Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

The Clock Tower of Sir Ticktock Bongg

Big Ben, London. Courtesy: Creative Commons

When Ticktock Bongg was knighted by the Queen
it should have been like a scene from a dream
but his heart was set on something rather different
and so he went away feeling indifferent.
What he truly craved was to possess the power
of transforming himself into a tall clock tower.
Yes, that’s what he wanted more than anything else,
to chime the passing hours high above the town
with bells located between his nose and his frown.

Who knows what possessed him in those mad days?
We all have our own peculiar little ways
but Sir Ticktock Bongg was surely in the wrong
to wish that his face would sound like a gong.
Alas! it’s too late now to worry about that
because one summer evening not long after supper
Sir Ticktock Bongg’s heart began to flutter
and he felt all his muscles and sinews stretch
as he muttered and mumbled and softened to butter.

His form became fluid and he started to grow
and for the reason that up was the best way to go
he was presently higher than the season required.
Soon his expression was ecstatic, full of bliss,
the features of a man elongated into an edifice.
Now the tallest structure in town glanced down
and saw two feet with ten toes standing on the street
but of hands on the ends of arms there was no sign
for they had relocated to his face to indicate the time.

Well, that was fine, Sir Ticktock Bongg concluded,
if it meant that no one would ever again be late.
About this prospect in fact he was most effusive
though his smile of gladness still proved elusive
because he now lacked a mouth, but what of that?
It is also quite futile to be troubled by the stray cat
that got stuck in his belfry after the change occurred.
To climb up there is absurd, but that’s what it did,
and was scared to come down again, poor little thing.

Much time has passed since that momentous evening
and the citizens regard him at last with affection,
considering him an emissary of perfect punctuality,
whether professional or apprentice they are grateful,
but there’s one objection to the way he fulfils his task,
for his clock head is so distant it can’t be easily read
and the people are forced with hoarse shouts to ask:
“What is the time please, Sir Ticktock Bongg?”
and he always replies with the same resonant song:

“Bing bong ding dong chime whine boom bong dong
bong dong boom whine chime dong ding bong bing.”


Rhys Hughes has lived in many countries. He graduated as an engineer but currently works as a tutor of mathematics. Since his first book was published in 1995 he has had fifty other books published and his work has been translated into ten languages.



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