Bring Back The Clocks

Things change all the time, don’t they? Sometimes they happen as such a matter of course that we don’t even notice they’ve changed.

Joni Mitchell fans will be familiar with the lyrics of Big Yellow Taxi

‘Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?’

I find those lyrics to be very pertinent in our modern, electronically-saturated age. A lot of the things that made up the regular background of my days are slowly disappearing.

You know what I really miss?


Clocks used to be everywhere. In stores, in cafes, even on buses. The clock above, which bedecks the local town hall is one of the few public clocks left in the area.

I forgot to put on my watch the other day and couldn’t believe how difficult it was to check the time without asking someone (and even that was awkward because the people I asked also weren’t wearing watches so had to scramble in their bags for their mobile phones….)

No clocks in waiting rooms. No clocks in shopping centres. I remember being entranced by the clock in the Post Office when I was a kid. The postmaster wound it with a huge key first thing in the morning and polished the glass. I still remember how particular he was getting the streaks off. Now the Post Office doesn’t even have a digital clock.

How did this happen? Is it a mass cost cutting measure? Or are we so conscious of the inexorable passage of time that we no longer wish to mark it?

I used to take comfort in seeing all the clocks in my local neighbourhood. It was good to know how long I had to wait or whether I was on time acknowledged in a more formal way than a personal watch ever could.

I miss the clocks. So whenever I see one I make a little wish that it won’t be taken away and will continue to mark our moments for as long as it can.

26 thoughts on “Bring Back The Clocks

    1. I love your name. It would make a great title for a song. I don’t have a mobile phone (long story) so when there are no public clocks I wander around in a timeless daze wondering if I can figure out what time it is by looking at the angle of the sun. Haha.


  1. Edinburgh still has a lot of clocks and I’d really miss them if they weren’t there. For time keeping, if I can’t see a nice clock, there’s usually a parking meter nearby, and they have ugly digital clocks on them


    1. I didn’t think of the parking meters. Of course. And Edinburgh’s clocks are iconic. They’re not allowed to ever get rid of them!


  2. I like clocks. My favorite clock is still there, and I go look at it whenever I’m in the neighborhood (which isn’t often). You’ll be familiar with it, I think. It’s one of Hollywood’s favorite clocks too. You’d find it in the center of the massive lobby of Grand Central Station in New York City.


    1. The clock at Grand Central Station is one of the most remarkable clocks in the world. WOW. If I could see it on a regular basis I would be beside myself. How fantastic!!


  3. Clocks have special meaning for psychotherapists and their patients, not only setting limits about the end of session, but resolving sudden claims on the parts of various patients that, no, they weren’t late, my clock is fast and no, the session isn’t over, my clock is fast. They never accuse me of a slow clock. Every clock in our clinic shows a different time, probably due to the constant negotiations about time on the parts of patients. I have found a solution. A website that will put an analogue (or digital clock) automatically set to your geographical location. There are many styles to choose from. I hope this helps.


    1. It’s interesting you should say that about the clocks because when my depression is bad I have a real thing about time-keeping. I get in a state if I’m late or someone I’m expecting is late. It can affect my mood for hours. It makes sense that clocks have special meaning for your patients. I can see that. Thanks so much for the link!


  4. Hi Selma,
    I too miss clocks. I often wonder if they stopped putting up clocks in shopping centers etc, because they didn’t want people to know how much time they have spent shopping. 😀 I recently had to go into the city (Brisbane) every day for a couple of weeks, and I loved hearing the clock chimes coming from the city hall building, it really was a beautiful sound.


    1. You’re probably right. It’s a ploy to get people to spend more. Hahaha. There is nothing like hearing clock chimes from a large clock. It’s quite stirring. I love it!


  5. I’m with you totally – we need more clocks! They took them out of shopping centres years ago, and I am sure it is so you lose track of time and shop longer. I stayed in a hotel last week and no clocks – very annoying. I love your photos (clocks on steeples are the best clocks of all).


    1. Yes. Capitalism, you foul beast, you have decimated our reliable, steadfast clocks making us dependent on hand held electronic devices that make us prey to the whims of your avarice….

      You and Mags are right, Gabe. Taking the clocks away is definitely a technique to make people shop for longer. It is very easy to lose track of time in the white, soothing, Kenny G-filled rooms of the mall. Ooooh, I can feel myself being transformed right now…..


  6. I think THE most famous clock around where I’m from is the Leyland Clock … now in the Brewery Museum in Kendal, but used to stand just outside the town by the side of the main A6 road. When they saw it, southbound truck drivers knew they were over the sometimes hazardous Shap Fell.

    Now, the A6 has been by-passed by the M6 … and the clock removed.

    You probably noticed, when people retire, and timekeeping doesn’t matter so much any more, they usually get presented with a clock by their employer! On my last day in the Air Force, the supplier asked for the return ofmy trusty (issue) Hamilton Chronograph, causing a colleague to remark that the RAF must be the only organisation in the world to take your watch off you when you retire!


    1. You are joking. They took your watch back? Now that is not kosher. I wonder how the tradition of giving a clock or watch when people retire came about. It is almost the last thing you need when you retire. They should give it to you when you start working 😀


      1. Officially, it wasn’t MY watch, it was THEIR watch. But, I’d worn it for nearly 20 years (it replaced the ‘wind-up’ one I’d been previously issued with) and didn’t, in fact, have a watch of my own.

        (The following day, I bought the ‘Swatch’ you see on my avatar!)


  7. It does seem that way. Though I have seen clocks in NY. But I do wear a watch and not a digital one. If I don’t have it with me, I never know what time it is.

    I suppose if one doesn’t know the exact time, perhaps we could be a little free about what we do.


    1. That’s a really good point. When I don’t wear my watch I automatically slow down. Maybe without watches we’d have a slower-paced, more relaxed life….


  8. Method in their madness (@Gabrielle) if you lose time at shopping centres, and time is, after all, money in more ways than one, how clever of them! I love clocks and the ones that have survived all seem to be from the same generation – or am I wrong?


    1. You’re definitely right, Adeeyoyo. The clocks that have survived do all seem to be from the same era. I think they’ve assumed a kind of iconic status!


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