A couple of months ago I posted about some of the Suffragette treasures we have in our archive; the beautiful brooch in the Suffragette colours, lilac, white and green; the witty postcards. And I intimated there were more treasures to be revealed.
And just so that you get the idea of the three-dimensionality of this clock, here’s another photo:
Well, I was so taken with this unusual clock-cum-paperweight and its playfully-coded message that I wrote a poem about it.
A Time Piece of its Time
Anti-Suffragette Clock in Glasgow Women’s Library Archive
At first glance such a pretty thing!
A gleaming paperweight, crafted to grace
the master’s desk; a perfect globe, moulded from
solid glass, its clever cogs and wheels designed to operate
with the clockwork efficiency of a masculine mind.
Inside, weary and woebegone, a night-shirted man
holds two howling bairns, while circling widdershins
– a she-devil’s work surely? – N E M O W R O F E T O V
Why, you can almost hear the laughter over brandies and cigars
at the foolishness of those silly suffragettes.
I lift it up. Snugly it fits my female fist,
a gleaming glass grenade, girdled with brass,
heavy enough to smash a man’s skull
with one delicate blow – oh who would ever know
it was little Mrs Wifey in her husband’s library?
Or even better, a mischievous maid might
tie to its brass top ring some lengths of pretty ribbon –
purple, white, green – a wrecking ball to swing
against the walls of her master’s misogyny.
Or maybe it’s a crystal ball? Complete with
warning vision of a backward future. But
you were no clairvoyants, my father’s father’s fathers;
rather you were foolish King Canutes
trying to stop a feisty female tide.
And you, my dear moustachioed homunculus,
left holding your screaming, motherless bairns,
that tick tock tick tock tick tock you hear, growing
ever louder in your ear is not this time-piece ticking,
but the Onward March of Progress, of none less
than the Monstrous Regiment of Women.
I pity you, red-faced and miserable little man,
frozen in the nightmare of your needless fear –
a curious museum piece, outdated as a dinosaur.
Magi Gibson, May 2013
For GWL’s 21 Revolutions project, Vicki Feaver also felt inspired to write a poem about the same clock. Jackie Kay wrote two poems about our beautiful model South Asian house, made by women who moved to Glasgow from South Asia along with ur BME worker, Syma Ahmed, so they could explore their memories of the homes they’d left behind.
Maybe you should come in and visit our archive some time? You never know, you might be moved to write a poem yourself!
Or if you prefer reading, come in and browse our amazing 21 Revolutions short story and poetry collections, featuring new work from amazing writers like Zoe Wicomb, Louise Welsh, Janice Galloway and others.
You know, we’ll always have a cup of tea waiting for you…