Sunday, 23 January 2011


I got taken to task this morning over yesterdays post. I was asked if I was being provocative. Well no. But then maybe I was – provoking a thought maybe. An anti-kit rant? No. Very tongue in cheek. Anti-exhibition? No again. However, there is a point to me made and the thought process came via an email and then a conversation with young Nigel. But it all goes back to 1977.
I’ve touched on all this before – the whys and wherefores of doing this. And the root is my serious entry into the hobby which was the purchase of the April 1977 RM in Woolies in Middlesboro of all places. This coincided with the Easter shows. There were at the time only really two big shows on the calendar: York and Central Halls (I’ve attended neither as it happens) there were ‘club’ shows as well but in the main those were very much of the village hall type; local club shows off what it’s done during the year and raises a bit of cash for the club room rent. The other thing that would spring out at you from 1977 is that in the main everything within the pages of RM is hand-built. There were RTR models and kits of course, but they are Nu-Cast and K’s and pretty basic, and this is before the explosion in cheap good quality etching. Palitoy had just come on the scene and raised the bar on RTR moulding but had yet to make a full impact. Railway Modelling meant just that. Yes a lot of it was extremely rough, but did that matter? Even with all the help that available now, there’s a lot of rubbish around.
I think what I was saying yesterday is that, a) we’ve possibly lost some of the pure pleasure of making something from card/plastic sheet etc. with the minimum of bought-in add-ons. And, b) (and this is the important bit) are we doing this just to meet deadlines for exhibitions? And if so why? I say this as there was a short conversation yesterday PM about what needed doing to Garn/Unnycoombe/Rhiw to prepare for this year’s shows. NOT for the pleasure of the modelling, but for unpaid public entertainment.
The exhibition circuit has, in the three decades since I stood at the counter in Woolworths, become a travelling circus. It’s very sad, but you see the same faces at every show. This is akin to ladies of a certain age booking to see every show all around the country of a Cliff Richard tour. It’s passive. How many questions are asked about modelling even on demo stands? We look... but there is very little exchange. We pay money... and look. Or if you are on the other side of the barrier you pay... and play. And if you don’t believe that, stop and think for a while.

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