Just A Phase

I often wonder how many phases I went through as a child and youth that my parents endured…with suffering. I hope not many, as I wouldn’t like to think I was guilty of making their lives hard. But there must have been a few.

The phase of hunger, for example. I remember being in the 9th grade and discovering a hunger for sesame-seed bread. They made standard white loaves of it that you could toast and smear with butter. On a cold night in Canada I think I was able to deplete the pantry in an hour – leaving my mother exasperated when she found the empty bread wrapper. My excuse of ” I just had a few pieces ” was belied by the plastic bag containing nothing but stray seeds.

Girls? I remember a summer of puppy love in a construction site trailer court once – about the eighth grade. It might have been puppy love, but I seem to have been turned into a working dog – I did the dishes for that girl for months. Fortunately the weather turned colder and so did the affection.

Car driving? Well, I was a late starter for driver education and fortunately there was a 4WD and an empty paddock on a farm at which we wintered. I could circle it without hitting anything. It made my subsequent driver training here in Western Australia much easier, though it cured me of any desire for 4WD vehicles or paddocks.

Thankfully, I can look back and not have to feel too guilty. I was never a junior Marxist, nor skinhead, nor religious convert. That was a close-run thing when the Baptists got hold of me, but I moved off to yet another boarding school in time before I was dunked. I never shot anybody, and the creatures I did shoot were cooked and eaten. None of my massive robberies, embezzlement, and frauds were ever detected.

And thankfully that was just a phase…

Advertisements

The Little World – Just Leave the Milk And Cookies On The Table

When I am finished playing I will eat them. I may be some time – I’m currently in 1959. And if I can find the sort of things I need on the internet, I may not leave for years.

You see, 1959 was the year that I got the Schuco wind-up Ferrari racing car. It cost $ 10 at Uncle John’s Hobby Shop on 7th Avenue in Calgary, Alberta and the $ 10 represented the entirety of my birthday money. I cannot say why the pressed-tin car appealed to me – but I knew that it was a must-have.

Normally that $ 10 would have meant at least three plastic models and some paint from Don’s Hobbies – about a block away from Uncle John’s. It was my central model shop – every other place was judged in relationship to Dons. I’m delighted to be able to report that it still exists – some 60 years later. Changed, moved, but still Don’s.

Well, I took the Schuco home, ran it around every flat place I could find, and carefully kept it safe and sound for decades after that. I knew that there were other Schuco wind-up models as I encountered them occasionally in hotel gift shops, but I never had any money to buy any more.

The Ferrari came down to Australia with me, and for some reason I cannot remember, it was eventually traded for some die-cast ship models. I put it out of my mind…until I went to Nürnberg in Germany in 1995 and visited the largest hobby shop in that toy city. There was a whole cabinet of Schuco tin toys for sale – modern reproductions by the company of their classic models. I saw the red Ferrari, and any thought of other purchases went out the window – At a vastly inflated EEC modern-day price I was the owner of my birthday car again. It has pride of place in the model cabinet…and as you can see, has been the favoured prop of a favoured live model – Jane Hebiton.

And yes, the Ferrari still goes like a rocket when you wind it and set it out to run on a flat tiled floor.

Note that I am still in 1959 for another reason; more of that in the next column.

The Little World – Finishing The Job Properly

I have been making plastic, wood, metal, and paper models for the last 60 years. Many of them were made in my first 17 years of life, and all bar one have disappeared. The survivor tells me how crude some of the products were back then.

But, crude or otherwise, the models of my youth were wonderful things. The center point of my life in some years, as the rest of it was spent in grey, drab boredom.  I think back to them fondly. But there is a touch of concern in the nostalgia; did I do the best job  that could have been done at the time?

The kind answer is…probably yes…given my level of skill and the materials available to me at the time…but my grown-up self wants perfection in its memories, and wants to go back and re-do the things that were badly done or half-finished.

eBay can help me in this, provided I am willing to buy old kits for 100 X  what they cost when they were new. It would have to be a pretty deep psychological wound that needed healing to pay some of the prices on eBay.

Fortunately some of the manufacturers have re-issued old kits…or redone them. And some have never been taken from the inventory. It may be possible to buy the airplane that was never built during 1962 and start in where I left off.

I am going to try. I won’t go to the nostalgic excesses that some do, but I would like to see what I might have done all those years ago. If the result is a mess, I will know that I was wise to chuck the kit back then, too.

The Free Ride

I am not sure how much of my life has been a free ride. It is not a subject that I go much into, though I am sure that there are people who would wish me to do so, and to feel guilty for it. Not going to happen – I have real things to feel guilty for and I reserve my remorse for them.

But back to the freebie. Was my childhood a free existence? Well, I got fed, clothed, housed, and educated for free. And well, I might add. Part of it was my parents’ doing, part of it was state or provincial government. I guess you could say it was ultimately all upon my parents and their tax dollars. And I started to paid it back 30 years later with the birth of my daughter.

I got to live in a free democracy, and that was likely the parents and grandparents again – through their selection of a good place to live and vigorous defence of it. And now we live in Australia and it is also a good and free place.

I got a free car when I was 18, but this was also a free car I paid for with high school work and abstinence from guns, drugs, girls, alcohol, and all other cars until that point. Then I was adjudged sufficiently stable to be trusted with a four-cylinder Renault. The car lasted me 7 years and was sold away when I got married. It did not survive the second owner’s poor driving skills, but my marriage is still going strong 45 years later. I regret selling the car but would not exchange it for the wife…

Note: the wife sold her new MGB at the same time to go overseas with me. We BOTH regret not putting it up on blocks and waiting until we came back from England in less than a year…

My daughter also got a free car from me when she was 18, and it served her well for 20 years. It is parked as a blockship in the car port of my studio.

Free employment? Not a bit of it. I bought every bit of equipment for my surgery – and had to pay cash for it as I was a new practitioner. I used it for over 30 years and got value  – some of my old student gear is in my hobby workshop organising tools and making scale models. I’m STILL getting value from a clinical cabinet bought in 1968!

Free house? well, actually yes – two of them. Our family had enough money for my parents to build their own little dream home and hand the old one they owned to me and the wife. Then that little dream home passed to me with their passing and became The Little Studio. It will go to my daughter, along with the family home we built in the 80’s. I think this is only right – I’m certainly getting my fun out of it all.

Free car now? Hah. Nothing about a car is free anymore. The best that can be done is to choose something that is the least size and cost that will actually accomplish what you need to do and then keep the running costs down. Driving at or under the speed limit is a good start.

Free food? Well, we could grow our own, except we don’t want to. But we have certainly discovered that you can eat cheaper at home than out at the restaurants. By a factor of 5x to 10x.

Free electricity? The roof is covered in panels and I daresay they do throw back electricity to the grid that is taken off our consumption, but it seems to have been an encouragement to leave lights and fans on and I think it all works out even in the end.

Free water? Free sewage removal? Free rates? You might as well ask for Free Willy.

 

The Gang Of Three

DSCF8421

Here  he is, the third member of the gang – Baby Bear. The only one of my stuffed toys that ever possessed a pair of pyjamas.

No, I don’t know why, and no, I don’t know what happened to them. I prefer to think he lost them in the bedroom of a courtesan when the police raided the place.

He is small, and that means he has piloted more model airplanes than his companions, the monkey and the dog. He is articulated, so he sits and stands equally well. He can lift his arms, and does not small bad when he does so. A distinct social advantage which I do not share.

Whence? No idea. When? About 1955. A constant companion since.

Current position? Front-bear for my profile on Facebook. He is furry enough to engage the hearts of the viewers without being explicit enough to give my game away. A perfect co-conspirator.

Bear with me…

The Small Mac

DSCF8414

Until 1995, this furry object was the entire extent of my experience with the Scottish culture. His name is Mac and he has never looked different from what you see now. That is not a bad hair day – that is a day.

Oh, I admit that there were Scots and colonial Scots and clan-creatures in plenty in Alberta – Calgary was a nest of Highlanders and kilts and bonspeils and Burns Nights. I knew they were there, and they were like the Sarcee and Stony Indians – colourful but peripheral to real life. The occasional bagpipe or arrow attack in the spring when hormone levels were up, and then peace for the rest of the year.

Of course, I did succumb to the temptation to hoots and toots it with the re-enactment Scots at Waterloo in 1995 and carried on the charade for a year or so afterwards, but eventually it fell away from me and I was back in the reality zone.

Mac has always been a part of the reality, though, as he formed one of the triumvirate of stuffed animals that cheered my childhood. He never had a bathrobe or pyjamas, as did the other two, and I put it down to my late mother not knowing how to sew garments for dogs. Or maybe she had an aversion to making a dog look human. I think the closest Mac ever got to a garment was a plaid ribbon.

He is shedding now, and any box he is stored in gets a fine dust of fibres eventually. One day he will be bald, but at present he is doing better than I am.

Ah, but he still has his days out – he will represent me on Facebook for a week or so before handing off to another host. Any distressing posts in that time will be his alone – I’m innocent…