When my grandmother's mantlepiece clock was repaired, the nice man who fixed it was a clock enthusiast, who was able to tell me a lot of the history of clocks and of the way in which this one had likely come into the family from its origins in Germany.
It's great to hear the busy ticking of the clock again after all this time and its tuneful striking on the hour and half hour.
In honour of its repair, I thought one should mark the special occasion of its hourly and half-hourly labours by a little ritual. Not something that involves shining up the silver tea service (were we to have one), or anything involving a seventeen-syllable poem. Just a little flicker of recognition.... like raising one foot off the ground, perhaps.
So, on the first afternoon after the clock was returned to us as I was sitting watching the start of the News, the clock struck one and I politely raised my left foot.
As the weather girl was pointing at her isobars at 1.30, the clock bonged proudly and I lifted my right foot while sticking my lunch plate into the rack of the dishwasher.
And so it went on, each hour and half hour quietly marked in its dignified way.
One Saturday at two Herself and I sat at the dining room table with the builder, telling him our plans and listening to his estimates for our new extension. I lifted my left foot unseen beneath the table, and twisted my right ear-lobe without comment.
The builder paused and looked at me. Then he went on more slowly with his facts and figures.
At half-two, as we were looking at the drawings and deciding where to put plug sockets, I stamped my right foot loudly on the wooden floorboards without a pause in my conversation.
The builder looked nervously at Herself, then back to me.
"Everything okay?" he asked.
"Oh yes, " I said.
We parted around a quarter to three and he went off muttering.
While having a coffee at the top of the hour I lifted my left foot, tugged my earlobe and winked my eye. A female pedestrian passing outside did a double take through the livingroom window then huffily power-walked up the road, the leads of her iPod swinging angrily left and right.
At three-thirty, Herself being on the phone to Herself's Second Daughter, I lifted my left foot for a moment while settling on the loo.
Just before four, the builder phoned me with some prices. As the clock chimed out merrily, I stood on one leg for a moment, twisted my earlobe, winked one eye and shouted "Bucket of Fish!"
He hung up. Quite abruptly, I thought, too.
At five, Herself put a plate of steak, onions and potatoes in front of me, then whipped it back up as I stood to attention, lifted one foot, twisted an earlobe, winked an eye, shouted "Bucket of Fish", then turned three times around. It was a lovely meal. The steak was just cooked, in that rare kind of way I've learned to enjoy over the past year or so.
The five-thirty news was punctuated by one loud, sharp "Harrrumph!"
As the Angelus bell rang out a half-hour later, Herself and I formed a very fore-shortened conga line that "Hey!"-ed three times in and three times out of the dining room.
My evening cup of tea paused mid-way to my lips as I snapped off a quick "Harrrumph! Bucket of Fish! Garbalbaggle!"
At seven, as Emerdale's theme tune was drowned out by the melodic bongs from above the fireplace, I stamped my left foot and my right, winked at the neighbour, "Harrumph!"-ed, tugged an earlobe suggestively, shouted "Bucket of Fish!", and slapped myself once on the back of the head.
Corrie was welcomed by one slam of the door. It usually is.
"You never watch Corrie with me!" was the plaintive refrain from the living room.... Mostly, I would rather pull my own eyes out than watch that claustrophobic, studio-bound old-fashioned soap opera... I retreated to my little oasis of Internet in the box room.
Anyhow... At eight, in case, by now, I was taking things too far, I stayed upstairs looking through the Facebook staus updates of my electronic friends. Although I was aware of the possibility of getting too hung up on this old clock, I nevertheless quietly:
Politely raised my left foot...
Lifted my right foot...
Twisted my right ear lobe...
Winked one eye...
Very quietly whispered: "Bucket of fish..."
Turned three times around on my swivel chair...
Made a coughing sound somewhat like "Harrrumph!"...
Expressed the word "Garbalbaggle!"...
At eight-thirty I checked Facebook and slapped the monitor once for luck.
We are lucky to have a digital box for the television, which means we can pause live telly and play it back later, because otherwise we wouldn't have heard the news headlines in the tumult of....
Comments about fish...
Extraction of a stray eyelash that had come loose from all the winking and blinking...
Nine-thirty was my evening tea ritual, accompanied by a discreet rattle of the cup on its saucer.
At ten, as I cleared up in the kitchen and loaded up the dishwasher, I rattled one dinner plate, one side plate, one saucer, one soup spoon, one dessert spoon, one teaspoon, one teacup, one fork and one knife in the tray.
At ten-thirty, I found the mug I had missed in the living room on the little side table. It went "Whack!" on the tabletop.
At eleven, I took off my left boot, my right boot, my left sock, my right sock, my trousers, my jumper, my shirt, my gold ring, my other gold ring, my hair bobbin and clicked off the bedroom light.
"Did the builder call you back?" Herself asked in the darkness.
"No," I said. "But I got an email from him saying he would call around tomorrow."
"He said he'd be here around twelve..."
"Do you think I should ask him to make it half-past... or maybe one?"
"It might be for the best..."
"I'll do that then. Good night."