Age 2 : enjoying ice cream
Age 9 : Who cut the hair?!
Barry in 1997

I drew my first breath on 14th March 1959 in Llanwrtyd Wells , Wales, the younger son of English parents. My early years were filled with impressions of open fields, fresh-water rivers, and tranquil summers. We had a piano in the house, and even before school age, I remember being fascinated by its harmonies and note patterns. This was my first introduction to recreational mathematics! At the age of nine, my family moved to Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire, leaving the wood-wormed piano behind. There I eventually attended the local grammar school, but apart from algebra, chess and football, I felt uninspired, so I left at 16 and drew cartoon strips for the local weekly newspaper. In 1975, I took an engineering apprenticeship, nearly got fired for bored inactivity, but managed to carry my toolbox for three years before a 100% in my ONC mathematics examination secured a place at Hull University to read BSc Physics. My undergraduate years were spent reading Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and the original papers on Quantum Theory and as a result I was left with only three months before the final examinations to learn the coursework. Nevertheless, pregnant with endeavour, I graduated with sufficient merit to enrol for an MSc degree in Quantum Mechanics by thesis which subsequently gave birth to two published papers on perturbation methods in matrix mechanics. I then took off to Swansea to enroll for a PhD but finding the course inappropriate, ended up writing fund management software for a life insurance company in London. During this happy period, I had comedy sketches broadcast by BBC television (Alas Smith & Jones, Little & Large), puzzles in The Sunday Times and New Scientist and busked Jimi Hendrix numbers on my Strat in the London underground making as much as 15 per hour.

My contribution to The Daily Telegraph Brain Twister column began in 1989 under the editorship of Val Gilbert, and to date over 150 have been published. My role has fluctuated between sole contributor (with Jacqui Harper's excellent cartoon illustrations) and part-contributor, and several books have followed including The Daily Telegraph Book of Brain Twisters (Pan : 1993 - with David Singmaster, Angela Newing, Rex Gooch), Test Your Puzzle Power (Ward Lock : 1994), Puzzles for Pleasure (Cambridge University Press : 1994), Challenging Logic Puzzles – Mensa (Sterling : 2004) and Brain Busters (Dover : 2004). In October 2004, BBC TV featured my HAIL CLIP puzzle on Mindgames.

In 1991, I moved to Oxford to tutor A-level mathematics students and have lived and taught here ever since. In 1995, as an amusement, I set up Liquid Colour Productions and turned my hand to making short films. These I wrote, directed and edited (using FAST VM Studio) and in 1997 we were commisioned to make comedy sketches for London Weekend Television's Beadle's Hotshots, four of which were subsequently broadcast. Several short film awards have followed, including Gold Seal awards from the IAC, Third Place Drama at the Nottingham Film Festival 1999, Top Twenty BAVA 1998 (over four hundred entered!) and several Very Highly Commended Awards at the Guernsey International Film Festival. Happily, our crew have also benefitted from our success : our sound man went on to work at Pinewood Studios and our cameraman now freelances for Sky TV.

As well as my mathematics teaching, my current projects include research into the theory that Francis Bacon wrote the Shake-speare work and a revision of the theory of the hydrogen atom based on the notion that probability only enters the present theory due to an underdetermination of the trajectories.
Barry R. Clarke, June 2001, Oxford, UK
(Film set photographs : Graham Wiltshire) ........