steepholm (steepholm) wrote,


Here in the birthplace of Chatterton I had a rather Leech-Gatherer-esque conversation today, with old Mr Ford the clock mender of Gloucester Rd. I've not been much of a customer over the years. If he replaced my watch battery occasionally that was about it, but when I cleared my mother's house last year I discovered the rather handsome little Swiza mantel clock that used to be my grandmother's. It was missing a few parts, but I hoped that Mr Ford would a) find it interesting and b) be able to fix it.

I took it in December last year, and at that time he stiffened with interest. "The best brand there is," he declared, "but they've been out of business these thirty years and parts are hard to find. Perhaps my brother-in-law can find some on the internet," he added doubtfully, before leaning forward, his face suddenly avaricious and hungry, like Bilbo's in the film of Fellowship when Gandalf tries to take the ring off his hands: "Unless you want to flog it?"

I said I'd see if he could get the parts first, and slipped out of the tiny shop and away.

Today I went to see how he'd got on, but it was no dice, alas. "Would you still be interested buying it?" I asked, remembering his former enthusiasm. "I would, but I'm 90 years old, I have the flu, and I'm going to be packing it in soon," came the lugubrious reply. He then started a predictable but gloomy story about how his children weren't interested in the watch-and-clock trade, how no one appreciated a clockwork motion in these digital days, and how that was a crying shame - which I could only agree with, though as guilty as anyone. He opened his shop in 1954 - a lifetime ago, really - but the trade was dying, and most of the people he had known and cared about (including his Scottish wife, who used to call him an "English bastard") were long gone.

To be honest, he wasn't quite as stoical as Wordsworth's leech gatherer, but I liked him much the better for it.
Tags: bristol, real life
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded