Frederick Parker-Rhodes 1914 - 1987 My father told us these stories while he washed up, and my brothers and I dried and put away. I think some were actually at bathtime. When I, the youngest, asked for a story just for me, Daddy would ask, What about? I asked for one about a Princess, and fairy godmothers stories. They are listed in the Archive, below. If you have anything he has written, or about him to share, it's most welcome.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

DING AND DONG by Frederick Parker-Rhodes

Once upon a time a long time ago there were two garbagers who were out of work and fell on hard times, and their names were Ding and Dong. After trying in one town and another to find work for a long times, they at last came to cathedral city where they found work as quarterjacks. Now the job of a quarterjack consists in coming out beside a clock very punctually every quarter of an hour, and striking as many quarters it is since the hour hour on a bell. It was one of the first jobs ever to fully automated; and it would have been so in this case, only the orloger who was making the clock was struck by lightning for swearing in church. It wasn’t hard work, but very boring. And they only had Saturday evenings off.
However, Ding and Dong were glad enough to turn an honest penny, so they went to work. After some days ding noticed something. He said to Dong “You see that girl holding the Moon?” and Dong said “Yes.” (She was very beautiful, and her job was to turn the round gilded ball representing the moon to show what phase it was at) “Well,” said Ding, “she isn’t fully automated either, because she winked at me.” So after that Dong watched and watched, and sure enough, she winked at him too. From then on Ding and Dong a kept score, how often Luna winked at each of them; they did occasionally miss a quarter-hour in consequence, and had a halfpenny off their pay each time, bit it did make life a little less dull.
They soon found that at night, when there was no one about to hear, Luna would talk to them, though only in whispers. It turned out that she had the day off whenever it was new moon, because she had nothing in the way of a phase to show. So they could never meet properly unless new moon fell on a Saturday. On average, as you easily work out, this happens once in seven months; they were lucky enough only to have to wait four months till Saturday came when they would be off duty at the same time as Luna. They planned to go for a walk in the Cathedral close.
Now Luna didn’t want to go for a walk with two garbagers much; so she devised a plan not to have to, without seeming downright rude. First she was nice to Ding and cold to Dong, and then vice versa, until after some time Ding and Dong fell to fighting each other for jealousy. Meanwhile Luna slipped away; presently she saw the figure of a monk walking in the close. He came up to her and said, did she know if there were a cathedral in these parts? She said there was, and if he’d shut his eyes tight she’d take him there by magic. He did that, and she spun him round till he was facing the cathedral, and said “We’re here!” he was very impressed, and said he was an orloger who’d heard there was a clock needing finishing. “Oh my father will be glad,” said Luna “he’s sick and tired of turning the hands round.”
Well, next morning, when Ding and Dong turned up, having got tired of fighting, they found ropes up, and notices, such as “Closed for repairs”, and “Danger, men at work”, and “Swearing prohibited”, and “Hands wanted”. When Ding and Dong applied for the job, they found it meant the either kind of hands, so they went into the cit. Ding soon found a job in North Ward, carrying garbage from North Street and leaving it in South Street. The next day, Dong got work too, in South Ward, carrying garbage from South Street and leaving it in North Street. They might have spent the rest of their lives in this harmless and remunerative occupation, had not the new orloger made friends with Luna. After a time, for all he was a monk, he fell in love with her. At last ---- well, early one morning, as he was going to work, a gargoyle fell on him and he died.
So Ding and Dong and Luna were back again at their old jobs. But they soon noticed Improvements. The chief was a new figure, whose job it was to show how long it was before and after the principle Feasts of the Church. They called her Calendria. Ding was sure was fully automated; but Dong was not so sure, and one day he made faces at her every quarter of an hour until at last, near sunset, she giggled. So they knew.
At last, they were all very glad when a third orloger turned up. He was Mr Robinson, and had a nice little business in the Market Square, and a wife and family, and all. Why he didn’t get the job of making the clock in the first place is anyone’s guess. Anyway, he soon had the job done, with everything fully automated and in working order. And being all against Modern Technology doing people out of jobs, he offered to take on Ding and Dong to sell watches for him, which he made. So they did that. Ding married Luna and dong married Calendria, afterwards they went to live in Switzerland, and became known as the Swiss Family Robinson. And that is why Switzerland is famous to this day for making watches.

1 comment:

Hilary Bravo said...

So glad to have found your blog such a charming and clever little story - thank you