The voiceover artist who announces the time on the “talking clock” telephone service has been sacked due to a diminishing number of calls.
Allan McCrindle has provided accurate time updates to callers on the free telephone service for fifty-three years, but will deliver his last update tomorrow at midnight.
“It’s devastating,” McCrindle told Broken News by telephone at 11:03 and twenty seconds this morning. “It’s the only job I know. I have been updating the time every ten seconds for more than five decades, and now I just don’t know what I am going to do.”
The talking clock service has been scaled back as a result of the correct time appearing on the home-screen of most of the telephones that people use to call the service anyway.
“I’ll admit I was nervous when clocks started appearing on Nokia mobile phones fifteen years ago,” McCrindle says. “But at that time, people still needed to set the time manually, and relied on me for an up-to-the-second update. Now, it’s on the home-screen of iPhones, updated from a central location, people just don’t need me anymore.”
McCrindle says he is upset by the news, but looks back fondly on a career in time-keeping.
“It’s been a very rewarding job,” McCrindle says, as he fiddles with his own watch, a simple Casio. “Obviously you look forward to the big occasions, Christmas, New Year, that sort of thing.”
“New Years Eve is when we get the most calls. They usually start at around 11:57 and twenty seconds. It’s nice to know that I’ve helped people celebrate over the years.”
McCrindle was dedicated to the study of time since from a very early age, often taking apart clocks that his father would find discarded on council rubbish collection days. One of his most treasured memories, was receiving the gift of a Mickey Mouse watch from his grandmother on his eighth birthday.
McCrindle says he looks forward to a happy retirement with wife Margot. The couple met when she called the talking clock service on a September evening in 1968.
“I was actually checking the time, because I was supposed to be meeting my mother for a trip to the theatre,” Margot recounted, with a smile. “But when I heard that voice. I just couldn’t put the phone down. I stayed up listening to the time until 3am in the morning.”
The next day Margot contacted service provider Telecom, who put her in touch with Allan.
“He was always on time for our dates in those days,” Margot chuckled.
According to company spokesperson Joshua Khoddami, McCrindle has been offered a “generous redundancy package”. The package includes a gold watch, cash and the offer of transfer to work in other call centres.
“I don’t think so,” Allan says. “I’m not sure what’s next – but time will tell.”
Indeed it will, Allan.