John's Jottings

150. Show-and-Tell, and UFOs - December 2018

Posted on November 30, 2018 at 9:10 AM

As a change from constructing layouts, or standing around watching other members build layouts, or just sitting and talking, we heard recently that the Wraybury club had arranged an evening of show-and-tell. Every member was asked to bring in a model they’d built. It could be a wagon, or a coach, or a loco, a signal, or a signal box. They could be modified RTR, a kit, kit-bashed, or scratch-built. It didn’t matter what it was, or to what scale, or even if it was unfinished.

Each modeller then said a few words in answer to one of these questions: ‘Why did I build this?’ or ‘What do I do next?’ or ‘Why’s this gone wrong and how do I sort it out?’

Some members’ mini-talks elicited lots of comments. Most were sensible and helpful, others simply amusing. There were offers of practical help with particular stages of building a model so the owner could complete the job.

Several models were dubbed UFOs. Not the science fiction type, but Un-Finished Objects. These were projects that had ground to a halt, because the builder had lost patience, or lost interest, or no longer needed the finished model. During the evening, three of them found new homes, and were completed or converted over the following weeks, much to the satisfaction of the new and former owners.

The club chairman was delighted that so many conversational members actually had models to talk about, since they’d never brought anything to previous meetings. Some of the quiet constructional members overcame their shyness as they explained the techniques they used to build their models. Once they got talking, some spoke at length, sharing their enthusiasm for their chosen subject and techniques. By the end of the evening, the range of previously hidden knowledge and skills within the membership was quite a revelation. Several layout managers noted the existence of talents they’d never suspected. They now knew who to approach for help with specific parts of club projects.

But one fellow had brought nothing and said nothing. He just sat in a corner and flicked through magazines from the club library. The chairman spoke to him during the brew break.

“I’m quite happy just being here,” the fellow said. “I don’t build anything. I don’t operate a layout. I don’t even have any models of my own. I just enjoy being in the company of railway modellers, seeing what goes on, and listening to what they have to say. I hope you don’t object.”

“No, no. Of course not,” the chairman assured him. “I didn’t want you to feel left out.”

“I just find the atmosphere therapeutic. There’s things going on, models being built, problems being solved, layouts being tested, operators being trained, arrangements for exhibitions being agreed. But I don’t want to be part of it. You don’t mind, do you?”

“No, of course not,” the chairman repeated. “If that’s what you want, then that’s fine by me. I don’t want you to feel you’re being purposely excluded.”

“I appreciate you asking,” the fellow said. “I’m just happy to be accepted here.”

When our chairman heard this story, he was pleased that the Wraybury club hadn’t forced the fellow into active involvement, or expelled him for laziness. As he said, “There are people who much prefer to remain on the margins than to be full-on participants.”

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