Would you believe it? I have worked on and repaired the clocks in my collection inside these four walls in complete isolation for the best part of thirty five years. Then I wrote a website just for fun and almost immediately began to receive requests to repair other people’s clocks in and around Billericay, my home town. Then the word spread further afield, taking off across all of Essex. Next people were travelling from neighbouring Kent, then Kingston upon Thames.

I’ve since had enquiries from Newcastle and Rotherham, and then just before Christmas, Northern Ireland. Next it was Germany.  And then a chap brought in a 400 day clock for me to prepare for him to take to the Middle East, carrying it in his hand luggage (not ticking though!). Word quickly spread round that region , for soon afterwards I had an enquiry from a collector in Oud Metha in Dubai (before the troubles broke out).  This month, I’m helping  Doc, an enthusiast in Tanzania off the coast of Australia, who shares my utter dismay at the lack of service and support offered by L’Epée, a Swiss firm that started making carriage clocks almost 200 years ago and now seems to keep changing hands as frequently as a Premier League footballer.

John Harrison (he of “Longitude” fame who made an accurate sea-going clock rendering international navigation much safer, long before satnav) would have been blown away by this internet thing; it’s truly amazing. You type a page up that has no tangible existence, send it into cyberspace where it is mysteriously filed with billions and billions of similarly invisible pages, and then someone on the other side of the world searches for some of its content, not even knowing that it’s there, finds it and communicates with the author by email all in less time than Mr Harrison took to get out his Jacot tool.

Who’d have thought it? Certainly not Harrison, methinks!