I was feeling impatient, wanting to prance out of the backwater of winter (as I started thinking of it) and into the surge of spring. I wanted my creativity to flow again. I was tired of gestating and gathering. My watch stopped completely, and then my calculator too, both of them reflecting how much I was feeling ‘on hold’.
It’s not easy finding a watch-maker these days. But I tracked down Albert in an old arcade in the city. The back of my watch hadn’t been opened for a long time, and resisted the pressure of his small pliers. Albert was undeterred. He pulled out a soft white cloth, kept for this very purpose, placed it on his knee and then fixed the watch in a vice from underneath. Little by little it yielded. Turn by turn. Tap tap tap. Then he prised it open and showed me the insides: ‘fine swiss movement’, he said, approvingly.
He carried on, performing a complex manoeuvre between the three watches I’d brought, Slowly, delicately, he replaced a battery, then transferred a copper-wrapped chip from a broken old watch to the back of my best watch.
I was fascinated. Watching Albert taught me patience. I moved more slowly as I left his little workshop, back in step again with this slowly unfolding spring, ticking in rhythm to the season once more.