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Portrait Of Sally Flood

May 18, 2015
by the gentle author

Contributing Photographer Sarah Ainslie took these portraits of distinguished poet Sally Flood

LOOK AT THESE HANDS

By Sally Flood

These hand have never stopped to rest
nor took the easy road!
The gnarled and twisted fingers bent
have always borne a load.
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Yet! The memories I keep
are filled with joy and peace,
This family, that fill me with pride
and Love that never cease.
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I long to see the faces
that I left along the way,
These hands that stroked
and fondled the adults of today.
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So many stitches gathered
as I hold the thread between,
I see the empty spaces
my hands are like a screen.
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From babyhood to childhood
these hands will tell a tale,
The daughter, then the wife
my fingers knew them well.
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Now I sit and ponder
to trace the years gone by,
The aches and pain of age
“time”just seems to fly.
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SMALL COGS
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By Sally Flood
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“Pull out…pull out”
A large red-faced man
Voice booming through high raftered room
Machines crashing! Like flailing whips
Introduction to a man-made hell,
Barely fourteen years old earning a crust,
Outside these walls, London listens for enemy planes,
I was on war work…making uniforms
For boys to fight,
Louis London was geared to win the war,
Just one tiny cog in a world gone mad,
The sweat shop had nothing on this one way system
No one stopped or dared to breathe,
My pockets were grabbed
Barely before leaving the machine,
On the floor at the end of the bench
Khaki trousers were piled high,
Every stitch would be tested
No mistake would be passed,
God help the hapless idiot
Who held up the production belt.
That voice had eyes that missed nothing,
There were no pride in the pockets
That whizzed round and round on my machine,
No let up to the hands that grabbed
And no chance of going on to something else,
As long as I could keep up with production
I had a job! If not someone else would replace me
And I would be out on my ear.
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Sally at twenty years old in 1941, working as a machinist making uniforms at the Louis London factory at the corner of Parmiter St and Cambridge Heath Rd
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CABLE STREET – 75th ANNIVERSARY
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By Sally Flood
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Just a child, I remembered
Living in a two up and two down,
So many things to take on
Living in the east end of town,
I remember the talk
When we were in bed
My parents conversed
I heard what was said.
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Jews were the target
The bait on the tongue
I remember it well
When I was just young.
Mosley would march
The coming weekend
Leading the fascists
They had to defend?
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Just round the corner
We heard the noise
The many feet marching
The angry raised voice,
Down in the cellar
We stayed all day
My father and brother
Were out in the fray.
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“They shall not pass”
The slogan they used
To stop Mosleys men
We were being abused,
My father came home
The tale that he told
The Dockers, the Communists
The Jews were so bold.
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They faced the enemy
The police on horseback,
Barricaded the streets
They truly fought back.
My brother of twelve
Was up at Tower Hill
Watching with others
He tells it still
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When out of the blue
He was struck on the head
He fell to the ground
Among others he said,
Like brothers the east end
Had triumphed that day
Stood shoulder to shoulder
And never gave way.
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Sally Flood outside her home in Mount Terrace, Whitechapel, next to the Royal London Hospital
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MOUNT TERRACE
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By Sally Flood
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This small street is fast receding
Growing smaller, day by day
Over years I watch it crumble
Watch the houses swept away,
Streets that share my childhood moments
Saw the war years, heard the bombs
Proudly held itself together
Now prepares itself to die.
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Another monster now emerges
Tower blocks that blot the sky
Helicopter on the rooftops
Needs the space above to fly,
The green of years will disappear
Underneath the cars and muck
Canteens block the sky and hide
Sunlight from the garden path.
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My twilight years in noise and rubble
Drown the birdsong that I love
London known for exploitation
Sees pollution rise above,
Takes no heed of past mistakes
Or normal humane needs
Only pound signs line the pavement
Privatising rules this way.
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So I watch history crumble
My small voice is barely heard,
A local caught with no defences
Politicians views preferred,
Once again construction gangs
Bulldozers, diggers line the road,
I close my door on this destruction
Peace and progress now explode.
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Copies are available at Brick Lane Books, Broadway Books and Newham Books
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Upon The Origins Of Baddeleys

May 17, 2015
by the gentle author

Last Sunday, I told the story of John James Baddeley, the journeyman die sinker who rose to become Lord Mayor of London in 1922, and this week I explore the origins of this extraordinary family endeavour which spans five centuries and innumerable generations, and whose specialist printing business Baddeley Brothers still flourishes in Hackney

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A mahogany four-train musical and quarter chiming longcase clock playing seven tunes, made by John Baddeley of Albrighton in Shropshire c.1760 (courtesy of Bonhams, London)

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The celebrated Engraver and Satirist, William Hogarth, was first apprenticed as a Silver Engraver, while his contemporary, William Caslon, the father of British Letter Founding, was originally apprenticed to a Gunsmith – thus it comes as no surprise to discover a certain Phineas Baddeley apprenticed as a Clockmaker. You only have to look at the elegant italic lettering upon the engraved face of this fine eighteenth century longcase clock by John Baddeley to recognise the seamless nature of related trades in this era and the possibility of advancement for talented artisans who could redirect their skills to the most advantageous reward.

A skill in the creation of intricate and precise metalwork serves a Clockmaker, but may also be lent to the design of instruments. While draughtsmanship and the ability to carve lettering into metal plates permits an Engraver to create attractive designs for clients, he is also able to produce the printed copies too. Thus, in possessing technical and aesthetic skills equally, artisans were both designers and manufacturers, and through successive generations of Baddeleys, each apprenticed to the one before, individuals with diverse specialities found different ways to make an independent living.

As you will appreciate, this is a tale of many Baddeleys – and the earliest record of any of them is of Phineas Baddeley’s apprenticeship in July 1652  and his admittance at twenty-one years old to the Clockmakers’ Company in the City of London in 1661. Phineas established himself in Tong, situated on the boundary of Staffordshire and Shropshire with the Blue Mountains of Wales to the west and the Black Country, cradle of the Industrial Revolution, to the east. For subsequent generations in this border country, the Baddeleys enjoyed a significant reputation as clock and watchmakers, and a clock by John Baddeley of Albrighton counted out the hours at the church in Tong until 1983.

In the eighteenth century, John Baddeley rose to become a member of the Royal Society, was reputedly a clockmaker to George III (who collected more than two thousand timepieces) and, turning his attention to barometers and optics, invented a new type of refraction telescope. At his demise, he was recorded as ‘Gent’ in the Parish Register and commemorated by an unusual cast iron tomb in Albrighton churchyard, upon which the date of his death on January 25th 1804 is still legible as testimony to the enduring quality of his innovative memorial, most likely cast in the foundries of Coalbrookdale, less than ten miles away.

While other members of the Baddeley family embraced the possibilities of industry burgeoning in the shires around them, diversifying into producing jewellery in Birmingham and pottery in Stoke on Trent, it was John Rock Baddeley, born in 1797 in ‘The Cape of Good Hope,’ his father Thomas’s pub in Staffordshire, who first made his fortune in London. Remembered by subsequent generations as, “A clever draughtsman and very skilful die sinker, chiefly of jewellery spoon dies, badges and livery button dies,” John Rock married in Lewisham in 1818, but set set up home with his wife Lucy at 27 Seward St, Clerkenwell, where they had seven children.

It was a strategic location John Rock chose, positioned within proximity of the jewellery trade in Hatton Garden yet in the very midst of the clockmaking and printing industry which defined Clerkenwell at that time, ensuring professional security through the widest range of opportunities for employment. By 1841, he was in 63 Compton St- the next street to his brother Thomas, who had set up as an engraver in Rahere St, Clerkenwell. Although we know of no evidence they collaborated professionally, these two might be said to be the original ‘Baddeley Brothers’ who, by working as die sinkers and engravers at the fringe of the City of London, established a pattern of family industry in specialist printing which persists through their descendants to this day.

In the early nineteenth century, Hackney was still a rural area and, as a passionate fisherman, John Rock took keen advantage of it – setting out weekly with his rod and line north-eastward from Clerkenwell towards the White House Inn on the Hackney Marshes in search of sport. Besides founding the ‘True Waltonian Society’ in honour of Izaak Walton, whose ‘The Compleat Angler’ recorded Walton’s exploits fishing on the River Lea in the seventeenth century, John Rock was himself author of ‘The London Angler’s Book or Waltonian Chronicle’ which he published in 1834. As the sole surviving example of his engraving, his elegantly playful membership card for the Waltonian Society, designed in 1820, is the earliest Baddeleys’ print sample and a modest yet apt means to remember him.

Perhaps it was the connection to the White House Inn that led to John Rock’s son (who styled himself John Baddeley Junior, Engraver) marrying Elizabeth Beresford whose father was a Bailiff on the River Lea and ran a commercial fishery there? In 1841, after John Baddeley Junior had a completed a seven year apprenticeship to his father in Clerkenwell, the couple set up their first home in Goldsmith’s Row off Hackney Rd. The introduction of Rowland Hill’s Penny Post in 1840 boosted the trade for notepaper and envelopes in London, opening up the possibility to create all manner of personalised designs for stationery, often ornamented with crests and monograms.

Consequently, John Baddeley Junior’s business thrived and, in 1853, the growing family moved to a house in the Triangle, Mare St, with a large garden and a laundry which they converted into a workshop. So it was that they truly arrived in Hackney, at a location less than a hundred yards from where Baddeley Brothers now operates, more than one hundred and fifty years later.

“He made my die dish, spanner and a set of hammers,” recalled John Rock’s grandson John James Baddeley fondly, when he first set up on his own in Little Bell Alley in the City of London  in 1865, drawing intimate consolation from the generations of skilled endeavour that lay behind him at the anxious moment of commencement of his own chapter in the story of Baddeleys.

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Mahogany eight day longcase clock by Thomas Baddeley c.1715 (courtesy of Bonhams, London)

John Baddeley’s Prayerbook 1779

John Rock Baddeley’s design for a membership card for the True Waltonian Society, 1830

John James Baddeley’s annotation upon the reverse of the card, confirming it as the earliest surviving Baddeleys’ printing sample

Clerkenwell in 1820 before the railway came through

Izaak Walton’s house on the corner of Chancery Lane and Fleet St

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John James Baddeley, Die Sinker

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Last Call For Huguenots!

May 16, 2015
by the gentle author

Click to enlarge Adam Dant’s Map of Huguenots in Spitalfields

Last year, we asked readers with Huguenot ancestors who once lived in this neck of the woods to come along to place their forebears on the Map of Huguenots in Spitalfields at Townhouse in Fournier St and more than three hundred of you did so.

Cartographer extraordinaire Adam Dant drew a huge map as big as a wall and Stanley Rondeau, whose great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Jean Rondeau arrived as an immigrant in 1685, was the very first put a pin in it to mark his ancestor. Now Adam Dant has painstakingly inscribed all the entries on the map and it is almost full.

Before the Map of Huguenots in Spitalfields is printed shortly, it will be displayed again at the Townhouse for the week beginning June 1st – so those who have ancestors on it may come along to check that the facts are correct and offering a last chance for anyone who wishes their Huguenot forebears to be included.

Later in the month, the Map of Huguenots in Spitalfields will be available as as limited edition print and everyone whose ancestors are on it will be invited to a party to meet each other and witness the unveiling of the completed map.

Spitalfields was the most concentrated Huguenot settlement in Britain of the twenty-five thousand French Protestants who fled across the Channel, to save their lives after the Revocation of the Act of Nantes, in 1685 – and who thereby introduced the word refugee into the English language.

Stanley places his ancestor Jean Rondeau on the map

Stanley Rondeau, Spitalfields’ most celebrated Huguenot

Stanley Rondeau congratulates Adam Dant on his Huguenot Map of Spitalfields

Stanley recounts the tale of the Rondeaus of Spitalfields for Adam

Photograph of map © Patricia Niven

Photographs of Stanley Rondeau & Adam Dant © Sarah Ainslie

The Map of Huguenots in Spitalfields is at Townhouse, 5 Fournier St, during the week beginning 1st June and the completed map will be unveiled later in the month.

Click here to learn more about the HUGUENOT SUMMER festival

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Stanley Rondeau, Huguenot

Stanley Rondeau at the V&A

Remembering Jean Rondeau

The Huguenots of Spitalfields

Huguenot Portraits

The Cats Of Elder St

May 15, 2015
by the gentle author

Our Photographer & Cat Correspondent, Chris Kelly, went to visit the felines of Elder St recently…

Peggy & Basil Comely

“Donʼt put me down as a cat person. Cats are ideal for lazy, inefficient people and thatʼs me.

I moved here from Camberwell with an elderly cat. But the stairs killed Connie, she was dead within six months and her ashes are in a box in the kitchen. I rescued Connie from a cage in a pet shop in 1985. There was a monkey cage on top and fleas were dropping off the monkey onto her. She cost five pounds.

Then came Piggy & Peggy. I went up to the Mayhew Animal Home at Kensal Green to find a replacement for Connie. Other people were choosing cats and they all wanted the cutest kitten. I saw a furry ball of two cats fighting like a Tom & Jerry cartoon and I said, “Iʼll have those.”

Piggy died last autumn at the age of fourteen. I thought that was a bit pathetic but the vet says itʼs a good age. Peggy was always the one who owned the house, whereas Piggy roamed in and out of other peopleʼs houses.

He was an absolute tart and a bit of a bully. The catʼs home had called him Lennox, after the boxer, but I renamed him. He was much cleverer than Peggy. He used to vanish occasionally but he always came back. Heʼd go along the rooftops and into someoneʼs attic. I was always afraid heʼd get stuck in a room somewhere.

The two cats didnʼt like each other much but they didnʼt fight very often. Just once in fourteen years they curled up together in a basket. They roamed the house but they werenʼt allowed in the bedroom. They did try though. Paws used to appear under the door.

Peggy is fifteen now and she doesnʼt do much. She eats and yowls but sheʼs quite fit. Sometimes, she sits in the open window of my office on the third floor and sways in the wind. The two cats used to fight there occasionally much to the consternation of passers-by. People would stand in the street and watch.

Iʼm not sentimental about animals. When Peggy dies, Iʼll go out and get another cat. Iʼve already decided itʼs going to be called Bunny. Piggy is buried in the yard. I wrapped him in a cashmere sweater, dug a hole and replaced the flag stone. Iʼm going to put up a headstone with his name on it.

I did have a tortoise called Oswald living here, but it wasnʼt the right place for him. He now lives with my brother who has a house with a garden in north London.”

Peggy & Basil enjoy the sun in Elder St

Gus, Molly, Paul Gazerwitz & Andrew Brader

I moved to Elder Street twelve years ago with five cats. I chose the Burmese because they are so friendly and affectionate. Iʼve always liked dogs but it seemed unfair to have them in the middle of the city, so I kept cats that most behaved like dogs.

I already had two Burmese when I went to a cat show and saw the curly coated Devon Rex cats. I acquired one of those – they have similar personalities to the Burmese – and then a chocolate Burmese. They all love humans, and can be quite clingy and very playful. They were mainly indoor cats although Coco disappeared once and was found in the brewery on Brick Lane.

We have just two cats now. Molly is a lilac Burmese and Gus is a Bombay. Bombay cats were first bred in America from Burmese and American shorthairs to resemble miniature panthers. You can see the brown Burmese colour coming through in certain lights and Gusʼs brothers were more brownish than black.

Gus and Molly go out into the garden when next doorʼs Welsh terrier Daisy is away. She doesnʼt like cats at all and they taunt her by jumping into the window when she goes past. They go out on the roof if we forget to close the bathroom window.

They are not enthusiastic hunters. Gus caught his first and only mouse last year. He has very few teeth left, only three actually. “He wasnʼt brushing enough,” says Andrew. He loves having his armpits scratched and is very greedy. He likes to be carried around the house sitting on someoneʼs shoulder like a parrot.

Molly loves milk foam. If we have cappuccino at the weekend, we make a small milk foam for her as a treat. If we donʼt do that she tries to scoop the foam out of our cups. Other favourite things are carrier bags and Parmesan. Our lodger Guidoʼs family make the Parmesan cheese, he offered her some once and she loved it.

They have separate apartments next to the Rayburn. These are small compartments meant for kitchen utensils but the cats have taken them over. If you put anything on the shelf there now Gus and Molly will push it out.

They love the snow and they have a country break at Christmas when they go to Suffolk. Gus is a very good traveller but Molly screams all the way there. She doesnʼt like the tube either which weʼve used for visits to the vet. Sheʼs been known to tear a wicker basket to shreds.”

Andrew, Paul & Molly

Molly

Gus - “The cats often leap into the window to taunt next doorʼs terrier Daisy”

Mollyʼs space next to the Rayburn, Gus usually occupies the next slot down

Molly & Paul

Gus & Paul

Maud & Oliver Black

“Maud was three when she came to live with us in Elder Street two years ago. We chose her from a cat rescue centre in Hornsey that had been recommended by friends. We looked at the photos on the internet before we went.

Our first choice had been a small black cat. She looked pretty in the photograph but in reality she was rather mangy and timid. Our second choice was a majestic fat cat but he turned out to be diabetic and insulin dependent. Then a beautiful tabby poked her head out of the cat box and we fell for her straight away. On our way home from the first visit we realised weʼd only seen her head so we went back to check that the rest of her was sound. She was duly picked up and inspected from all angles and we knew weʼd made the right choice.

Her people had called her Suki and gave her up when they moved to a flat where pets arenʼt allowed. Itʼs a common reason for rehousing cats apparently, along with sudden allergies. We thought the name was a bit soppy so we changed it to Maud. We wanted a Victorian girlʼs name and I had fond memories of a cleaning lady we had when I was a child, who was called Maud and had the sweetest nature ever.

Maud certainly seems to be quite happy here. She settled in with no trouble at all, and has learned that she can go round the block and come back to the front door. Sheʼs been a bit nervous since she was chased home by a large tom. She has caught a few mice but no birds fortunately. She caught a mouse the first night she was here which impressed Jenny, my wife.

I sometimes rescue undamaged mice if they manage to get away from the cat. I remember chasing a badly injured one and wondering how I was going to despatch it if I caught it before the cat did. The problem was solved when I accidentally trod on it with my bare foot.

Maud has already had some press coverage. I recently wrote a humorous piece for ‘Lancet Psychiatry’ magazine on my experience of psychotherapy. They gave it the title ‘Shrunk’ and published a photograph of Maud basking on the stairs, totally relaxed.

My illness was the reason we adopted Maud. Iʼm an Academic Philosopher and Research Professor at Kingʼs College, London, I write novels and, until the end of last year, I was also a City Lawyer. I became exhausted and my GP recommended psychotherapy. I saw a few people without success until eventually I was referred to a Spanish psychotherapist. He was a practical man but his accent was rather hard to understand.

He said, “You feel ill because youʼre stressed. Youʼre someone who is constantly trying to achieve, excel and impress people.” I said somewhat flippantly, “Perhaps I should get a cat. Theyʼre notoriously hard to impress.” What I think he said was, “Yes, you should get a cat.” But, given my difficulty in understanding him, he might have said, “No, donʼt get a cat.”

Anyway, we acquired a cat and Iʼm much more relaxed. This could be because, after twenty-five years, Iʼve stopped being a City Lawyer and now work mainly from home. However Iʼm sure Maud is a contributing factor.”

This photograph by Oliver Black appeared in ‘Lancet Psychiatry.’ Oliver wrote an article for the magazine about his experience of psychotherapy and the calming influence of cats.

Photographs copyright © Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly’s THE NECESSARY CAT – A PHOTOGRAPHER’S MEMOIR is available from many independent bookshops including Brick Lane Books, Broadway Books & Newham Bookshop.

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You may also like to see

East End Cats (Part One)

The Cats of Spitalfields (Part One)

The Cats of Spitalfields (Part Two)

Blackie, the Last Spitalfields Market Cat

and read about

Mr Pussy in the Dog Days

Mr Pussy is Ten

Mr Pussy in Winter

The Caprice of Mr Pussy

Mr Pussy in Spitalfields

Mr Pussy takes the Sun

Mr Pussy, Natural Born Killer

Mr Pussy takes a Nap

Mr Pussy’s Viewing Habits

The Life of Mr Pussy

Mr Pussy thinks he is a Dog

Mr Pussy in Summer

Mr Pussy in Spring

At Tim Hunkin’s Workshop

May 14, 2015
by the gentle author

Tim Hunkin at work on his Small Hadron Collider

Apart from the brief trauma of getting locked in the lavatory, it was a relatively uneventful rail journey from Liverpool St up to Suffolk to visit the workshop of Engineer & Cartoonist Tim Hunkin beside the estuary of the river Blythe. A bumpy ride in Tim’s van along the pot-holed track only served to heighten my expectation as we arrived at the water’s edge, where a vast expanse of mud stretched to the horizon reflecting the dramatic East Anglian sky.

A statue of Michael Faraday, parked beside an enormous clock face, a hen coop and a giant pocket calculator, welcomes you the world of Tim Hunkin. Since 1976, Tim has lived here in a cottage at the end of a long brick farmhouse and worked in a series of venerable black weatherboarded sheds. “Back then, The Observer agreed to pay my train fare to London once a fortnight,” he explained, “and that meant I was able to leave London and come to live out here.”

For decades, Tim contributed his Rudiments of Wisdom cartoon strip to the Sunday magazine, but gradually the slot machines took over and now he has two arcades of them – The Under the Pier Show in Southwold and the newly-opened, Novelty Automation in Holborn.

It was a humbling experience to enter the lair of the great inventor and observe him at work. All around were fragments of mechanical devices and intriguing pieces of junk that might one day contribute to one of his creations. Over nearly forty years, Tim has got everything nicely organised, with a wood workshop, a metal workshop, an engineering shop, all kinds of machines, and vast stocks of timber, metal and other stuff.

In spite of the apparent chaos, it is obvious that Tim knows where everything is and can lay his hand upon anything he might require at a moment’s notice. “I’m happiest when I am here in my workshop,” he confided to me and I was startled by the beauty of this unlikely factory, surrounded by trees coming into blossom and all the lush plant growth at the beginning of summer.

The premise of my visit was to view Tim’s latest invention, his Small Hadron Collider which is being unveiled at Novelty Automation in London today and you can go along to try for yourself from tomorrow. Conceived as a satire upon the bizarre world of Particle Physics, it is a based upon a seventies Japanese Patchinko machine that Tim imported from America.

After taking it apart and putting it back together again, Tim created various functions of his own devising and added flip signs with slogans from the world of Quantum Dynamics. Thus Tim’s machine permits even the entirely uneducated individual to have a lot of fun ‘playing’ at Particle Physics and, with only a modicum of application, it is possible to win a Nobel Prize. Who ever dreamed that Scientific Theory could offer such idle amusement?

Whenever Tim finds himself at a loose end or in need of inspiration, he jumps into his old van, negotiates the bumpy track and drives over to enjoy the laughter of visitors at his arcade on the pier at Southwold. I had the privilege of accompanying him that day and, even on a weekday in early summer, we discovered a lively throng. Most remarkable to me was the woman who took a break from walking her dogs to enjoy the dog-walking machine while her patient husband stood holding the leads. Dumbstruck with wonder, I stood contemplating the profound implication of this curious spectacle.

This woman loved walking her dogs so much that she could not resist Tim’s dog-walking machine which offered a virtual experience of equal or superior quality to actual dog-walking. It was the perfect metaphor of our paradoxical relationship with technology and a personal triumph for Tim.

To the Amusements

Tim solves a problem in Quantum Dynamics on his laptop

Tim searches for a screw

Tim demonstrates his metal pressing machine from Clerkenwell

Tim enjoys a thoughtful moment outside his workshop on the estuary of the river Blythe

At Southwold Pier

A woman takes a break from dog walking

Tim’s water clock

Southwold seen from the pier

NOVELTY AUTOMATION at 1a Princeton St, Bloomsbury, WC1. Wednesdays 11am – 6pm, Thursdays 11am – 7pm, Fridays 11am – 6pm & Saturdays 11am – 6pm

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Tim Hunkin, Cartoonist & Engineer