Saturday 25 October 2008

And the clocks go back...

The clocks go back tonight. Or is it forward? (Spring back / Fall forward... Spring forward / Fall back... that's no help at all). Anyway, the upshot is that I get an extra hour in bed tonight, and that is something to be cherished.

In honour of this event (which sees Merton Colleg hold a ceremony involving drinking whilst walking backwards around a quadrangle) I shall pose a literary/clock question... in which books are clocks important? Not necessarily time travel, just significant clocks.

I've got two, both children's books, off the top of my head... let's see if you can match those or find others... you've got an extra hour to think about it!


  1. Off the top of my head, I can come up with two, both children's books -- wonder if they are the same as yours?

    One is James Thurber's delightful The Thirteen Clocks, and the other is the very first Nancy Drew Mystery, The Secret of the Old Clock. I haven't read either in years, but I suspect Thurber holds up better than Nancy.

  2. Has to be Tom's Midnight Garden - I first discovered this when my older son was a small boy and it was a bedtime read I never wanted to end.

    And then there is a wonderful scene in Ferney by James Long, when Ferney and Galley walk miles with other people from around the neighbourhood to see one of the first mechanical clocks.


  3. Alice in Wonderland "I'm late, I'm late".

    I think there is an Agatha Christie with Clocks in the title.

    ..and some sort of Victorian children's classic with a cuckoo clock

    there must be loads

    .. what about "The Hours" - does that count?
    "A Brief History of Time"

  4. I suppose 'Around the World in Eighty Days' has clocks as an importance ... Fogg is so punctual.
    'Peter Pan' of course - with the croc signalling his presence with a tick tock.

    Those are the only two I can think of though!

  5. One you may not have heard of is "The Year's Midnight" by Alex Benzie, which has a village clock at it's centre and a watchmaker as it's main protagonist.

  6. There's Agatha Christie's 'The Clocks'. Though, without wishing to spoil the story for anyone, the clocks aren't actually important. Which is the point.

  7. In 1984 by George Orwell there was
    something very significant about clocks, but I'm blowed if I can remember what it was!

    Can I include Auden's Stop All The Clocks?

  8. My first thought was Tom's Midnight Garden, one of my favorites, and my husband said, Mrs Dalloway (Big Ben). I loved this post, and I read it to said husband and both of us laughed right out loud. I'd love to have participated in the walking backward and drinking. Was there a preferred beverage?? And I thank Colin for the Christie title.

  9. In 1961 Norton Juster wrote The Phantom Tollbooth. Illustrations by Jules Feiffer are totally hilarious. Wish I could show you here the cover of my well-worn copy - maybe I'll have to put it on my blog. The price is printed on this copy - 95 cents. It was new when I bought it. Good grief, just discovered there is no symbol on this keyboard for cents.

    Young Milo receives a mysterious package that looks like a genuine turnpike. With his ticking watchdog named Tock (who has a clock in his belly), he travels through The Lands Beyond.

    But you scared me with this post. I read it late last night, and thought I'd missed all the notices about changing the clocks. Too late for any news on TV or radio, but finally found something on the internet. Haa, ours doesn't happen until next weekend.

  10. How about The Time Machine by H G Wells? Love your question, got me thinking...

  11. Without looking at any of the comments already left, I remember an Agatha Christie The Clocks. Not one of her best, it was one of her later ones but still good.

    Then the Cuckoo Clock by Mrs Molesworth which I read as a child and found curiously spooky. The idea of a bird coming out of a clock and talking scared me though I cannot for the life of me remember why.

    Then Tom's Midnight Garden and the clock striking midnight and he able to meet up with Hattie.

    Of course the famous opening line of Orwell's 1984: "The clock was striking thirteen..."

    This has really set me thinking

  12. Well my clocks don't change tonight but how about The Eleventh Hour, it's a picture book.

  13. What a great set of ideas! One of mine was got by a few people - Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce. The other one I was thinking of was The Borrowers by Mary Norton - I believe they live in a clock, to begin with?

  14. Tom's Midnight Garden is wonderful.

    But The Borrowers live under the floorboards, I think...


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