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.