The clock maker (Gloria)
Describe your concept of time in one word.
How long have you worked with clocks?
About 30 years. I used to, um, a couple of people bought clocks in to me, I used to do woodwork and then I repaired them and I got started that way. I ran a craft centre and then people started bringing them in and when the craft centre finished I started this full time.
Has there ever been a clock that you haven’t been able to fix?
He laughs. Close to it, a couple of times, close to it.
His daughter: ‘There was a boomerang clock that you had, wasn’t there, that kept coming back.’
If you had to personify the mechanical system within a clock, how would you describe that grouping of parts in human terms?
That’s a difficult one really, I mean, people tend to use clocks, or cogs, as caricatures of humans. Like a face with the hands and so on, and also cogs within the body and so on so it’s more the other way round, so human terms to describe a clock, more than it’s used to caricature the other way round. It’s interesting how people describe clocks, are they male or female . . . I find it quite interesting how people describe their clocks in terms of their sexuality, some people talk about her, or about him. People often describe a wall clock for instance as a, well, ‘she’ – ‘she’s not doing that well’ ‘she’s suffering’ ‘the old girl’s . . .’ interesting, sort of depending on people’s background I think, there’s no fixed rules. Like a lot of people describe their cars as ‘she’s’ . . .
Are you able to able to switch off from hearing the clocks?
In a sense I never hear them. It’s one of the problems because in a sense you get used to them. You get used to everything. I mean that’s man’s inherent nature isn’t it. It’s like Dostoevsky’s House of the Dead. What is extreme or different, becomes normal. Man has the ability to adapt which is probably our unique characteristic. We adapt to most things don’t we. So yes, uh, it can get a little . . .if you’ve got four or five clocks and you’re waiting for things to tick. It can be a problem hearing the bells go because I can’t remember if I’ve heard it or not. So sometimes if things have a problem I can be waiting for it to go and it doesn’t, or I think it doesn’t . . . Ah, that’s just done exactly what we were talking about, it’s gone out of beat. . . right . . .ah so you adapt and you don’t hear them or sometimes something happens like you have a big clock and you sometimes sit there quietly of an evening and you hear it, you know, it comes in and out, I think that’s true of everything, people say that about telly and the radio.
Extract from an interview with John Kendall at ‘Number Four’ in East Finchley.
23rd March 2012