qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Book Review: Clock This, by Trevor Baylis
I picked this up out of curiosity in the Oxfam second-hand bookshop in Reading a few years ago. Baylis is of course famous for his invention of the clockwork radio, but this is a more complete autobiography. Despite suffering abuse at the hands of a priest as a small child, he seems to have had a mostly benign childhood growing up in outer London during the second world war, and continued to be academically unaccomplished but practically useful. Baylis goes on to describe the tedium of National Service and how he went on to become a swimming pool salesman and then a stuntman. All this would have been undocumented had it not been for his idea of powering a radio without batteries, and the last third or so of the book is devoted to describing the efforts in bringing the radio to production. Someone (it may have been uitlander) had one of these a few years ago, and for my ears the mechanism was rather noisy, but obviously it depends on what you're listening to and what the other available options are. Diversifying into items such as clockwork torches also makes sense (especially when you consider that many torches probably lie idle with their batteries corroding away for years on end, only to fail when you need them). As a book it's easy light reading rather than compelling, but the writing style has a blunt honesty to it that is quite refreshing.
Tags: books
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