Inventions Of Paradise
Chris Longden, Features Writer
A few years ago, I came off the phone and was met with the comment of, “Good Grief, you and your mum can talk when you get going – what was that? Two hours?”
“Actually, it wasn’t my mum,” I replied. “It was Trevor Baylis.”
A short pause in the conversation. And then;
What? Trevor Baylis… the inventor? Wind-up radio man?”
“Yes,” I replied smugly. “And I’m surprised that you couldn’t tell. Whilst me and my mum can talk about anything and everything, I don’t ever recall having a long conversation with her about washing machine components and the importance of access to immediate patenting legislation.”
Dear old Trevor sadly passed away this week. And I'm so pleased to be able to say that nattering to him has been one of the highlights of my life. We had been put in touch with each other due to Trevor’s interest in my previous work with the Kalahari bushmen and my present work as part of the tiny team who set up Farmer Radio with the Lorna Young Foundation (based in West Yorkshire.)
Because I had lived and worked with the bushmen in rural Africa and because I had travelled across southern Africa, I was acutely aware that people preferred radio, people relied on radio. Even in the more urban areas where folk could sometimes access a telly, there was no doubt about it – Africa loves radio. Africa depends on radio.
I told Trevor that I thought that his invention was one of the most important ones in the history of the planet – certainly in terms of world development – but he just shrugged it off and laughed; “Well, if only it had made me a bit of money – I’d be able to give you some of it for your project.”
Trevor didn’t seem bitter about the fact that his invention had made him a household name, but hadn’t helped him to feather his own nest. Rather, he wanted to help fellow inventors to find out about the patenting process, without getting shafted by the big boys.
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Trevor was only a year older than my dad and for some reason, we got to talking about the pros and cons of national service.
Whilst keen to see technological advances, he felt very much that young people were not being encouraged to use technology for the right reasons.
He bemoaned the fact that smart phones were leading to a ‘lazy’ population and we ended the conversation with him telling me that if there was one thing that ALL young people should have – it was the skill of sewing and mending – “and by that I definitely mean the lads – every lad used to have a kit box and knew how to mend stuff.
What’s the point of all of these fantastic technological advances if kids only use them to play pointless games – when they don’t even know how to sew a hem?” We’re wasting so much, he told me. So much.
Having seen people in Africa make do and mend to an almost impossible degree,having lived with them and learned alongside them about using a shower cap to cover your food plates, soap to cure your constipation and onion to take away the pain of an insect sting, I couldn’t have agreed more.
God bless Trevor – and may he be tinkering with the faulty electrics on the opening mechanism of the Pearly Gates as we speak.
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Inventions Of Paradise, 9th March 2018, 14:50 PM