On Timekeeping, and Other Useful Skills

On Timekeeping, and Other Useful Skills

There's a clock in my father's kitchen. It's on the wall, right above the phone and the pad of paper my father insists on keeping next to the phone, although no-one calls the landline any more and the phone itself has an answering machine. The clock itself ticks. A constant, low-level clicking sound, every second, every minute, of every day. 'Doesn't that drive you crazy?' I asked, over for lunch. 'What?' my father replied, laughing at his own joke. 'The oppressive reminder of the inexorable march of time?' I countered. (To be fair, the food at the lunch was particularly bad. It was the meal that lead me to book him into a cookery course for Christmas. A cookery course he huffily informed me he was 'too qualified for', but then loved).

At school, there was a yearly vote over whether or not to install a clock in the common room. The common room was only accessible to girls in the top two years, and was used primarily for gossiping and moaning about our coursework, although we made sure to imply to the younger years that it was a den of iniquity and wonder. As someone who had already lost her 18th birthday watch, I was ambivalent about having a common room clock. If pushed, I tended to side with the antis, who insisted that any benefits of the clock, such as knowing the time, would be instantly outweighed by its pernicious effects on the 'relaxed' and 'unpressured' atmosphere of the common room.

Currently, there's no clock anywhere in my flat: this is entirely due to the fact that I can't afford the wall clock I want, but I confidently tell visitors that it's to preserve my home's 'relaxed and unpressured atmosphere'. It was seeking this, but without the hassle of washing up after, that I went to The Hour Glass pub. The Hour Glass is in that bit of Knightsbridge/ South Ken that isn't the V&A, or mini-Paris, or that absolutely enormous Ralph Lauren, which I can only assume is a front for some sort of much more interesting business - potentially window-making? They certainly have used an extraordinary amount of glass in their shopfront.

The Hour Glass was described by The Evening Standard as 'a country pub in Kensington', which is inaccurate on both counts: 1. it's not a country pub and 2. it's not in Kensington. A country pub, as everyone knows, has to have at least 3 of the following characteristics in order to qualify: an overtired, muddy, screaming small child; an overtired, muddy, growling dog; several beers on tap which contain punny allusions to local animals; an aversion to 'cityfolk; a few brave souls drinking outside, ostentatious in their hardiness. The Hour Glass is also firmly situated in SW3, not W8. Now, this careful attention to detail might be misconstrued as nitpicking, or painstaking professional sabotage, but it is anything but. It is, rather, an attempt to allow The Hour Glass to be judged fairly, on both its merits (it is a very good pub, serving very good food) and disadvantages (it is named after the worst time-keeping device ever to be put into popular board games: the hour glass).

The Hour Glass is a 2-level gastropub: the ground level has the sort of bar that we once saw Del Boy fall through on Only Fools and Horses (if it had been set in a much cleaner, brighter, glossier type of surroundings) and the first floor is the restaurant. Aesthetically, both parts are delightful: light and comfortable and well-thought out, the type of pub that encourages people to loiter and lets you have dinner without having to eavesdrop on every sentence of the next table's conversation.

We went on Sunday, for a roast. 'Where are you?' I texted, as I sat down and wondered if I had time to have a secret scotch egg before he arrived. Apparently, he had gotten caught in the traffic from the Chelsea game. I was happily perusing the menu when our waiter approached me. 'Um,' he began. 'Is it just you?' 'Oh no,' I replied smugly. 'My friend is joining me.' The waiter continued to stand there. 'And you'll be ordering food?' 'Yes,' I replied. 'Probably quite a lot of it.' 'It's just - the kitchen closes at 5pm.' I looked down at the watch I currently wear - a black plastic Casio, which began its life as an 18th birthday watch stopgap, and has long usurped its place - 4.50pm. As I frantically screenshotted photos of the menu to my friend, whilst simultaneously weighing up the relative merits of whitebait and crab toast (always get both, in case anyone finds themselves in a similar situation), it occured to me that it might just be possible that, every so often, it is worth paying attention to the inexorable march of time.

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