Every so often the internet gives us a simple lesson in life.
Either it shows us simpletons at large – like the current crop of cultists – or it reminds us of the basic principles of social commerce.
I’ve been watching a website for a year now – an advertising vlog produced by a very pleasant fellow in the UK. He deals in the hobby of building plastic models and has done so on a professional basis for decades. He’s part of a small company that manufactures accessories for the hobby and is part owner of a hobby shop. He’s also a very entertaining and knowledgable speaker – his daily shows are a lot of fun to see.
However, he’s adopted the business model of a subscription for the show – some 40 British Pounds per annum. I daresay it is a small fee for some in the UK, but amounts to the same price here in Western Australia as the annual fee for our own modelling club. That’s a hands-on social group that can entertain us 3 days out of 7 every week. Real participation without advertising.
This last year has seen innumerable changes in the presentation of the English chap’s vlog programs, but the latest one is to remove most of them to a paid-only status…leaving just a few crumbs of free viewing. He wishes us to subscribe, and probably needs the money from the subscriptions. But most of us also need it, and simply won’t pay.
It means we won’t be watching…and over time we will forget that we wanted to. We will go off to other – free – experts on the internet for our entertainment. Or we will entertain ourselves in our local clubs.
Monetising something is a temptation for every internet presenter. You see it with news services and the internet versions of some prestigious journals. But it don’t work. We can get much the same for free, and we go for that.
Entice us with bargains for actual goods. Sell hobby supplies, books, decals, or anything else you make. If the goods are valuable we’ll pay to have ’em shipped. But don’t provide free tasters and then a bill for something that is just talk – we can talk amongst ourselves.
Sad to think that we might have become such misers, but there it is.
Haggling and bargaining is more common in Australia than it was 30 years ago. I won’t say from whence came the practice, nor to where I wish the practitioners would go, but let me record my admiration for Japanese commercial culture – the price stated on their retail goods is the price that is paid. Would that this were the norm for other people.
Haggling is also known in Canada as chiselling – and it has a bad connotation for many of us. We put up with it when necessary, but it is the sort of behaviour that causes us to reconsider whether or not the sale itself is necessary.
I recently put some items up for sale on the Gumtree site. A couple of items sold, a couple of them did not – one piece was offered as a trade or swap and it resulted in a very pleasing bargain for both myself and the other party. I’m delighted with the model airplane I got in the swap.
This cycle of ads brought what I can only describe as an onslaught from another would-be buyer. The price asked in the advertisement was routinely halved by him. And then on each refusal he upped it by $ 5. A final price given from me was underbid by – you guessed it – $ 5. All the while urgent messages came that he would call in in half an hour, etc.
Upon reflection, I went back and scrubbed the price from the advertisements and substituted an offer to trade the goods for unbuilt model airplane kits. It worked a treat before, and it might work again – and no more $ 5 haggling. I added more goods into the offer.
Today I got a message from the chiseller. Was I still interested? He was figuring that I was under some sort of pressure and would cave in overnight. I’m actually curious to see if he reacts at all to the new terms of engagement or whether he realises that he chiselled himself out of a good deal by being greedy for $ 5.
I have ideas, you see. Well, it’s only to be expected – I’m retired and my mind is not required to worry about other people’s money or health – so I’m free to fret about my own.
But I don’t.
I have long realised that mostly it all proceeds on an even keel if you do not go to excess in anything. I’ve even cut down on my moderation. It’s meant a loss in income for the gin joints and the gals of easy reputation, but on the other hand I can spend the money on toy cars and model airplanes. The lady at the hobby shop is starting to wink at me as she operates the till…
Now back to the idea. I have a collection of model airplanes on model airfields. I know a number of flashy females who dance, pose, and generally glam it up all round the shop. So I have decided to combine the two by making the ladies into WWII ” nose art ” on the airplanes. There’ll be an exhibition in June at the belly dancing convention and then I’ll post the pictures on the toy and model photography pages.
Already I have 8 images completed and I haven’t even started shooting the fresh material – good glamour is ageless and older pictures are just as good as new ones when you make them into posters.
Of course, there are sacrifices. I am now compelled to go to the hobby shop and buy more model kits so as to have enough noses for all the girls. I shall have to spend my waking hours chained to the model bench or the studio shooting for the exhibition. I will only take time out to eat, drink, sleep, and read racy novels.
After all, I have a duty to culture, eh?
Facebook asks me this question twenty times a day as I hide advertisements but only provides a limited number of possible responses. Let me correct this by supplying the real reasons the ads were turned off:
a. There are too bloody many of them. Whatever shit is being shilled, the fact that one cannot goggle over the love life of friends or look at cat videos is the real irritant. Reduce them to one an hour… and I’ll let you know which hour.
b. They are blatant and/or sneaky. Either way, they are trying to sell something to someone who is trying not to buy.
c. If I wanted to read an advertisement I would google up the product I fancied, in the sure knowledge that I would be inundated with the spiels. I read Facebook for gossip, not commerce.
d. Who engages you to press debt upon us? We are fighting like cats to repel it – you do yourself no good by trying it on. We know how it fits already.
I realise that you have purchased my profile from Google, who sees everything I do and that you are on-selling it to the people who want my money. This is basic piracy and I respect that. But how can you get it so very wrong? I want model airplanes and hot rods and Chinese camera lenses and pin-up girls. You must have some somewhere – why try me out with cruises to tropical hell-holes or on-trend shoes? If you must pester me, pester me with the stuff I want…not the dreck that other people choose.
Gosh, time flies. It’s been four years since I last considered this subject, and so much has happened in the meantime; I’ve retired from retail shop work and taken up home hobby shop work, and I’ve officially gotten too old to give a good God Damn.
It’s a little frightening – this new freedom. As middle-aged citizens in employment we were required to be a pillar of the community and an example to the young. We needed to follow all applicable laws and apply for official permission on the correct forms. Now that I am 70 years old, no-one looks, no-one asks, and no-one cares. Other people are depressed by this but I am exhilarated. I feel like a kid with a box of limpet mines and a pair of swim fins.
I’ve given up nearly every activity that requires permission – shooting firearms, flying toy airplanes and sailing toy boats, entering prestigious photographic contests, etc. Having had as much success with these things as was ever likely to be, I can leave them – and their lets and hindrances – far behind. And I can be a lot smarter in the next few years about joining into things that require obedience.
Please understand – I’m not an old rebel. I was never a young one, and wouldn’t know how to do it. I am merely a person who is determined to consult their own counsel and take their own decisions. I shall not be a nuisance nor a danger to navigation – but I shan’t be a sheep any more.
The tax people have my complete respect and obedience – monitored and assisted by an honest accountant. The police also have my wholehearted support for civil law – I shall do all I can not to be a scoff-law in any vital matter. I shall be delighted to participate in the political process of my state and nation – but decline to be bullied by friends or strangers regarding my own vote.
Past this – I shall enjoy toy boats, cars, and airplanes – studio photography,writing, reading – interstate trips and whatever local amusements offer – and I shall not ask permission nor take scolding from anyone whilst doing so.
The chief care I will have to take is not to shock those who like to dictate and direct. I do hope my smile will be bland enough – I must go get my copy of Alice In Wonderland and practice Cheshire catting in the mirror.
Fans of The Little World posts here on this column will now have a dedicated channel for their miniature and scale model interests – I’ve decided to open another WordPress free site to take the Little World traffic.
Please go to:
– and see if your computer, tablet, or phone view see the new site. It’s a horrendously complex address, so please bookmark it. I think that the WordPress people want me to buy a paid site theme that has a simpler name and simpler address, but I will just see if this basic opening has merit first.
This column will continue as before, and you can view all the older Little World posts on it just by dialling back into the archives. Please feel free to contact me with advice and consent. And chocolate biscuits.
I have a confession. I build model dioramas. I build model stage sets. I build model photography layouts. I talk about them to other people, even if they patently do not want to listen. In short…
I’m a sets maniac. I setually harass people. I have a sets addiction. And I’m shameless.*
So are the Ardman people. The key to the success of all their productions may well be the milieu – the sets that surround the animated characters. And the key to the sets is the detail. The recent exhibition placed the actual layouts that had been used for production before us in plastic protective cases, but fortunately lit them well enough that the sets fiends amongst us could slaver and tremble as we looked them over.
And what a focus. As you can tell from study of the pictures, the model makers have seen a great deal of English kitchens – every detail in the thing is real. Perhaps a little rounder or a little exaggerated for effect, but the overall ensemble is completely authentic. Look at the British electricity plug – the AGA cooker – the cabinets. You could cook in this set.
You could also send out for Chinese, as the menu on the notice board indicates. You can wash up with the Furry Liquid detergent…though it looks as if there are a few things that would benefit from soaking first…and the whole ensemble is as uncomfortable and inefficient as a proper British kitchen should be.
The real pièce de resistance is the dirt and dilapidation – the whole set could have been made neater and tidier – the walls could have been flat and the door could have been freshly painted and the cooker could have been clean…and we would not have been able to connect half as much as we can to this kitchen. The great artists see the most and the greatest artists reproduce what they see remorselessly.
*Actually, I have a book of plans for small suburban houses of the 1940’s that I only show to ” special ” visitors, and then only if the window shades are drawn. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink…