Let Me EnterPain You

And I’ll have a real good time, Yessir…

I think that was a line from the hit song ” Hey Big Miser ” but I could be wrong. It had a Shirley in it but I cannot tell you whether it was a Temple or a Bassey. Memory isn’t what it used to be…*

I have been watching the television in the corner of the lounge room for the last few days – in company with the rest of the family. They seem highly amused by it and from the sounds that come crashing out of the speakers set into the rear of the cabinet, there must be a great deal going on. Apparently murder and aliens accounts for about 60% of the culture of the nation, with the rest being made up equally of football, people cooking things while being yelled at, and snide comedians.

In a few weeks I will have worked my courage up to the point of being able to go round the front of the cabinet and see what is on the screen. Up until now the reflected light has been quite enough. I am encouraged in this by my wife who has promised that there are some shows that do not involve gasoline explosions or people break-dancing. I hope to be able to trust her…

In the meantime I shall catch up on my reading. I have just finished a pot-boiler by Emil Zola and had to down a quick book of scientific quotations to quell the nerves. English novelists of the Victorian era are fine workers and I am never so comforted as when I curl up in a warm bed with a fat Trollope, but the French are altogether more dramatic in print than anything on the Dover side of the channel. I guess it is all the red wine they drink.

French or English, the thing I do like about a book as opposed to a moving screen, is the way a book will pause and wait for you to catch up. It may still take you on desperate adventures, but can do it in stages like a county bus. Televisions just whirl you away like a Greyhound in the night and if you cannot see fast, you do not see it all. Plus, I find that most screenplays are aimed at Shetlands while I am riding a higher horse.

*  It never was what it was, even when it was.

A Foot In Many Camps*

The dual citizenship game is heating up.

New Zealand apparently regards anyone who has ancestors or close relatives who were or are New Zealand citizens as ” citizens by descent “. They have put up an advertisement promising them a passport if they register. Many of my friends who have some sort of Kiwi connection are delighted with this. I am going to take leave to be horrified…in a kindly and genteel way.

It’s not New Zealand – that is a wonderful place full of wonderful people – it’s the concept of someone declaring you to be something…in this case a citizen… without you having a say in it. It comes very close to someone declaring you to be something else , good or bad, that you have no say in. Both actions can damage your life, if improperly applied.

In the case of Australians who wish to fully participate in their own nation’s political life, they have the problem of a flaw in the wording of the Australian Constitution that sets a wide prohibition to the ability to stand for election; no dual citizenship, and no hint of it by dint of entitlement or allegiances. Sounds good, but it means that if some other nation says you are eligible for dual citizenship –  EVEN IF YOU DO NOT TAKE THEM UP ON IT – that automatically cancels one of the most basic civil rights here.

That’s a flaw in our constitution. It needs mending…and soon.

Otherwise, the door is open to a number of abuses. A local political party could exploit some nebulous promise of foreign citizenship to deny Australians with New Zealand or Israeli or Greek connections a right to stand. A foreign government could target potential Australian political candidates who they do not want to see in power here by attaching a spurious dual citizenship to them. Even if it proved to be false, it might keep someone out of the hustings during an election. Talk about interfering with the polls…

Nope. Hands off our parliament and hands off our citizens. You’ve got enough on your plates in your own countries. It’ll be up to us to amend our constitution to show this up for the nonsense it is, and to grow up as our own legislature.

Note: This is not a push for any political party. It is a call for political independence. And for common sense.

*  But not in many mouths.



The Little World – Finding The Missing Links

Every modeller – whether dollhouse builder, plastic scale worker, or die-cast specialist – has found the dark places. The parts of their chosen scale where the lights do not shine. In short – the bits that no-one has ever made. The model that they know is crucial…but no-one else wants.

This can be a very galling experience. If you are a person who thinks that 1:12th scale Victorian drawing rooms and kitchens are the be-all and end-all of existence, you are fine. There are no end of dollhouse suppliers that can fulfill your needs. If you love the British Spitfire airplane you can rest assured that you never need be out of reach of a model. If you are a person who wants to collect 1:29th scale South African flying saucers, you are on your own.

That’s an extreme example, but you only have to move a very small way off the commercial pathway to be lost – try googling 1:18th scale furniture and see what happens. Yet there are tens of thousands of model collectors into 1:18th scale cars who might want to make a 1:18th scale house to go with them. In most cases they have been told to go and scratch.

Well, at least I scratch better than I did before. I was frightened that I could not reproduce the complex details of the world, and as a child I hesitated to try. But radio controlled modelling in the 1970’s showed me that the concept of stand-off scale was valid. Simplified detail could still validate a project. I use the concept all the time these days and reserve my heroic efforts for things I can do. And every now and then extend the working hands to a new spot…

Currently I am making the facade of an Art-Deco cinema as part of a 1:18th street scene. The thing resonates with me as a memory of similar things seen in my childhood. And it has speed lines, which make everything good. If you don’t believe me try adding them ot a baroque palace like Potsdam or Versailles and see how much better you feel. You need not put them on with bolts or nails – a can of spray glue will do. Or even a can of spray paint. Freddie Rex III Rules OK.



” I’m Disillusioned…”

Bloody Goodoh!

Now you get to see things as they really are, instead of through the veil of prejudice and pre-training that someone draped around you when you were a kid. You can cast aside the sage advice that Dear Old Dad or Dear Old Mum gave you and make your own Dear Old Decisions. Even if they are Dear Old Mistakes, they will at least be your own product. All the programming that your teachers and your playfellows did on you when you were in school can be thrown into the bin.

Watch out for the current crop of fake news and meme sites. Keep a weather eye out for actual propaganda and steer clear of it. Don’t allow people on your Facebook list or in your social circle to bamboozle you either. They can be as wrong as they can be right…and if they have resorted to FB to tell you how to live your life, they are more likely to be the former than the latter.

Always look to see where the money trail leads. If it leads from your wallet to someone else’s, you can be certain that they approve of this and that you have been set up for harvest. Pay if you wish, but remember that you can also tell whoever it is demanding your money that they can go to hell in a handbasket. If they seem hesitant to start, help them into the basket. With your boot.

Cherish as many falsities as you like…just don’t impose them on others. If you like the sound of a certain idea because it makes you feel good, indulge yourself all you wish behind closed doors. Close the computer program before you start – no-one needs to see you lost in whatever rapture you enjoy. We’ll wait out in the hall until you recover yourself.


The Little World – Mark II

One of the interesting characteristics of an older person is their capacity to do it again. It? Something that they did before, but have become dissatisfied with.

This is not a project that they have abandoned, nor the one that they have become disinterested in. It is not something that they have run out of money on…though that is always a possibility these days. It is something that they have decided to do better.

I had one of these occasions this week, when I unceremoniously tore apart a model that had been done a few months ago. It was a simple utilitarian box that housed a battery for model lighting. Made of foamcore board and then clad with painted matte board, it was dull and surprisingly unsatisfying to see. When it started to separate at a seam, I realised that my previous effort had been simultaneously complex and shoddy.

I need a battery box to power the 1:12th scale studio lights on my model film set. These have turned out splendidly, as anything that you make from yoghurt containers does. It is also needed for the  1:18th scale garage – leading to a possible scale disparity.

The answer was to make it as a nondescript but detailed mobile starter cart like they have at airports. A coffin body with four rubber-tyred wheels at each corner and a low-slung profile. Perhaps a tow hitch at one end – certainly the switch and plug connectors at the other. And the top need not be hinged – it can just be removable.

Scrap 3mm mdf board and some oak strip reinforcement went together easily and this time no fussy cladding was needed. I primed and painted the chassis a good light grey and then put bright warning signs about voltage on it to jazz it up. It can park near any model and provide 3 x 12 volt DC for as long as an exhibition lasts.

Best of all is the cost. Under the $ 5 mark all up – and I am much more satisfied with myself for having done it.

The Fountain Of Pen

When I retired from retail trade my employers were gracious enough to present me with a fountain pen – a rather nice Visconti model – as a going-away present. I kept my end of the bargain – I went away. I treasure it as the best writing stick in the drawer, but I have recently been shocked to discover how many more of them there are in there.

Yep. All mine and all functioning, albeit spottily in some cases. Some were bought for me, but most were bought by me…and in most cases they never really measured up to the standard of my own particular industry: the Parker cartridge pens I used in high school.

This is not going to be a ” I remember that crispy bacon we got before the war ” post. Pens are pens, and there are undoubtedly pens out there that are as good as crispy bacon. And they may be as cheap as the old Parkers – but so far I have not found them. The Visconti comes closest to it, and it is too dear to give to a high school student.

The old Parkers probably succeeded due to the fact that they had soft nibs that would quickly wear into the writer’s hand position. That they then continued to wear out was the flaw – the lines got wider and the ink lasted less…and one day the inevitable clumsy fall dropped the pen on the nib and it could never be recovered.

The other flaw of the Parker was it crude nature of the cartridge seal, A standard pack of cartridges were fine as the pen pierced them and drew the ink. The flaw arose when I tried to refill the plastic cartridge from what I thought was going to be the same Quink ink via a hypodermic syringe. I could fill it, but not seal it to take to school for use later in the day – Scotch tape would not keep the ink in, and my school bag or shirt pocket told the tale eventually. Also my chest, but as I chose Washable Blue, I didn’t have to play at being Braveheart for longer than the day.

” Why not use a ballpoint or rollerball or sharpie? ”

Because they simply do not give the control, line texture, and feedback of a fountain pen. Even the mighty quill or school nib pen does not do what a good fountain does. If you want to merely communicate, use a keyboard. If you want to create verbal or visual art, use a fountain pen.

The Trap Of Entertainment

” Entertain me. ”

Has anyone ever said that to you? What did you feel like? Nervous? Despondent? Annoyed? Or all three in layers like Neapolitan ice cream?

It’s the sort of command that carries with it the unspoken criticism that heretofore you haven’t been doing a good job and the fact must be corrected. And that it is going to be a difficult job.

The whole concept of entertainment is a difficult one in some cultures. I imagine that the Puritans would have been a tough audience to front. Not just for the fact that they were grim to start with, but that they would also be offended with you if you succeeded in making them feel good. All pleasure would have been of the guilty sort, but not sweeter because of it.

Modern entertainment is so varied as to suggest that the very concept is unlimited. We have books, music, plays, television, radio, sports, pastimes, hobbies, and art to occupy us. Of course some will find no pleasure in any of these and some will take it in an inordinate measure. For the vast majority it is a place to run when the shackles slip off the ankles. Until they catch you and weld them on again, you can enjoy yourself. The problem is that there may be too many things available at any one time. Wise escapees limit themselves to one thing at a time, and reserve the rest for a later chance.

This becomes even more important when you are too old to be salable and are left to wander away. Then you need to have cached little pleasures here and there in the landscape so that you can go to them and be refreshed. Don’t be tempted to make them too grand nor too far away – you would have to expend an inordinate amount of energy to get to them. And you might discover that they would have decayed in the meantime – far better to have something small and comforting close at hand.

You may even find that your entertainment need not be provided by others – that you carried it with you all the time.