No one could call me a clock watcher, but I seem to be surrounded by clocks, they are everywhere: one on the computer screen, another on the microwave, and the stove, as well as a wall clock, and one which is very decorative, but which is only correct twice a day as it stopped working long ago.  All this in only one room. Even our new washing machine has a clock so that you can set it ahead in order to make use of cheaper night time electricity.


To be honest, I don’t really need all the clocks I’ve got. I work from home, so my hours are my own. I can work until past midnight or have a day off as I want.  It’s as if I’ve been freed from the tyranny of the clock.  As a result, unless I have to meet someone, or catch a bus or train, I rarely use my watch, but it wasn’t always like that.

My father’s hobby was collecting broken clocks and fixing them. We spent many a Saturday morning going round the Rag Market in Birmingham looking for miniscule parts; miniature screws and coils, or a tiny piece of curved glass. He would take each clock mechanism completely apart, all the pieces spread out on a tray, and then spend hours putting it all back together. Woe betide anyone who joggled the table. At one time we had twenty-four striking clocks going of our living room.  My step mother used to ‘lose’ the pendulums as the cacophony when they all struck at midnight drove her potty, especially as one of the clocks was French, which meant it struck the four quarters and then struck 24 times at midnight.  Dad could not understand why it had stopped every morning when he came downstairs.

When I went to school I always got there ten minutes before assembly; otherwise your name would be taken by a vigilant prefect, who would give you a hard time. Then, in my teens, I trained as a nurse. At first I lived at home and commuted, which ate up all my time, as I often worked split shifts and this sometimes meant leaving home at cockcrow (6:20 am), and not getting home until 9:50 at night. Clocks seemed to be more important then, as was how fast I could walk up the mile long hill to catch the first bus. I had to knock up my friend Christine on the way – she was hardly ever ready on time, so I always seemed to be in such a rush, and never seemed to have any personal time, and couldn’t make time for family and friends.

We would eventually arrive in the town centre, cutting it fine, we would have to run all the way to the other side of the square to catch the bus for the last three miles to the hospital. A quick change into uniform, balance that starched cap on top of my head, all held in place with as many hair grips as I could find, and off to the ward to relieve the night staff. I used to have to clock on and clock off too, in fact my whole life was dictated by the clock.

Technology has freed me from that, it’s a real time-saver, even television in the UK has catch up now, which means that if you miss a programme you can watch it later, whenever you want,  which is so unlike my earlier life, when I had to rush home to catch my favourite soap, or miss it forever.  Maybe it is my reward for all that rushing around that now I can just walk downstairs, put the kettle on, switch on the computer and I’m at work. I can hold a meeting with clients at the click of a button, wearing whatever I want, with a cup of tea right next to me, perhaps a piece of toast, and I’m off. 

So even though one thing is still true in life: you can’t buy time, with the ever increasing use of technology in our lives, and businesses, you can save yourself a lot of it.

More time idioms