Stop the clock

I’ve been reading a lot lately, working my way through a selection of books bought for research purposes from the 3-for-2 table in Waterstones. These are six books I’d ordinarily not have chosen and so settling down with them isn’t quite the same as when approaching a new desired choice.

Having just finished one I found truly awful – I shan’t name it… it’s my opinion only – and feeling I’d wasted a few days persisting with that read, I reluctantly picked up the next on my list. It was Family Album by Penelope Lively – an author I’d not read before, having always assumed her to be writing for the kind of female who devours Woman’s Own magazine and things of such ilk.

So I was surprised to find it not only a wonderful story, and my sort of story, but a beautifully written one too. I enjoyed every carefully constructed sentence, loved the themes (which echoed my own favourites of perception, memory and its recall) and adored the old house in which the story was set. This crumbling Edwardian pile was as much – if not more – of a character as the people in the novel.

Using an inanimate object in this way is a powerful tool. In this instance, using an old house created both a strong, evocative setting and also served as a symbol of so much more. There were some glorious observations about what the house had ‘seen’ over the years – the memories and secrets imbued in its fabric, the effect it had on those who had lived there, its flaws and familiarities triggering happy and sad recollections wanted or not.

Having finished the book and not yet ready to start on the next, I was instead today inspired to write a short poem which reflects the echoes left in my mind from that last satisfying read – about time, place, memory and the desire, yet often inevitable inability, to escape the past.

Stop the clock

Turn off the lamp as you leave

Stop the clock

Sweep aside the whispers

And echoes of this game

Pack them up

Put them away

Stop the clock

Let dust settle on thoughts past

Leave faults to creak unheard




That which cannot be fixed

Shall remain broken

Stop the clock

Close the door

Walk away

~ Sandie M Zand, 25/10/10


10 Replies to “Stop the clock”

  1. Thank you. Charlie says I'm being poetically pretentious saying "thoughts past" and should be saying "past thoughts". Okay, he didn't SAY poetically pretentious, but I know that's what he meant. Ha ha.

  2. Doubt it, Glenn. It was called "One Moment, One Morning" by Sarah Rayner and was on the 3-for-2 and thus supposedly representing the readership debut authors can expect (i.e. as per my forum thread – those readers willing to take a chance on an unknown author because the books are on a deal). I just didn't like it at all – not the writing, the style, the plot/pace even (which I thought might be its saving grace, but no, it flagged quite quickly and never picked up again). And yet it was picked up by one of the UK's top agents – an agent to whom I was given a personal introduction but who subsequently rejected my ms with an "I don't love this enough…"So… what do I know??

  3. I've had the "I don't love this enough" line several times but as yet only from agents. It's possible one or two girlfriends have framed the thought in their minds but so far it's not been delivered as a verbal statement.

  4. Used to read Penelope Lively's books when I was a child. Must try to read some of her adult books for the reasons you mention. Any book with the theme of how the past influences the present always intrigues. And places as characters – absolutely. Love the children's books, The Children of Green Knowe series by Lucy M Boston for that reason too.

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