Meet Casio. A quartz PQ8 pocket alarm, made in Japan, with basic and snooze settings, ergonomic time setting and 24-hour format option. This was bought for me almost 20 years ago, on the first Christmas after my brother died. When an English family in the early 90s suffered tragedy it wasn't something you talked about. There was no grand verbalizing of our problems, no shrinks or online journals to pour over. They way we dealt with it was in solitude and silence, and, occasionally, in the little actions one might glimpse. This was one such moment. My mother took me on a trip to Peterborough, a city about an hour's drive away, where they had one of the only malls in the country at the time. Back then I was terrified of mortality and in possession of a head that almost bled with Life's questions. But I was given reprieve from my dwelling when Mum pointed me at a row of digital clocks in a shop and told me to pick one out. It was the first "gadget" I would ever own. I chose Casio because it was small and compact, sleek to the touch and with round corners that broke the harshness of the square edge. I remember thinking at the time that it was like a Transformer, or like the smooth pieces of Lego that you never owned enough of in your Lego box. When I started school, this clock was the demon hanging over me. Its alarm tone, at first quietly polite, then growing in volume to a deafening shrill, was the sound that woke me every morning. For 7 years it announced the start of each day of bullying, anxiety and hiding. With that alarm the wild fantasies that I dreamed about would end and I would be torn from the comfort of my bed, the haven of my room; out into the cold and the long journey to school and the psychological torment unique to that Grammar School breed of bully. Sometimes I would wake early and grip that alarm clock in my hand, as if to smother it, to crush it away, to stop time itself so that I would never have to leave my dreams. Then it went with me to University, where I continued my tradition of hiding from people in my bug-infested dorm room. Casio would chime and I would run up the hill to the lecture hall, avoiding as many people as I could. And late at night, as I paced my room drinking rum and writing poetry on the walls, Casio would be there glinting, its time display reminding me how ridiculously emo this all was. Casio then followed me into the trenches and sleeping bags of Army life. For three years the little clock would be nestled in my pocket, or at the bottom of my bergen, muffled so its alarm wouldn't give away our position. It would wake me for sentry duty, and for the morning stand-to. When it was dark and raining and my helmet was dripping with water, my cut hands would always find the smooth edges of that clock, far easier than I could find the safety-catch of my rifle or the switch of my flashlight. Casio was jostled and crushed and jiggled through every training exercise, but still it kept on ticking. Then, when my Army career was done, Casio grew slowly from demon into angel. It was the clock that kept me punctual in my first relationship (yep, no girlfriend till the age of 23 - so all you 14 year old smutters can just calm the fuck down and accept that relationships aren't a race). It would tell me when I had to jump in my car and drive the half-hour to see my girlfriend, and when I stayed over Casio would come with me and be the first thing I looked at in the morning. Through drunken nights and sex-haze mornings, hangovers and parties, that clock would at one time or another be picked up and checked. Then when I left home, Casio was in the boxes that I packed. Its chime returned as the harbinger of daylight doom, waking me for the long days at the care home where I worked with the perpetual threat of violence. Funny how a tone can make your heart feel like it's being stabbed. For two years Casio beeped and flashed with the reminder that today could be the day I got knifed or pushed down stairs or had a bone snapped or shit thrown in my face. And then... like another metamorphosis... everything changed. Casio was placed on my bedside table and whenever I looked at it I would subtract five hours and work out what time it was for Tegan, that online phantom who challenged my every facet. At times I would set the alarm, for when Tegan got off work or logged into Skype, as if with that chime we were somehow linked, caught in echoes of each others' lives. I would sometimes wake, at 3am or 4, check the clock, and know that it was cool to switch on my laptop, because Tegan would still be around. Then I held Casio in my hand, spinning and squeezing it as I waited for Tegan's plane to land. Checking the time, over and over, until I could get in the car and go pick her up. Then the wedding, then the reception, then catching my own flight to America. And now, Casio sits on my bedside table in Arkansas, tracking the minutes and hours of my happiness. It has never stopped working. Its display has never dulled. It still has scratches on the back from where I dropped it in a trench. And I can still spin it through my fingers as well as any pen or cellphone. This clock has been with me through every stage of my adolescence, and I hope it will be there beside me when I die. What is your oldest possession - the thing that has been with you through thick and thin? And I don't mean something that's sat in your attic for 20 years. I mean something that has been a PART of your life. Do not reply if: - You want to tell us how you don't value possessions. Go back to Facebook and share a picture of your next meal with all the other hipsters. - You think your oldest possession is the love of family and the power of friendship. You're a faggot and a Disney stormtrooper. - You want to pretend that you REALLY CAN use that crappy fanboy Japanese sword that you spent your insulin money on. - You want to point out the Freudian connection between my alarm clock and my penis. - You're upset that I've been in the Army, got bullied and lost a family member, and want to assure me that you've in fact suffered much more profoundly. - You want to hold up an item to the camera but ensure that most of the shot is your tits which are just TOO DAMN BIG to find a comfortable bra size for. You shit just like the rest of us.