John's Jottings

120. An Exhibition Challenge - June 2016

Posted on June 1, 2016 at 6:50 AM

The other week we heard a story from a club that had staged a ‘gross’ competition as part of its exhibition. The challenge was to create a railway scene in 144 square inches. The competition was open to members of any club, and of no club. The public voted for one or more by putting a coin in the plastic beaker in front of each exhibit. The winner was the model with highest number of coins, not the value. And the vote-money went to charity.


There were some excellent scenes, full of detail and amusing cameos. Some were static, others had bits that moved. Many caused great interest and amusement, especially the bobbing birds in the tree that was growing through a rotten wagon at the end of a disused siding. Another was a scene with a locomotive fixed on a short length of track, but ALL the wheels rotated and the fireman periodically stoked the fire.


Several members of the Plonkton club had entered. This was surprising, as the Plonkton lot don’t normally recognise any village exhibition as being worthy of their attention, never mind gracing another club’s event with their presence and bringing their models.


It seems that they had been goaded by some adverse comments on a website and were determined to show that they were by far and away the best modellers in the county, if not the entire region. And of course, their entries were all highly imaginative in concept, and excellent examples of model-craft. However, there was uproar amongst them when the winner was announced. It was a thirteen-year-old!


“Shouldn’t be allowed,” they chuntered. “This was a competition for modellers, not children.” They complained to the show manager. “Must have had help from an adult,” they protested. “That’s unfair.” The show manager was most unsympathetic.


“I don’t control how the public vote,” he told them. “If you wanted to influence the result, you should have filled ‘your’ beakers to over-flowing.” But the Plonkton lot didn’t see why they should have to shell out masses of small change just to ensure that their entries took the top places.


“I know the family,” the show manager continued. “The young modeller discussed the build with the father, who provided some raw materials, loaned some tools, and gave advice, but he didn’t work on any part of the project himself. Construction was all the child’s own work.”


“It’s impossible for a kid to have reached that standard,” the Plonktons announced. “It takes years of practice and experience to make even a half-decent model.”


“I suggest you invite the lass over to your clubroom and ask her to give a demonstration,” the show manager suggested. “Though perhaps it would be better for you to observe her modelling at the family home. Would you like me to mention this to her parents?”


When the Plonktonians finally registered the words ‘lass’ and ‘her’ and then realised that the modeller was A GIRL, they became incandescent. Whether this was with rage or embarrassment the show manager didn’t really find out. Their comments became very unpleasant. The miserable so-and-sos swept up their entries from the competition tables and stormed out of the hall.


“There will always be losers in a competition,” our chairman mused. “Bad losers shouldn’t enter. And as far as being able to model railways, age and gender are irrelevant. It’s planning, skill and workmanship that matter.” And we all agreed with that.



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