the weekly

Clocking On and Holiday

Clocking On

Hang on a sec, or a tick,
Hold the third pip for a mo,
We may be one bit of quintillion quick
Or a bit of quintillion slow:
And if we are slower, or if we are faster,
Then that is a total and tragic disaster.

Alarm clocks that wake you from slumbers
When you’ve been on a bender or booze
Can’t compete or compute tiny numbers
And allow you to have the odd snooze
But you have to keep pace with the breaking-news media,
Be right on the beat and not slower or speedier.

The train that will knock off an hour
To Birmingham, even to Leeds,
Must have accurate timing as well as the power –
Indeed, it quite obviously needs
To be timely as any ytterbium lattice:
Even though no-one’s certain exactly what that is.

When the bankers are wrong on the money,
And politicos careless or late,
We know they’re too hard or too runny
And not on the dot or the date –
They’re careless as every over-fed Bacchus,
Are lazy, are feckless, are reckless, are slackers.

When a clock that’s been built’s so precise,
You have to hit buttons on time:
You can’t pause to take some advice –
You have to be snappy as rhyme.
If you want to be perfect, and perfectly clean
This clock is for you and your faulty machine.

Click here for a Telegraph story


You go away, and turn your phone
To dead. You’re in the empty zone,
Where news stands still, and iPhones stall,
And once again, the world is small.
You do not need the internet
Because you can forget, forget, forget,
As in a moment, you can turn a
Blind eye in a cool taverna,
Logged off from signals, in the dark,
Adrift as Noah and his Ark.

Come back from this sublime Illyria:
A thousand massacred in Syria.
By gas. It makes you feel a scrounger –
They died. You lay there on a lounger,
As helpless as you would have been,
But ignorant, and far too clean.


Click here to buy Bill’s poetry collection Ringers

Click here to follow Bill’s New Statesman research

Clocking On and Holiday

Scientists have created a clock ten times more accurate than before.

Bonus poem with apologies for having a week off ...

27 August 2013


Home/Join | List | Next | Previous | Random