Monday, August 13, 2012
The Story of the Cuckoo Clock
This is my cuckoo clock. Its probably one of my favorite things in the whole house. But its also one of the things that makes me very sad - so its a very bittersweet thing indeed.
This particular clock, I purchased in Lucerne - when I say I purchased it, what I really mean is that I chose it and my ever wonderful parents paid for it. It was in 2008 whilst on a European holiday with my mum and dad (which they also paid for ... yes, I am exceptionally spoilt!) I had planned on this purchase, and although the Cuckoo Clock is traditionally German, I had to buy this in Switzerland for a very good reason. I had it boxed up and sent home to Australia, except for the two weights, they would have cost a fortune to post, so poor Dad had to carry them in his hand luggage!
The design is an exact replica of a clock my Grandparents had, and this is where the sad story comes into play. When I was a little girl, I loved my Grandads cuckoo clock. I recall vividly, asking Grandad to make the little bird come out of its hole and 'cuckoo, cuckoo'. I never tired of it (like I am sure Granddad did) and he patiently wound the clock hands around to make the little bird pop out. It's one of the only interactions I recall as a small girl with Grandad, he was not a man who liked little children very much, in fact his two favorite sayings were 'Silence is Golden' (I SO know what he is talking about NOW!) and 'Children should be Seen and not Heard'. So to have this gruff man be so sweet and kind to me when he made the cuckoo pop out is a treasured memory.
I also loved the smell of the clock. Grandad smoked a pipe and I have always loved the smell of tobacco (as opposed to cigarettes). His house always smelt manly and warm and inviting. As a teenager and young adult, I saw a new side to my Grandad, when he moved to live in a flat on my parents farm, there too was his cuckoo clock. Grandma by this stage, was in a home, sadly she had a severe stroke very young and needed high care. This is where I re-connected to this man, he became a good friend then, and I saw him love and take time with my own sons in a way he had never done with us grand kids as children. Old age had softened him. I would watch with love, as he showed my little lads the very same as he had done to me, the cuckoo coming out of its hole to tell us the time. My boys had the same delight on their faces as I must have done.
The clock was purchased by Grandma and Granddad on their honeymoon in Switzerland. It was 1936, so its not a particularly old clock, and was not a overly expensive one either.
When my Granddad died in 1993, he left me the cuckoo clock. It was sad to have found him as an adult to have lost him again so soon, so this clock became a symbol of that relationship. I loved having it in my house, truly treasured it. It still had his smell and I could still imagine his gnarled fingers winding the hands forward to make it 'cuckoo'. Mr K however did not share the love, he hates ticking clocks and hated even more the little cuckoo coming out to announce the time (he used to lock the little birds door at night).
When we moved to our new house, the clock was not working very well and I decided to have it serviced by a local clock maker in Guildford. He was reputable, long time clock maker, with a little shop in the village, along side all the antique shops and tearooms. The clock man need to have a part that had worn down, re-manufactured, so it took a number of months to have the repairs done. Every few weeks I would call him to see if it was ready yet, and one day, when I called, the number said it was disconnected. A little shocked, I got in the car and went down to the shop, to find it all closed up and emptied. My heart sank, I panicked and cried and tried every thing I could to find where the clock man had gone! After months of trying, I gave up and realised my beloved cuckoo clock had gone, it was not just a clock I had lost (or had stolen if you want to view it that way) but a deep connection to my Grandparents. It took me a long time to get over that, and if I am honest, I still feel very sad about it.
That's why I had to buy a new clock when I went to Switzerland. I decided to start a new tradition and carry with it this story. Every time someone comments on my clock, I tell them this story - that way it stays alive! Not sure what bad karma a wicked clock maker would bring upon himself for this deed, but I can imagine it would be a lifetime of out of time clocks! Or being pecked by a cuckoo! I hope it went to a loving home.