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My Clock Won?t Run


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About the Author My grandfather died when I was seven. We lived in Southport England. He had owned three grandfather clocks. About a year after he died, I asked my mother what happened to the grandfather clocks. She said they were distributed to the grandchildren. I said "where is mine?" She said I think auntie Florrie got one. Next time we were visiting auntie Florrie, I said to her "you got my grandfather clock" in a way only an 8 year old could without being disrespectful. I caught her off guard, but she replied, I could have it when the time was right. As a kid, whenever I saw an old clock at a jumble sale or going cheap, I would buy it and take it apart to see how it worked. I don't think I ever got one back together again but I enjoyed tinkering with them. Twenty years later when I was getting married, now living in the USA, auntie Florrie wrote to me saying I could now have the clock. I arranged to have the clock shipped over and it was proudly placed in the entrance hall to my home. It was built in about 1880 in Maghull England by a local clockmaker, had a stately mahogany case, hand painted dial and ran nicely. After a few years it stopped. I was frustrated that I didn't know what was wrong with it or how to get it going. I ended up having it serviced by a local repair shop and it ran again. I was fascinated with the clock. In 2005, my family decided to spend a year in England including putting the kids in school. It was a big challenge to arrange to swap houses with an English family. Finally we were settled and the kids started school, my wife was volunteering at a local charity shop and suddenly I had time on my hands. I read the paper that morning and came across an ad for a clock course starting nearby at Manchester City College. I called the college and they told me it was a three year course, one day per week. I explained I was only in the country for one year, so I persuaded them to let me take the course, coming all three days. I enjoyed the course and did very well. The final exam took several weeks, making a 'suspension bridge' from scratch to exact specifications, restoring several old clocks and documenting the process, and sitting an extensive final written exam all set by BHI [British Horological Institute]. I did pass the exams and became a Horologist. 20 years later I teach clock repair classes and pass it on.

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