here you will do well to linger; here our highest good is pleasure”

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Pray My Dear

November 24, 2019

Today marks the 306th birthday of Georgian-era writer Laurence Sterne whose book, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, is a curious influence for the Broken Clock legend.

It was our founder’s bedside reading during the creation of our vodka and led to a visit to Sterne’s home in Yorkshire, Shandy Hall where he encountered the idyllic garden where time stands still and where we now gather the windfall apples in our recipe. 1_DSC_8554_19-12-03_Broken_Clock_Lingering_Vodka_Pray-my-dear_Bulletin.jpg Clocks and time are a fundamental theme throughout the Tristram Shandy story.

Tristram is conceived on the one night when his father forgets to wind the family clock before his conjugal duties. Caught unawares, the comical exchange between Tristram’s parents mid-coitus is one of the most celebrated of passages;

Pray my Dear, quoth my mother, have you not forgot to wind up the clock?-- Good G..! cried my father, making an exclamation, but taking care to moderate his voice at the same time,--Did ever woman, since the creation of the world, interrupt a man with such a silly question? Pray, what was your father saying?--Nothing.

The novel famously plays with timelines and indeed Tristram is not even born until the 3rd volume.

Literary critics describe the writing as a masterclass in digression, elaboration and procrastination and it is perhaps deliberate that Sterne “winds up” the reader by prolonging the development of the tale, in part due to his own circumstances. The entire work was composed under the pressure of an acute awareness of his own mortality.

Sterne was inflicted with tuberculosis as a young man and struggled with ongoing ill health. The first two Tristram Shandy volumes were published in 1759 and he committed to writing two more every year for the rest of his life with the 9th and final one published in 1768 before his death.

No story would regale without twists, turns and digression and Broken Clock’s tale is no different. After three years of deliberation the journey to create our vodka felt like it we were back at day one.

Thankfully reading Sterne’s writings reassured us this was just a decisive chapter in our tale and gave us the determination to toil on.