Squirly Tailed Pendulum Panda - London 1871
In April 1858 Big Ben, the largest four faced clock in the world, was completed. London it seemed was fast becoming the capital for Horological excellence. Victorian England though still lacked an accurate timepiece that could be referred to throughout the Empire. Indeed, even in Britain time itself was very subjective, if it was 11am in London it was 11:20am in Manchester, no standard time existed and no rules governed accuracy.
In 1871 when Edward J. Dent constructed the Standard Clock, a sidereel regulator, at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, he shipped over from Venice a large number on of the parts he required for such an accurate timepiece. Amongst the shipment was a long case clock called a Spocken Regulator valued for its high tension balance springs key to Dent’s super accurate timepiece that was destined to become the standard G.M.T and key to the synchronising of the British Empire at the time.
As Dent began work on his clock and sorting through his various shipments he noticed that the crate of the Spocken Regulator had a hole on one side, quite unusual and he feared that his precious springs may have been damaged but upon emptying out its contents everything appeared to be in order. Upon opening the Spocken Regulators front case though Dent’s blood ran cold, at the bottom of the case was a small pile of empty monkey nut shells, Dent had inadvertently imported a Horological nightmare, Pendulum Pandas.
From Dent’s previous experience, these mischievous Panda like creatures make their home the insides of grandfather and long case clocks where they are found clinging onto pendulums and swinging away to their hearts content much to the bemusement of the clocks owner. It was not unknown for Pendulum Pandas to slow clocks down when tired and speed them up when having fun. As if to announce his horrific discovery to the world Big Ben chimed in the background, twenty six times.
Fearing exposure at such a critical point of his career Dent rushed across London and banged on the door of renowned explorer and finder of Lost Impossimals, Charles Burroughs, begging to be let in. Charles was up late in his study and listened to Dent’s tales of previous Pendulum Panda outbreaks including the harrowing events in the Black Forest when over a thousand cuckoo clocks became infested and chimed continuously for seven weeks driving the residents insane. Even now, years after, some of those involved flee at the sight of such clocks. Now it seemed as if Dent’s Pendulum Panda had already found its way to London’s iconic landmark.
On the pretence of ‘fixing’ Big Ben’s unusual chime, Dent and Charles managed to get inside the great structure only to find absolute mayhem. The Pendulum Panda had not only swung Big Bens pendulum high into the chamber causing it to loop over the highest beams but also indulged itself in its other pass time by making candy floss. Dent had forgot to mention this peculiarity and now they were faced not only with a rampaging Pendulum Panda but also how to explain or remove mountains of sticky pink spun sugar and monkey nut shells.
Not one to give up easily Charles decided they needed to find and catch the culprit first. Ideally they needed the pendulum back in place and then hopefully the Panda would return for another swing. Carefully the retrieved the pendulum from the beams and set it back straight, if the Panda returned it would surely be to the pendulum. Shortly after 1am when the clock had struck 13 they noticed a small animal leap onto the pendulum, gradually swinging it into a frenzy.
“Now!” shouted Dent and Charles who had been waiting nearby released the maintenance chain for the Bell ‘Big Ben’ which now came crashing down effectively on top of the Panda sealing him in his new bell cell. Crafty manoeuvring the bell until it was over the gap of a stairwell a small plop confirmed that the Pendulum Panda had dropped through the hole and into an over large net stretched below. One down, only the candy floss to go.
It took until four in the morning before Dent and Charles had managed to consume the candy floss and sweep away the shells, both men were feeling nauseous, bandy legged and light headed having eaten the equivalent of ten pounds of sugar each. Still under the cover of darkness they managed to hoist up ‘Big Ben’ back into place and Dent checked to make sure nothing was broken before both men ventured out and back to Dent’s workshop in Greenwich.
And what happened to the Squirly Tailed Pendulum Panda?
Well, the Pendulum Panda was never seen again, Edward J. Dent finished his clock for the Royal Observatory and was awarded with acclaim and admiration for his work. One vital part to it’s accurate time keeping was his installation of a candy floss and peanut dispenser into the pendulum system, a piece of equipment that puzzles scholars to this day, especially as no one has found a way to unlock such a vital area of this unique clock and no schematics exist to show it’s contents.
The only clue we have is a small key found taped to the back of Charles painting of the Pendulum Panda, it’s labelled GMT PP and carefully wrapped around it is a piece of paper from the Greenwich Observatory with a handwritten note from Edward J. Dent which just says “Thanks”