Wednesday 13 October 2010

The Clock.

It was Monsignor Thomas’ 30th Anniversary as a priest and the Bishop had arranged a Celebratory Reunion at Bishop’s House.

Father Ignatius had been invited and he was very eager to attend since he had not seen Monsignor Thomas for quite sometime. They knew each other well and had trained together as young priests all those many years ago.

A few weeks before the Reunion Father Ignatius was in the big city for business. He passed by an antiques shop and saw a lovely old wooden mantelpiece clock. It was made of very dark ebony wood with a clock face made of pale yellowish ivory encrusted with large gold numerals and hands. It wasn’t too big, or too small. Just the right size to put on a mantelpiece, a bookshelf or on a desk! In fact it was the perfect present for Monsignor Thomas. He would be so pleased to have that in his office, thought Father Ignatius.

He entered the shop and to his surprise, despite the antique's age and quality it was priced just right. So he bought it and was very pleased with himself.

When he arrived back at his Parish that evening Father Ignatius discovered to his great chagrin that the clock did not work. It was OK in the shop, so something must have happened during transit from the city.

The next day he took the clock to the local horologist … at least that’s what it said on the shop window. “James Merry-Time Horologist”

The young attendant at the shop, dressed very smartly in a three-piece suit, welcomed the priest and announced proudly in an impeccable upper-class English accent that the Company had been in business for 150 years and now had 27 branches nationwide.

“We are proud to serve time after time! That’s our Company motto Sir!” he concluded with a smile.

He then looked at the clock carefully and advised Father Ignatius that it was a unique and very valuable time-piece. The mechanism had been slightly damaged during the journey from the city but it could easily be fixed for £20.

The priest readily agreed to this and left the clock in the shop intending to collect it when it was fixed.

A week later he returned and was greeted by the same shop attendant.

Ashen faced the attendant announced that the clock was nowhere to be found. They looked everywhere for it but could not find it. It wasn’t in the storeroom, nor the workshop, and not in the safe either, where valuable pieces are always kept for safe-keeping.

The young attendant lamented the disappearance of the clock … “Tempus Fugit” he said with a wry smile which the priest did not appreciate.

“It was such a lovely time-piece too,” he said soothingly, “perfect movement and spring action … reminiscent of the Georgian period I would say, probably earlier … solid gold numerals and hands set against an ivory clock face all encased in an ebony framework …Very unusual combination of materials, if I may say so Sir!”

And so he went on describing the missing clock as if he was at an auction enticing as many buyers as possible to bid highly for it.

All this did not help the priest one bit.

“What do you propose doing about it?” he asked in desperation.

“Well Sir …” said the attendant, “we could offer you a refund if you have proof of purchase or a valuation certificate or something that would ascertain its true value!”

As it happened, the priest still had the receipt from the city shop where he bought the clock. It cost exactly £100.

“That is indeed a valuable clock Sir.” said the attendant looking at the receipt, “I would have valued it at that sum if not a little higher … but then it should be … it is unique after all. They don’t make such lovely clocks like this anymore you know. Beautiful wooden craftsmanship is very difficult to find these days! And solid gold numerals and hands as I recall.”

The priest felt really low at having lost such a valuable item; especially when he heard it described so eloquently by someone who knew his trade very well.

The man continued in the same polite and considered voice.

“Our establishment deeply apologizes for the loss you have suffered Sir, and we offer you the sum of £80 in full recompense for our temporary drop in our high standard of service.”

Father Ignatius was totally perplexed at the amount offered in compensation.

“Why are you offering just £80?” he asked, “you can see from the receipt I paid £100 for the clock only a few days ago.”

“That is indeed correct Sir,” said the shop attendant, “but we have to deduct £20 for fixing the clock as you requested.”

Father Ignatius was astounded at what he’d just heard.

“But …” he paused for a while, “you lost the clock. A clock costing me £100 to purchase! You can’t deduct £20 because you fixed it since I do not have the clock to take with me.”

“Oh indeed we can …” continued the attendant politely, “the work was done at our workshop Sir. I inspected the clock myself after it was fixed and it passed our high standards of quality control. It was working perfectly. Surely you can’t expect us not to be paid for work carried out? That would hardly be fair, would you not say?”

There was no point in arguing further. The attendant was adamant that only £80 would be offered in compensation because the clock which was not working properly beforehand had indeed now been fixed. Father Ignatius took the amount offered and went away more puzzled than deflated.

It seems that there must be in Heaven a Patron Saint of Horology and all things relating to clocks.

Because a few days later Father Ignatius received a letter from the shop stating that the clock was ready for collection.

He rushed to the shop with a heart overflowing with joy and met the very same young attendant … and there, ready for collection, was the valuable clock working perfectly.

“Oh you found it … thank you so much!” said the priest smiling broadly.

“Indeed Sir,” said the attendant, “it was not so much lost than just temporarily misplaced due to refurbishment of our premises. We pride ourselves in this establishment never to lose our patrons property Sir.”

“That’s nice … now I’d better give you your £80 back.”

“What for Sir?” enquired the young man rather puzzled.

“You know … the £80 compensation you gave me when the clock was lost!”

“That will not be necessary Sir. As I’ve explained, the clock was never lost. It was temporarily misplaced. It was here all the time.”

“I’m glad about that … but you must see that you’re down on the deal, as they say. You fixed the clock for me, it is now found, and you gave me £80.”

“I do understand Sir,” said the man in his impeccable English, “I have checked with our Head Office and they explained that as the clock was never lost we were wrong to give you £80 compensation. That transaction never took place as far as we’re concerned.”

“That’s very generous,” replied Father Ignatius with a smile, “but tell me … what would have happened if the clock had not been found?”

“That is an impossibility as far as we’re concerned Sir. In our 150 years’ history no item has ever been lost. Very rarely, as indeed it did occur on this occasion, an item is misplaced and eventually found. Misplaced Sir, never lost!”

Father Ignatius was very pleased at what he’d heard and grateful for the generosity of this organization. He left the shop with his treasured time-piece restored to good working order and £80 in his pocket put to good use in helping his poor parishioners.

And it made a good story to relate at Monsignor Thomas’ Celebratory Reunion as well as the subject of the sermon on Sunday.

“A soul is never lost,” he thought to himself, “just temporarily misplaced!”


  1. I was shaking my head throughout this unbelievable story. What a crazy shop, no one in the real world would survive doing business like that! It surely was a heavenly clock shop! Love the comparison to lost souls!

  2. Hi Anne,

    I wonder ... is a soul never lost ... just misplaced?

    Thanx for your visit and for writing in Anne. God bless you always.

  3. Hello Friend, I thought they were trying to steal the clock and give him the run-around. Surprise on me!!I am so glad he got his gift back. I love clocks for a gift, they remain forever. I have only heard a little of your voice so far and I love your accent.To me it sounds more Scottish than English..lovely.

  4. Hello Victor, No! I know your accent, how could I not...I grew up as a child with Many Many friends from Malta. A wonderful place.
    "Kif inti? tajjeb."
    I am so happy to know you are from there..
    But you do have a slight Scottish/English sound also.. Woooo Hooooo, you make me happy!!!

  5. Otherwise Middleastern...
    No worries, whatever.
    My own background is Australian, English, Welsh, Scottish, French....
    Hey, that makes me a fruit cake..

    Now, lets make this interesting and have everone guess...This will be fun.

  6. Victor- wonderful post as always. I would love to think that no soul is ever lost- just misplaced, but sadly I guess some are truly lost otherwise how do we explain hell?
    I loved your audio message and yes I recognized the Maltese accent; it reminded me of my dad's relatives. I am half Maltese with my other half being Lebanese.
    Your message was delightful-loved the story of the ostrich and the cell phone.
    God bless!

  7. Hello Crystal Mary and Karinann,

    Thank you so much for writing in.

    Karinann: you're ahead of me. My next post was (still is) going to be about lost/misplaced souls. Let's see Fr Ignatius take on this.

    As for my accent: so far we got, English, Scottish, Maltese and Middle Eastern (which covers a large area compared to tiny Malta).

    So what will it be? Keep guessing and I'll let you know ... perhaps!

    God bless.

  8. Oh how grand this was to read!!! I had a variety of emotions that assaulted me while reading this. So glad at the end that all was well for I was afraid I would have to complain to the management myself on Fr. Ignatius' behalf. And the moral is just fantastic. Truly a wonderful lesson! Thank you! Cathy

  9. Hello Cathy,

    So nice of you to write in. It's always nice to see you visiting here.

    Crystal Mary has started a new game: Guess Vic's accent.

    Och ye ken ... by gum ... that'll be grand guv'nor ... boyo ... at all at all!

    So what is it?

    God bless.

  10. I am sticking with the Maltese as it does remind me of my grandfather's but perhaps there is something else mixed in.
    I love a good guessing game :)

  11. Victor,
    I smiled the whole way through this story. What a strange shop (lol). Sometimes I try to guess what's going to happen next in a story but this one really through me for a loop. Great story! The ending was perfect!

    I loved the VOKI, Victor, and am glad you decided to put it up :) I listened to Crystal Mary's, too. Both of you have lovely accents. I laughed at your stories! I accidentally push the wrong button on my cell phone all the time :)
    I'll have to think about your accent for a bit.

  12. Victor,
    That's not a VOKI, is it? I noticed the You Tube insignia on it. I told you I'm hopelessly computer illiterate :)

  13. Hi again Karinann and Mary,

    So ... it's either Maltese with something else mixed in or ... whatever Mary says ... or whatever other readers think.

    You're right Mary. this not a VOKI. I just could not get VOKI to work for me. So with a lot of technical help I recorded a You Tube message then up-loaded it onto my Blog.

    You see ... I can talk computer-speak like "up-load" and "recorded" but I can't tell the difference between a mouse and a keyboard !!!

    God bless.

  14. Okay...if its not Maltese....which it sounds very similar...then I go for Egyptian???????
    I loved Omar Sharif!!
    But its lovely anyhow LOL
    Hey...The kookaburra'a are having a good laugh.
    I reckon your next Blog should be, guess the accent???

  15. Victor, I missed your message until I read everybody's comments about it. It's lovely! What a great idea! I love your story about your friend's phone inside of the ostrich!

  16. I listened to your voice a couple times. I know your last name is Arabic ('cause I cheated and looked it up) meaning "the blessed one". What a great last name to have! But that still doesn't tell me much and I can't find the post where we discussed your last name and how to pronounce it (I was hoping to find a clue there). So my guess is that your accent is Lebanese and English. My only reason for guessing this is because you sound a bit similar to a friend of mine from Lebanon.

  17. Actually, change the Lebonese to Egyptian because Moubarak is a common surname there. It's also a common surname in Palestine.

    Then again, computers don't know everything :)

  18. Ohhhh Mary 333 is on the ball...I love this, you have all us women falling over trying to discover a SECRET. Don't you know a secret is the hardest possible thing for a woman? I bet you are loving this and laughing your head off..

    One thing I do know. The Egyptions are the cleverest race in the world...
    You can tell I'm not one..
    But, I'm blond!!

  19. What an interesting story! I had to read it through to the end, just to see what crazy thing the shopkeeper was going to do.

  20. Crystal Mary has a point here, Victor. Women are nosy, my friend. Well, maybe not all women but obviously some of us bear this annoying trait- me being a perfect example. Soooo, Victor, when do we get our curiosity satisfied? Perhaps after your morning crumpets? LOL!

    What exactly ARE crumpets, anyway? We only have trumpets over here and they are most assuredly NOT edible!

  21. Hello everyone who wrote before, and hello Paramedicgirl,

    Thanx for your comments. Much appreciated.

    Mary got it right when she checked the name. Yes it is common in the Middle East and it does mean "Blessed" or "the Blessed one". This has proved true many times in my life when things got seriously wrong and God was there for me. Even though at the time I did not think so.

    My grandparents (I had four you know); were 3 Maltese and 1 from the Middle East. Can't tell exactly where in the Middle East because like Moses he wandered around - although he didn't go round in circles in the desert for 40 years like Moses.

    Also like Moses, he did not have a satellite navigation system to guide him; but unlike Moses, he married a Maltese lady.

    So that's the ancestry. I did try to trace back my family tree once but I fell off one of the tender branches.

    When I went to Malta years ago I found out that everyone there was either an uncle, an aunt, or a cousin or related by one way or another to yet another cousin. My parents kept introducing me to all these relatives I'd never met nor knew existed.

    Half the population of the island was related to me and the other half wanted to.

    A distant relative of mine in Australia, and believe me Australia is quite distant from the UK, drew up a family tree, and in fact wrote and published a book about the family. He sent me a copy. Turns out I also have other relatives in Australia, Italy, Greece, Canada ... and even down the road from where I live. But they're not distant - quite near infact. Always popping in for something or other. Can't I ever have some peace?

    But I digress.

    It's a good idea I think to write a book for one's children telling them who you are and where you and your family originate and also about life in the past. Technology moves so fast and it's worth recording the past in your own words for your own children.

    A few years ago I did just that. I wrote about my life as a child and how we did things back then; and recorded many experiences and the ups and downs that brought me to where I am now. I did not publish it. it's a private family book for the future generation.

    The ups and downs in my life were particularly interesting ... I worked as an elevator attendant!

    Ooops I digress again.

    The accent is from many years in the UK in England and several visits to Scotland.

    When I presented a Christian radio program many years ago, called "Time for Reflections" listeners phoned in to say my accent was Italian or Greek.

    The think is I sometimes, deliberatly do other accents - I also presented a comedy show where I played an Italian Pizza salesman.

    When I recorded the message on this Blog I tried different accents, albeit it was only a short message. Listen for instance how I say "BLOG" - sounds more Dutch to me than anything else.

    Yes Mary ... I do love crumpets - hot with butter and ginger marmalade. They are round cakes made with flour and yeast; nothing else.

    Here's a picture of a crumpet.

    Thank you all for your interest. I'm really flattered.

    God bless you and your families.

  22. SORRY Mary,

    I gave you the wrong Link. Here's a picture of a crumpet:

    God bless.

  23. Victor,
    Thanks for satisfying our curiosity! I'm glad your grandfather didn't wander around for too long in the desert or you might not have been "the blessed one" at all;) It's beautiful that you have written a book for future generations of your family to read. I would have loved to get a book like that passed down to me from my ancestors! It was interesting to read a bit about you. I often wonder about the people behind the blogs (or the books)! The Italian Pizza salesman show must have been funny!
    Ah! So you really do eat crumpets. Thanks for the link! You didn't really think I was going to punch in all the letters on that first link, did you? (lol) I type with one finger and would have missed picking up my little girl at the bus stop ;)
    God bless you, Victor. If I ever go to the UK, I'll be sure to try a crumpet;) Thanks for the second link!

  24. Hi Mary,

    I really recommend that everyone writes a book about themselves for their children. It doesn't have to be too long. Just a summary of where one was born, how different life was then, how/where they met their spouse. Just a few lovely memories for our loved ones to remember us by. It doen't have to be published. Just printed and filed. Copy on CD.

    Anyway ... back to the radio. I wrote and presented with others several comedy sketches involving the Italian pizza man, and other characters. I was best with a French accent.

    I also wrote comedy sketches and plays which we performed on stage - proceeds to various charities.

    God bless.

  25. You are a man of many talents, Victor. I thought you said you were shy? I'm guessing you were joking about that! I couldn't do a radio show, I'd be too nervous I think.
    I am going to do a book for my daughter. It's an excellent idea.
    Thanks for the computer lesson on my blog :) Just pressing random buttons doesn't always work!

  26. I'm still smiling, Victor.

    I have to agree with Father Igantius... “A soul is never lost,” he thought to himself, “just temporarily misplaced!”

    My hope come from Him.

  27. You have a lovely voice... lilting and Scottish like. Thank you for your message. Don't worry... you'll figure those buttons out.


  28. Great post Victor; you definitely had me laughing with this account. Not to mention there's a worthwhile message as well.

  29. Greetings Mary, Joey and Tracy,

    It's so nice to see you visiting here again.

    Great news Mary that you'll write a book for your daughter about your past and your family tree. It will make a lovely gift for her one day. I'm sure you'd be great on a radio show. A friend and I used to present a Country & Western Hour.

    As I said earlier, we should all pass on a bit of our history to our children in a book.

    Thanx Joey for your comment about my Scottish lilt. I used to try out various accents when on radio. Yes, hopefully a soul is never lost. I'll write more about this on my next post.

    The thing is Tracy, you can just about imagine a shop assistant like the one in the story. They have a store policy and they will adhere to it come what may. I've met a few like that in my time!

    God bless.

  30. See, Victor, Maltese accent or not- I knew you were a brother :)
    My aunt who has been to Malta many times says the same thing you did- everyone seems to be a relative.
    Thanks for settling the mystery for us!

  31. Hello sister Karinann. I bet if we looked back at our respective family trees we'd find that we're somehow related.

    I've just received an email from Australia via a relative in London. Apparently, I have other relatives there I never knew about. He sent me photos of a wedding and the people in the photos are distant cousins.

    God bless.

  32. Hello my friend, love your voice and thought your sounded very Scottih - moreso than British. It is a wonderful voice......:-) Hugs

  33. What you call crumpet - in Canada we call English Muffin and they are delicious. They are such a treat for me especially on the weekends when I can really enjoy them....:-) Hugs

  34. Hello Bernie,

    Thanx for your kind comment about my voice. I have been told that it sounds a little Scottish at times.

    All this talk of crumpets and English Muffin is making me hungry. And I don't have either in the house right now!

    God bless.

  35. I loved the surprise ending on this story, though it had me really irate there for awhile.

    I LOVE your recorded message. You and Crystal Mary have got me thinking about posting an audio message on my blog, but I don't have a lovely accent like the two of you have.

  36. Hey Sarah,

    I'm looking forward to hearing your recorded message.

    Thanx for your comment about my accent. It's quite common really ... I hear it every time I speak!

    God bless.



God bless you.