17 Nov 2006, Comments Off on Machineries of Joy

Machineries of Joy

Author: Helen

image from http://members.chello.at/theodor.lauppert/brnstwm/

In the last few weeks I’ve been heard — in the context of the on-going Steve Irwin Memorial Dog’s Home IT upgrade – to say things like “that’s very Heath Robinson” or “that was just too Heath Robinson for my liking” to describe processes that just had too many unnecessary or convoluted steps.

To my surprise, my boss hadn’t heard of Robinson, so I googled some pictures for him: I found some good ones at the wonderful Victorian Web, here, here and here. The picture above is here.

Heath Robinson illustrated many scary goblin-haunted Victorian fairy books – he had a different, Arthur Rackham-esque style for those – and the Professor Branestawm series, which I loved as a child, about a supremely nutty professor (always seen with five different pairs of specs on his head at once), his less bright neighbour Colonel Dedshott and his very long suffering housekeeper Mrs Flittersnoop. My boss hadn’t heard of Professor Branestawm either, and as he has an eight year old I made sure that situation was fixed. If you haven’t heard of the Professor, and you have a pre-teen kid (or niece or nephew or grandkid), get to the bookshop ASAP and stock up. You and the kid won’t regret it.

Update: The polymathic Peacay has some more cool stuff here. How much do you want to bet Heath Robinson was influenced by Renaissance art?

And here’s an American version of Heath Robinson, Rube Goldberg, who I didn’t know about, but discovered from Google searches on Robinson. Teh internets are wonderful.

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