Keeping Time

Watches used to be very common items. In a gathering of 10 people, it was quite likely that 5 or more of them would be wearing one. I never got consistently into the habit, but I have owned a few. But, when I moved to Prague, after a couple of days of walking around the city, I thought ‘there is absolutely no need to own a watch here. Everywhere you go, you are within sight of a clock. On a tower of a major building, at a tram stop or major intersection, visible from quite long distances and most of them working, and accurate.’
This evening, on my way to a poetry reading and suspecting I might be a little late, and being too lazy to fish my phone out of my bag, I cast my eye about me (I was coming out the back of Quadrio, by the moving metallic statue of Kafka) for a clock, and did not see one. This struck me as curious. After a few blocks it struck me as a revelation. We have come full circle. Now, everybody has a phone with them at all times and there is no need for clocks or wristwatches (I was looking around at the poetry reading – of approximately 30 people there, I only saw two wearing watches, and I suspect it was more a fashion accessory than a necessary tool) I did eventually see a clock, in Charles Square, between the trees, and one or two more as the night wore on, but it’s not like before. When the need is gone, the means tends to disappear.
This has probably been true for some time, but I just noticed it tonight.

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