Thursday, November 13, 2014

The last of my technological traumas with digitalis...

I've been leading off recently about the disadvantages of 'digitalis' as I've started calling it, and this is (I promise), the last, and quite fittingly (if there is such a word), it involves time - well, actually, not time itself but methods for telling it.

In the past,  I used to navigate my way around Rotterdam by way of the city clocks. There were dozens of them - big station-style clocks with large faces that were easy to see for even those as visually challenged as I am. They were all over the place  and I found I rarely needed to wear a watch, let alone consult my mobile phone. For some reason, though, most of these clocks have disappeared and those that remain all have the wrong time on them. Even the clock on our famous Witte Huis in the Oude Haven has been removed. I used to check the time by peering at it through my hatch on the barge and now I miss it badly. The one or two others I still see appear to have gone into turbine mode and whizz through the 24 hours in the space of minutes with their hands whirling round like windmill sails.

I have a theory though (as you might expect by now). In the last few years all the tramlines have been renovated, and now every tram stop has a digital display board giving the times of the next expected arrival. Each of these boards also has a small digital clock. Voila! No need for the big railway station-sized clocks everywhere else - *they* think. 

The trouble is, with my increasingly failing eyesight, I can't see these smaller versions- especially from the car-  until I've got dangerously close and am threatening to wipe out (or at least trample on)  a bunch of innocent bystanders in my attempts to squint at the tiny glowing numbers. Since this is probably not a socially acceptable thing to do, I'm now in a kind of personal time warp (maybe I should call it digi-tardis instead).

However, at one tram stop, I'm okay. I don't even need the digitalis. This is the stop by the university, where I spend most of my working days - a stop that has a resident cat. He (I'm assuming things) is nearly always there on dry days. Much of the time, he is curled up under a seat, or if not, he's sitting in a patch of sunshine, but sure enough, whenever a tram is due to arrive, he gets up to greet it. He seems to know it's coming, so whoever's waiting there just keeps an eye on our feline time-keeper and gets up with him.

What's even more touching is that the cat expects to be greeted too, so many people who get off the tram give him a tickle and a scratch, and then he goes back to his spot and waits for the next one. 

Thankfully, this is one type of independent 'mechanism' that no digi-revolution can touch. I have to say its charm, or rather the cat's, is one of the upsides of my otherwise digitally challenged day.


  1. Who needs time, when you have a cat like that to greet you!

  2. Hi Val,
    Digitalis is a drug prepared from the dried leaves of foxgloves and containing substances (notably digoxin and digitoxin) that stimulates the heart muscle.

  3. I too thought about the herb...hey Val, you could get a watch!!!! ;-) One with big hands of course and not digital!

  4. Hi Val - I used to live by the Town Hall clock that struck every quarter of an hour .. I didn't hear it, yet knew the time and could always poke my head out of the window and check ...

    How sad all the clocks are disappearing or not being repaired .. seems a little unnecessary ...

    The cat-a-timer sounds delightful - a real welcome for Uni visitors ..

    Cheers Hilary

  5. Thank you all for the lovely comments. Digitalis is just my little joke really since there are elements of this development that I find hard to stomach :) I'll answer properly later, but I'm on limited dongle connection at the moment!

  6. What a cute cat, who has found himself a little public duty.
    I too miss the presence of large clocks around the city, Val. Also in shopping malls and supermarkets which a few years ago all had a large, easily read clock. No more. I have a huge round clock with hands on my bedroom wall. It has to be that big so I can read the time without my glasses.

  7. Val, laughed out loud when I read your post. I know the importance of seeing those large clocks to pace time. Love the cat. Knows where to find the daily love. Smart cat! Lynn

  8. I am so glad I am not the only one who misses the big clocks, Patricia and yes, Lynn, that's one very smart cat. the weather's not good at the moment, but next time I see him, I'll take a photo :)

  9. Ahhh, that's lovely that cat is not daft! If I don't have a watch on my wrist I feel naked. I think I prefer a watch as I can at least bring it close enough to see! X

  10. I love this story! Cats are pretty awesome creatures :)

  11. All the street clocks that I pass by are never working. We had digital signs at each bus stop into the city telling when the next bus will arrive. Needless to say they lasted a few months and now none are working,what a waste of money.

  12. Thank you, Fran, Carol and Anne! I need a watch that doesn't need a battery! I have two, but the batteries have run out….and can I find the time to go and buy new ones? Pfff :)


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