Saturday, 4 February 2023

Saturday Ramble: The current thinking...

 ...of course this is likely to change, but... The first post this year hinted at some different thinking; well, certainly more considered and very much affected by the pandemic fall-out.

Casting back to March 2020 and I had 10 exhibitions in the book; slightly more than I would usually have and partly due to the interest on the Hopwood, the first Peco layout build. Then it all hit the fan and everything was cancelled. I had sort of assumed that the exhibition managers would look at the previous listings and use them as a base for the re-opening shows. I appear to have been wrong about this and to date have not had one rebooking.  I'm very over it, but it has thrown me into a set of questions and considerations for the future.

1. Do I actually want to do exhibitions?

2. Will I suddenly get a raft of invites?

3. Does this matter?

4. If not, then what?

The answer to to 2. is the easiest - I simply don't know, but doubtful. 1 & 3 are more tricky and include the slippery fish of desire and ego. There is also the small issue of fading shows. 4. is the question of the decade.

I'm not sure how many exhibition layouts that I've been involved with either as a solo or as part of a two-hander. It must be more than ten, but less than twenty. While that doesn't exactly make me a veteran compared to some that I could mention, it does place me in a position where I know what I do and don't like about model railway exhibiting. Let's start with the don'ts: Early starts. I'm an owl; hard-wired for late nights and late mornings. They're at weekends - not my quietest time (Tuesday and Wednesday between midday and 8pm would be far more reasonable). Lastly, managers who think they are doing you a favour.

The do's are better: The sociability. The build target. The chance to exchange ideas and hopefully to entertain.

The answer to No 4. then is unclear, but there is one positive which stands out and that is the build target angle: If there are no exhibitions, then what is the point of building anything? I rarely operate at home and this is usually as part of the testing procedure. The conclusion is (probably) that I require a few shows per year just to keep the momentum going. What next though is a different question altogether.


  1. Hi, I must admit to more thanm a little agreement here with you. Regarding exhibitions, attending and the actual getting started experience. Too much adrenaline and at times angst. The target date is a great incentive, but one that still means leaving things to the last moment (six months!) Mertonford HO had an effective two year gap between board and such construction then Covid. A date loomed of January 2023. A long way off, and I only had the freight stock to construct/ bash (mostly hacked LIMA) and some dozen coaches. Plenty of time. If it had not been for the show date, I suspect I would still be thinking it was time to start building stock and not doodling in the marshes. Six months devotion to this project, in the main part, and the date was made.
    It was a very fraught start on the Saturday, despite a two day set up and test at home. Fun? Definitely not. End of the day, a very successful day in all. End of the weekend, even better. Much chatter with various members of the public. Well worth the streaming cold for the rest of the week!
    I think six shows a year is a good maximum, allowing a couple of punter side visits to a few others...
    Those are my, largely in agreement thoughts (Andrew K)

  2. I think it is a difficult one, and I suspect exhibtion managers, ay least the good ones, are also asking themselves some big questions. The Management consultant in me can't help thinking that shows in the last 12 months aren't a good guide to the future.That is probably a good thing because my last experience as a visitor was pretty 50/50. Incidentally, also with my consultant hat on I agree with the comment about organisers thinking they are doing you a favour. I can't remember the last time I spoke at a big conference and got an offer of a contribution to my expenses.

    Oddly the Covid period made me think for the first time about building something for exhibition, an idea that has now faded. Look at your positives, they are still valid, but is a layout the way forward? Last consultant comment. Perhaps your brand has changed? Would people be more interested in meeting you, rather than being focussed on the layout? As I'm sure you know Phil Parker often just sits and chats

  3. James is right - chatting is largely what I do. Even when I am exhibiting a layout, I spend a lot of time chatting. It's what I enjoy about exhibiting. I've never been much of an operator, I need an audience to play to.

    Having said that, if I wasn't going to shows for work, I'd build a layout to get me out there. Without this, for me, the hobby loses focus and I'd not get anything done. It's probably ego, there's a lot to be liked about being told your work is good by strangers, but I also like going new places, and the camaraderie between those inside the barriers.

  4. At some point in (hopefully) not too distant future, I'm hoping to be in a position to exhibit some of my efforts a bit more often than the current more than a "once in a blue moon". Certainly next month's appearance of the 009 layout at Steyning has spurred me into something resembling action, with any luck there won't be any bits of bare baseboard visible at least. I don't have a problem with the early starts etc. and my motivation is more about the social thing than anything else. Although the layout is set up at home and can be operated, it's probably used more as a test track than playing trains properly though I suppose it would be a good idea to think up a sequence of some sort. What I have found shows very good for is pointing up any operational problems, either due to mechanical/electrical defects or basic design flaws/omissions.

  5. I'm with you on a horror of early starts. When Greer was working her shift on the DT was 2pm - 10pm, so our days always started and finished late. I can just about cope with it now but I'm not keen on two day shows. If they're close to home, it's not so bad but after exhibiting Compass Point at Astolat, I've received an invite to Dorking in the Autumn, and it's two days. At 50 miles and an hour and a half each way, that's a lot of travelling. So, do I bite the bullet, knowing I'll be sat in the car and spend some of the journeys on the delightful M25, or gracefully decline?