When I moved, I asked for the cuckoo clock my father bought during his Army tour in Germany in 1966. The clock needed some repair: the movement was dirty and the bellows had gone out, so the cuckoo could only say “coo”. But I picked it up Saturday and now it’s on the wall, working beautifully. (I tried for an action shot, but the cuckoo is too fast. He’s blue, and his beak opens and closes, and then the door snaps shut.)

I love this clock inordinately. Every time it struck the hour Sunday I had to go see it and I just stood there and grinned, watching the cuckoo. Crazy? Maybe! But there’s a similar passage in Out of Africa:

“The central symbol of [the house] was an old German cuckoo-clock that hung in the dining room…at every full hour, a cuckoo flung open its little door and threw itself forward to announce the hour in a clear insolent voice. Its apparition was every time a fresh delight to the young people of the farm. From the position of the sun they judged accurately when the moment for the midday call was due, and by a quarter to twelve I could see them approaching the house.

It also sometimes happened that a very small herdboy…would come back in the early morning all by himself, stand for a long time in front of the clock, now shut up and silent, and address it in Kikuyu in a slow sing-song declaration of love, then gravely walk out again.”

So at least I’m not talking to the clock.