Chris Wilkins and his wife, Sian, were one of the star creative
teams in Campaign’s Fantasy Agency in our 30th anniversary issue, and he
can claim particular credit as one of the creators of the Smash Martians
back in the 70s.
Since retiring from adland in 1996, he has spent most of his time
researching and writing a novel - The Horizontal Instrument - which is
published this week. Questioning the reliability of time as a
philosophical concept, it also explores the relationship between a
watchmaker and his dying wife who is suffering from dementia.
Wilkins obviously spent a great deal of time researching the book as it
intricately describes the mechanics of watchmaking, although he admits
it wasn’t this aspect that interested him initially.
’I was originally interested in collecting watches,’ he told
’Then I gradually became fascinated by the concept of memory. Having to
learn about dementia also made me realise that without memory there is
no time. You don’t remember yesterday or the day before, so time becomes
The Horizontal Instrument is at times hauntingly sad - we learn that the
narrator’s wife dies in the first five pages of the book - but also
challenges our conventional perceptions of time, memory and
Hailed as an ’extraordinarily moving novel about everything that
matters’ by The Spectator, the novel has gained a yet higher accolade.
Campaign’s associate news editor, John Tylee, read one of the first
copies and has given it his wholehearted seal of approval.
This article was first published on Campaign