Timely welcome home for John


A well-known resident of Rye, John Gurney, who is the Church Surveyor for St Mary’s, returned from hospital last week, to receive the following anonymous poem of welcome:

Lines on the sufferings and vicissitudes of Old Father John

Welcome back our old friend Gurney
After his horrendous journey
To the Conquest, fairly septic
From a nasty illness (peptic)
For we learn the vicious fight is
‘Gainst ascending cholangitis
Just as well he got there first
Before the gall bladder had burst!

(At least we haven’t to believe
Case of bad election fever
Gloating now as well he might
That Corbyn nearly won the fight)
And now he’s home, though somewhat weak,
A tiny favour we must seek,
He may be strong, he may be tough,
But frankly we have had enough

And so, will he please put a sock
In the mis-timed bell of our church clock!

Much flattered to read these lines, ‘Old Father John’ has stirred from his very comfortable sick bed with the latest news in the clock’s long story:

“Our clock at the age of approximately 620 years is reckoned by the experts to be the oldest working tower clock in the world.

Its surviving workmates:  Wells Cathedral clock lauds it in the Science Museum; Salisbury Cathedral clock sits on the floor of the cathedral and is much dusted for the photography of visitors; Rye clock soldiers on, still marking the hours, and felt very much a proud and loved townsman.

Trouble yes, but I suspect it always was and surely it survives better than the rest of us? These days, those in authority have decreed that all but minor maintenance work must be in the hands of their accredited experts – little scope for scheming by Old Father John.

In our case the expert is Keith Scobie-Youngs of Cumbria Clock Company who, among other things is one of the elite band who care for Big Ben, the clock at the Houses of Parliament in London.  A finer craftsman you will never meet and Keith at this moment is puzzling why Rye’s hour bell mechanism should randomly throw in 13 bells just when we thought we had it sussed. But he is on the case and solve it all we will.  In the meantime the hour bell is ‘off’.

The clock face gives fairly good time and the quarter jacks perform well.  Watch this space for updates and those of us who still can – keep listening.”




Photo: Kenneth Bird

Image Credits: Rye News library .

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