Sunday, 16 January 2011

The 6 o'clock cannon

I heard this story on the radio last night, and I love it. It reminds me of an old Sufi 'Mullah Nasrudin' story:

Once, there was an old soldier whose job entailed firing a cannon from a hill top at six o'clock, every evening above a certain town.

He was renowned for the accuracy of his time-keeping, and after many years, they asked him how it was that he always managed to fire the cannon at dead on 6, despite not being able to afford a good pocket watch.

"I have never failed," he replied, "because every evening at 5. 45, I walk past the window of the clock-maker in town, and I check my poor watch with the excellent chronometer in his window. I then walk up the hill to the cannon and prepare it. At one minute to six, I approach the cannon and at six precisely, I fire it."

So they went to the old clock-maker in the town, and asked whether or not the chronometer in his window kept good time.

"Oh yes," he answered, "it is an excellent chronometer. For many years, every evening at six o'clock, a cannon is fired on the hill yonder, and I check the clock against it to see if it's right. It is always reading 6 o'clock precisely when the cannon is fired. That's how good this chronometer is."


  1. That reminds me a cartoon that I saw when I was about 5 years old. It was of two snakes eating each others tails, they continued to eat each other until they both disappeared. Logical; just like the 2 timekeepers.

  2. I think I remember that cartoon, Cro.

    Another Mullah Nasrudin story I like is about a man who has his 10 pounds of fresh meat stolen by a neighbor. When he goes to confront the man about it, his neighbor tells him that it had just been eaten by his cat. Nasrudin picks up the cat and puts it on a set of scales. The scales read 10 pounds, so he says:

    "If that's the meat, where's the cat, and if that's the cat, where's the meat?"

  3. Things are only what we assume them to be...

  4. Brilliant Stories! being me I had to look up Mullah Nasrudin on the net - hadn't heard of him before.Thanks for putting that post up Tom, I enjoyed reading those too!

  5. Loved these both, but clock one "struck" a cord with me. Ann

  6. this has nothing to do with it but the cat story reminded me of a childhood poem

    ALGIE saw the bear
    The Bear saw ALGIE
    The bear was bulgey
    The bulge was ALGIE


  7. I loved that, John. It - in turn - reminded me of the cautionary tale:

    "Billy, in his bright new sash,
    fell into the fire and was burnt to ash.
    Although the room grows cold and chilly,
    I haven't the heart to poke poor Billy."

  8. Nice story Tom...sounds like we all need eachother.

  9. And always keep ahold of nurse,
    for fear of finding something worse!