John's Jottings

152. Speed-visiting - February 2019

Posted on January 31, 2019 at 6:20 AM

On our way back from the Whirtleborough show, Felicity commented on the speed at which some visitors go round an exhibition. It made her wonder what they’d actually seen. They’d either got photographic memories, took masses of photos to examine later, or they just didn’t look, study and assimilate. She wondered what they learnt and what benefit they got from attending.

“Very little, if anything, I should think,” Graham commented. “Perhaps they only attend to get confirmation that they are extremely sophisticated modellers, whose knowledge, skills and powers of discrimination far surpass those of the other visitors, and most of the exhibitors as well. They wish to be seen, but not get contaminated by lesser modellers.”

“Did you see the chap who whizzed round, but couldn’t find a single layout depicting the Fishguard & West Pembroke Tramway, or anything in 5.5mm scale, or anything set in 1872,” Jim asked. “He was gone within forty-five minutes, declaring the entire show to be ‘utter rubbish’ because there was nothing in his favoured line, scale or period.” We laughed at his waste of time and money. Since the layouts attending had been listed in several of the magazines, he ought to have known what would to be there before he set off. If none of it was of interest, why bother attending in the first place?”

“Some modellers are so intensely parochial,” Jane commented. “You know that chap who demonstrates loads made from rubbish? I’ve heard visitors decline his invitation to examine them with the dismissive comment ‘Not my scale.’ Some were adamant that they could learn nothing from him, even though the concept he champions applies to all scales, gauges and periods. It was just that his examples were in a large scale so that they were easy to see and robust enough to be handled.” We smiled, as we’ve all been accosted at one show or another by this over-enthusiastic fellow.

There was another visitor who was there for most of the day,” Bill countered. “He moved systematically from exhibit to exhibit, observing carefully, making notes, and talking with operators and public. He’d return several times to check he’d missed nothing of significance and to see how things were running.”

“Perhaps he’s the chap that writes that blog,” Felicity suggested. “You know - the blogger that was supposedly unmasked at the Salchester show.”

“There’s also a chap who writes reviews of exhibitions for one of the gauge society magazines,” Graham added. “Though his reports concentrate on those layouts and other displays that are the prime interest of society members, he often mentions ideas from other scales that have wider potential.

“He once told me that what actually gets published depends on the attitude of the editor in post at the time. In the past, one struck out everything he submitted that was not directly about models in their scale. The current one is far more open to ideas from across the entire spectrum of scales and gauges, and even from other branches of model-making.”

“Aren’t people allowed to concentrate on a single scale, gauge, railway company, or era, if they want to?” our Chairman asked provocatively. We agreed - if that’s what makes them happy, then that’s fine. It was their loss if they didn’t take pleasure in, or get ideas from other areas of our hobby. After all, isn’t it the sheer diversity that makes modelling railways such a great creative activity? There’s something for everybody. We all agreed with him when he asked if those who get the most from the hobby are the people who relish, celebrate and build on the richness of experience that comes with diversity.

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