Anchored securely in No 1 position on Mrs GOF’s “One hundred things GOF does which annoy the crap out of me” list must surely be my obsession with forward planning, timeliness and punctuality.
She was raised in a culture which does not give a rat’s arse about any of these things, which probably explains why she is such a perennially happy soul, while I am condemned to eternal (but nevertheless well planned) Grumpy Old Farthood.
Anyhow, be that as it may, here is my story.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The older one grows the more difficult it becomes to precisely remember life events in their correct chronological order.
The old faithful milestones are still useful; school graduations, geographical relocations, births, deaths, and marriages.
I also have 44 diaries covering the period 1968-2012, but alas they are seriously lacking in useful personal information.
This year I had to buy a new watch, the 5th which I have owned and the purchase dates of each have divided my life into convenient compartments which aid my memory.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
1. This first watch was my tenth birthday present. I remember the day as though it were only yesterday. My parents took me down to the jewellers shop in Barker Street, Castlemaine, where I chose this boys Longines watch. I never tired of the magic of this timepiece and used to lie in bed at night wondering how it was possible for the hands and numbers to glow in the dark….a new innovation in the 1950’s.
This watch accompanied one boy’s very awkward and inept transition through adolescence into young manhood.
2. This was my first major purchase after beginning work in Papua New Guinea at the age of nineteen. At the time, I thought this Seiko Chronograph was the most beautiful and functional man-made object I had ever seen. (These days I would nominate the Cessna Citation aircraft for that award.) Even today I remain in awe of Seiko’s precision, durability and self-winding technology.
I stumbled upon it entirely by accident. The manager of the Christian Missions in Many Lands at Anguganak in PNG’s remote West Sepik District occasionally imported Seiko watches from Japan for missionary staff, and he had this duck’s nuts of all watches sitting on his desk when I dropped in on him one day.
As my original ‘kid’s watch’ was not water resistant and died a horrible corrosive death soon after my arrival in PNG I could not resist this beautiful piece of machinery.
It cost $80 at a time when my weekly salary was $60.
This watch accompanied me on all the PNG adventures described previously on this blog, then returned with me to Australia where we did a little outback flying together and discovered on two separate occasions how time could actually stand still when the only engine in a Cessna 206 aircraft fails in midflight.
3. This one got up early with me in the mornings to go and milk cows for other farmers and hump backpack sprayers full of Agent Orange over hills and dales to kill their pasture weeds….all just to keep food on our table.
It also kept watch over establishing a partially self-sufficient lifestyle in the Australian bush by planting and harvesting by hand acres of sweet potato, taro, cassava and yams.
Looking at this battered deceased old watch today reminds me that life was not always easy.
4. This watch continued farming in the mud and occasionally dust, then built shade houses for tree ferns and bromeliads.
It propagated tree-fern spores, nurturing them until they were 70 kilogram monsters dug out of the ground with a spade, then lifted them by hand for transport to landscapers in town.
It also witnessed much of these good works being demolished twice in 5 years by major cyclones and rebuilt them on both occasions.
5. Bought online from Hong Kong for less than the cost of having watch #4 professionally cleaned in Australia.
This Seiko has a transparent case back which enables me to peer at all it’s intricate inner workings….all the springs and cogs and spinning wheels which makes me appreciate what a privilege it has been to live my life at this time in history and own these beautifully crafted instruments.
I like the idea of this watch and I growing old together, as it is entirely possible that we’ll both run out of tick at around the same time.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *