Mark Thomson is renowned for his books Blokes and their Sheds and other activities of the Institute of Backyard Studies.
I recently attended his most recent exhibition at the South Australian Maritime Museum, on The Lost Tools of Henry Hoke. Thomson has undertaken considerable historical and archaeological investigation to uncover the almost forgotten work of this almost great tinkerer.
At first I found the aspects of the exhibition almost unbelievable. Clearly there had to be some great value and gravity to the display, especially as it was located in an important museum, but it certainly stretched my credibility. Then I found a glass museum cabinet with a container of Hoke™s Dogma Powder, hermetically sealed against the intrusion of doubt (also used to treat fleas on dogs). Just a whiff of this stuff and the entire exhibition came together for me. The same cabinet contained a can of Willing™s Suspension of Disbelief. I could hardly believe my luck! I moved quickly between the displays, marvelling over the Befuddling Tool, the Giant Windup Key, Hoke™s Refined Bulldust, the Load of Old Balls and the wall full of Hoke™s Leg Pulls.
I was fascinated by Hoke™s many successful and almost successful inventions, such as his attempts to create a manual chain saw, and the Sub-atomic Sound Machine, otherwise known as the Quack of Doom, and the De-magnifying glass, and optical tool that claims to show reality exactly as it is. Other fascinating products included striped paint (must be shaken not stirred), tartan paint, spirit level bubbles, decompressed air, a can of spots (for spot welders), spark plug sparks and the rope hammer “ used for hammering around corners. This last device reportedly takes some skill to use.
Also fascinating was Hoke™s original correspondence with other great inventors, such as Alexander Graham Bell and Albert (Bert) Einstein.
For anyone who cannot get to see the exhibition at the museum, I recommend that you visit the Institute of Backyard Studies website here you can see some of the remarkable achievements of Henry Hoke, including a video of the Random Excuse Generator, with its many functions, such as the platitude accumulator, the credibility gap normaliser and the blame shifter.