The Clock Tower


Christchurch Park

Sitting here with a glass of red wine and the lights low firmly grasping my imaginary life rewind button I recall a day from my teen years. I am with two friends in the long hot summer holiday. We are in ChristchurchPark in the round seated stand under the clock tower atop of the big hill much used for sledging during a snowy winter. However today it is hot and Norman has with him his garden shed key. It was a week or so ago that we discovered, by pure chance, that this key fitted the lock to the clock tower and today we were going to put this to use in the first of a series of jolly japes.

Every day at about this time an elderly gentleman walking stick in one hand and an oblong wicker shopping basket in the other would approach the Clock Tower from the direction of the town and stop hook his walking stick over his arm, put down his shopping basket and then remove a half hunter from his waistcoat, a very unsuitable garb for the heat of a summer’s day, and check his timepiece with the four faced clock on the tower and then adjust and wind it before returning it to his waistcoat pocket.

Today would be different. An out of breath John arrived “he’s coming” he said gasping for breath. Norman unlocked the clock tower door and swung it open I reached inside and changed the time by five minutes. Up come the elderly gentleman and hooking his walking stick over his arm before putting down his shopping basket he removed his half hunter from his waistcoat and checked his timepiece with the four faced clock on the tower. We could hear him “tut-tut” as he adjusted and wound it before returning it to his waistcoat pocket. The elderly gentleman picked up his   

shopping basket and strolled on towards the large imposing houses bordering the North side of the park. Most days for a couple of weeks we played the same trick on the elderly gentleman, and becoming more daring, would alter the clock by up to twenty minutes fast or slow until by the end of the fortnight we first became sorry for the elderly gentleman and his unfailing belief in the accuracy of the four faced clock in the tower and then, not many days later, we became ashamed of ourselves. Norman, John and I never went to the Clock Tower again. A good memory and one of my first lessons in compassion.