Pathetic fallacy is a literary term for the attribution of human emotion and conduct to things found in nature that are not human. Consider some iconic movie moments; the death of Scar in the Lion King, for example, when the rain extinguishes the smouldering fires of the charred pridelands, the sun bursts through the dark storm clouds and Simba ascends to his rightful throne. The escape of Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption, when the prisoner, exhausted and broken, welcomes the torrential rain which cleanses him and symbolises his rebirth into the world. The Lord of the Rings’ groundbreaking Battle for Helms Deep scene might not have held so much weight and tension should it have been set on a sunny day filled with birdsong, rather than the iconic ominously stormy night, with lightning heralding the arrival of the enemy and the rumble of thunder blending into the sound of thousands of marching soldiers.
January 2022 was stormy here in the UK, in every sense of the word. Storm Malik and Storm Cora left many without power in one of the coldest months of the year, when both the human population and the natural world had barely recovered from the devastation of the cyclone Storm Arwen which left huge swathes of forest, properties and livelihoods flattened in November 2021. The political situation is, frankly, a hellscape, and with the cost of living increasing at an alarming rate alongside hugely inflated energy prices, many people are struggling to find a silver lining in the storm clouds which have gathered above. The first couple of weeks of 2022 have certainly been A Bit Much. If we were starring in a Hollywood movie, we would be on our knees by now, in a thunderstorm, yelling into the void, and waiting for the storm to pass - or for a heroic leading lady or lad to come along and save us, or perhaps for aliens to beam us up, depending on the movie.
Here at Marloe Watch Company, we aren’t immune to The Big Sad. Times are tough for everyone, but we are British, and if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s weathering storms and getting on with things. There’s a word in Scottish Gaelic which brings me a lot of comfort; and that is ‘turadh’. We don’t have an English equivalent for this word; but it means ‘a break in the clouds between showers’. As a business, and as individuals, we are doing our utmost to seize every turadh that we can; every moment which offers a glimmer of hope, inspiration, happiness or clarity amid the icy, grey grips of winter. It can be easy to let these moments slip through our fingers; to fail to see them while we are too busy being glum, or caught up in the daily grind. It can feel trivial or frivolous to give them any time or attention, to let them bear weight or relevance in our lives when everything else is so pressing, urgent and in our faces. But, now more than ever, we implore you to try; to find those breaks in the clouds and make the most of them. Yes, we can wait for Spring to come and hope that, with the blooming of the buds and hatching of baby birds, the cost of living will return to a manageable level or that Covid will disappear; or we can find a way to live in the current climate which is meaningful and joyful, wherever possible. For us as a business, it’s meant accepting a quiet month for what it is; a reflection of not just the usual post-Christmas quiet spell, but of the collective struggle to achieve a balance between careful budgeting and enjoying life.
Many families are having to make tough choices this year; between having the heating on or eating well, we understand this; even as I write, I am finding a little turadh moment in wearing my embarrassing yet beloved pink bunny slippers to keep warm because I have the heating turned off while working from home, since my Smart Meter insists on telling me that every hour that I have the heating on is costing a few quid more than it did a few weeks ago. As we wrestle children into snowsuits to go and jump in the puddles for the umpteenth time this week, and repeat the Scottish mantra, through gritted teeth, that ‘there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’ we remind ourselves that we are enduring a similar situation within the business world; we must adapt and do what we can to help not only ourselves but our customers and community too; to weather this storm and come out the other side smiling. Flapping and panicking will get us nowhere. Time is a finite resource. When we assume it’ll drag on forever, time can seem like an infinite resource, and an infinite resource has little value. We must remember the value of every minute; something which is perhaps more easy to be aware of when you’re in the watch production industry, poring over the details of these little objects which present time. And so, spurred on by the determination to make every minute count, we have been thinking of ways to make bright moments amid the gloom, both in our personal lives and for our business.
From laughing at silly videos on Instagram to choosing to lock away our phones for an evening, from toasting marshmallows during power cuts to heading out for the day so that we at least can take in some nice views while we freeze, we have been trying to find the positives in those small moments which allow us to continue some semblance of joyful normality when things feel heavy. We wanted to bring the same to our customers, in whichever way we can. We have therefore, for the past few weeks, been in talks with our finance partner Klarna, and will very soon be offering 0% interest payment plans over 6 or 12 months on some of our products. We want anyone who was planning on investing in a Marloe watch to be able to do so, even in these trying times, and this is our way of trying to help make that possible. We know the purchase of a Marloe watch is rarely an impulse, throwaway buy - our watches hold meaning, memories, and presence in your lives and we know a lot of you have big plans for your them; that they might be future heirlooms, to be handed down to your children or gifted to special people in your lives. We know that sometimes the time is right to make such a purchase; whether that’s because there’s a special occasion or date coming up which requires commemoration, or because it just feels like the right time. We know that not being able to see through a purchase like that can be frustrating at best, and heartbreaking at worst. That’s why we hope that introducing the option to spread your payments means that you won’t have to choose between making that purchase and being cautious with your hard-earned money; that you might be able to do both, when the time is right for you. We want to weather this storm alongside you, as best we can as a humble watch design company. Since we can’t pay your bills for you or pop round to cook you dinner after a long day, we hope we can bring you a turadh every time you glance at your wrist or feel the reassuring weight of your chosen watch, that the quiet beat on your bedside table might bring some comfort and that the conversation and community sparked by Marloe ownership might offer some sense of solidarity and companionship.
In poor economic times, health-enhancing activities such as exercise and social interactions increase; something which we have seen in stark clarity since Covid entered our lives. Perhaps now, in these uncertain times, we are in a prime position to ensure that we seize these opportunities to reassess what is important, and where, how, and upon whom we spend our time. I’m sure, given the opportunity, we would all like to be out drinking and eating and holidaying again, but in the interim, it’s a nice reminder that there’s still the opportunity to thrive, even when circumstances seem less than favourable. Here at Marloe Watch Company, focusing on spending our time well has given us, as a business, moments of clarity amid the fog of the last month. Gordon allowed himself the freedom to let go of all expectations and to design purely from the heart, removing himself from a mental high-pressure weather system and designing the very watch that he would like to wear, in a frenetic 48-hour window of clear-minded inspiration. We've also made some changes to how we market and advertise, bringing things back in-house so as to drill down into the details and really hone in on what matters to us, and how we want to communicate with the changing retail world. We will soon launch our new website along with a new referral programme, offering some exciting money-can’t-buy rewards to our most loyal customers. We are working from our new HQ, set in stunning Scottish countryside, being served daily sunrises and sunsets over the hills which ensure we start and end our days in the best possible way. Watching storm clouds roll over Bishop’s Hill, vibrant rainbows arc across grey skies, flocks of geese in their incredible v-formations arriving and departing from Loch Leven; our setting affords us a healthy dose of perspective and connection with the natural world. We are kept cosy during these frigid winter months by geothermal heat from the ground below our feet and we are powered by the solar panels above; reaping the rewards of the investments of our time, money and energy made over the last couple of years. When Summer comes, we hope to be able to finally welcome our community into our HQ. It feels very much like we are spending the pennies we saved for a rainy day, just now - that, despite the less than favourable conditions, we are ticking over nicely.
We could sit and pore over the news, lament the quieter sales days, and worry; but instead, we are accepting the situation for what it is, seizing those little moments of opportunity and focusing on the things that bring us joy, satisfaction and motivation. In doing so, we have made strides forward which will pay off for seasons to come. It’s not always easy to drown out the noise and find a silver lining, but it is possible to find one every day - even if it’s just turning the TV off, taking a deep breath, and feeling grateful that we aren’t Prince Andrew’s housekeeper. We will keep making the most of the turadhs, and on the day where they’re few and far between, we will simply put up our brollies and make our own.
Here’s to 2022.