machine.jpgI don’t know the origin of this Google Video, twelve minutes of marble heavy Heath Robinsonesque devices. I do know that it is wonderfully soothing to watch and the (let’s say its Japanese) little Japanese tune at the end of every successful machine work out does not manage to get annoying even on the twentieth play. Not knowing the provenance of said video I wondered what it could be myself. And to me it was clearly some sort of twenty second inset into a kids TV programme. I am guessing that maybe a kids science TV show, a Tokyo Think of A Number, with the Japanese version of Johnny Ball. Or maybe between artistic segments on the East Asian Take Hart, less Morph, more machines. Whatever, this stuff is terrific and that small flight of fancy suddenly made me feel bereft. I was robbed of this experience as a child.

Reading Michael Frayn’s Spies (which is on the whole annoying) there is a great passage regarding the lead character realising that his aunt is ACTUALLY HIS MUM’S SISTER. And therefore they played as children much as he played with his sibling. It is this kind of abstract empathy which marks growing up, as is not just recognising that other peoples childhood experiences are difference, but that yours is not necessarily the best. Watching this small piece of internet streamed television, I have had the strongest feeling of that yet. What would small me, obsessed partially by Lego Technic, made of these marble and Tomy Train powered machines. Would I have spent hours of my youth building these things which, in all probability, worked on camera one time out of fifty. For the length of these inserts the man hours are probably huge, but the pleasure derived is much more concentrated. Just watch the magnet ones near the end to see how tremendous this stuff is.

But then small me also wasted a bit too much time on domino rally’s in the kitchen (not Domino Rally’s, with the “do all the work for you flip back tracks”) after that bleedin’ Record Breakers – so perhaps something encouraging more solitary play would have been a bad thing. Nevertheless I feel that there but for the grace of nationality go I, but I am pleased that I have discovered this little clockwork universe. Perhaps its beauty should be built into School science, as Tom was discussing yesterday. The closest we had were Heath Robinson drawing, whose satire was diminished to me as a child, and whose workability as machinery was demonstrably rubbish.