Friday, 18 September 2009
Clocktower and Communications Tower
He was an old clocktower at the centre of town. A fine monument to progress in his day, made of the best stone, the mechanisms of his clocks made by Snodgrass & Gubbins of London. A ceremony had been performed to commemorate building him. Indeed the mayor Wilkinson Crambread Wilmington had opened the great clocktower, comparing it grandiosely to the Campanile in Venice and calling it a monument to time. Four faces showed the time and gave the clocktower views over the growing city. His image was on the masthead of the Langham Chronicle when it was the paper of the city. It bit the dust in the Depression of the 1930s and never recovered. Yet still, throughout the birth of the new 20th century, the Jazz Age, the Depression, two world wars, the fear of the nameless dread, named paradoxically as Communism, throughout it all, the clocktower stood and maintained its vigil over the city. People were born and died at his feet - a hundred and fifteen babies according to the new Langham Times were born at the foot of the tower. There were 87 deaths, six of them suicides who had used the tower as a jumping off point into the 'undiscovered country from which no traveller returns'.
Then, at least a century later a sleek communications mast was put up nearby. Through her messages came and went, fleeting across the ether, sizzling with energy through her beacons. She was the herald of the new 21st century, the way forwards, the brave new future! She was designed, made and put up by Lightning Communications Corporation. A group of businessmen and women gathered for champagne and nibbles at her feet. A speech was made comparing her to an 'all-hearing ear' and 'the new face of technology'. She was crowned by antennae in a spiky corona. Down the centre of her were electric blue ribbons of metal, symbols of the messages travelling up and down her height. She was described as an abstract art version of Lady Liberty.
The clocktower knew none of this. Only that he was in love with this pretty sleek, elegant young thing. He longed for those ribbons to garland his clock faces. He was amazed that his pale brown stone did not take on the rosy hue of a blush. Oh but he was too old for this elegant beauty, her crown filled with whispering and murmurs from who knew where. He longed to gaze upon her loveliness with all four of his clock faces and forgot the people below him. Forgot the dislike that the young have for old things that no longer serve a new purpose. A battle went on below him for his very existence. People gathered around him to protest and demand he be left alone to serve the community.
The sleek beribboned beauty heard all of this in her noisy crown. She glittered and shone with it. Hearing his bells chiming the hour as they had done for over a century, she took pity on the old clocktower and broadcast the messages of battle along the chiming of his bells until he was filled with the knowledge of the dislike some people had for him. Had he not served them well? Had he not marked the hours of their lives?
The one hundred and fifteen babies who had been born at his feet were grown now and the romance of their births gathered them to his defence. They rallied all those who had worked beneath his bells and faces. They communicated their love of him to the spiked crown of the Communications tower. These too she sent to him along the chiming of his bells so that he would know how they loved him.
It did no good. His love for her and the hurt and indeed the wellspring of emotion in him made him chime one last time before his bells cracked and sprang from their moorings. They hurtled inexorably downwards through his centre weakening his structure as they fell. There was a soft hush and then the sound like distant thunder and the a low rumbling like the growl of some great beast. Then the clocktower fell in upon himself and died upon the town square. What some considered worse was that six blocks of vengeful stone flung themselves clear and brought down the elegant Communications tower like a felled tree. She crashed through several buildings of glass and steel, her ribbons shattering and her crown silent with dust, their spikes snapped.