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The Watchmaker.


Citizen Watch after repair

Clocks and watches, of every size, shape and colour decorating the show window have tempted robbers to throw a brick, smashing the plate glass and making off with millions of pounds or dollars’ worth of goods.


Jewelers and watchmakers suspect everyone entering their establishment, of wanting to steal from them or to swindle them out of their attractive valuable and moveable stock. A gold chain could be worth thousands and diamond studded strap tens of thousands.


C is a weedy, non-descript young man, a scion of generations of jewelers. Sharp beady eyes set, like diamonds on either side of a pointed nose, look with suspicion at every customer who steps into his shop, daring you to pilfer something.


The first time I entered that den of diabolical plots, 50 years ago, my watch hung on my wrist. Excited at arriving in the land of my dreams, I’d lost weight, and my watch was moving up and down my arm.


Young C, I guessed was15 years old, at the time, wore a short sleeved cream-coloured shirt, under a dark grey pullover. Blond hair, a long aquiline nose, smelling a rat. The look of a pawnbroker was already imprinted on his countenance.

 

Leaning over the counter of the tiny watch and jewelry store in the broad, quiet street, one up from the busy King George IV str.


Papa C, the creep’s father, of who's importance customers are unaware, because, like the inner workings of a watch, sits squeezed, hidden in a nook.


Mama C, wrapped in a black cardigan, sat on a stool at the beginning of the glass counter, filled with sparkling watches. Time was ticking away all through the tiny, but illuminated space, glass showcases displaying wonderful glittering wares.


Everywhere time moves forward, even when the measuring instrument is broken. Quinton, in William Faulkner’s book The sound and the fury, tries to end time by breaking off the hands of his watch, but it continued ticking. Nobody can stop time.


This visit was occasioned by a slow timepiece and each day it was getting slower. Time wasn't being kept. Other watches said 12 o’clock, mine showed 11;50. My watch needs to be set right, the way a parent sets a naughty child right.


Order is brought into the world by setting things right. Chaos reigns when things aren’t set right. Again and again I corrected the faulty instrument, but to no avail.


20 years of loyal service since Etti presented it to me on returning from one of her trips to New York.


Being slow for the first time in 20 years, didn't surprise me. I didn’t have the heart to throw it away, after learning the price she paid. Remembering C, I went to his shop, to have the machine set right.


Wrist bare, one rainy day in February, faulty timepiece in my pocket, telling time by my telephone, I boarded the 77a bus to King George VI Str. strode through the park in the center of town where the Menorah used to stand, to C’s hole in the wall place of business.


Squashing into the narrow doorway, past a display of watches in the window, without delay, a bearded young man served me.


50 years ago 20 shekels and a few moments and the job was done. This time there was no C in sight.


The business had been sold, I said to myself. Even so, this was still a reliable place to have a watch repaired. Cheap and fast, like the previous occasion, the time piece would be repaired and back in my possession, so thought I.


Shocked, not believing my ears, the man commanded me to, leave my phone number, and he would call me. It may take a week or two, he said.


Two weeks went by. Plenty of time to fix a watch. Good old scrawny beady eyed C was back. The business hadn’t been disposed of after all.


Wait another week or so, he announced that the repair wasn't yet complete. Two more weeks passed by and the watch still couldn’t be found. “Are you sure you brought your watch here to be repaired?”

 

This question was ridiculous. His shop is the only one on the street. Never had an object handed in for repair been lost.


Probably a person resembling me had swindled him once. Denying having it, he waved me out of his precinct, shouting that he knows my type. The pretty blond girl cried “don’t get so angry daddy, you know what the doctor said”.

 

A week later a laboratory in Ashdod called to say the repair would cost 400 shekels. C knew nothing about the laboratory.


The bearded man had sent my watch to a distant laboratory without informing his boss.

 

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