The clock in my great-grandmother's house always seemed to tick-tock louder than clocks elsewhere.
A neo-classical construction of marble and glass with more whirring cogs and wheels than a Steampunk time machine, my great-grandmother's clock not only dominated the conversation, it also dominated her mantelpiece like an especially fat owl balancing on a tiny twig.
The horrible thing was better suited to a lawyer's office than an ancient widower's living room. God knows where it came from. Only the most Trollopian of interior decorators would consider such a formidable timepiece appropriate for a domestic setting.
Perhaps its remarkable tick-tock volume was simply the consequence of the lack of rival ambient noise from daytime television. Or merely caused by a tick-tock echo bouncing off her high ceiling and heavy furniture. Or perhaps it was just a much larger clock than most other people own. Whatever the reason, I found the noise rather disconcerting whenever my family visited her for an otherwise pleasant afternoon of tea, cakes, and a brief recital of my minor accomplishments at school.
As I regaled the assembled company with tales of how, for instance, I hadn't actually failed biology, the clock's insistent ticking and tocking was a constant heckler of my every word, as if it were profoundly bored and mechanically booing me off-stage.
Occasionally, I tried to compete with the clock's earsplitting tick tocks by slurping my tea in a particularly disgusting manner or kicking the back of my heels against a chair leg. But such tactics only earned me severe admonishments and threats of all cake being withdrawn from my orbit. You can't beat the clock, as they say.
When my great-grandmother died, as the family looted her house for tokens of remembrance, my crazy aunt Eunice decided she wanted the clock. Alas, it proved too cumbrous to be easily removed from its mantelpiece perch, so she left it there and took a much lighter crystal vase instead. No doubt the clock is currently deafening an antique store somewhere in darkest Connecticut.
As for me, I was lucky enough to receive an expensive new watch for my recently celebrated fiftieth birthday. However, I can't help noticing the second hand is much noisier than the second hands on my previous watches.
Tick tock. Tick tock. Time marches onwards and its footsteps are getting louder.