A Timeless Village or Time For A Change?
By Justin Hill
When I was child I can clearly remember my grandfather saying to me “If you want to know the time ask a Policeman!”. Of course times change and as I grew up I found myself eventually wearing a watch. As a teenager the digital variety was the way to go, mine had an annoying tinny alarm that played the ‘Yellow Rose Of Texas’. As I got older I drifted back to the classic sweeping hand style watches of old and still wear one to this day which gains 5 minutes every 24 hours due to it being a Thai copy which I bought in Chiang Mai in the North of Thailand.
We are now in an age where everything tells the time. The various TV's in the house all tell the time, my XBox tells the time, my iPad, Laptop and PC tell the time and of course my phone tells me the time. If we can’t be bothered to look at it ourselves instead of asking a policeman we can ask devices like Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google who will willingly shout the time out at us on demand in a monotone lifeless voice and will also offer things like what the weather is doing, when the next bus is and what the tide times are.
Because we are surrounded and engulfed by time telling gadgetry nowadays I was surprised to read that a new clock was being proposed for the ancient and historical Domesday village of Rottingdean. The proposed clock would not only tell the time but would also notify people of the times of the tide and its location would be somewhere on the crossroads where the village meets the coast road. I have to be honest and say that I am having trouble getting my head around this idea. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a decent clock and adore the Jubilee Clock Tower (built in 1888) on North Street, the Grade II listed Queen's Park Clock Tower (built in 1915) and of course the Floral Clock (planted in 1952 for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II) in Hove's Palmeira Square but something just doesn’t sit right for me regarding this new 'timely venture'.
I can’t help but feel that at a cost of roughly £18,000 and standing at just 4 metres (13 feet 1.48 inches) in height that the new clock 'tower' will rapidly turn out to be a rather costly and somewhat incongruous white elephant. It was said that “it would be great to see kids looking up from their phones to see the time and tide” but having driven in and around Brighton in this mobile age I can tell you they don’t even look up to cross the road! What makes anyone think they’ll look up to see if the tide is in or out? You can also bet your bottom dollar that it would be scrawled on and vandalised within months of it being built due to its location. Surely the money could be put to better use in and around this famous and picturesque village. I am sure that £18,000 would be appreciated and go a long way for the Rottingdean Preservation Society or the wonderful Beacon Hub rather than being spent on a clock that few will give the time of day for.
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