My alarm clock died last week. It was a big, brass fucker, with two bells on top, the type that you wind up - radio alarm clocks are susceptible to power cuts, I don't trust the buggers. My one was fab, it had separate winders for the time and the alarm, so it wouldn't stop after the alarm had gone off, and would go on for ages. It always always always woke me up, it was so loud. It was the single loudest noise I think I have ever heard in my life, louder than Big Ben. It was so loud it would wake the dead, and then give them a fucking heart attack immediately afterward.

But last week, after 4 years of faithful service, it just died. Stopped working. Wouldn't unwind. So it's still fully wound up - I'm terrified it's going to ring like fuck or explode one day, so it's locked away in a cupboard. Sad, really - it has to live out its retirement in a permanent state of tension. I bought a new one today, it runs on a battery and has a button on top that's easy to switch off. Still has a loud mechanical ring, which is good. We'll see how it goes.

But the reason I'm noding this is because it reminded me of a story my sister Sara told me when I was a kid - I don't know if she made it up, or if there is a credited author, if there is I'm sure one of my fellow noders will be delighted to let me know. Here's the story:

In a small town there was a huge clock tower with a big bell. Every night at midnight, the bell would ring once, really really loudly. After many years, the whole town got used to it, and simply slept through it. One night though, something went wrong with the clock's workings - and when midnight came around, the bell didn't ring. When the bell failed to ring, every single person in the town woke up immediately, in shock, and said "What was that?"...