Grandad’s old clock, the one that stopped the day he died, does match it when I give it a shake - but that’s only because it’s completely worn out and and doesn’t keep time. In fact it invariably stops after 30 seconds tormenting my longing for the beat. Uncanny. Every time, 30 seconds. I urge it to keep going, like I am craving a drug - but each time it stops. There must be a bent tooth on the escapement wheel.

Tic... Tic... Tic... Tic... Tic... Tic... Tic... Tic... Tic... Tic

Maybe if I open it up and take the movement out I could...

“OI! Cloth ears!” Bill’s somewhat irritated tone suggests I have been less than attentive.

“Yeah, what? Sorry, Bill, I was miles away.”

“So I noticed, always dreaming - and talking to yourself. Again.” His tone is now best described as, well disappointed. Almost sad.

A bit younger than me. A bit taller than me. Probably a bit smarter than me... and, yes, a lot wiser than me, is Bill. We’ve been friends since, well oddly enough, since my obsession with ticking things kicked off. Yes, definitely then, we met in the first year of...

“HEY! How do you do it?” He’s exasperated.

“We were literally in mid conversation and you drifted off again, why do you do that?”

“I don’t actually ‘do’ it...” even as the words pass my lips I am abundantly aware of the lameness of my statement.

“YES, you do!” Yeah, he’s pissed with me.

“I meant, not intentionally. Sorry. What were you saying?”

“I was asking,” he says, slowly and-oh-so-deliberately. “Have you done it yet?”

“Done what?”

“Have-you-booked ‘The Event’?”

Shit! Not this again. Leave me alone! I’ve lost count of how many times I have had to endure this.

“No, I haven’t. Now can we drop this please, it’s a nice day?”

 

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