sat 25 Jun 1932 reads: “A memorial in the shape of a large sundial and direction-plate on mountain granite, has been erected at Evans’ Lookout, Blackheath, to the memory of the late Mr. George Evans, of the old Sydney legal firm of Messrs. Holdsworth and Evans. He was a pioneer of the district, and discovered the lookout 50 years ago. The memorial has been erected by his daughter.”

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A fairy tale about time (and cake)

Once upon a time, over the sea and beyond the sunset, was a land of magic.

In that land was an enchanted kingdom on the shore of a lake.

In the kingdom was a beautiful palace …

and in the palace lived a young princess who loved frilly orange dresses.

But there was one thing the princess loved even more than frilly orange dresses, more than anything else. She loved cake. All kinds of cake.

She loved cake so much that she ate cake for breakfast. She ate cake for lunch and she ate cake for dinner, too, and sometimes she would creep into the palace kitchen and help herself to cake before the Royal Cake Cook had even finished making it.

(But don’t worry, for in this enchanted kingdom the cake was also enchanted, and not only was it nutritionally balanced but it contained exactly the right number of calories, so the princess never got fat and never had any food-related illnesses.)

There was only one thing to spoil the princess’s happiness: there was never enough time to eat all the cake that she wanted! In the kingdom there was only one single clock, a grand old clock in the main square, and when that clock struck 8pm the princess had to go to bed. It would be 12 whole hours before she could eat cake again!

One day the princess was in the palace garden, eating cake, of course. The princess was sad and so she was eating chocolate cake, her favourite, which always made her feel better.

While she was eating her cake, the princess was very surprised indeed to hear a statue speak. “Why are you so sad, little princess?” asked the statue. “You should be the happiest princess that ever was! You have so much cake!”

“True, I have cake,” said the princess. “But I don’t have enough time to eat it all! Oh if only that nasty clock would no longer tell the time!”

With a secret smile and a knowing nod, the beautiful lady of stone instantly made the hands of the clock disappear.

“Oh! Oh!” exclaimed the princess. “Now I shall never have to go to bed ever again and I can spend my whole life eating cake!”

And the princess lived happily ever after — because at long last she could have her cake and eat it too.

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Stop all the clocks

No man has the power to tell just where the hands will stop, at late or early hour.

“No man has the power to tell just where the hands will stop, at late or early hour.”

A mix of quotes in this post: the title is from a W H Auden poem, the photo caption is from “The Clock of Life” by Robert H Smith. This particular stopped clock is on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour: convict prison; industrial school and reformatory for girls; ship building site; dockyard; and now urban campground and cultural events venue. From 1857 to 1991, Cockatoo Island was Australia’s primary shipbuilding and repair facility. I find something quite poignant in this clock, its frozen hands hinting at a time when the cavernous building in which it hangs bustled with noise and work.

December Squares #timesquare