© Veronica Weal, 2008

Winner 2008, ‘ABPA NSW State Championship’, Morisset, NSW.

Some people in Australia collect all kinds of stuff,
and never seem to notice when enough is… well, enough.
They keep right on collecting china dolls or garden gnomes,
and then to store their booty, build extensions on their homes!

Some blokes will gather bottles, fishing rods, or old machines,
while some go in for power tools, or motor magazines.
A friend of mine despairs about her husband’s fad for socks,
but my man is addicted to collecting chiming clocks.

It started quite some time ago, as far as I can see.
He’d purchased half-a-dozen clocks before he married me,
but ever since I met him, he’s extended his display
by looking out for bargains when we go on holiday.

Now other women spend their leave enjoying surf and sand,
or lazing round at flash resorts, with cocktails close at hand.
Some couples go on cruises, watching dolphins, seals and whales.
Instead I’m dragged to see antiques, or off to garage sales!

At home six clocks from Queensland, plus three more from New South Wales,
three wall clocks from Victoria, (all bought at garage sales)
two carriage clocks from Adelaide, five mantle clocks as well,
plus two revolting cuckoo clocks are making my life hell!

My husband gets them all repaired. They tick and tock and keep
me wide awake for half the night, depriving me of sleep.
And how I hate those mongrel things whose inner workings chime
at fifteen minute intervals to help to pass the time!

It wouldn’t be so noisy if they synchronized, but no!
For some of them keep gaining time. The rest of them are slow.
We’ve nineteen chiming clocks whose innards ding and dong and whiz,
and yet I have to check my watch to tell what time it is!

Last holiday I laid it to my husband, on the line.
We flew to see Tasmania. I told him, rain or shine,
we wouldn’t go near any shops with loads of bric-a-brac.
He promised me this time a clock would not be coming back.

At first this scheme worked really well. We hired a little car
and drove around the highlands where the lakes and mountains are.
No sign of second-hand shops, or that dreaded sign “Antiques”.
I only wish we’d lingered there among the mountain peaks.

Instead we drove to Devonport one cold and rainy day.
I went to do some shopping and my husband slipped away
and found a small antique shop, where he bought a mantle clock.
I yelled at him, “You promised!” He replied, “You bought a frock!

“You must have fifty frocks at home, and yet you bought one more!”
I realized his logic wasn’t easy to ignore,
and anyway, I didn’t want him checking what it cost
to buy that chic designer dress! I knew the cause was lost.

That’s why, at Hobart Airport in the airline’s endless queue,
we stood with other tourists and we didn’t have a clue
our flight back home to Brisbane was about to be delayed
because my husband’s luggage held that purchase he had made.

He’d packed that clock up earlier, while I was in the loo,
and kept it close beside him. Why? I only wish I knew!
His cabin bag went bumping down the rollers, and the clock –
that hadn’t worked for ages – came to life, and said, “Tick, tock!”

It kept on ticking loudly, in an ominous refrain.
Too late I sensed the danger and attempted to explain.
The woman on security had lost her bored aplomb,
and shouted to the guards nearby, “Look out! They’ve got a bomb!”

Now sadly, threats from terrorists have changed our way of life,
but never did I dream that we would instigate such strife!
Yet suddenly, as screaming tourists ran from all the fuss,
a group of armed police appeared. Their guns were aimed at us!

We stood there, pale and shaking, with our hands up in the air,
and though I dye it carefully, I reckon that my hair
defied the laws of chemistry and turned to gray once more;
but little did I know that something worse was still in store.

The bomb squad got the bag unpacked. There, wrapped around the clock
to pad it and protect it, was my new designer frock,
along with frilly underwear, all satiny and soft –
I cringed in shame as someone held my padded bra aloft!

The War on Terror’s lively, but my husband would agree
it isn’t quite as volatile as what he faced from me!
But there’s a happy ending, which perhaps is due to shock.
From that day on, he’s never tried to buy another clock.

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