Do Not Fear Me

For I am not fearful. The smile is real, and conceals nothing but the back of the teeth and a fair few fillings.

Do not praise me, because I am not praiseworthy…or at least not for the things that you think. If I need praise I can do it myself.

Do not be my enemy – because we are judged on the quality of our enemies, and you may not measure up.

Do not try to seduce me with offers of commercial sales. I have all the goods I need. If you offer to buy some of them off me we can talk, provided you are willing to load them on the back of your truck yourself. I don’t do heavy lifts.

Please do not sell me a plan or a program. I’ve had many plans in the past and have learned to be wary – some are futile con games that take my money and leave me disappointed…and some come to glorious fruition. Of the two results, the first is a lot easier to bear.

I can always be purchased with coffee, tea, and cakes. I am not greedy and I do not slurp or drop crumbs. The quality of my interest in your problems is directly proportional to the quality of the coffee and cake. Barista special and rich fruit cake will enlist my deepest sympathy – a plastic cup of Pablo and Nice biscuit will get you what you deserve…

And never be afraid to ask me for money – make the sum as grand as you wish. I shall be equally brave in my refusal, and the higher the demand, the greater the saving. You may be treated to a hollow laugh and a hearty handshake or vice versa.

 

 

 

Riding The Horse – Part Fifteen – When Is A Hobby Shop?

Not where – when? Where merely defines the location of the premises; when lets you know what you’re standing in once you enter the door. Not all hobby shops are hobby shops.

Take a for-instance – we’ll look at Bunnings – an Australian restaurant chain that sells sausages at the front of the premises and hardware as a sideline. Bunnings shops appear to many to be large warehouses full of toilet fittings, paint swatches and MDF sheets. So they are, but they are more than just storage sheds – they are hobby shops for any number of people. Here is how they reach that status:

  1. They sell things that are specifically intended for building or making. There are no end of things in there that can end up being useful or decorative. Many of them will take skin off your hands as they do so.
  2. They sell things that no-one else has. This is partially because the things – the stainless steel clothesline router hammers – are specific to one job and partially because no-one else in the town wants anything to do with them. Sometimes you find things in there of which Bunnings want no part, but have a large selection…
  3. They sell correlated items. From the timber to the screws to the brushes to the paint you can trace an organic connection on the shelves.
  4. They sell expensive stuff. Stroll down the tool aisle and glance at the price of the Dremel cutting bits – if you dare.
  5. They sell stuff that gets you in. Okay, it’s not as simple and wholesome as buying nickel bags of marijuana down an alley and progressing to full-blown heroin addiction. But it’s just as insidious. A few screws here, a router bit there, and pretty soon you’ve spent the food and rent money on a pallet-load of Meranti and a pocketknife and started whittling. Just say no…
  6. They sell things that get you laughed at by others. There is no respect possible when you bring home toilet fittings. The very nature of the thing brings out the cloacal jokes in people. 
  7. There are clubs that use the goods they sell. Some are harmless, like the Medieval Torture Society, and some, like the Over-60’s Mens Shed, are positively menacing. Bunnings makes no stipulation on what their customers might do with the twenty-penny nails and the barbecue coals, but.

The truth is that any shop may be a hobby shop depending upon what the customers have decided to do with the goods. Officeworks employees and water-pump agencies might well be surprised at what they see at the Annual Spreadsheet and Irrigation Show in the State Library. It might startle them, but I’ll bet it will not stop them selling cashbooks or brass flanges.

How To Apply For A Grant Without A Revolver

Well, I said I was going to write on the subject, didn’t I? When I promise something I always make good on it, even when it is something bad. That’s what being a long-time parent can teach you.

Leaving aside the question of whipping the children with scourges – a fine leisure activity – let us get to the question of the grant. We generally understand this to be a sum of money or credit given to us for some good purpose. Education, health improvement, housing, etc. have all been subject to this sort of thing in the past. Indeed there have been grants of land and other titles made by authorities ever since the first tyrant rewarded the first grovelling minion with slaves and fields. It’s not quite that obvious these days, outside of the Balkans or South Asia, so we’ll just consider the money grant.

The first thing you need to do to get one, is to find out who has the money in the first place. Favoured sources are federal, state, and local governments – we’ll just lump them together and call them the Tyrants. They have money because they have found other victims before you and accumulated a store of the stuff. Note that it is no good trying for grants from organisations that are themselves begging.

The grant is frequently a way for the Tyrant to purchase fealty and/or safety from the masses. They remember how they got the money in the first place and it is only by sending back little parcels of it that they can ensure that their head is on the stamps, not on the pitchforks.

Start by writing in for The Form. There will be one. Then sit down and read it carefully. It will promise money but demand something in return. Your first-born child or your soul are frequently mentioned – all good there. What you really have to be careful about is if the form asks for repayment of the money over a period of years with interest added as time goes on. This is the triple-gang hook of finance. It never works its way out…

If possible, make your request for grant money sound like you are going to do some worthy thing with it. Of course you need not do so – it can all be shovelled into your pocket as ” operational expenses “, but make a little paper sign that says” Goode Workes And Godley Virtue  ” then put it beside the pile of coins and take a picture. It looks good for the press.

And think of making a grant yourself. Perhaps your local bottle shop needs to sell a couple of cartons of full-strength beer – you can help by taking some of your grant money down there and giving it over. Everyone will be happy.

At The Start Of The New Calendar Year

I wish to address my readership; friends, acquaintances, clients, and others who have been following my columns over the years. We have just survived a holiday period and entered into a new decade – the 2020’s – and I’d like to set matters straight at the beginning.

Firstly – if there is anyone who has been offended by anything I have written in the past decade – either here or in the commercial column I write – could they please contact me with details of the piece that caused the problem. Whatever it was – outrage, grief, melancholy, or  a vague sense of unease – just give me a brief analysis of the thing.

It is very valuable to know when a raw point has been touched – a nerve pinched or a powder magazine exploded. It allows for repeated and accurate targeting and really efficient destruction. Rest assured that any information is kept in the strictest confidence until it has been on-sold and a receipt given. The BGA is nothing if not professional.

Likewise, there are going to be topics which the users of this column long to read about. We’re not going to provide the winners of the 3:40 from Kempton, obviously. But we may do so for a cut of the profits. And it will be just the same with other things – if you want to read about something, just let me know. Any information will be gratefully received. If there is any story you wish me to suppress, just see appendix A. for the price list. Silence is golden, but misleading statements and rumours can be had for silver and copper.

Finally, some politicians have been concerned that they have been represented in a bad light throughout the last decade – made to look foolish or criminal or tawdry. They feel that their reputations have been tarnished here in the column by the inference that they  are vile.

Rest assured that is not the case – they are vile because of their behaviour and their reputations are non-existent. If anything, we’ve made them look better…refuting that old adage about not being able to polish a turd. You can indeed do it, but it’s still hard to find buyers…

Riding The Horse – Part Thirteen – The Call Of Cashthulu

Sooner or later in your serious pursuit of a hobby the temptation to make money with it will arise. Money Imps are everywhere; witness the internet. Every second communication you receive is urging you to monetise what you do. All you’ll need to do is send the person who wrote it your money….

It can be less sordid than that. You might be asked to take up prostitution or drug dealing, and what could possibly go wrong there? Or it might be as simple as someone remarking that your hand-sewn mechanical intestines are really very authentic and you should offer them to other gut-lovers. They’ll snap them up, if snapping intestines is a thing.

I write from experience. I was very good at making leather soldier’s accoutrement in the 1990’s. Cartridge boxes, belts, canteens, food bags, etc. I did a steady little trade in these for re-enactors in the black powder hobby, both in my own metro area and interstate by post. I even went round as a drummer for the business on one holiday trip – a lesson in itself. People paid their bills with admirable promptitude and I was able to make a tidy little loss on my investment.

Loss? Loss of money, as the price they were willing to pay was that of the items demanded in American catalogs or by Indian sutlers. I was buying raw materials at Australian prices. When the sources of cheap leather dried up there was no profit at all in it. Add to this the costs of postage…

Also loss of time and enthusiasm. Sewing 20 cartridge boxes for your own re-enactment group is one thing – sewing the same number for others where there is no profit, quite another. Eventually I was blessed with an opportunity to hand the business over to someone else who had just lost their day job – I could get out honourably and they could try to carry on.

 The same would be the case in every division of every hobby. As soon as it was converted into a commercial proposition – however sketchy – the thing would become a job. It would take on the form of a task rather than a pleasure and the time spent doing it would be robbed from the day, rather than adding to it. Far better to do nothing for gain, and spend the time doing it for fun.

Naming And Shaming

I sat down the other day and wrote out a list of people I know. Not just ones I recognise on the television or have run across in a shop, but people I am personally acquainted with. I wished to name and shame them…or at least threaten to do so. I hoped to elicit money from them to suppress the evidence.

I was saddened to realise that:

  1. I have no evidence on the moral ones. These are the people who would be desperate to pay me off. With no juicy scandal, I have nothing to lever the money out of their pockets.
  2. The ones who are not moral leave great trails of shame behind them, but feel none of it themselves. They would not only welcome my trumpeting their sins to the world, but would probably benefit from it.
  3. None of them have enough money to be in a position to hand it over in unmarked paper bags. I steer clear of most of them because they are looking for loans. And I can only do that old trick with the $ 6.00 bills so many times…

The history of commercial silence ( AKA blackmailing ) abounds with stories of successful stings. Incriminating notes and photographs are hinted at, the hint takes hold, and the cash flows out. Occasionally the victim resorts to the police and occasionally to a revolver. The really courageous ones go on national television and confess their sins with tears and sobbing. If they are good at it – really good like some of the TV evangelists – they can come out of it better off than before. And very little of the new money that flows into them through true believers will then go to the blackmailer.

The ideal thing is to find a rich person who fears poverty ( well, they all do…) and realises that shame will be bad for them. They are willing to pay to stave this off. Of course, if the price is too high or the scandal too deep, they are also willing to pay to have the blackmailer rubbed out. You need to look at the figures closely before you make that first telephone call.

Note to overseas readers: It is futile to blackmail an Australian with threats to reveal their convict ancestry. They revel in it. It is hard enough to threaten them with a convict future…

If You Wish To Be Wealthy…

Sell medicine to the sick and fun to the healthy. It used to be possible to become rich selling food to the hungry but now that the larger corporations have taken over production and distribution there is little point in opening a local deli.

Leaving aside the sale of better health to those who are poorly…and a complex thing that is, too…we come to the idea of selling fun. Making other people happy and fulfilled is the goal and a grim business it is, too.

This was illustrated at a trade show I’m attending this weekend. For the 4-wheel-drive vehicles  and adventure accessories. It is by for the largest exhibition I have seen, both in area of display and amount of money that was asked. Also a very adventurous thing since it is being conducted on some of the most gruelling times of the year – 40º + yesterday. However, that did not deter the customers…because they wanted to buy things that will be fun to have and to go places that excite them.

I will not be wealthy because of it – I’ll submit a modest account for giving three lectures over three days – but then I won’t spend any money amongst the fabulous exhibitors either. It’ll a profitable and enjoyable thing to do and may give rise to more paid gigs in the future.

Moral of it all is that if you want to follow the money, follow the fun. That’s what people will fork out for.