Saturday, 1 January 2011


In my native land the date is always given in the order of day/month/year.

In my adopted land is it given as month/day/year.

It seems to me that there is a logical progression in the British system, viz: we count up days to make a month, then count up months to make a year.

There was transatlantic unity today.  We each could write 1/1/11.  On November 20th of this year the British will be able to write 20/11/2011 -  a pleasure which will be denied to we Americans!

When announcing the time it used to be that Americans would say "twenty til" (the hour) or "twenty five after the hour", whilst at home we would say "twenty to" or "twenty five past".

Nowadays fewer and fewer people wear watches. Instead they use their mobile phone to discover the time, displayed of course in digital mode.  Thus there is a generation on both countries  who will announce the time as a series of numbers, i.e. 10:40, rather than "20 til" or "20 to".

This way of telling the time is  all very convenient and useful, and I have no deep "beef" with it. 

Save to say that the older way of telling the time carried with it a sense of the passage of time.  Saying that the time is "twenty to/til eleven", or "twenty five after/past eleven" conveys more than saying that it is "10:40" or "11:25".

That's why all my house clocks and my watch are analogue (save one which is linked by radio to the atomic clock)  To look at the face of a clock or watch gives me a sense of the time in relationship to the entire day.

Six of us gathered today to celebrate the 80th birthday of our beloved English-born St. Boniface parishioner, Muriel Quinn.  She hails from Oldham, Lancs. We had a lot of fun as we greeted her with "Land of Hope and Glory" and serenaded her with "She's my lassie from Lancashire".  Three of we guests were from Britain, and our hosts had spent many years there, so we each got a bit sentimental and teary eyed as we also sang "And did those feet in ancient times".

After the birthday lunch we had a spontaneous sing-a-long around the dining table.  One of our songs was "My Grandfather's clock" -  which we sang with great gusto.

My grandfather's clock
Was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half
Than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn
Of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.


Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

I have two "wind up" clocks -  a 30 day wall clock and a 7 day mantle clock.  In the quietness of my home I am often soothed by the "tick, tock, tick, tock" of these clocks.

I rejoice in the digital age.  I think that it is a pity that my younger relatives and friends will never doze off  for an afternoon nap with the soothing sounds of "tick, tock, tick, tock"!

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