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Tim Hunkin’s Social Distancing Machine

July 4, 2020
by the gentle author

You all are familiar with this game – ducking and diving along a narrow pavement, struggling to maintain two metres social distance from oncoming pedestrians while also avoiding stepping into the gutter and getting run over by passing traffic.

Genius inventor Tim Hunkin has invented a Social Distancing Machine to celebrate the reopening of his amusement arcade Novelty Automation in Holborn under socially distanced conditions next Saturday 11th July.

Tim explained his thoughts to me, “My first idea was much more ambitious, it was going to be a Covid clock. But then I realised it would take months to make and the situation would have changed completely by then. So this is just one element of that grand clock design and even this was fiddly to overcome the teething problems.

Although it looks quite simple, it took me over a month to get it all working and I am still a bit nervous whether it will stay working. It was a bit of a struggle installing it, I need it to run for twelve hours constantly so I had to sleep in the arcade with this machine rattling around all night.

Fortunately the test worked and I drove up to my daughter in Walthamstow next morning. But nobody was doing any social distancing whatsoever in the streets of Camden and Holloway, so to bring it more up to date I changed the name of my machine to ‘A Memorial to Social Distancing.'”

Novelty Automation, 1 Princeton St, Holborn, WC1R 4AX

You may like to read my other stories about Tim Hunkin

Tim Hunkin, Cartoonist & Engineer

At Tim Hunkin’s Workshop

Tim Hunkin’s Housing Ladder

Tim Hunkin’s Air B’n’Bedbug Machine

Tim Hunkin’s Fulfilment Centre

10 Responses leave one →
  1. July 4, 2020

    He is rather brilliant and it’s well worth the visit to his place!

  2. Jill Wilson permalink
    July 4, 2020

    Brilliant work as always…..

  3. Wendy Lowe permalink
    July 4, 2020

    Brilliant!! I love the way the figures ‘walk’. Tim Hunkin is a genius. All his machines are amazing and this new addition is so funny.

  4. July 4, 2020

    I love it! Mr. Hunkin is truly a genius inventor.

  5. paul loften permalink
    July 4, 2020

    The word “genius “is an accurate description in this case. I wonder would Mr. Hunkin be able to prototype a portable real-life social distancing machine with a 2m spike that could somehow position itself so that people should stay the correct distance? It would be very useful

  6. Su C. permalink
    July 4, 2020

    I do think I could sit and watch this for hours on end. It is quite mesmerizing.

  7. Amanda permalink
    July 4, 2020

    Very funny.
    l had great fun visiting the arcade.
    The Americans l met while trying out the Money Laundering Machine were greatly impressed by the ingenuity, as was l.

    My top machine after the DIY Nuke Launcher which gave me a toffee, was Tim’s hilarious “Package Holiday” because l was a travel guide in the Med, urging Brits not to turn into lobsters.

    Thank you GA for letting me ‘meet’ the Mastermind. Never dreamt l would.

    Hope you are still safely ducking & diving. ?

  8. Robin permalink
    July 4, 2020

    The lady manoeuvering the pram is a delight. Reminds me of the out-of-control pram in The Avengers “Quick Quick Slow Death” opening scene.

  9. Ros permalink
    July 4, 2020

    So funny! In my part of the world social distancing was never very good so perhaps this machine could be reborn as a teaching aid rather than a memorial? It’s impressive that nobody makes the first move at exactly the same time as the other so there are no crashes. That could be incorporated into the teaching. Alas the setting looks like any high density urban setting anywhere so shouldn’t date for a long time….

  10. July 4, 2020

    That is Amazing, I wonder if it can work one day!?!???????

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