The Singer Clock

The Singer Clock


Singer is a name you won’t easily forget
For decades this brand ruled supreme in
the world of sewing machine production
from treadle power to sophisticated control

Even today you will find Singer machines
in Asian sweatshops and chic fashion houses
But in Clydebank, Singer was also renowned
for its massive factory clock on a tower

For miles around, this monstrosity could be seen
Signifying industrial power and market domination
But like so much of Scottish industry it met with decline
And even the clock gave its final tick in March 1963

When the clock first appeared in 1885 in Clydebank,
then the European headquarters of this early multi-national
It signified the wealth and importance of the enterprise
And its enormous timepiece was a symbolic crown on success

Unfortunately this chronometer probably hung like
an albatross around the neck of the business
It was powered by massive cast iron weights
driving the mechanism that required twice weekly winding

Over the years of the 20th century several changes
were made to the clock. The dials and numerals
were redesigned and various forms of illumination
were employed, inside by gas, outside by spotlights

None of these was very successful, being too dim
or casting unwanted shadows from the internal machinery
In 1928 a total of 145 lamps were attached to the hands!
Then World War II snuffed out illumination and almost Clydebank

After the war, when some normality was restored
The clock came back into service with new enamelled
“Singer” signs re-lit for all to see from far away
But the fate of the clock was on the horizon

In 1963 the clock was finally ceremonially stopped
“As part of area reorganisation in the interests of
production with a smaller labour force”
The aluminium hands were made into souvenir ashtrays!

This was before smoking (and domestic sewing machines) became much less fashionable!

Ken Fisher

Background material from International Sewing Machine Collectors’ Society website.

Time Uninterrupted

Time Uninterrupted
[Written on the morning after the London Bridge attacks]

The clock nestling in our garden ticks uninterrupted
Unperturbed by this world’s events
Time is merely measured, not judged
But for some, time has come to an abrupt halt

A new reality is dawning on our nation
The fragility of life in the face of terror
Our vulnerability, caught off guard
As we take our leisure

How can we fathom the minds of those
Who perpetrate such deeds?
What force impels them in their mission?
Random victims who will see no tomorrow

In the tranquility of the sun-drenched garden
The clock ticks on with measured beat
But for the dead no mere interruption
And we who remain, ask why?


Ken Fisher

Squaring the Books

Squaring the Books


It’s that time of year when the books have to be ‘squared’
The results of the business are thereby laid bare
The initial  task is to prepare the Trial Balance
An exercise which by itself is no mean challenge

All bookkeepers already  know that for every Debit
There has to be another corresponding Credit
If by chance any are found to be missing
We have an unacceptable condition

Throughout the year we have monitored Cash Flow
If we haven’t done that our success we’ll torpedo
And regard for our Budget is quite fundamental
To ensure no problems have become incremental

Of course the Trial Balance is just the first stage
Not providing all the facts for success to be gauged
We need to proceed to the P & L or I & E account
To reach that, there are problems we must first surmount

Yet many adjustments have to be considered
Prepayments and Charges still to be rendered
The obscure complexities of annual Depreciation
Capital and Revenue expenditure and Asset Valuation

The Statement of Financial Activities will show how we’ve done
And hopefully nothing serious has gone wrong
Enough money to pay our Creditors as due
No Bad Debts to get us in a stew!

All the facts need to be drawn from the daily Ledgers
And aggregated together for us then to consider
And next we can channel the results of this trawl
Into the Balance Sheet which will then reveal all

Of course every Transaction needs to be classified
If we get that wrong others we assuredly misguide
The decision to retain Profit can Stakeholders upset
Keep the Shareholders happy, a much safer bet

Fortunately in this modern age we’ve got rid of the pen
Fancy software now employed by all our businesses
And computer systems process all the raw facts
Leaving us to do little except VAT returns and Tax

So when you receive the Audited Report and Accounts
Please consider them well and don’t simply denounce
Think of all that hard work that is contained in those pages
And you must then appreciate the Accountants’ enormous charges!

Ken Fisher

P&L = Profit and Loss   I&E =  Income and Expenditure

Tick Tock

Tick Tock


Clock hands like scalpels dissecting the hours of the day
Separating one moment from another – no two quite the same
The inexorable motion ever forwards, ever onwards
Creating the past in neat segments as they begin to age

The ratio of speed between these hands remaining constant
The one more like a heartbeat’s steady throb
The other trudges with measured plodding steps
Together the record kept of each passing minute, hour and day

Tick tock, alliterative sound to punctuate the silence
Calmly marking off the day’s progression
Placid, undisturbed amidst the peace
Or maelstrom of our lived experience

Life not dependent on the movement of the clock
But both bound up in some mystical synchronization
And as the spring within our clock slowly unwinds
The body’s cogs and levers echo that inevitable slow decline

Ken Fisher