Richard Ord: A brief history of that ticky tocky thing

The big hand, that's not hand-shaped at all, is pointing up and the little one is pointing at the seven. So it must be time to look for my mobile phone!
The big hand, that's not hand-shaped at all, is pointing up and the little one is pointing at the seven. So it must be time to look for my mobile phone!
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“What’s the time Dad?” our Isaac asked. “Here,” I said, and pointed my watch face in his direction.

“Can’t you just tell me?” he whined, staring at the watch as if I’d just presented him with an ornately carved pineapple on a rotating plinth with which to tell the time.

“Work it out,” I said.

“I can’t,” he replied. “There’s no numbers. Just tell me.”

Isaac is 14 years old.

Last week it was revealed that schools are to remove analogue clocks from exam halls because students are struggling to read them.

Critics are naturally appalled (well, it is their job. No use being a critic who’s naturally delighted with all that they encounter), claiming it’s a sign of falling education standards.

It’s not. It’s the inherent laziness of the teenager coupled with, ironically enough, the relentless march of time which are to blame. Watches are pretty much obsolete these days.

They are, to anyone under 21, purely for decoration. (Like rotating carved pineapples.)

Neither of my sons, Isaac and Bradley, 17, have worn watches. They use their mobile phones to tell the time. Watches are too much effort.

With a watch, you have to lift your arm to your face, pull back your sleeve, then twist your wrist to that you can see the watch face. And that’s before you begin to complete the arduous task of locating the two watch hands and the numbers to which they are pointing in order to calculate the time.

In the case of my two boys, you also have to factor in the fact that half the time they have probably lifted the wrong arm to their face in the first place! (They pull back their sleeve to reveal no watch! “Damn, must be on the other arm. Why must it be so complicated?” Shakes fist at sky.)

You may argue that it’s an equally time consuming process to put your hand in your pocket and get your mobile phone out before switching it on and putting it to your face. But again, you’d be wrong. My two boys’ mobile phones never see their pockets ... they are permanently out and in their faces.

The march of time and rise of technology has seen many things fall from favour. The mobile phone has pretty much killed off the wristwatch and the public telephone box.

Technology is also killing off the shop assistant. There was time when you walked into a shop and you said what you wanted and the greengrocer would weigh your goodies, run the them through the till, return your change and send you on your way.

These days we do it all. With a computer barking at us all the way.

I can see a time when we’re not only weighing and packing, but picking and slicing our own meat and veg.

Sainsbury’s won’t be supermarket, it’ll be a fields of animals and crops which we pay for the privilege of farming ourselves!

And when will that time come? I dunno, my watch doesn’t say... ask our Isaac.