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Monday 22nd January, 2018

Bizarre Thought for the Week, w/c 14th April 2008
Author:
Tony Dobson

Hi all,
For a day and a half at work last week I was without a watch. Both the watch my colleagues gave me for the thirtieth and my emergency backup had the batteries die on me (I know, that sounds like one of those "For it to happen once is unfortunate, twice is just careless" stories. Fine, think that. I could really care less.), which left me to rely on telephony and computers to know the time.

Worse than that though was the general appearance of my left arm. As if the feeling of nothing being there wasn't bad enough, then the appearance of a tan line - and proof of my natural pasty, white skin - was. Add in the fact that my forearms have never filled out like my Dad's did and I was left feeling extremely conscious of my Peter Crouch-like limbs reaching out in front of me.

(Should I? Shouldn't I? I've had a rotten week, please excuse the indulgence: "Freeeeeaaaak!")

So now's probably as good a time as any to go through some of the watches I've owned. If you don't like portable timepieces feel free to come back next week.

My first watch: I remember it really clearly, which means I must have pestered my parents and Grandmother for one for ages. For some reason I really remember showing it off in a shoe shop my Gran took me into. The pale face under the glass, along with the red cotton strap. Traditional, small and large hands in their typical place. I guess I must have been about five years old.

By the way this is the sort of thing that when my two-year-old daughter has one will almost certainly be kept to one side by me so she can look back at stuff like this, much to her Mum's disgust. We may as well argue about this now so we can get it out of the way.

My first digital watch: A few years later Christmas Day brought a big treat, my first digital watch. All black besides the display, with the famous Casio branding. This was a big deal, with a numerical display and four buttons, including the difficult to press adjust button (that still exists all these years later by the looks of things).

Three rather daft things stick in my mind about this watch:

1) In keeping with my life to come, I would be between sizes. The third button from the end of the strap was too tight, the fourth button was too loose. An additional button would need to be put into the strap.
2) The light! I loved that feature. It was extremely cool. Nowadays the light on my mobile phone is like a lighthouse in comparison. It's amazing how easily you're impressed when you're a kid.
3) The stopwatch. I definitely had this watch when I was nine, because I spent most of the Los Angeles Olympics timing events and seeing if I could get the same time as was shown on the TV. As you might have guessed, I didn't have many friends back then. That's the kind of thing you do for fun when you grow up in Cornwall and are starved of any professional sport of your doorstep.

I loved that watch. Besides anything else it was probably the first thing that I could become totally geeky with my step-father about, which is a fond memory for me.

The world time watch: I got this in my teens. It had the light, the stopwatch and world times when you wanted them! This was really cool... until you had to figure out when each time zone had put it's clocks forward and which ones hadn't, when your head started to spin a bit and you just stuck with the ones you knew.

The temperature watch: Another watch I loved, because although it sat on your wrist it would update with the external temperature every two minutes. To be honest I've no idea just how accurate this was, but it was a lot of fun, especially in quiet moments at school on a summer day when you were sitting next to a window.

The remains of this watch survived in my bathroom for a long time. Tarty bathroom clock for me? Not really me if truth be told.

The eighteenth birthday present: I don't want to embarrass the person who sent me this, but it was pretty cool to go along to a Post Office depot and pick up the lovely watch I was sent then. It was the first watch I'd had with only hands on it since my first watch, and also the first watch with a catch as opposed to a buckle on the strap. It was a lovely present, and an act of generosity which I've still not forgotten.

Anyway, the strange thing about this watch is that two months after my birthday I got a letter from the Post Office with a further two birthday cards. As it turned out it was an apology for the cards being late, and a request to contact the senders to make sure no contents were missing. Seemingly there had been some iffy business going on in the depot. As it turned out both cards were just that, only cards. Somehow two cards with nothing else inside were taken aside, while a reasonably sized package with a watch reached me safely. Go figure.

The engagement present: Still the watch of choice at the weekend, but it goes nowhere near work (I know, my fingers are fine for getting trapped in floorports but my watch is kept safe, when one is replaceable and the others aren't - it makes no sense). I'm not saying anything other than it remains one of my most treasured possessions.

The thirtieth present: Given to me by my colleagues, it's really too nice to be worn in the office when you're burrowing under desks. However my work-mates were quite insistent that I wore it to work, and I wouldn't like to offend them so I wear it and hope it doesn't end up getting broken in some unlikely way.

The last two watches have something in common. There's absolutely no kind of digital fallback. You just work with a big hand, a small hand, and a second hand. Fine on most occasions, just not when you're really tired. What time is that again? Not a good situation.

I think this is where I'm meant to thank you for your time. (Don't all groan at once.)

Have a good week!
Tony

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